Five Zimbabwean youth leaders shared their vision and understanding on social entrepreneurship at a discussion session on Tuesday. The five participated in a BootCamp facilitated by Mandela Washington Fellow Irene Chikumbo with support from Hybercube Hub and U.S. African Development Foundation in August this year.
The five are Jeffree Munashe Rugare, Chief Executive Officer of Global Solar Pvt. Ltd; Tinashe Makura working with Mvuramanzi Project; Chipo Chikomo of Nhanga Trust; Nico Abote of Zimbabwe Entrepreneur Youth Project; and Collins Nyamadzawo of CG Waste Management. The five were selected from a group of 22 other participants and since then have been interacting with the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) team in Washington, D.C. as they grow their social enterprises. They work with local and internationally acclaimed trainers on various aspects of social entrepreneurship including the art of hosting, pitches, how to come up with an enterprise part of the social aspect.
“This year was just the pilot,” said Chikumbo. “We wanted to see what works well and what does not. The plan is to reach out to more out of Harare people.”
Global Solar Private Limited works to enable individuals of limited income and resources with solar power to light houses, pump water for drinking and farming as well as power community libraries to enable students to study for longer hours. Mvuramanzi Project drills boreholes and provides clients with solutions to related water problems. Nhanga Trust trains women in prison to manufacture and sell reusable sanitary napkins and providing a needed product at an affordable price. Abote’s Enterpreneur Youth Project works with young people to enable them to run their own micro-businesses. CG Waste Management uses recycled materials to make lap desks for children in schools.
The following is an excerpt of their presentations, moderated by Constantine Nyanzero of Udugu Institute based in Harare at a Food for Thought discussion session held at the United States Embassy Public Affairs Section auditorium in Eastgate on Tuesday:
On social entrepreneurship:
Chipo: …As a social entrepreneur, you solve social ills and generate income at the same time. For example you can have saloon which only employs orphans. So you are solving the problem of dependent orphans in Zimbabwe and also generating income by employing the orphans in the saloon. That’s social; entrepreneurship, marrying the two. Having the business and also looking at the social ill. You will be killing two birds with one stone.
Jeffree: Why wait until to reach 50 to make a difference? That is the question! If you check now we are talking about Bill and Mellinda Gates Foundation, Didier Drogba Foundation e.t.c.. They have earned money and going through their corporate social responsibility….You don’t wait to amass wealth and then when you have extra you can now consider the poor… We are moving from NGO era because, you see, an NGO is someone sitting maybe in London and hears that there is a tsunami in Africa and then he says, “I have money let me send money to Africa.”
Tinashe: I think the most important questing that must be busy in your minds is “OK we have got the social side, the whole objective of being an social entrepreneur is to make a difference in the community”, but where is the money? This is the one thing I was looking for when I went to the boot camp. Where is the money? I had been serving communities for the past two, three years, but man, I was so tired.
Nico: With my initiative, I was very deliberate I wanted to target the vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe. So for my first project I had to go to Mutoko, identify the group of youths that are doing something and supported them with finances and started to grow the projects they are doing. They are doing birds production, when they started they had 56 birds, I think we now have 250 birds that are laying eggs. I have identified two more projects…, The thing…is I am in it for money, I’m not just going to give these guys money to do the project. I’m taking 40 % of the project and we are going to run it together. So I’m in there to generate more money, to be able to support more entrepreneurs that we identify in the vulnerable community.
On the legal framework for social entrepreneurs:
Tinashe: Because of the current framework, the best way is to register as a company, because you will be making profit.
Chipo: From my experience when I was in India, most the guys there, they have their organizations already registered as NGOs but then create separate business entities that finance the operations of the NGO to generate income. So they have two entities running concurrently, registered differently.
Moderator: An enterprise is a business model not an entity; it does not need any legal framework to exist.
Jeff: Global solar is a private limited company, registered, but our persuasion we are social entrepreneurs.
Chipo: Nhanga is a Trust. We intend in the future to, actually when we start generating more income to register again a separate business entity.
Irene Chikumbo: Zimbabwe does not have the legal framework to support social enterprises. If you register as a company, the tax can be too high. If you register as an NGO, you do not get tax at all but…….that is something we are still working on. I think we need to show the government the impact that we can have by creating the social enterprise and work toward a conducive policy framework.
Experiences engaging investors locally:
Chipo: It’s a process. You have to know their mission, vision. May companies here are not yet forthcoming, but what I found is that many embassies, foundations- maybe because they have been working with it for a long time- are more flexible than our own indigenous companies.
Nico: As a social entrepreneur you would love to look for partnerships in what you are doing. Most of the investment pitching that you do you tell them what you want ‘I want 10 000 in this thing’, and they will ask you a whole lot of questions.
What would you do with $10,000 right now?
Nico: The plan for anything that you have developed is to make sure that it leaves an impact. This is what we learnt at social entrepreneurship boot camp, personal development. Personal development is a journey you discover your skills, what you want to do, passion. When you discover your passion you try and master the uniqueness of that passion.
Jeffree: Make no mistake; this is seed money, and we are going to water it so that it germinates. Because the idea with seed money is it has to generate more income, we are not going to be like the Biblical servant who when he was given the money, put it under the carpet and the master was not happy.
Collins: We will use part of the grant to refine the products we are doing now so that we could take it to the market. The markets are quite different, you can have a picture of what you want to make, but when you take it to the market you may meet different needs and assessments.- ZimPAS © October 30th, 2015