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From ground breaking mobile initiatives to inspiring transportation design, Africa is fast becoming a global leader in social innovation. This was further reiterated with the announcement of this year’s winners of the African Social Entrepreneurs of the Year awards at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa currently being held in Cape Town. With a focus on uniquely African solutions to African problems, honorees’ from across the continent were celebrated for the work at the opening session of the conference.
Here’s a look at the five winning projects:
The Buffalo Bicycle Company has created a purpose-built bicycle designed specifically for African terrain and load requirements. This unique mode of transportation aims to provide rural Africans with greater access to education, healthcare, water, and food by saving on travel time, while increasing carrying capacity and travel distances. The associated project, founded by Frederick K.W. Day, has sold over a 100,000 bicycles to individuals and organizations; 70,000 of which were granted using a unique work-to-own model.
Anne Githuku-Shongwe’s unique interactive mobile platforms have harnessed the widest reaching technological medium on the continent to engage at-risk youth. Through innovative mobile gaming and learning strategies, Afroes provides young people with educational tools and fun social games that also equip them with leadership and entrepreneurship skills. This includes the award-winning MORABA, which addresses difficult questions on gender-based violence, and HAKI, a game series built for Kenyans by Kenyans to promote national cohesion.
Since 2001, Njideka U. Harry’s YTF Academy has worked in regions of Africa plagued by poverty and unemployment. The academy provides beneficiaries with life skills and resources to join the job market. Since inception, 40% of YTF Academy graduates have been employed by local companies in YTF’s partner network.
Living Goods empowers networks of micro-entrepreneurs who go door-to-door teaching families how to improve their health and wealth. Launched by Chuck Slaughter, the initiative provides simple treatments for diseases like malaria and diarrhea, as well as fortified foods, safe delivery kits for pregnant mothers, clean burning cook stoves and solar lights. By combining the best practices of microfinance, franchising, direct selling and public health, Living Goods is creating a fully sustainable system to improve the health, wealth and productivity of the poor.
One Acre Fund provides unique financial solutions to farmers with a “market bundle”, that includes high-quality seed and fertilizer, financing, weekly farm training with post-harvest and market support. Founded by Andrew Youn in 2006, it has used this combination of services to enable farmers to permanently transform their lives – from poverty to profit-generation.
For more on WEF Africa check out Africa.com’s exclusive coverage here.