Reach for Change Africa is calling on social entrepreneurs, NGOs and government to play their role in strengthening the social entrepreneurship sector in Africa on International Day of Youth 2016. Reach for Change Africa, which runs innovation competitions, incubators and accelerators to support innovative African social entrepreneurs, affirmed that the best way to empower youth to create positive change in Africa is by building a strong social entrepreneurship ecosystem that attracts the most talented, innovative young people to the field.
Reach for Change’s Africa Regional Director Amma Lartey stated that in order to address priority issues like poverty and sustainable development, more actors need to get involved in supporting social entrepreneurship across the continent, a sector already dominated by youth.
“Social entrepreneurship has the power to create lasting, systemic change for youth – and by youth. Many of the social entrepreneurs we support started out when they were youth and with our support, they’ve been able to build sustainable social enterprises that address critical issues in society, particularly issues that affect young people,,” Lartey said.
Reach for Change Africa has already made strides in strengthening social entrepreneurship across the continent, putting initiatives like Social Entrepreneurs Africa (SE Africa) in motion earlier this year. SE Africa brings together national networks of social entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them to increase learning and innovation in the sector, establish growth funds, increase funding to social enterprises and help social enterprises become investment ready, advocate for policies and programs that promote social enterprises and conduct research to broaden the understanding of the social enterprise landscape in Africa.
“We know from experience that young people have innovative ideas that can solve the social challenges that affect them and their peers; what they need is support and funding to get their ideas off the ground and to help them transform their innovations into sustainable, long term solutions,” Lartey added. “We are working to build a more robust social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Africa that attracts youth to pursue social entrepreneurship as a viable career path and we invite governments, investors, NGOs and successful, experienced social entrepreneurs to get on board with us.”
Since 2012, with support from its partners, Reach for Change Africa has helped dozens of young social entrepreneurs to build sustainable, scalable, high impact social enterprises.
Developing a generation of innovative young problem-solvers in Tanzania
Carolyne Ekyarisiima, the founder of Apps & Girls in Tanzania and 2016 Mandela Washington fellow, is a Change Leader in the Reach for Change Incubator who has been supported through funding, trainings, coaching, mentorship and access to global entrepreneurship networks. Since joining the incubator program, Carolyne has scaled her organization to help hundreds of secondary school girls develop coding skills in fun, interactive ways. In addition to technical coding trainings, Carolyne also teaches her youth beneficiaries leadership and problem-solving skills, empowering them to put their skills into action to address issues such as poverty, child rights, health issues and more.
One of Carolyne’s beneficiaries, Belinda Baraka, is leading positive change in her community thanks to Apps & Girls. Belinda founded BITO Market, an online directory that links farmers directory to consumers and helps to reduce the cost of agricultural products while helping farmers to earn more.
Empowering Ghanaian youth to take a lead in reducing waste
Cordie Aziz is another Change Leader in Reach for Change’s Incubator who has developed a robust social enterprise called Environment 360. Cordie provides opportunities for youth to reduce their impact on the environment through various educational and participatory initiatives including recycling clubs that monitor waste produced in schools and look for ways to reduce consumption of plastics.
Cordie is fostering the next generation of environmentally conscious young Africans who take the lead in protecting the earth.