Social Entrepreneurship; Africa’s potential in the Technology era.

If he were alive today, Kwame Nkrumah would be beaming with pride and hardly able to hide the ‘infectious’ smile as they say he had; as he would know that the struggle bore its fruit. As the curtains came to a close at the 30th Heads of African States Summit; the vision for Africa was in the minds of all and sundry. When they put pen to paper; the 23 heads of states signed the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), this will dynamically change movement of people and goods within the continent, providing employment and fostering a more formidable union.

In his speech as he assumed the chairmanship of the AU, President Paul Kagame seemed to have silently realized the power technology has for human development. ‘The growth trajectory that transformed Asia is not necessarily viable any longer for Africa simply because we waited too long to act. Technology has evolved so rapidly in recent years that Africa’s window to follow that strategy is narrowing much more rapidly than previously understood.’ He said.

We as Africans have something special that we need to preserve and cherish; it is an envy of the world yet we do it without a drop of sweat. We recognize that first, we are social beings and community is an integral part of our livelihoods. We form friendships instantaneously and effortlessly and we always find meaning within those friendships. Let us never lose this even in this era of Artificial Intelligence. To ensure that we propagate and jealously preserve this; we need to quickly start to implement solutions to those vices that threaten the continuity of our ‘Africanness’. These solutions must include the entire community that we so much cherish. Every one of us has something to give to the world; this is the time to rise up to the stage. The world will listen and watch as long as we are willing to be interesting actors and actresses.

It is no longer the norm where board room decisions determine the economic courses of action; technology has demystified bureaucracy disrupted the usual way of doing things within a period of less than 20 years to such unprecedented levels that nobody thought possible. Take for instance how cryptocurrency has by passed the bureaucracies of central bank regulation of financial flows and how Uber has relegated the Taxi guy to an idle if not jobless member of society who still parks on the road side waiting for clients and hoping to reap them with his price monopoly. Despite the hostile environment Uber received as it made its debut into these murky waters; it has stood the test time and from this; other even more cheaper and friendlier Hybrid mobile applications where passengers car pool to work are popping up everywhere. The taxi men have had no choice but to upgrade themselves to meet this quality driven service.

Social entrepreneurship is a concept we can easily integrate within our societies to solve the challenges facing our world of today. The novelty of it, is how it allows us to solve a problem while creating empowerment, employment, education and sustainability. Take a case in mind where 4th year Engineering students come together to make a solar panel for pumping water for irrigation as a solution for water scarcity. These students will have done a successful project hence guaranteed graduation and maybe head hunted even before they ‘burn those books’.

Their solution however will have produced a bumper harvest, bringing more income for the farmer, the surplus production would be stored in ways to ensure availability throughout (Value addition in preservation), food industries would have more supply and the country will literally be food secure. The solar panels can go into full scale industrial local production making the best of the 365 days of the savannah sunshine. The new ways of urban planning would literally transform to one house; one solar.

We live in times where saving our planet is the discussion in every meeting of the minds. African Development Bank has gone into full scale renewable energy, Germany has so much clean energy that it is in excess of their energy needs. If we are to continue calling earth our home, we all have a part to play in saving it.

Other forms of entrepreneurship where profit making is the main goal for being in business, creating cut throat competition where winner takes it all has been the main way of doing business. The Oxfam report released at Davos 2018 could not have put it any worse. The world’s richest 1%, got 82% of the wealth created in 2017 alone. We can no longer sustain this forms of inequality. It is not only a threat to peace; it is the highest form of injustice than we as men can bring on our fellow men.

Social entrepreneurship on the other hand provides for inclusivity for all. Both skilled and unskilled labor work hand in hand to provide practical working solutions for societies’ challenges and while at it, everybody gets a decent income that affords them a living standard for any human being.

It incorporates the chemical engineer who develops ways of recycling laundry water up to 80% of it for reuse by separating oil, dirt and organic matter from the water, the mechanical engineer who provides for how the water will be pumped across the different holding tanks, the electrical engineer who calculates energy demands for the entire system, the business developer who takes the product and sells it as an Eco Plus solution (give it to them, they know how to advertise) to the laundromat attendant (former domestic hired help turned skilled laundry expert) who ensures your laundry is done to satisfaction, the driver/ rider (former sole proprietor ) who delivers your laundry.  This saves us water consumption in our homes by 75% bearing in mind that laundry takes up the lion’s share of water in our homes.

This nothing short of genius model of thinking, can only make society a better place to live in. We would have less worries for ‘small yet cannot be ignored’ challenges and we can use the saved up time to think and create a waste recycle system that ensures anyone who comes into contact with any form of waste or as we call it garbage can sell it and get money immediately at the waste recycling plant. Take this to the bank and cash it, you would never see any waste littering any part of anywhere within our cities. I beg not belabor the potential of waste as a source of clean energy and again the jobs it would create for the millions of Africa’s youth whom everyone seems to talk about but little is being done about them.

This way of thinking where we think of solving problems before making profit is the only way Africa can leapfrog towards achievement of its vision 2063. These forms of social entrepreneurships listed as examples should move from them being good ideas to being implemented. Anyone whose eyes upon which these writings shall fall; take them up, think them through, research on them, write to companies or persons who have done this before, learn from them, take up what works for your situation, make them into business models. Create jobs.

‘You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time’ Angela Davis once said. Do not be afraid of greatness. The young social entrepreneur from Sierra Leone; Kelvin Doe could not have summed it better that how he put ‘creativity is universal and can be found in places one did not expect to find it”.

My favorite: ‘Only us can help us to become us; and when we become us; the world will respect us’ Francis Duro.

Long Live Mama Africa.

Writen by Jemima Kibira:

Jemima is the founder of African Women’s Health Foundation and she champions for increased access for women’s health care and facilities that provide for such. Her primary goal is to advocate for more cervical cancer screening and treatment so as so allow women live in a cervical cancer free society.
She is currently pursuing a Masters course in Palliative Oncology in Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine.
She is a nurse, mentor, tutor, Social Entrepreneur and brave lover


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