What is social entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, and tackle major social issues and offer new ideas for large-scale change.
Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution and persuading entire societies to take new leaps.
Social entrepreneurs often seem to be possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to changing the direction of their field.
Just as entrepreneurs change the face of business, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society by seizing opportunities others miss and improving systems, inventing new approaches and creating solutions.
Here are five of Africa’s top social entrepreneurs:
Zackie Achmat (SA):
As the founder of the Treatment Action Campaign, he is spearheading a grass roots social initiative to provide affordable, life-saving medicine to people with HIV/Aids in South Africa in a way that not only staunches the epidemic’s growth, but also transforms the public health system and enables communities to counter the host of other social challenges they are facing.
As the founder of Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Networks, Lillian incorporates income generation and enterprise development into stokvels, capitalising on their inherent popularity among disadvantaged women and youth.
Lillian Masebenza (SA):
Betty Makoni (Zimbabwe):
As the founder of Girl Child Network, Betty is building a new generation of strong, active female citizens. In Zimbabwean society, girls are discriminated against, often abused, and given limited opportunities for expression and development. Betty creates safe spaces for girls to grow and connect with each other.
As the founder of Community Markets for Conservation, he introduced market-based conservation that recognises the interconnectedness between a broad range of wildlife species and livelihoods, with humans playing a central role as protectors of the ecological system. As a result, poaching around Zambia’s Luangwa Valley has fallen by about 50%.
As the founder of Young Africa, Dorien developed an affordable method of vocational training, licensing the different departments to local entrepreneurs. The core of this model is capital investment rented out to a local entrepreneur, who consequently trains and employs youth while producing goods and services for local communities.
Dale Lewis (Zambia):
Dorien Beurskens (Mozambique):