By Zarreen Kamalie

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding social entrepreneurship, particularly given how new the concept is. They are equal to, if not more so in number, the amount of misconceptions surrounding the continent of Africa.

While, poverty and underdevelopment are major issues that need tackling it is also important to remember that there numerous bright and innovative individuals ready to make a difference.

Whether you’re an African yourself feeling a little hesitant about engaging with a social enterprise, either on your own or someone who you know, or if you’ve just stumbled onto this page, here are 5 myths about starting a social enterprise in Africa.

Myth 1: The Environmental And Social Welfare Are The Government’s Responsibility

Africa, and all its 54 countries within it, has a long, turbulent history that often rears its ugly head through sustained poverty and social neglect. Between corrupt governments and inadequate public policy implementation, African governments cannot always be depended upon as African peoples’ saving grace.

The best thing about social enterprise, and social innovation and entrepreneurship, is that they  are citizen-led and often locally based sustainable solutions for local problems. Social entrepreneurship has been hailed “the magic bullet” to fight poverty and address social problems on the ground.

For example, the lack of access to power and electricity for rural communities is exceptionally high across Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet with social enterprises like Solar Sister, and singer Akon’s Lighting Africa, these circumstances are slowly changing. Check out the Stanford Social Innovation Review on Five Innovations That Will Electrify Africa to get an idea of how individuals are taking initiative over their governments.

Myth 2: Your contribution will be insignificant and no one will take you seriously, especially if you’re a student

Benedict Mundele, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers last year. She is the founder of Surprise Tropicale, a catering company that serves organic food made from local produce.

She is also 21 years old, and can add busting this myth to her list of accomplishments.

There are a number of young innovators and entrepreneurs in this same situation, click here to read about the rest.

Myth 3: You’ll need to raise a lot of money before getting any real work done, and finding funding is near impossible

While funding is difficult to locate, particularly when dealing with terms, conditions and requirements that you cannot meet, do not fret. There are so many investors waiting for the next big thing, especially in Africa where your next big thing could bring the continent further away from the misconception of the aid-ridden region.

Diaspora funding has become a great way to attain funding, so try looking for funds similar to Lelapa Fund and BlueBees that aim to stimulate African-based solutions for Africans.

Otherwise, don’t forget that this is the time to shamelessly ask people for money over the Internet, without needing to pose as a prince. So go ahead and crowdfund, or crowd source.  Some great crowdfunding platforms include IndieGoGo and Bolstr.

For more ways to fund your enterprise, click here.

Myth 4: Education as a “cure-for-all”, as long as we invest in education everything else will fall into place

Access to education is incredibly important, particularly to break the cycle of poverty. However, we need to consider that there are often factors that are completely glazed over that impede some individuals’ ability to attend school.

The amazing thing about social entrepreneurship is that it address problems that one would have to have witnessed first hand to fully understand the implications of this hindrance. Misconceptions around menstruation and the related high number of female dropouts, for example, are a complex problem that have to be addressed within their unique context. Many girls across Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to disposable sanitary pads, and thus feel the need to miss school due to poor facilities surrounding menstrual hygiene, and persistent bullying from boys.

It is obstacles such as taboo, poor social understanding, and infrastructural underdevelopment that calls upon the solutions of social innovations such as Flo.

Aside from these contextual dilemmas, it is also important to realise that social entrepreneurship helps cultivate and exercise the skills of the future that help them create solutions for complex problems while in turn bringing value to the labor market and creating a demand for their skills.

Myth 5: It’s Human Nature To Prioritize Profit Over Sustainability

I think the argument for this one can be drawn straight down the middle. It may be really obvious to some, and not so much to others. I would say that this myth is what could essentially separate philanthropy and charity from social entrepreneurship.

