Martin Herrndorf

Calling Africa’s Social Entrepreneurs

Africa may seem to be a bit lost on the inclusive-market-social-entrepreneurship-map sometimes. Most big microfinance funds have only small portfolios in the area, and it often feels like the BIG success stories cited in case studies or making the pages of The Wall Street Journal are from India.

But there’s A LOT going on. A team from Queen’s University, Belfast, has set out to find out how much, what, and where – and make their insights public in a Social and Environmental Enterprise Directory.

They have labelled their effort “Trickle Out” – as they expect social impact to rather “trickle out” from the projects and businesses into the larger community. This is a double-counterpoint – first to those who expect economic benefits to “trickle down” from big investments, export-processing zones and high-growth areas. And second, from those that expect social innovators to deliver sweeping changes across continents in years or even months – while small, accumulating changes might not only be more realistic, but also more beneficial as communities can slowly adapt.

The enterprise directory is only a step. In 2012, they’ve planned field visits to several of the countries they’re targeting to study them in-depth.

The team has taken the effort to translate their website into French, Afrikaans, Swahili and Portuguese. Submissions are allowed in these languages (and already coming in – localising seems to be working!).

So, please, when you’re a social innovator in Africa (okay, the team focuses on Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) – join!

And if you know some, please forward this call!

For additional information, please feel free contact David Littlewood via email.

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Social Enterprise
financial inclusion, microfinance, social enterprise