Africa Day 2016: Celebrating Africa’s Enterprising Spirit for Social Good
Happy AFRICA Day!
Today we celebrate Africa Day! Africa Day commemorates the formation of the Organisations of African Unity (OAU) on the 25th of May 1963 as well as the African Union (AU) in 2002.
The cornerstone of the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), is our African-led, grass-roots development approach. USADF values the continent and celebrates the dynamism of our African staff, partners and communities that are making a difference in the lives of Africans across the continent.
In Africa today, more than half of the population is under the age of 19. With many communities being left on the margins, it will take a united and committed community approach to enable all Africans have a chance to be a part of Africa’s growth story. Undeniably, ‘people power’ is the continent's greatest asset, as well as, its greatest challenge. As a small Agency focused on economic growth and participatory development, USADF has seen firsthand how empowering African entrepreneurship, and fostering sustainable social enterprises owned by local Africans and communities will accelerate Africa’s rise.
Led by our local African staff, USADF seeks to work in regions that are not well served by commercial markets – or even development agencies. At any one time, USADF is funding anywhere from 300 to 350 enterprises – benefitting vulnerable and marginalized populations upward of 1.3 million people. If you look at our partners, USADF is investing in African agro-business and processing with the aim of leveraging our cooperatives' ability to increase yields and then increase their abilities to process their crops themselves. This in turn creates the space for more income generation and expertise to remain local.
USADF believes social entrepreneurs show us the way and allow the private sector to discover where non-traditional value is and can be mobilized for national development. For example, Eric Muthomi, of Stawi Foods, based in Kenya, uses banana flour and other grains to provide highly nutritious porridge mixes for people at the bottom of the pyramid. He started his business after seeing banana farmers have their fruit go to waste, without a buyer, and knowing that people without a lot of money needed affordable, quality cereal products for their families.
Social entrepreneurs are the key lever for catalyzing development in countries where the business and government sectors are underdeveloped. They provide small scale assistance and vision for promising social and transformative projects that are capable of transforming human capital into crucial economic development. For example, Disruptive Innovations in Zimbabwe, a USADF supported enterprise, is led by Nomvula Mhambi, who owns a communications and public relations firm. She has started a social venture that is using advertising revenues to renovate and maintain public restrooms, in city centers and close to bus depots -- areas that are heavily trafficked and in need of WASH facilities. This is the epitome of business for social good.
We believe in Africa, and Africa’s enterprising spirit. United, many more community based, African-led businesses like Stawi Foods and Disruptive Innovations exemplify how Africans united for community change create growth and prosperity for all Africans.