Philanthropy and charity, particularly from successful businesses and corporations, becomes a once-off afterthought when the right level of profits have been reached. As said by successful South African social entrepreneur Gina Levy, “social entrepreneurship allows one to both gain profit and implement sustainable social impact.” Social entrepreneurship allows those of us to simultaneously address major social problems and give back, and produce profits to maintain this level of generosity.


The next big obstacle is you, really. Just make sure to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, and exercise every option when it comes to funding, marketing, and execution. If you’re thinking of setting up or getting involved in a social enterprise, then don’t let any of these myths stand in your way.


Flickr/CC/HelenSTB | Defaced statue of Louis Botha outside the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town during the #RhodesMustFall campaign

By Zarreen Kamalie

It can be easy to become complacent with the way things work, whether that’s the acceptance that change is out of our control, or the belief that things are fine the way they are. That is until your neighbourhood or campus-based activist group really caught your attention with its latest dynamic, thought-provoking campaign.

Whichever one spoke to you, there’s little denying that these are the campaigns that make you stop and think about what you and those around you have begun to take for granted.

For campaigns based in Africa, you have to take into account the country in which they’re operating. Most African countries, with perhaps the exception of South Africa, have very strict laws regarding activism.

Here are some activist campaigns, based in Africa, which made an impact in their area, and possibly beyond.

  1.  Rhodes Must Fall – South Africa

Rhodes Must Fall is a student-led activist movement at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Initially formed with the primary aim to remove a long-standing statue of infamous British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes from the campus grounds. After weeks of protest, dialogue amongst students and with the university management, the University of Cape Town saw the removal of the statue, indicating a giant step in social transformation for the university.

Since then, Rhodes Must Fall has continued the discussion and fight toward decolonisation of education and institution at the university. Their work is often in collaboration with other student societies and parties on campus such as the UCT Palestine Solidarity Front (PSF) and the UCT Left Students Forum.

Aside from instigating dialogue around change and transformation on campus, Rhodes Must Fall sparked nationwide debates around other institutions in South Africa including Stellenbosch University and the University of Witwatersrand, both top universities on the continent.

  1.  Citizens for a Better Environment – The Green Party of Zambia

Peter Sinkamba, founder of Zambia’s ‘Green Party’, also started Citizens for a Better Environment (CBE). Citizens for a Better Environment is an organization dedicated to developing, promoting, and implementing sustainable environmental and economic policies.

CBE also researches and exposes the most flagrant abuses of the environment by mining companies, applying pressure to hold those responsible to account. When the health and survival of these basins were under threat from destructive industrial practices, particularly mining, Peter Sinkamba and CBE’s efforts began with a campaign to ensure mining companies who violate domestic and international law were held accountable.

Compensation for those affected was also handled by Sinkamba, whereby 65 houses where 517 persons lived had been constructed in Mufurila town following subsidence of their houses as a consequence of mining activities.

  1.  #EndFGM – Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana

End Female Genital Mutilation, known better as its hashtag #EndFGM, is a European based campaign to combat and end the practice of female genital mutilation. If you don’t know the extent to which female genital mutilation is practiced, or what it entails exactly, you can find more information on the End FGM website.

As for the campaign in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria, those who are working to change local and cultural perceptions of the practice fight a long and hard battle. Nigeria has recently banned the practice, though that is not to say it has been completely eradicated. End FGM continues to champion its cause, facing great difficulty but making great strides with a lot of support. To support this cause, click here.

  1.  Right 2 Know – South Africa

The Right 2 Know campaign seeks to challenge lack of transparency and accountability. Their focuses range from government to corporations. In August 2010, the Right 2 Know campaign protested against the Protection of State Information Bill, calling for the right to hold the government accountable for its actions and for the provision of vital information regarding its citizens’ well being.

Since then, there have been changes to the Bill but R2K claims there is still much to do The organisation has since challenged the state and corporations on their behaviour, but 2010 will always be the year in which it became apparent that R2K was here to stay.

