Budding social entrepreneurs shared their experiences in addressing social problems through business models in the 4th annual SME Conference at Strathmore University on 8th September 2016.
The panel session featured the following experts: Joseph Wang’endo, CEO Blood Link Foundation, Dr. Vincent Ogutu, Vice Dean Talent Development Strathmore Business School & a Social Entrepreneur Philanthropy, Dr. Mary Okello, CEO Makini Schools, George Wachiuri, CEO Optiven Limited and Lucy Michuki, CEO Pan African Agribusiness, Agrobusiness and Agroindustry Consortium.
Today’s toughest social problems are finding solutions in social entrepreneurship. However, these non- profit organizations go through numerous challenges such as raising finances to sustain their initiatives. These challenges have seen most non-governmental organizations transition to social enterprises. This shift enables projects with a societal mission generate income and hence boosting the sustainability of the enterprise. “One of the best ways to solve problems is to foster social entrepreneurship,” remarked Dr. Vincent Ogutu.
Addressing the need of providing quality education has been the backbone of Makini Group of Schools, an institution that continues to set the pace in top academic performance in the country. Optiven Limited, a real estate organization, devotes 5% of its revenue to financing the education of orphans across 47 counties. Other honorary mentions include Equity Bank’s Wings to Fly initiative which continues to provide education to needy, bright students.
Social enterprises are highly dependent on their environment; the community’s support to the organization. However, this support can shift to over dependency from those being supported and hence stifling the chances of other members of the society from accessing the support. Dr. Okello, CEO Makini Group of School addressed this matter stating that, “The dependency syndrome should be uprooted from the mind. Social enterprises should empower community members to go forth and create more opportunities for more people.”
Social entrepreneurship is rapidly gaining popularity among the youth. This has been witnessed through the numerous social youth groups taking up social based revenue generating ventures. Crowd funding has also been adopted as a mode of sourcing for funds. “The youth are becoming more receptive to social entrepreneurship, a reflex effect being witnesses across the globe. There are numerous opportunities in social entrepreneurship, which are yet to be tapped into,” tells Ms. Lucy Michuki, CEO Pan African, Agribusiness Agrobusiness and Agroindustry Consortium. Additionally, “We need to think of a social inclusive model that is cognizant of environmental sustainability and the youth. Social enterprise model is the only solution to include the growing population. ”
Corporate organizations should be cognizant of the welfare of the people. Echoing these sentiments, CEO Optiven Limited; George Wachiuri gave the following remarks, “Social entrepreneurship is a practical model. There are no businesses that can ignore people and the community.” Affirming these remarks, Dr. Vincent Ogutu asked business practitioners to model businesses that are socially responsible of the community and its well being. “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should not substitute the responsibility businesses have towards the making and the sustainability of a greater future.”