Africa

148, Kwami Williams, MoringaConnect | Unlocking the Value of Moringa to End Poverty

MoringaConnect connects smallholder farmers and consumers with the value of Moringa. This month on Social Entrepreneur, we’re focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 1, No Poverty. Around the world, there are people and programs working to help the poor to permanently overcome persistent poverty. Some programs work better than others. One factor that helps determine the success of poverty elimination programs is a systems approach, with consistent application over time. In order to do that, there needs to be a steady source of funding. According to the World Bank, in Sub-Saharan Africa there are 389 million people living on less than two dollars per day. Most of these are rural poor,…

Read More

143, Kathy Ku and John Kye, SPOUTS of Water | Safe Drinking Water for all Ugandans

SPOUTS of Water is a social venture, based in Uganda, that is providing access to safe drinking water. In 2010, Kathy Ku spent time in Uganda, where she experienced first-hand the problems with the lack of access to safe drinking water. About 30% of the population of Uganda, around 10 million people do not have access to safe drinking water. And about 60% of the population boils their water to try to purify it. Waterborne illness is the number one killer of children under 5 in Uganda, and sickens millions of Ugandans. The responsibility of securing drinking water falls disproportionally on women and children, reducing their ability to participate in…

Read More

139, Sonja Ausen-Anifrani, SMS Maama | Reduce Maternal Mortality in Uganda

Sonja Ausen-Anifrani believes that maternal mortality can be reduced by providing the health information that every woman deserves.   The founders of SMS Maama met at a course on social entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota. None of them had experience in being an entrepreneur or building a social venture. The class provided mentors in Uganda. They worked on their idea and, when the class was over, they walked away with a grade and a business plan. But now, they were on the hook. They knew what the problem was and they suspected that perhaps they had a solution. And if they could do something about maternal mortality, didn’t they…

Read More

137, Misan Rewane, WAVE | Skills over Schools

Misan Rewane focuses on employability skills over school degrees. She thinks schools, employers and the government should do the same. Misan is one of those bright stars you want to hang out with for an afternoon tea. However, I suspect that, instead of tea, she would put you immediately to work. Her passion for solving the youth unemployment gap comes through in every conversation. She said of the founding team, “We are young West Africans who, by accident of birth and circumstances and opportunity were able to get access to some of the best education in the world.” She knows that for most of her peers, that is not the…

Read More

134, Verengai Mabika, Development Reality Institute (DRI) | The Climate Change Challenge and Opportunity

Verengai Mabika sees the opportunities created by climate change. Eighty percent of Zimbabwe’s businesses depend on Agriculture. Most agriculture in Zimbabwe is rain-fed. Climate change brings record high temperatures and frequent droughts. When crops fail, so does Zimbabwe’s economy. The droughts, combined with land reform, changed Zimbabwe from a net exporter of agricultural products to an importer of food. There are currently around four million people who need food aid in Zimbabwe. Verengai Mabika has a passion for designing green communities. He was trained as an urban planner with an emphasis on environmental design. In 2009, there was a sharp rise in political violence. Verengai told me, “I was surprised…

Read More

130, Kathleen Colson, The BOMA Project | Poverty Graduation through For-Profit Entrepreneurship

Kathleen Colson is using a poverty graduation process to end extreme poverty in the face of climate change. Over 40% of the African continent is arid land. The people who live in these regions are particularly susceptible to changes in the climate. They depend solely on livestock for their nutrition and livelihood. With climate change, sustained, severe droughts are becoming more common. Kathleen Colson attended St. Lawrence University as a scholarship student. Her scholarship allowed her to participate in the Kenya Semester Program at the University of Nairobi. That experience deeply impacted Kathleen. After graduating, she tried working in the corporate world, but Africa kept calling to her. She returned…

Read More

115, Anushka Ratnayake, myAgro | How to Move Smallholder Farmers out of Poverty

Anushka Ratnayake of myAgro uses a combination of savings, inputs and training to increase the income of smallholder farmers. As a social entrepreneur, Anushka Ratnayake has seen startup challenges that are not common in other regions. For example, less than a year after launching myAgro, an armed conflict broke out in Mali. A group associated with Al-Qaeda set up a new state in Northern Mali. In response, the French military launched an operation and ousted the rebels. Anushka Ratnayake, the founder of myAgro was an early employee with Kiva. There she learned about the power of microfinance to impact poverty. She also worked with One Acre Fund where her job…

Read More

108, Chris Underhill, BasicNeeds | Partnering with people living with mental illness

BasicNeeds works in partnership with people living with mental illness. Picture it. A young Chris Underhill and his wife are making their way out of a large hospital in Malawi where they have just been given wonderful news. They are expecting their first child. The year is 1969. The hallways are crowded as the young couple is compelled forward, carried by their good news. The courtyard is filled with family members of hospital patients. Smoke from cooking fills the air. As they round a corner, they come upon an unexpected scene. They find themselves confronted with a cage containing five men. The cage is surrounded by small children poking the…

Read More

098, Gianluca Cescon, Devergy | Solar Micro Smart Grids

Solar Micro Smart Grids are Lighting up the Tanzanian Countryside After graduating from university in 2007, Gianluca Cescon and his friend Fabio De Pascale spent time backpacking in Guyana. As they made their way through small villages, they came across a number of broken solar power projects. Gianluca told me “The problem was not the money – it was the maintenance,” and “Where there is money, there is a business model.” After taking jobs in Amsterdam, Gianluca and Fabio could not let go of the idea of a better approach to solar power. They told one another, “Every day we spend not building the company we want to build, is…

Read More

091, Cameron Goldie-Scot, Musoni Services | Microfinance #TechForGood

Cameron Goldie-Scot is a cofounder of Musoni Services, an award-winning, low-cost microfinance software licensed to more than 50 microfinance institutions. This episode of the podcast Social Entrepreneur is the first in a series we’re calling #TechForGood. As you know, technology is well suited for driving inefficiencies out of the market, creating value and allowing founders to reap rewards. And, while there is nothing wrong with creating a billion dollar tech startup, the same principles can be applied to take on some of the most intractable problems of our time. Cameron’s story starts when he graduated from university and decided to take a 5-week assignment, investigating the possibility of using M-Pesa…

Read More