  1.  Action2015 Campaign – Ghana

This global movement comprises almost 2000 organizations across 145 countries. In Ghana alone, various Civil Society Organisations have come together for this monumental year. These include, Global Call to Action Against Poverty, Purim African Youth Development Platform, Abibimman Foundation, and Community & Family Aid Foundation and was led by the Integrated Social Development Centre.

While it may be too soon to list this campaign’s successes, it is incredibly impressive that this platform has risen to combat an array of global challenges including poverty, community development, and education. Keep track of this campaign by clicking here.

  1. June 23 Movement – Senegal

The June 23 Movement in 2011, also referred to as M23, involved all walks of life in Senegal and called for President Abdoulaye Wade to refrain from running for a third term. Phrases “y’en marre” could be heard, as people voiced their frustrations. The movement involved unionists, political party members and leaders, youth organizations, and citizens’ movements.

It was a turbulent political moment, and the movement itself played a critical role in preventing former President Abdoulaye Wade’s attempt to amend the constitutional provision on term limits and hang on to power.


Flickr/CC/Håkan Dahlström

How these two sport-based social enterprises are making a difference

By Zarreen Kamalie

Adrenaline rushing, heartbeat drumming and a growing sense of accomplishment and teamwork – sport can mean so much more to someone than this alone. For some people, sport is a gateway away from their day-to-day struggles in poverty or violence. It becomes a means to gain agency, support and hope.

This is what these two sport-based social enterprises aim to instill.

Alive and Kicking and Hoops 4 Hope are successful sport-based social enterprises that are making significant improvements in the community, and the lives of many.

Alive and Kicking is based in three countries across Sub-Saharan Africa; Zambia, Kenya and Ghana. Alive and Kicking (A&K) is a great example of how social enterprises can address an array of issues, while using a fun and exciting approach. A&K produces hand-stitched soccer balls in areas of high unemployment in Africa.

According to their website, the production of A&K soccer balls employs 140 or more people in Nairobi, Lusaka and Accra, most of whom have never been in formal employment before.

It gets even better. A&K’s soccer balls are made from resilient locally manufactured leather that has proven to be twice as resistant to damage and puncture than the usual synthetic kind. Once produced, the balls have each have individual screen-printed messages imprinted by hand. These messages are used as part of educational health tools, bearing messages such as “Malaria Kills” and “Play Safe. Prevent HIV/AIDS”.

Alive and Kicking has produced over 700,000 sports balls since 2004, and you can believe that each and every ball has brought happiness to someone special.

As for schools and community projects that are unable to afford the balls, over 120,000 have been donated to them.

A&K also operates a range of other innovative health and social inclusion projects. These include; football for the visually impaired, staff health workshops and entrepreneurship schemes.

For those who prefer basketball to soccer, there’s Hoops 4 Hope. Hoops 4 Hope (H4H) is a global not-for-profit organization, set up in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Hoops 4 Hope supports youth development throughout southern Africa, by providing more than 10,000 boys and girl every year with high quality organized Basketball and Soccer Programs, and Skills 4 Life for free. Skills 4 life is a 5 module curriculum that focuses on shaping students’ confidence, decision-making, and how they interact with each other and those around them.

By partnering with more than 150 schools, children’s shelters, and community groups in Zimbabwe and South Africa, the aim is to encourage more children to get off the streets and participate. Children at primary school are coached by role models from their own communities in their own language and are taught valuable life skills by trained MVP coaches through basketball.

Through initiatives such as Hoops 4 Hope, and Alive and Kicking, these children manage to find a support system through the joy of sport. Sport becomes a mechanism opportunity, and in turn, social and personal change. What you hopefully end up with, are a bunch of productive adults, engaged in healthy lifestyles, ready to face whatever life has to throw at them.

If you would like to get involved with either one of these enterprises, check out their websites, Alive and Kicking and Hoops 4 Hope. Donate, volunteer, spread the word… every little bit goes a long way.


