Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mobile phone banking in East Africa

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) has an interesting discussion on the merits of Kenyan-based cell phone banking initiative, M-pesa, and its counterpart in Tanzania on its blog: Read the discussion here.

Cell phone banking has the potential to make things move a lot faster in a region where a formalized credit structure has yet to be implemented. Transactions - both for households and commercial businesses - are able to become quicker and cheaper through money transfers done over mobile devices. However, as CGAP's blog shows, there are other factors at stake, such as mobile service provider competition and geographic location.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ikotoilets and Public Health in East Africa

A new breed of social entrepreneurship is sweeping the East African coast. Ecotact - a Kenyan private market-based organization working towards improving sustainable environmental sanitation - announced The Ikotoilet project at the Clinton Global Initiative this week.

The Ikotoilet project focuses on providing:

- Low-flush toilets in both the ladies and gents toilets
- Waterless urinals in gent’s toilets
- Shower facilities
- Water saving taps and soap dispensers
- Dry toilet system - a facility for urine harvesting and water conservation
- A free-of-charge toilet for the disabled
- Tanks for rain water harvesting.
- A changing area for babies
- Sanitary bins
- Full length mirror
- Music
- Snack shop
- Shoe shine vendor

(Source: About Ikotoilet webpage)

In doing so, the Ikotoilet initiative is trying to positively transform the public approach to maintaining a healthy living, while creating jobs and investing in social entrepreneurship activities. The project will begin implementation in Kenya and Zanzibar, and is set to scale up into greater Tanzania and Uganda in coming months in partnership with entrepreneurial youth.

The Ikotoilet project is based on Kenyan entrepreneur David Kuria's ideas for increasing the urban poor's access to high quality sanitation, a basic but important need in East Africa, while still involving them in a self-improvement process.

Read more:
SOAworld Magazine article
David Kuria's idea on Ashoka's website
Ecotact website
Clinton Global Initiative website

ReWork engages Tanzanian entrepreneurs

Rework The World is group that seeks to mobilize young people and facilitate their access to making positive change. Rework was created from a partnership between the YES Campaign and the Tällberg Foundation.

In May 2009, Rework held a workshop conference in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania to attempt to figure out what sustainable ventures could be explored by Tanzanian entrepreneurs that promoted positive social change. The themes of the workshop were centered around how to tackle youth unemployment. As such, presentations were given from the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Youth Development.

The results from the conference were twofold. Challenges in youth communication platforms were identified, and initiatives that needed to be worked on were suggested.

Two main goals that were borne out of the conference:
1. Build a youth-led solar economy;
2. Use media to assist in the youth education/communication process.

Vijana FM is a youth communication platform specifically meant for entrepreneurial support and collaborative planning amongst youth. We are not directly affiliated to Rework, the YES Campaign or the Tällberg Foundation, but we are always looking for room for collaboration. Get in touch with us at admin (at) vijanafm (dot) com.

Read more:
Rework in Tanzania news article

Monday, September 21, 2009

Entrepreneurship opportunities for high school students

Entrepreneur U, a website created by DECA Inc. and funded by Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, contains information about how entrepreneurial secondary-school aged youth can access opportunities to learn more about small business planning.

The website was created with hopes to "bridge the gap between high school students interested in becoming entrepreneurs and postsecondary institutions that have viable entrepreneurship education options."

Read more:
Entrepreneur U homepage
Entrepreneur U scholarship information
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation website

Working with African coders: AppAfrica

AppAfrica is an incubating space for African tech entrepreneurs.

Their primary objective is to provide "a physical space with a solid Internet connection, servers, software and computers that allows students and recent graduates a place to develop their ideas in a constructive environment with industry professionals as mentors outside of school".

By offering a platform from which techies can exchange information and collaborate on software projects, AppAfrica seeks to bring local entrepreneurial talent to the global marketplace for computer software development: "Entrepreneur projects are refined and prepped to help them secure funding and launch sustainable, profitable businesses."

(Source for quotes: About AppAfrica)

Read more:
AppAfrica.net (publishing arm)
AppAfrica Labs (incubating arm)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

YouthActionNet Fellowship

YouthActionNet provides training, networking and advocacy opportunities for individuals with ideas for social change, similar to Echoing Green.

The 2010 Fellowship opens March 2010.

Read more:
About the YouthActionNet Fellowship
YouthActionNet 2010 Fellowship application guidelines

Monday, September 14, 2009

Echoing Green Fellowship: Phase 1 begins September 21

Echoing Green supports social entrepreneurs in delivering new, ground-breaking and high-impact products and services.

