Social entrepreneurs are individuals whose innovative solutions help solve society’s most pressing social challenges. They draw on business techniques to find solutions to the everyday challenges that confront us in society but unlike regular entrepreneurs their primary aim is to create impact and improve lives, not to make profit.
However, social enterprises are not charities – they generate revenues that are re-invested into their organizations to create financial sustainability and substantially increase their ability to create long-term impact.
In recent years, an increasing number of social innovators in Africa have turned to social entrepreneurship as a model to convert their solutions into sustainable impact and to work to create wide-scale systemic change to improve lives.
Faraja Nyandu is just one an example of a local innovator who tapped into the power of social entrepreneurship. Based in Tanzania, she leads Shule Direct, a digital solution for teacher shortages across the country.
Faraja’s is working to implement a lasting solution to the teacher shortage issue in Tanzania’s educational sector and to provide engaging, quality educational content to students on various electronic platforms.
In 2014, Reach for Change Africa and Tigo awarded Faraja as a Tigo Digital Changemaker and provided her with a financial grant to fund her social enterprise as well support in Reach for Change’s incubator. Since then, Faraja has received coaching, mentorship, networking opportunities, trainings and more through the incubator. This has helped her develop Shule Direct into financially sustainable social enterprise that is scaling throughout Tanzania.
Through its incubators and accelerators, Reach for Change helps social entrepreneurs like Faraja build scalable ventures with the power to alter societies and create better lives for children, youth and women. Reach for Change Africa supports social entrepreneurs to track and communicate their social impact, prepares them for scale, works with them to build financially sustainable social enterprises and sets them on a path to create lasting system change.
Reach for Change Africa Programs Manager Lindy Larson says local solutions from Africans are the best way to combat poverty and other socio-economic problems pressing the continent today.
“In addition to our accelerators and incubators, we are working to draw attention to social entrepreneurship as an important driver of development in Africa,” Larson says. “It’s been especially relevant during Global Entrepreneurship Week — when we are talking about how we can support the development of African entrepreneurs — that we also advocate for the unique needs of social entrepreneurs.”
Social entrepreneurs will be playing a crucial role in reaching the UN’s sustainable development goals and Lartey says that Reach for Change Africa and its partners are committed to creating supportive ecosystems across the continent to help social entrepreneurs succeed. Reach for Change Africa recently founded Social Enterprise Africa, which supports the establishment of national social enterprise networks throughout Africa. SE Africa also promotes learning and innovation, works to increase funding for social enterprises, advocates for supportive policies and programs, and conducts research on the social enterprise sector.
As the social entrepreneurship sector continues to grow in Africa, there are increasing opportunities to invest in sustainable development and change. There is a need to build more supportive ecosystems for social entrepreneurship growth, and to provide social entrepreneurs with the tools and skills that they need to achieve success.
For Faraja Nyalandu, the Reach for Change incubator has supported her to improve education for tens of thousands of students. With more supportive ecosystems for social entrepreneurship, Nyalandu, and other innovators like her, will lead the change for better lives for millions of Africans.