Flickr/CC/Franco Folini

By Zarreen Kamalie

It goes without saying that homelessness is a worldwide issue, affecting millions everywhere. Typically, an individual’s state of homelessness is a result of inadequate housing, family violence, untreated mental illnesses, social and, or personal issues. As people, they deserve a stepping-stone to self-improvement that goes beyond whatever spare change we have in our pockets.

In Cape Town, South Africa, there are roughly 7,000 homeless people, with many citing inadequate housing as their reason for being homeless. While a great deal of responsibility lies on the city’s government, there have been a few social initiatives to address people who live on the streets and find themselves uncomfortable or unable to access a night shelter.

These initiatives go by the names, Street Sleeper, Straatwerk, and, U-Turn. They address homelessness with the aim of long-term solutions, restoration of dignity, and encouraging self-improvement on one’s own terms.

Street Sleeper

Street Sleeper is a social enterprise that designed survival sleeping bags to withstand the harsh conditions at night. These sleeping bags are made of upcycled PVC advertising billboards that were being thrown away.

The sleeping bag itself weighs around 4lbs and is 87 inches long, and 30 inches wide with ample space for sleeping with multiple layers and storing belongings. The sleeping bag also doubles as a backpack during the day, with 9 feet and 8 inches of strap webbing, and a pillowslip to be filled with clothes. To withstand the cold winters of Cape Town, the sleeping is waterproof, and the hood of the sleeping is designed to shield the head.

Not only are the homeless being provided immediate relief from the harsh conditions of sleeping on the street, Street Sleeper is geared towards generating a sense of motivation and opportunity that comes from feeling valued and included by society. The production process also creates employment, for homeless people as well as local businesses involved in the bag manufacturing, thereby empowering someone to improve their situation on their own.

The cost to gift a sleeping bag is only R150 (US$11.50), and can be done so by visiting this link:




Straatwerk (pronounced Straat-verk, meaning ‘Streetwork’) is a successful NGO in the city centre that works with a team of individuals that clean up areas in the city in exchange for money and empowerment services. The initiative is generally aimed at the homeless to reduce robberies, and dependency on begging, but other individuals are welcome to participate.

One of Cape Town’s main tourist attractions is the Company’s Garden. It is also a preferred sleeping place for a good number of the city’s homeless. Straatwerk provides a team of three cleaners three times per week, to clean up around the entrance areas of the Garden. On average they collect 15 bags of litter per four-hour shift, which translates into 1,058lbs of refuse every week.

The idea behind cleaning up the area is not to degrade them in any way but rather have them reclaim a space that they know they helped in maintaining. Straatwerk also provides assistance to its team members to obtain ID documents that allow them to participate in society by working, or voting, and later they receive a recommendation for regular employment.

Wikimedia Commons/CC/HelenOnline
Wikimedia Commons/CC/HelenOnline | Street cleaner takes a break to read the newspaper on Corporation Street, Cape Town, South Africa



U-turn is a charity organisation whose initiative is focused on long-term solutions, moving away from once-off handouts and more toward sustained communication and improvement.  And it all starts with a meal voucher.

The meal voucher initiative currently operates in the Western Cape in the Claremont, Rondebosch, Kenilworth and Wynberg areas. The meal vouchers are meant to be an alternative to handing out spare change, and instead put homeless people in contact with the organisation for food, clothing, and long-term assistance.

There are 5 steps involved:

1)    First buy a pack of vouchers for R30 (US$2.30), where 1 pack contains 5 meal vouchers

2)    Then the next time someone approaches you asking for money, give a voucher to them instead

3)    On the voucher is a map and details about U-Turn. The homeless person redeems the voucher for food or clothing at one of U-Turn’s service points

4)         In addition to getting a meal, the individual becomes acquainted with U turn staff and they inform them of rehab opportunities

5)         Now the individual faces a number of opportunities that will help get them off the street, and it can all be done on their own

For more information and to buy a pack of meal vouchers by visiting this website, visit: .

