Away from the burgeoning industrial cities and centres across the length and breadth of Africa, in a place just out of the reach of mainstream media, a revolutionary frontier is taking shape. Spearheaded by a breed of altruistic, young and ambitious leaders who have dared to dream big, social entrepreneurship in Africa is proving to be a crucial developmental tool that is changing lives across Africa. The social entrepreneurs are a bridge between the ever expanding “for profit” and the “not for profit” entrepreneurial activity.
Apart from anticipating financial profit as is usually the case for mainstream entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurs also aim for the value that comes in the form of large-scale transformational benefit that accrues to society at large. In other words, a big component of the social entrepreneur’s mission is to contribute to the social and economic transformation of the community in which s/he operates.
Below are some of the social entrepreneurs whose work is tremendously improving lives in African communities.
Aleke Dondo Center, Image Credit: Myc4
Aleke Dondo is the founder of Juhudi Kilimo, a Kenyan organisation that aims to provide loans for small scale farmers to enable them to have access to quality agricultural inputs and assets. Since its inception, Juhudi Kilimo has provided asset financing to over 7,500 smallholder farmers, half of whom are women. The income of these farmers in most cases doubles or triples as a result of selling what they have produced after receiving the loan. Besides the provision of microfinance for rural farmers to invest in productive assets such as cows, agricultural equipment and transport, it also provides compulsory asset insurance and life insurance to the client at a very affordable cost. The offered insurance packages play the role of safeguarding the client and his/her family from being heavily indebted by the loan thereby clearing the hurdle that a lot of rural people suffer at the hands of established commercial institutions. Juhudi Kilimo also provides six months of financial literacy and animal husbandry training programmes to their clients before they receive their first loan thus equipping them with the relevant financial management tools that will go a long way in helping them to manage not only the loan itself but what comes after an increase in their income after the loan.. It gives continuity to the programme as those who benefit are able to reinvest in their enterprise from the first loan. It sets up the farmer for better income as well as long-run wealth generation and asset accumulation.
Image Credit: Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship
Andrew Youn is the founder of One Acre Fund, a non-profit organization that supplies smallholder farmers in East Africa with asset-based financing and agriculture training services to reduce hunger and poverty. Almost ten years later, the organisation is serving over 200,000 farm families in 19 districts in Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda. It aims to serve 305,000 families by the end of 2015. Productivity gains for beneficiaries average 100 per cent. Close to 98 per cent of the farmers are able to repay their loans .The service bundle includes financing for farm inputs, distribution of seed and fertilizer, training on agricultural techniques and market facilitation to maximise profit from harvest sales. The average income of client families under this programme is estimated to be 50 per cent.
Image Credit: Book of Women
Olivia van Rooyen established Kuyasa in 1999. The Kuyasa Fund is a non-profit social development organisation that provides microfinance as a tool to improve housing conditions in South Africa’s poorer communities.
South Africa has a very high demand for housing especially in urban areas which supply cannot cater for thus pushing the prices of urban housing up. A significant portion of that demand can be attributed to economic migration. Studies that have been conducted by Kuyasa reveal that an estimated 68 per cent of South Africa’s population falls into the low income part of the population that still remains largely unbanked and therefore unable to access credit from the country’s registered financial institutions. Although South Africa has a very robust and efficient financial system, that system has not been able to cater for the financial needs of those who fall under a certain threshold. The Kuyasa Fund bridges this gap by providing demand-led, short-term loans to finance incremental building and supplying a suitable mechanism through which the poor have been able to build financial and social capital through investment in housing.
(Header Image Credit: acumen.org)