By Elton Plaatjes
VENTURES AFRICA – Realistically, a small business probably has the key to unlock a myriad of solutions for communities, social challenges and environmental issues.
In recent years, there has been a strong emergence of social entrepreneurs that have taken it upon themselves to make a contribution towards solving social problems.
“I’m encouraging young people to become social business entrepreneurs and contribute to the world, rather than just making money. Making money is no fun. Contributing to and changing the world is a lot more fun.”
Generally speaking, the following economic development factors determine the suitability of an environment for social entrepreneurs. Coincidently, many social entrepreneurs, such as Muhammad Yunus, started a social enterprise without most of these factors below;
- Youth, interested in Social Entrepreneurship
- A ‘Pool of Funders’
- Business Development Services (BDS)
- Socio-Economic Environment
- Social Challenges
Some additional factors have a sustainable future and relate to the spin-offs of the global recession, these include;
- A reduction in infrastructure spending
- Reduced spending in the social services sector for health
- Increased exports of agricultural products – food scarcity
- A need for re-educating skilled people – sector shrinkage
- Fiscal effects on Oil escalating oil prices, making transport costly in Africa
- Cost of education rural Africans and the associated cost of ICT accessibility
- Availability of Energy sources
All the above factors have translated into new opportunities for social entrepreneurs, where funding is available for services within these sectors. So we know that we are not short on challenges.
Most African countries have potential or aspiring social entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs. There exists definite “funding pools” within respective African countries and potential funders from developed countries, considerably interested in having a vested interest in changing the social ills within emerging economies.
In the last fifteen years, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has made considerable investments into developing skills within the Business Development Services (BDS) sector. Sovereign governments themselves have made entrepreneurship a key focus, thus the legacy of BDS market already exists and limits the amount of overlap that enables the social entrepreneur to focus on the social challenge. These relate to the SIYB Trainers and Master Trainers available in Africa, Woman Entrepreneurial Development, HIV/AIDS in the Workplace, to name a few.
Microsoft, makes educational development programmes available where needed to aid education and development of ICT skills. Food sustainability projects need to increase, and the development of woman in ICT across Africa is in deficit. However, it is with pride that we can identify some fantastic organisations and projects below, that give some insight into the work already underway, by social entrepreneurs.
Here some great social enterprises making significant strides in Africa;
- Community Goat Bank Project
- YaYa Education Trust
- The Yonsa Project
- Youth Action Net
- Tanzania Youth Environmental Network (TAYEN)
The time for our youth to make their mark cannot be understated. The ability of African youth is not overestimated. Let’s get out there and make the changes Africa needs to flourish.
Or, have you started already?