If we could all contribute and engage with these initiatives, we would surely see a drop in homelessness and a rise in strong, motivated individuals who just needed a little pulling up.

Wikimedia Commons/CC/HelenOnline
Wikimedia Commons/CC/HelenOnline | Homeless person collecting recyclables in Stellenbosch, South Africa


Wikimedia Commons/CC/SunJack SunJack in Rural African Village. Sustainable energy has a real potential to shape the development path of Africa, with both local and international initiatives leading the way.

By Zarreen Kamalie


If you haven’t already heard, Akon has taken a break from loneliness, belly dancers, and celebrating his sex life with the Lonely Island. Rather Akon is lighting up Africa, literally. Akon Lighting Africa is Akon’s, along with business partners Samba Bathily’s and Thione Niang’s, endeavor to bring sustainable solar energy to the rural towns of African states. He attributes this venture to his childhood experience of studying in the dark, thus limiting him and others in his position in a variety of pursuits that can both include and go beyond academics. 

What Akon has done is amazing, and has no doubt sparked admiration, inspiration, and motivation among Africans through greater access to their lived environment at all hours, the capability to pursue their studies and goals further, and more. But, let’s not ignore the role of fame and money. For your run-of-the-mill local, aspiring social entrepreneur, there are physical and institutional obstacles that await. While there are a number of successful locally initiated social enterprises in Africa, it’s important for aspiring social entrepreneurs to be aware of what they could potentially be up against.


Challenge #1


For all the issues that the continent currently faces, the idea of social innovation and entrepreneurialism is still a new one. That’s why you may find encouragement of social innovation among individuals, and the state hard to come by. This can become problematic when you, as an entrepreneur or budding enterprise, are trying to get on your feet and find yourself blocked by poor awareness and convoluted regulations and legislations.

While it may be discouraging to have your idea shot down because the positive implications it could have are unfathomable by those around you, you should still make sure to exhaust every avenue and make the most of any connections you may have.  


Look for successful social entrepreneurs in your area or get in touch with someone in your region and ask them about how they overcame this obstacle – chances are they’ll be able to give you contextually appropriate advice. Using platforms like Africa Gathering and Ashoka East Africa to find other social entrepreneurs is a good start.

As for the government, the British Council has found that governments are more inclined to engage with social entrepreneurs when there is potential mutual benefit. Be sure to know what your local district is dealing with, you may just be the answer to their prayers.

To give you an idea of what to look out for in terms of rules and regulations, here is A Guide to Legal Forms in South Africa for Social Enterprise. Similar information for other countries in Africa should also be available through the International Labour Organisation.


Challenge #2

Given the publicity and influence that comes with a household name in the music industry, money often isn’t an issue. For the common person trying to get their idea off the ground, this is a whole other game. Funding becomes a major obstacle, and is the make-or-break behind any successful business.


Ghana, in particular, has done well when it comes to financing startups and social impact activities with the appropriate financial policies and, government-led and shared, initiatives. Some of the options include Acumen Fund, which consists of philanthropic capital to invest social enterprises upon application. As well as Slice Biz, founded by William Senyo, a diaspora fund that draws on the crowd investment and donations of the Ghanaian diaspora.  

However, for those outside of Ghana and the Ghanaian diaspora, funding cannot be accessed through this network.


Good news is capital and funding can be found anywhere, and social entrepreneurship and social innovation is gaining some serious recognition by big companies that are just itching to get their philanthropy on. Other African diasporas are a growing source of financial help for many African communities and individuals on the continent. with crowdfunding and venture capital or philanthropy gaining equal popularity for new social ventures.

Just check out these 15 Social Venture Capital Firms and find one that suits your ambition.


Challenge #3


The environment. Yes, Mother Nature herself may take one look at your idea and go “no, honey, that won’t work here.”

