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 Business · Entrepreneurship · Ecology · Society · Africa · Chad · Ghana · Kenya · Nigeria · Ebay · Tanzania · South Africa · Ethiopia · United Nations · Indian Ocean · Arthur Russell · Reunion · Iceland · Madagascar · Social Enterprise · Philanthropy · Jeffrey Skoll · Sierra Leone · Liberia · Mauritius Island

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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