How Social Entrepreneurship Is Shaping Africa

How Social Entrepreneurship Is Shaping Africa

Wordle-socialentrepreneurSocial entrepreneurship is what everyone is talking about in development and sustainability circles today.  While Africa is known for its entrepreneurial culture, Kenya is especially known for this culture. From people who sell goods on the street to people who have big businesses to run, all of them strive for the same thing—making their business as sustainable as possible.

According to Ashoka East Africa “social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change”.  Looking at Africa’s past, and where the continent is now headed, it’s safe to say that social entrepreneurship is the most sustainable way to social development in Africa. If this is the case for the continent, it’s even more the case for Kenya where people have proven that they can take care of themselves when the needed resources are available.

This is where Angels for Angels (A4A), a Seattle based nonprofit organization, comes in. A4A funds locally led and sustainable social projects in East Africa, including Kenya, and provides those social entrepreneurs with the financial resources they need to transform ideas into tangible actions.  They also partner with universities to teach social entrepreneurship and inspire the next generation of social entrepreneurs.

The best way to empower future social entrepreneurs is to start teaching social entrepreneurship classes in schools. The earlier the better, they say. If students learned in school the principles of social entrepreneurship, knew that it was not only a possible but a viable path, and turned those principles into actions they could change their lives, their communities and even their countries.

A good example of this is Makerere University Business School (MUBS) who has integrated social entrepreneurship in its curriculum for students to become successful social entrepreneurs and are now actively changing their communities. The same school started the SETAFRICA (Social Entrepreneurship Transforming Africa) with the help of USAID and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) to provide young social innovators across Anglophone Africa with the organizational leadership skills, mentoring, networks, and funding opportunities needed to strengthen and scale up their social ventures.

This interesting venture shouldn’t only be for Anglophone countries in Africa, but should also be the case for the remaining African countries that want to change the future of entrepreneurship in their communities.

Investing in social enterprise in Africa is one of the most successful ways to achieve sustainable development in Africa. It allows people to identify their own needs and to design projects that are serving those very needs using local resources to do so.

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Bookmarking the future

Children are our future. Yet there are many kids who can’t even dream about the future because they weren’t lucky enough to be born in the right places; they don’t have what they need to be the future. Only through education can kids realize their potential, and books are a big part to any education. However, there are many kids who don’t have access to books.

Book imageIf not having books weren’t enough, when those unfortunate kids have the chance to finally read books, those books often tell a story they can’t relate to. This is especially true for children in East Africa, who starve for knowledge, yet have very limited access to books.

Mikel Samaniego, President of Angels for Angels, during a trip to Kenya and Uganda in 2010, recognized the need for a book that African kids could relate to.  He also saw the opportunity to create a story that local kids could read to learn about other cultures and places around the world. So he decided to write Joseph and the Paw Paw Tree, an empowering story that teaches kids to believe in themselves, and work hard to achieve their dreams. The story takes place in a rural African village, where Joseph lives with his father, sister, and brother. In the story Joseph’s father gives Joseph and his siblings papaya (paw paw) seeds to plant and tells them that for these seeds to turn into trees that bear fruit, “it takes hard work every day, and no matter what, you have to believe in yourself.”

“The future of Africa is education.  The first step to an education is to learn how to read.  Kids need books to learn how to read”, says Mikel who has also helped create a library with donated books in Kenya.

Joseph and the Paw Paw Tree will have a huge social impact. With each book sold, one book will be donated to a child in East Africa.  While American kids can learn about cultures far away, East African kids get a story that is relevant to their lives.

Mikel and his friends took the first edition of the book to Kenya and Uganda to see if kids over there would even like it.  And they loved it.  Now he believes that his nieces and nephews will love the book, too.  He hopes it will spur some conversations about other cultures and why the world is different at a young age, and hopefully through it all, he can make a difference.

They launched their Indiegogo campaign to raise enough money to send books to those kids in the villages of Kenya and Uganda. Books cost a lot of money, and now they need a village of support to reach their campaign goal.  It will take a village to make sure that every kid in those villages has a chance to be the future

For more information about the book and how you can make a difference in a kid’s life, check:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-coolest-children-s-book-ever

Book website: www.a4abooks.com