Monday, November 21, 2011

The First Duty of the Social Enterprise Movement in Africa: Grow Business and Employment

Last year, an older cousin of mine who is completing his Ph.D. in Agro-Economy paid me a visit. Pleased to see him again after several years, I decided to pick his brain as much as possible. Our conversations were extensive, and covered a variety of issues, familial, academic, and social. At one point, we arrived at a comparison between the stereotypical characteristics of different ethnic groups in our native Guinea.

In his narrative, he asserted that the Fulani (my mother’s ethnic group) are patient nomads who are able to call on the forces of resilience to see an arduous task through, though it may take years to complete. He went on to praise the Soussou for their generosity and sincerity in friendship (though this sincerity may sometimes be expressed in colorful terminology). Finally, he touched upon the Malinke (my father’s ethnic group), stating that Malinke men adore being the protectors and providers for their family and friends, and prefer to be the caretakers.

Of course, these assertions were based on centuries-old assumptions of West African tribal society, and may reflect less on the increasingly interconnected lives of African, and their overlapping cultures. Nonetheless, his last observation gave me much thought. Raised in an age of self-determination, I couldn’t help thinking that empowering others is more effective than taking care of them. As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” As I pondered on the direction of the social enterprise movement in Africa, and the international development community in general, one question came to mind: “What is the primary purpose of Social Enterprise in the African context?” Giving? Care-taking? Or empowering?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Accounting for Social Entrepreneurs

Author: Adam Fish

With anthropology leaning its trendy shoulder onto social media and new economy corporations one would think the two trends would come together around a case study of software social entrepreneurs. A profitable avenue open to anthropological investigation would be their accounting practices—how they measure more-than-profit earnings.

This research is in the emergent field of ethonomics–the discipline of defining and prioritization motivations within creative industries. Ethonomics, the guiding principle behind social capitalism, evolved capitalism, moral marketeering, and venture philanthropy, is possible with digital economies of scale, flexible labor, social media networks, user-generated content, transformations in corporate management, and a deep sense of moral universalism. Each of the two words of the last point, moral and universalism, is open to a cultural critique on the grounds of its anti-cultural relativity and also how accounting is performed on a corporate imaginaire of morality. Where would an anthropologist begin to study how para-economic value is accounted for in an adroitly late-capitalistic corporate context?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Want to help Africa? Do Business

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
During a 2007 TED Conference, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first female Finance Minister of Nigeria, shares a simple, yet powerful message for all those who aspire to help Africa in its quest for development. She assuredly opines that if you want to help Africa, then you should conduct business in Africa.

Earlier this year, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed as Nigeria's de facto Prime Minister, and also Minister of Finance for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Previously, she served as a Managing Director for the World Bank. A 1977 Harvard University alumni, she graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. She went on to earn an Urban and Regional Planning Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is counted among African public figures who hold the increasingly popular view that business is a tool to transform Africa.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kumasi Center for Life-Long Learning (KCLL)

The following is the profile of an organization based in Ghana that promotes the empowerment of Ghanians through professional training; ultimately, the training will result in individuals advancing economically and professionally, thereby gaining a greater degree of independence and dignity. The model is in line with the spirit of the social enterprise movement, as it prepares individuals to succeed in the business world. In essence, KCLL affects positive change by preparing individuals to reap the benefits of economic activity in Ghana and in the region.

