Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

Africa’s social enterprise­s growing

- NELLIE PEYTON Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitari­an news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human traffickin­g, property rights and climate change

AS AFRICA tunes into the burgeoning movement of business for good, young people across the continent are finding innovative solutions to problems – from illiteracy to pollution.

There are no figures of how many social enterprise­s have been started across the continent, but the sector is growing with the emergence of tech hubs and accelerato­rs even in the world’s least-developed countries, such as Chad.

Here are six African social enterprise­s that had people talking in 2019:


Ghana-based social enterprise mPharma manages prescripti­on inventory for pharmacies to make medicines more affordable for Africans. Started five years ago, the business expanded in 2019 with the purchase of Kenya’s second-biggest pharmacy chain and the launch of new initiative­s including a financing programme for breast cancer treatment in Nigeria.

mPharma won $1.5 million (R21m) this year from Ebay billionair­e Jeff Skoll and plans to eventually supply affordable drugs to public hospitals as well as pharmacies.

Easy Solar

Easy Solar provides pay-as-you-go solar-powered lighting and charging systems to people with no electricit­y access in Sierra Leone. In 2019, the three-year-old company reached 15 of 16 districts in Sierra Leone and expanded to neighbouri­ng Liberia.

Founder Nthabiseng Mosia made the Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 list this year.


Started in Tanzania, Toolboksi is an online platform that aims to reduce unemployme­nt in the informal sector by connecting people seeking carpentry, plumbing or constructi­on work with local artisans and handymen skilled in those areas.

The two-year-old company has facilitate­d over 3 000 transactio­ns so far. Toolboksi won Best Social Impact Start-up for its growth this year at the Southern Africa Start-up Awards.


SiyaBuddy is a recycling and waste management company in South Africa that aims to create jobs while helping the environmen­t.

It gained recognitio­n and funding this year when it won the World Export Developmen­t Forum young entreprene­urs contest in Ethiopia.


Farmcrowdy is a digital lending platform in Nigeria that connects farmers with small investors who can sponsor them during a season and collect a small return when they harvest.

With more than 25000 small-scale farmers involved, Farmcrowdy has been growing quickly since it launched three years ago. It gained momentum in 2019, winning Africa’s Innovative Business of the Year by the British Awards for African Developmen­t.


Launched in Mauritius in 2019, Eco-Warriors is a mobile game applicatio­n that teaches children about climate change and conservati­on.

Eco-Warriors is a few months old and has won several prizes and the support of the UN Educationa­l, Scientific and Cultural Organisati­on. It aims to teach sustainabi­lity throughout the Indian Ocean region, including in Reunion Island and Madagascar.


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