Category: My Opinion

How social entrepreneurs are tackling poverty in Kenya

By Carol Kimari – YGAP Country Director, Kenya

With all of the studies available regarding Africa and Kenya in particular, one would think there is absolutely no hope of alleviating poverty and its related social ills. However, this is not the case. In the midst of bitter resentment, complaints and darkness portrayed by a misinformed, self-serving media, there are pockets of justice and good being propagated by individuals who refuse to live a world devoid of hope. These are the everyday heroes we should look to celebrate as they work tirelessly to bring Kenya out of dire straights.

Having been a social entrepreneur, I have experienced the many hurdles anyone working in business faces when trying to tackle poverty-related issues. It is a long, lonely road. Anyone willing to invest time, energy or resources into a business wants to see a significant return within three to five years. But this is not necessarily the case, or the target, for entrepreneurs seeking change in their communities. Rather than a return, they may be looking to provide employment for youth, alleviate disease, improve access to healthcare services or provide better living conditions in low socio-economic areas.

These are the reasons I have dedicated my life to helping my fellow Kenyans, through any means possible. It is not common for people looking to change lives to do so while also making money. Changing lives has always been associated with non-profit and NGO organisations. I believed otherwise, but I didn’t know how to go about it. Luckily, I came across Spark – who later merged with YGAP – and together, we are showing hundreds of passionate social entrepreneurs that they don’t have to die trying to save the world.

What does this mean for the economy? Suddenly, youth who were unemployed can find work and avoid spiralling into a life of crime, people are economically empowered and disease is radically reduced.

When some of these passionate entrepreneurs decide to tackle education-related injustices, be it female genital mutilation, a lack of sanitary education, or shortage of teachers, libraries or books, they work from the ground up. By improving access to education, they create sustainable ways of raising our children to become powerful levers for change.

We always say Kenya has a rich farming background, yet farmers remain some of our poorest members of society. Why? Because they lack markets, information and even the knowledge to produce globally acceptable crops. When our farmers are supported, we see phenomenal growth. Not only can they grow world-class crops, they can send their children to school and create jobs for the unemployed.

It is a well-rounded trip, the support of Social entrepreneurs and our dedication to supporting this group of powerful people will yield tangible results. In the end, people will realise it is the most effective way to alleviate poverty, over and above the standard, vanilla and socially accepted methods.


Your Blog, Your Project

I recently had an argument with a friend. No, this time it was a sensible argument (whatever that means). He’s wanted to start a blog for the longest time but never had the time to do it. Suddenly, he was so fired up, he wanted to start 3 (Yes, 3), and of course, he came to me for advise and assistance in starting them. I know his kind of energy. He can do it. Start all 3 if he wanted to. But my argument was he had not even started the first one! He wanted 2 technical blogs and one social oriented blog.

See what most people don’t understand, is that writing is a project. One to be taken seriously, unless you are the kind to hop on to a project and dump it when you get bored. It also requires time, energy and resource planning. Without this, you will produce the shoddiest of materials on a good day, and on any other, you will ignore the blog all together, letting it die a ‘natural death’. It doesn’t matter if you are getting help from someone else, or are banking on the fact that you are an expert in your field. In the end, it will be your project. An expression of your opinion. Of who you are . If you cannot keep up with it, then not only will your readers not have confidence in what you write, but they will abandon reading you all together. In fact, you are better off not starting a blog in the first place. This way, no opinion is formed of you.

I’m not an expert in blogging, but I have done my fair share of writing and guiding one or two people through the process. Take it from me, it is never easy. You will not jot down a schedule or calendar of events and assume that ideas will flow freely. I’m not also saying that you should always have your best work on display, but the least you can do for yourself is present something that you have put your whole heart in. Readers are brilliant, and they will sass out the kind of effort you have put in each post.

So, my friend and I are at a deadlock. Mostly because I shall not get into a project that is doomed to fail long before it starts. Knowing him, he probably will take a chill pill for the next few days, probably see sense in what I’m recommending and grumpily agree to my terms.