Kumasi Center for Life-Long Learning (KCLL) is a non-profit organization registered in Ghana. KCLL is strategically focusing on the youth, proving avenues for training in the areas of business, technology and technical skills acquisition. The organization also engages in research to affect policy on youth empowerment and skills development as well as advocate for improved business practices for small and medium scale enterprises.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Key Traits of Social Entrepreneurs

John Elkington, the Founder and Chief Entrepreneur at SustainAbility discusses the key traits of social entrepreneurs. This new brand of entrepreneurs is producing remarkable results, and changing the way businesspersons and policy makers think. The wisdoms of the broad social enterprise field can be applied to the African context.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cotton made in Africa (Aid by Trade Foundation)

 Author: Aid by Trade Foundation

Aid by Trade Foundation – Cotton made in Africa Initiative
Social Business for positive social and environmental impacts on Africa through sustainable cotton production

The Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) and its Cotton made in Africa Initiative (CmiA) were founded in 2005 by the successful German entrepreneur Dr. Michael Otto. Today the initiative Cotton made in Africa is a broad strategic alliance of strong partners from the retail side (e.g. Otto Group, C&A, TOM TAILOR, Tchibo, REWE, S.Oliver, PUMA, Anvil), cotton companies operating in Africa (Dunavant, Ivoire Coton, Faso Coton, Plexus, Cargill, GLCC, ICA and AIC), social and environmental NGO’s (WWF, NABU Germany, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe) and governmental development institutions (DEG, GIZ), contributing to the implementation of the initiative, financing activities or providing advice with professional expertise.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Conversation with a Blind Old Man

Author: Olumayokun Odukale

Caricature by Elgin Bolling
SubwaySurfer Creative Caricatures
Africa... some call it the dark continent... others refer to it as the next frontier. Certainly, it is a big village, made-up of many smaller villages... villages led by patriarchs... blind, old patriarchs. Since they lead us as Africans, I sometimes speak to them in the recesses of my mind, plainly sharing my boldest thoughts with them... as a son or daughter would speak to their father. In my conversations with a blind old man, I speak indirectly, explaining my thoughts and sharing the feelings of the diaspora... I address a large audience of youth, but I speak in the blind old man’s ears so that he may hear and understand how the children and grandchildren of his village feel...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

UNESCO and IYF Join Forces to Strengthen Youth-led Social Innovation in Africa

Author: International Youth Foundation

Paris, France -- On the occasion of its 7th Youth Forum, UNESCO signed an agreement with the International Youth Foundation (IYF) to establish youth social entrepreneurship programs in Africa, an area of high priority for the UN agency. The agreement, signed by IYF President and CEO William S. Reese and UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova, established a partnership between the two institutions that will enable IYF to bring its unique YouthActionNet® program to this critical part of the world. “While UNESCO already has close cooperation with countries across Africa,” said the Director General, “we hope that this promising new partnership with IYF will take us much farther so that we can support 180 youth-led projects over the next few years.”

© UNESCO / Danica Bijeljac
[From left to right]
YouthActionNet Fellows George Gachara
and Dina Buchbinder, IYF President and CEO Bill Reese,
and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova
"Today, we are making an important investment in the power of African youth,” said Mr. Reese. “There are emerging young African leaders who are already doing extraordinary work -- but they need to be supported. We now have a proven model that can provide that support,” he said, “and with UNESCO’s vision and extraordinary network we can scale up efforts to promote youth social entrepreneurship across Africa."

IYF’s YouthActionNet® program is designed to develop a new generation of socially-conscious global citizens who create positive change in their communities, their countries, and the world. The program provides young social innovators with recognition, skill-building and advocacy opportunities, as well as resources and connections to like minds around the world. Developed ten years ago as a global program, IYF has now adapted and created national and regional programs in ten countries. This will be the first adaptation of the program in Africa.

The IYF/UNESCO plan will first establish a Francophone program in Dakar, Senegal and an Anglophone program in Nairobi, Kenya, with programs in Arabic and Portuguese to be established at a later stage. The young leaders chosen for the program will receive training in leadership techniques and media strategies, to allow for personal development, increased legitimacy and the opportunity to network with and draw inspiration from their peers.

According to Joel Adriance, program manager at IYF, about a third of the applicants for the global YouthActionNet® program have come from Africa. Yet despite this high level of interest, IYF has lacked the necessary set of supports to mount a program on the continent. “UNESCO's participation will now bring their work center stage, allowing for new points of connection and cooperation with both private and public stakeholders.”

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