Lately, the world has witnessed Africa gaining momentum when it comes to innovation and technological development. For centuries, most of Africa’s talent has been unnoticed due to economic and political restraints. But now, thanks to a lot of amazing people that risked so much, more people in African countries are getting access to amenities that are usually only accessible in the West. We wanted to highlight four of these change makers for you today.
1) Tutu Desks
One of the more significant concerns is the inadequacy of education. Lack of education has been a pressing issue for African countries due to scarce resources, political unrest, and availability. As a result, the average attendance at the handful of schools in Africa is very low. Fortunately, for-profit and nonprofit organizations have been venturing to solve these underlying problems. Startups such as Tutu desks, aim to bring school desks to over 95 million children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Other entrepreneurs are not just trying to build businesses in Africa but also encourage local enterprise, many believing it is a more sustainable, long-term approach than direct donations. Tracey Webster, CEO of Enterpriseroom, intends to increase South Africans jobs through small enterprises. Webster has previously worked with the government to make it easier for young South Africans to start their own business, a solution she proposes for the economic hardship that was a result of the apartheid.
Some African regions are starting to receive entrepreneurial training from organizations such as Sector-Wide Entrepreneurship for Empowerment Tools (SWEET) Africa Café, an NGO based in Uganda that aims to train two million entrepreneurs by 2030. Social entrepreneurship is heavily emphasized in the SWEET 12-week course, encouraging entrepreneurs to work toward solving social problems in a sustainable way that can also improve the local economy. SWEET is currently operating in 11 countries including Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.
4) Safi Pads
The pressing issues in Africa, often have several organizations targeting one issue. However, women’s issues that can even be life threatening sometimes go overlooked. Many medical and hygienic supplies can end up being too expensive to purchase. Improper female sanitation has led to many diseases across developing countries. Barclay Okari, founder of Safi Pads, offers women a much more affordable sanitary pad. Okari’s new company for female sanitary pads has sold more than one million of these pads across East Africa.
Businesses can now thrive in Africa more than ever. Entrepreneurs can take part in what economists call “frugal innovation,” which involves developing innovative designs to help the poor at low cost. With the right, innovative social enterprises we can align opportunities with the vast amount of human capital to generate returns and create impact.