According to their website, Echoing Green (1) identifies entrepreneurial visionaries with bold ambitions, (2) invests in their innovation and skill, (3) provides hands-on support, and (4) connects entrepreneurs.

Through an intensive 3-round application process, individuals or pairs can work with Echoing Green in seed funding their ideas for positive social change.

Phase one of the Echoing Green Fellowship opens up September 21, 2009 and ends December 2 @ 5pm EST.

Read more:
Echoing Green homepage
Application procedures
Last year's Fellows

Friday, September 11, 2009

Collaborative ideas for Africa: Africa Gathering

Africa Gathering is a collaboration framework built to facilitate the free-flow of creative sustainable development ideas for Africa. These ideas span across technology, social networking, health, education and good governance.

By using conference-style meetings a few times every year, Africa Gathering brings together technophiles, entrepreneurs and thinkers in an effort to exchange, discuss and provide feedback to ideas.

An extract from the Africa Gathering website:

"We facilitate the passionate conversation surrounding how new technologies are opening the eyes of the world to a strong, independent and prosperous 21st Century Africa by bringing inspired people together to talk, share and listen... By providing a place for like-minded people to join together we hope to accelerate the rate of ideas that are generated and of networks that are made. We believe that true technological development relies on understanding, creativity and sharing."

This is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in hearing and sharing ideas on sustainable development in Africa. The process of development is a sensitive one: It is becoming increasingly important to consider local ethics and values when facilitating the access to the freedom of peoples' choice, and this cannot be realized without a collaborative framework. Initiatives like Africa Gathering encourage an "open-source" dialogue of ideas in order for the ideas to be strengthened based on a diverse body of information.

Hence, both private and public market enthusiasts will likely benefit from attending, especially if they intend on being involved with political, economic, social and human development in Africa.

The next Africa Gathering happens in London, UK on October 9 and 10, 2009. After that, Africa Gathering will take place in Nairobi, Kenya on December 21 and 22, 2009.

Related links and sources:
Information for prospective speakers
Tickets for prospective participants
Africa Gathering website
Twitter: @africagathering

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Investors Without Borders

An extensive list of upcoming business plan competitions in the field of sustainable and social enterprise can be found on the Investors Without Borders wordpress site.

Business plan competitions and fellowship grants are another form of venture capital geared for social enterprises that need grassroots technical and financial assistance.

To check out more work by Investors Without Borders, visit their homepage.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Banglore-based Unnati providing vocational training

Unnati is working to provide vocational training for poor, unemployed youth in Bangalore, India to expand their potential to work in the private market.

An excerpt from a PRLog article:

Unnati, incepted in 2003, trains youth in the chosen vocations that are relevant to the job market. Economically backward drop out adults aged 18 and above (both boys & girls) are offered the 3 months rigorous training. Currently seven vocational courses are offered - retail sales, guest care, industrial tailoring, entry level voice & data (BPO), security services and industrial painting. In keeping with the ultimate goal of Unnati of not just enabling employability but making Unnatians responsible citizens, the program covers life skills, communication, spoken English and basic computer usage. The NGO has since placed close to 800 youth from really poor backgrounds in reputed corporates like Café Coffee Day, J P Morgan, Levis and ITC among others.

Read more:
Unnati website
PRLog.com - "Unnati To Train 1 Million Underprivileged Youth For Employability By 2020 Through 1000 Centres"

Friday, September 4, 2009

Research positions opening up for youth

YouthSeen - an organization that is involved with academic research in unemployment in developing countries - has opening up a few research assistanship positions in Kenya, Tanzania and The Netherlands.

The positions will require research in youth entrepreneurship and self employment.

Read more:
YouthSEEN Wordpress

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Global Entrepreneurship Teleconference, November 16 - 22

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (based out of the United States) and Make Your Mark (based out of the United Kingdom) have a created a week for entrepreneurship, consisting of a free global teleconference on how to build business.

This year, TargetGov a US-based federal contractor, is set to host the conference from November 16 - 22 and focus on how global entreprenuers can do business with the US government.

An excerpt from the conference description:

Global Entrepreneurship Week will connect young people through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. Students, educators, entrepreneurs, business leaders, employees, non-profit leaders, government officials and others will participate in a host of activities that include virtual and face-to-face events, large-scale competitions and intimate networking gatherings.

Read more here:
PRLog.com - "TargetGov to Act as a Partner in Global Entrepreneurship Week 2009"