There has been a rise in social entrepreneurship in Africa; so we took a closer look. No doubt civil society is indeed the catalyst for social change, and Africa is no exception.
No fundamental social change occurs merely because government acts. It’s because civil society, the conscience of a country, begins to rise up and demand, demand, demand change. Joe Biden
Africans understand this and so over the years we have seen this demand for change through the emergence of many African social entrepreneurs with start-ups ranging from clean energy to medical help and much more.
Top African Social Entrepreneurs
We decided to take a closer look at these social entrepreneurs and share with you our list of the top social entrepreneurs from Africa.
First on our list is Ellen Chilemba, who at the age of 22 is already a force to be reckoned with. Ellen founded her organisation, Tiwale, at age 17 in 2012. Tiwale’s aim is to help women escape poverty by empowering them with the relevant education and information through workshops, vocation skills training and interest free micro-finance loans.
In a few short years Tiwale has trained hundreds of women and has helped many of them start successful businesses. Ellen has been called a powerhouse by Forbes, as well as being named one of their “Africa’s Most Promising Entrepreneurs Under 30“.
Jean Bosco Nzeyimana
Next is Rwanda born, Jean Bosco Nzeyimana. At the early age of 19, Jean came up with the idea to process waste into environmentally friendly and affordable fuel in his community. His company, Habona Ltd collects and sorts trash to create briquettes, organic fertilizers and bio-gas with the aim to reduce the number of people still dependent on charcoal for energy.
Nzeyimana has won many business awards including being named Top Young Entrepreneur of Rwanda and receiving the African Innovation Prize.
Educator, entrepreneur, investor and humanitarian are just some of the words used to describe our next African social entrepreneur, Chike Ukaegbu. Nigerian born but living in the U.S., he launched the Education and Entrepreneurship Leadership Fund in Nigeria in 2014.
This fund has awarded academic scholarships and seed capital to youth entrepreneurs. He then founded the diversity-focused Startup52 in 2015 with a goal to provide better access to capital and other resources for founders from communities that are not among the ‘usual’ list. Chike is well respected in his field and hailed as an expert by many.
Nobel Peace Prize nominee Victor Ochen formed AYINET in 2005 as a way to bring peace to a war-ravaged Uganda. Born in Northern Uganda, a product of a community displaced by war and a victim touched by war himself, Ochen’s heart was moved by his encounters with those with similar experiences.
These encounters affected change in him and helped him to effect change. The African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET) is a not-for-profit organization that is committed to making peace and justice a reality for victims and survivors of war. It’s major initiative being to get victims much needed rehabilitative surgery and to empower youths to leadership.
The Gina Din Group (GDG) founded by Kenyan born Gina Din-Kariuki, is the most awarded agency in Africa. It’s founder and our next entrepreneur, Din-Kariuki, is considered the foremost expert in communications and public relations in Africa.
She serves as a goodwill ambassador for the Red Cross and runs the Gina Din Foundation which empowers youth and women through leadership training, entrepreneurship workshops and employment opportunities. The Foundation also seeks to connect youth and women with mentors, global resources and media platforms to propel them towards their goals.
Sixth on our list is 22 year old Barclay Okari. Okari was inspired to found his start-up after volunteering to teach at a small girls’ high school in Western Kenya. He discovered that many of his students missed classes regularly because they couldn’t afford sanitary napkins.
The sadness of this fact and a desire to change it birthed AFRIpads – the inexpensive, reusable, washable sanitary towel. Impact Africa Industries, Okari’s company, has sold and distributed over one million Safi Pads to low-income women across Uganda and Kenya.
This young entrepreneur has turned a $1,500.00 loan from his parents into a product of impact.
Ghanaian entrepreneur Nthabiseng Mosia is co-founder of Easy Solar. Inspired by the lack of access to electricity to 90% of Sierra Leone; Mosia and her partners created Easy Solar to provide customers with an alternative to electricity.
They operate on a rent-to-own financial model and offer high quality products and appliances. At only two years old, Easy Solar has 9 distribution points and have brought electricity to over 8,000 households. Mosia has been named as one of Forbes “30 Most Outstanding Entrepreneurs in Africa 2018“.
At the forefront of the African Tech ecosystem is our next social entrepreneur, Judith Owigar. Co-founder of 8 year old AkiraChix and founder of 3 year old Juakali Workforce, Owigar uses her time and resources to nurture and develop women in tech in Africa.
She has helped to propel both women and children, into careers in science, technology, engineering and math. She has also taken a hand in addressing the growing youth unemployment rate in Kenya. Owigar has been listed as one of CNN’s African Voices’ “10 African Tech Voices to Follow on Twitter“.
Speciosa Mbula Nguku
Next to last on our list is Speciosa Mbula Nguku. She is the founder and director of Machakos Surgery, the first network of surgical hospitals in Kenya. Machakos Surgery provides affordable, ethical, quality care to its patients.
Being an anesthesiologist and pain specialist, Nguku works primarily with children with disabilities. She and her team strives to restore dignity to patients by surgically correcting deformities.
James Kofi Anan
The last entrepreneur on our list is Ghana born James Kofi Anan. As a child slave himself, Anan established his dream, Challenging Heights, unofficially in 2003 and then officially as a registered organisation in 2005.
The mission of his organisation is to prevent child trafficking, reduce child slavery and promote the rights of children. Kofi has received many awards over the years, recognizing the value of his work in keeping our most precious resources safe.
Final say on social entrepreneurship in Africa
Be it through education, healthcare, training or protecting their people and the environment, these inspiring entrepreneurs are driven by heart, passion, and a desire to see change across Africa. Join us in hailing their efforts and the efforts of many like them native to our great continent.