Of course this is purely case specific, and may not even apply to you if you know your area top to bottom, left to right, like the back of your hand, or, if the environment has absolutely no bearing on your idea at all. On the other hand (the one that doesn’t remind you of your area), not only could the environment have implications for your product, your product could have serious repercussions on the environment if you’re not careful.


Finding the most ethically sourced materials and labour is the best option, as it would do no good to your cause to cut corners. Engage with the community so that you have the best point of reference when making decisions on materials if necessary. Also, be sure to also take note of the sociocultural setting of your target area, making sure that your business and product is considerate of already established coping mechanisms and habits.

This should shed some light on some of the challenges one could face when trying to navigate the social enterprise landscape. But even if you don’t have Akon status, look to thriving locally based enterprises like Solar Sister and all that they have managed to achieve.  


There should be nothing standing in your way to have the exact same impact.


By Zarreen Kamalie

It’s incredible to think of what social enterprises and innovations are able to achieve, and even more so when you consider what they’re up against.

Documentaries are a great way to learn about a particular topic without sifting through countless articles. That isn’t to say you won’t find yourself scrolling through pages of possible documentaries . To make your life a little easier, we’ve compiled this list of documentaries under the categories Health and Poverty, Youth, Social Justice and Reconciliation, Development and Aid, and lastly, Women.

At the end of each summary, there’s a link to social enterprises working to combat whatever issue addressed in the respective documentary. Consider this your starting point to getting the full blow on a range of pressing issues in Africa.

Health and Poverty

  1.    Into The Light (2005)

Director: Peter Glenn
Producer: Peter Glenn

About: Tanzanian sociologist Wilhelmina Lyimo-Saria (Mama Lyimo -“Lee-Mo”) and Peter Glenn look into the socioeconomic factors surrounding the perpetuation of HIV/AIDS, aspects that not only affect Tanzania but other areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. The documentary interrogates the link between the pandemic and poverty, and what needs to be done about this collaboration. Lyimo-Saria exposes the horrific and emotional toll of the AIDS death rate in her East African country on a 40-day journey across Tanzania to see for herself why the pandemic continues to thrive.

See also: The Ubuntu Institute based in Johannesburg, South Africa, but operating throughout Southern Africa, has a number of programmes that aim to educate and empower women to combat the feminization of the pandemic.

  1.    Fire in the Blood (2013)

Director: Dylan Mohan Gray
Producers: Dylan Mohan Gray and Rumana Gray

About: Fire In The Blood focuses on Western pharmaceutical companies and governments and how they blocked access to low-cost AIDS drugs for the countries of the global south from 1996. With over ten million deaths, this documentary chronicles the fight for the right to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), paying particular attention to the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and all the criticism these brave individuals faced.

See also: Treatment Action Campaign is a South African HIV/AIDS activist organisation which was co-founded by the HIV-positive activist Zackie Achmat in 1998, campaigning for universal access to AIDS treatment through the public health system.

Youth, Social Justice and Reconciliation

  1.    Call Me Kuchu (2012)

Directors: Katherine Fairfax-Wright, Malika Zouhali-Worrall
Producer: Malika Zouhali-Worrall


Call Me Kuchu explores the struggles of the LGBT community in Uganda, paying particular attention to the murder of LGBT activist David Kato in 2011. Given the latest success in the US for the LGBTQI community, this is documentary serves as a harsh reminder of the challenges that this still persecuted community face in other parts of the world.

See also: David Kato was the Advocacy and Litigation Officer of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). It is an umbrella non-governmental organization based in Kampala, Uganda, that advocates for the protection and promotion of human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans.

  1.    Finding Hillywood (2013)

Directors:  Chris Towey, Leah Warshawski
Producer: Rob Angel

About: 20 years over the Rwandan genocide Finding Hillywood demonstrates how cinema has become a way for artists to express themselves and create intergroup dialogue. This documentary can be viewed as a Rwandan history lesson but also indicates the power of media as a catalyst for national healing.

