Social Entrepreneurs of the Year helping Africans changing their lives positively


13 May 2016

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship announced the 12 winners of its Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2016 awards on the fringes of the WEF Africa meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. The winners are active in providing internet access, entrepreneurship training and helping people from underprivileged communities become tech savvy, according to the organisation.

Social Entrepreneurs of the Year Here are the Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2016 winners of Africa that were honoured at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, together with some of the speakers at the event. (Image: World Economic Forum)

Among the winners is South African entrepreneur Luvuyo Rani, who started his first business in his car boot. Rani’s Khayelitsha based Silulo Ulutho Internet Cafe opened 12 years ago and is changing the lives of young and old residents who would otherwise not have the opportunity to become computer literate, reported the online news portal Media Club South Africa.

From selling refurbished computers to teachers from a car boot to opening up an internet cafe, Rani’s business has evolved to become a computer literacy training centre, as well as offering help with curriculum vitae writing and giving employment advice.

The need for social entrepreneurship

Hilde Schwab, co-founder and chairwoman of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship told leaders at the World Economic Forum that reliance on governments alone to provide social infrastructure and safety nets was unrealistic. “We must mobilise individuals who in entrepreneurial and innovative ways tackle the big problems we are faced with now and in the future.”

The Foundation, she explained, is a platform for social entrepreneurs to network, exchange expertise and experience. “It also gives them a global presence and visibility.”

Watch how several social entrepreneurs talk about the impact their initiatives are making in various communities.

Another South African winner is The Clothing Bank. The organisation gets merchandise from retailers which are then given to women that are part of their programme. In turn these women are taught how to sell the items and earn a living for themselves.

Chief operating officer of The Clothing Bank, Tracey Gilmore, told the CNBC Africa that social involvement was not just about allowing unemployed women to be successful in earning money. “It’s also about eradicating poverty in their lives.”

Gilmore believes that internal change – changing of the mind – is important, adding that the women The Clothing Bank helps should start believing that they could achieve anything.

Watch the stories of the women of The Clothing Bank who were previously unemployed talk about how they were taught to work with their finances.

The winners

Other winners of the 2016 Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year are:

Sophi Tranchell of Divine Chocolate (UK), who pioneered Fairtrade chocolate and is co-owner of the 80 000 member Kuapa Kokoo cocoa farmers’ cooperative in Ghana.

The cooperative collectively produces 6% of Ghana’s cocoa harvest and Kuapa Kokoo farmers receive 44% of distributed profits. Divine has built partnerships with major global retailers (Starbucks, Tesco, and Marks & Spencer’s) allowing them to sell more than 30 different products in 12 countries.

Jean-Marc Borello of Groupe SOS (France) oversees 12 000employess working at 330 organisations that address social needs. Groupe SOS’s family of social enterprises directly impacts over 1 million people in 20 countries.

Sergio Andrade of Agenda Publica (Brazil) coordinates governments, civil society and private sector initiatives that provide technical assistance and training for public administrators. Agenda Publica has trained more than 5,000 administrators in basic infrastructure, another 5,000 administrators in policy development, and 600 municipal officials in working groups for the extractive industries.

Yasmina Filali of Fondation Orient Occident (Morocco) provides job training to underprivileged Moroccans, sub-Saharan migrants and refugees. It also helps migrants and refugees to integrate into Moroccan society. Ninety-five per cent of graduates from the IT courses and 60% of hospitality graduates find regular employment.

J. David Risher and Colin McElwee of Worldreader (69 countries, predominantly African), distributes digital books, offering a collection of more than 28,000 books from over 150 publishers in 44 languages. Worldreader makes these books available to over 6 million readers, mostly students, in Africa and Asia. As a result, seven out of ten primary school students and eight out of ten library patrons report reading more.

Ron Bills of Envirofit (USA), sells affordable biomass cookstoves that lower exposure to indoor air pollution. Since it began, the company’s largely female sales team has sold 900,000 stoves and impacted 4.5 million users, reducing CO2 emissions by 15.3 million tons.

In the aggregate, they have saved their customers $124 million in fuel costs.

Nina Smith of GoodWeave International (India, Nepal, Afghanistan) fights child labour in the global carpet industry by building market demand for rugs certified as child-labour-free. The number of child labourers in carpet supply chains has been reduced by 80% to an estimated 200,000.

Poonam Bir Kasturi of Daily Dump (India), which encourages urban Indian households to segregate and compost their wet organic waste through sales of aesthetically designed composters and advisory services. As of 2015, 25,000 families and 120 institutions use Daily Dump products, collectively keeping 22,000 kg of wet waste out of landfills at no cost to the government.

Simon Bakker of Kennemer Foods International (Philippines), grows, sources and trades in high-quality agriculture produce such as fermented cocoa beans through a contract farming programme with smallholder farmers in the Philippines.

In just five years of operations, Kennemer has achieved significant scale, sourcing from 10,000 Filipino farmers who have seen an average income increase of 340%. By 2020, the company aims to integrate 35,000 farmers into its value chain.

Sources: World Economic Forum and South reporter.