Growth of social enterprises, innovation nurture new generation of entrepreneurs

by | February 13, 2018 12:21 am

Social enterprises and innovation present new forms of opportunities for both young and not so young people to learn how to solve social problems such as enfant malnutrition using commercial strategies.

A social enterprise is an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximise improvements in financial, social and environmental well-being. This may include maximising social impact alongside profits for external shareholders.

Social enterprise was first used as a term by Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank founder and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. It was coined in his book, Banker to the Poor, which was published in 2009. At the term’s inception, it referred to microfinance. His work in this area led to him to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Social entrepreneurs are becoming increasingly popular within Africa, largely due to their unique approach to addressing societal issues using sustainable business models. From Malaria and Ebola to poverty and inequality, Africa has a long list of socio-economic challenges hampering growth and development. But this new breed of entrepreneurs has given themselves a mandate to rid the continent of these problems.

Leadership Effectiveness, Accountability and Professionalism (LEAP) Africa, a not-for-profit organisation established in 2002, is supporting talented young social innovators, whose ideas and initiatives offer effective and creative solutions to challenges in local communities across Nigeria, through its one year fellowship, Social Innovators Programme (SIP).

Through training and strategic support systems, the Fellows are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to sustain and scale up their impact. At the annual Awards, LEAP presents the most outstanding Fellows awards in recognition of their creativity and social impact.

February 06, LEAP Africa inducted 20 new Fellows for the year 2017/2018. “The Social Innovators Programme is LEAP Africa’s flagship programme where we bring together outstanding social innovators and entrepreneurs. The goal is to help them develop their personal and professional effectiveness, so that they can build sustainable, impactful organisations. We call for entries every year and get hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications from which we choose 20” Femi Taiwo, Acting Executive Director at LEAP Africa told BusinessDay in an exclusive interview.

“With the help of Union Bank Plc. that has been supporting this programme for the past four classes, we are thinking of opening it up to other African countries. We are also thinking of how to attract more impact investors to directly invest in our fellows’ initiatives” Femi stated.

All 20 inductee social entrepreneurs who assembled for a week long training and induction ceremony presented initiatives designed to solve a number of socio-economic challenges.

“We have a high population of women, especially young girls between the ages of 15 – 22 who end up as single mothers and for every ten girls you pick randomly, three will be single mothers. Stuck with the child without formal education and marketable skill in towns where there are no industries” Alero Okoroleju, CEO/Founder of OLEJU, a social enterprise initiative that caters to teenage and young single mothers operates in the environs from Sapele to Kara told BusinessDay.

“Since the girls do not have skills and means of livelihood, the end up having more children on the streets initiating a vicious circle in the process. To break this circle, we empower these single mothers with skills” Okoroleju, a SIP Fellow for 2017/2018 said.

Over the years, LEAP has inspired and equipped youth, business owners and social entrepreneurs to lead ethically while implementing initiatives that transform their communities and organisations for better; sustaining livelihood and contributing to national development.