See also: Global Arts Corps has used the transformative power of theatre to bring together people from opposite sides of violent conflict. Operating globally from Rwanda to Kosovo, Cambodia to the North of Ireland, Global Arts Corps has worked to facilitate reconciliation all over.

Development and Aid

  1.    What Are We Doing Here? (2008)

Directors: Brandon Klein, Nick Klein, Tim Klein, Daniel Klein
Producer: Brandon Klein

About: What Are We Doing Here? is a controversial documentary about why after 50 years of Western involvement and aid, Africa is still so poor. The documentary focuses on 3 brothers and their cousin who travel across Africa in an attempt to understand the failure to end poverty. Shot on location in 12 countries, “What Are We Doing Here?” sheds light on the intricacies of African poverty and the multi billion dollar aid and development industry dedicated to fighting it.

See also: An alternative to western-led financial aid is Lelapa Fund, a crowd investment platform dedicated to African companies. Drawing funds from individual African investors, namely part of the African diaspora, Lelapa Fund provides people with no-strings attached opportunities.

  1.    Stealing Africa (2012)

Director: Christoffer Guldbrandsen
Producer: Henrik Veileborg

About: Stealing Africa is a documentary that looks at Zambia’s copper resources and the way in which a country so rich, is still one of the world’s poorest. Similar to What Are We Doing Here? this documentary highlights the drawbacks of western investment and collaboration. Stealing Africa allows for a more case-specific understanding of the impacts of globalisation.

See also: The International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa, is a collective of 26 non-governmental and community-based organisations from across the continent. Included are also national networks within Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, the Netherlands, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The aim of this organisation is to foster a more just and sustainable use of natural resources in Africa that can lead to more inclusive development.

  1.    Darwin’s Nightmare (2004)

Director: Hubert Sauper
Producer: Barbara Albert

About: Darwin’s Nightmare looks at the effect of fishing the Nile perch in Tanzania’s Lake Victoria. The predatory fish, which has wiped out the native species, is sold in European supermarkets, while starving Tanzanian families have to make do with the leftovers.

See also: Much of Africa’s resource related issues stem from improper land distribution.In Zambia, Medeem is a social enterprise that aims to efficiently handle and document land right’s. They also seek to function as a fair and effective middle-man between larger enterprises and the little guy on the ground.


  1.    Hooking in Joburg (2010)

Director: Rohith S. Katbamna
Producer: Rohith S. Katbamna

About: Hooking in JoBurg takes place against the backdrop of the 2010 World Cup lead-up, with a personal look at sex workers and the core issues around HIV, security, human rights and decriminalization of sex work. It features vital perspectives from three sex workers concerning the reality about their current working conditions and the undeniable police brutality. This documentary captures the essence and key facts behind the discussion around the decriminalization of sex work, and human rights, with raw and personal input that will keep you engaged.

See also: Sonke Gender Justice has engaged with and challenged the South African government’s approach to sex work. To read more about the work they’ve done, and continuing to do, click here.


These documentaries should really get you thinking and pursuing these issues and the measures that are being taken to address them. As previously stated, documentaries are a great way to get in touch with the core of a topic, and you’ll definitely end up looking like that person that’s so great with current affairs.


Flickr/CC/Jason Howie

By Beatrice Loh


With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat changing the way we communicate, social media has been reshaping our world in recent years. The advent of technology and the Internet has made connecting with people across international borders a breeze. Social media has impacted not just the communication between individuals but also the relationship between corporations, the government, and the general public. Social media has not only changed the way we communicate, but also the way we give. Non-profit organisations have adjusted the way they operate with the influx of social media avenues to raise awareness and funds for their causes.

