How Kenyan social entrepreneurs lift people out of poverty
Social entrepreneurship means more than a Rainforest Alliance certificate. Sadly, green-washing is common business practice in the western world. Where real problems exist in evolving countries such as Kenya, entrepreneurs develop incredible solutions for large parts of the poor population. Genuine social entrepreneurship evolves where it is needed the most to empower people in rural areas to life an independent life.
The following examples showcase social entrepreneurs that target left out people from Kenya’s growing wealth. But let’s first focus on what social entrepreneurship really means. Social entrepreneurs have a social mission as the core of the business to improve social aspects such as health, education or literacy. Another important aspect of a social business is that it creates revenues so it is able to sustain itself in comparison to typical NGOs that completely rely on donations. In short, a social business is a business that creates own revenues and reinvests those majorly to achieve it’s social purpose.
“I worked very hard for my education abroad and had a fortunate future ahead but my dream to improve my local community was stronger and brought me back to where I belong.”Matt Dickson, Founder of Eggpreneur
Social entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs that are willing to face social challenges. One good example is Matt Dickson who developed his start up Eggpreneur based on the challenges he faced in his own childhood in a poor rural neighborhood in Kenya. Early in his life he realized that especially women are the key drivers of education and progress in the local community but most of them lack sufficient funds to even feed their children. He knew that already a little amount of income would be sufficient to have tremendous impact on the local community. With that in mind he developed Eggpreneur, a social business that educates women in rural communities to develop their own chicken farm and produce a stable amount of eggs that in return give a stable income to feed the family and cover basic needs. Matt creates his revenues through the collection and distribution of eggs.
Supporting the local community was also the goal of Ivy Nitta who built her own design brand Kiondoo Kulture. Taking advantage of the skills to create the traditional Kenyan bags in her home village Ivy employs dozens of women to make the traditional Kiondoo bags. By particularly employing women above 60 years old she gives them a steady income to escape absolute poverty.
The economic challenges Kenya is facing strike in particular young graduates leaving them frustrated a danger for the stability of the society being without purpose. Gabriel Dinda, the founder of Writer’s Guild wasn’t satisfied with the frustrating situation in particular for young Kenyans so he developed his social start up targeting creative Kenyans that have excellent writing skills to build texts for multiple corporate purposes such as advertising. The resulting payments enable the individuals to establish a minimum income to keep them running and develop their potential.
“Writer’s Guild gave me hope and necessary support to utilize my creative potential. Without them I would be nowhere near where I’m today.”Elias Muhatia, Member of Writer’s Guild
Kenyans also utilize the increasing attention from abroad to secure a prosperous future for the new generation of Kenyans. This is not only driven on an NGO level but also by social entrepreneurs such as Roshan Paul, co-founder of Amani institute. With locations in Nairobi and Saõ Paulo the institute offers social entrepreneurship programs for high achievers from all over the world. With the obtained fees they are also able to offer several scholarships for local talents that can’t meet the financial requirements. Therefore, the institute fosters crucial skill development to solve global challenges but also emphasizes on the support of local talents.
“Having a lasting background in social entrepreneurship I realized early in my life that the skills that are built in the majority of universities today do not meet the requirements of employees operating on a global level.”Roshan Paul, Founder of Amani Institute
Usually more seen as a dream is utilizing new technologies to help people that are left behind in society. Tom Osborne had this heurika moment in his childhood. When his mom’s health declined because of lasting use of firewood indoors. He wanted to find something that has less toxic fumes for cooking. Together with his friends Ian and Brian he experimented with waste from sugarcane industrial plants. They managed to compress the waste to form briquettes. Compared to charcoal the new product has longer lasting use, higher temperatures and most importantly significantly less toxic fumes. Starting in 2013, the company GreenChar empowers women as GreenChar sellers in particular in rural areas. They provide them with the needed equipment and a stove that they also utilize to sell food. Through the sales those women generate their own income to sustain their families.
Kenyan social entrepreneurs solve real world problems and are just starting. I am just sharing a couple of the stories from a country where change is imminent. To change the world we are in desperate need of more change agents. Are you one of them?