Here are 5 ways that social media has changed the non-profit world:

  1. Reduced Cost of Advertising

Although setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account might be free, social media accounts for non-profit organisations still require staff to run them. However, compared to more traditional methods such as television and print campaigns, social media is a new low cost avenue that non-profit organisations can take advantage of. Apart from reducing cost, social media campaigns allow non-profit organisations to monitor and mine these campaigns for data to better plan budgets, cut costs, and ultimately make more money available to the actual cause itself.

  1. Increasing Awareness for Social Causes

Social media has given non-profit organisations an avenue to raise awareness for social causes through posts that generate ‘likes’ on Facebook and videos and posters that can be shared on numerous platforms.

The ALS Challenge was a viral campaign by The ALS Association, which fights Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. People would either donate $100 to the charity or take a video of having a bucket of ice water dumped on themselves. They would then nominate others to do the same in the video before posting it online. This led to an explosion of videos and donations for the organisation, with celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Chris Evans and Benedict Cumberbatch participating. Matt Damon also joined in and used the opportunity to promote awareness about the water sanitation crisis and, the organisation he co-founded to combat the problem. Although a significant portion of the Internet audience was more interested in watching funny videos of their friends and favourite celebrities than they were about ALS research, the campaign succeeded in generating a large amount of awareness and funding. Since July 2014, The ALS Association has received more than $115 million in donations.  In comparison, in the fiscal year ending January 2014, revenue from all sources totalled only slightly over $29 million.

A Mashable survey on the link between charity donations and social media has shown that 68.8% of respondents felt that social media was “extremely effective” or “very effective” for spreading information about social initiatives, with the vast majority of the survey audience claiming to learn about new social initiatives through social media.

  1. Increasing Speed of Response

Whilst social media has a wide reach, it also allows the quick transfer of information. The speed of social media has changed the way we learn about and respond to events, especially natural disasters. Ease of accessibility has resulted in unprecedented numbers of people being reached in real time. In the wake of devastation, charities can create a status, page, Tweet, or post elsewhere to inform their followers of a situation requiring urgent help and donations, which can be shared and spread in seconds. In the past, charities had to rely on hastily thrown together television commercials and getting hundreds of people to call others and hope for donations.

After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, non-profit organisations used social media to mobilise rescue efforts and to support the community. The earthquake also saw the deployment of one of the most successful text-to-donate campaigns seen at the time. Similarly, when Japan was rocked by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, millions around the globe used social media to receive updates on the situation and contribute to rescue efforts and donate money for medical and basic supplies for survivors. During the recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, Crisis Relief Singapore used Facebook to rally its volunteers and managed to create 5 medical teams that were deployed to Nepal within the next month.   

  1. Rallying of Individuals and Small Groups Around Non-Profit Causes

Social media is enabling individuals to create, join and grow groups around issues they care about outside of the direct control of non-profit organizations. Crowd funding websites such as as GoFundMe and CrowdRise have made it easy for individuals to raise funds for social causes special to them.

Social software design is also accelerating this trend. Facebook Causes is an in-app feature that allows users to discover, support and organize campaigns, fundraisers, and petitions around the issues that impact users and their communities. DonorsChoose launched a feature called “Birthday Give Back” that allows individuals to use their birthdays to champion a social cause – instead of a birthday gift, they can share their page and ask friends to donate to their special cause instead.

The rise of social media has led to a more socially conscious population with the right tools to promote awareness and raise funds for social causes that affect their community.

  1. Ease of Donating

Social media has emboldened people to donate time and money not only by making them aware of issues and needs, but also by providing them with solutions to help. Websites like Just Giving, a charity platform that has so far enabled over 21 million people to raise £1.5 billion for over 13, 000 different charities, has made it easier for social media users to share causes and encourage their friends to donate, even to organisations headquartered abroad. Providing a number of ways to donate online and via text, Just Giving makes donating quick and easy, encouraging more users to do so.

Another way that social media has increased donations is through increased transparency. Donors are becoming increasingly selective of the charities they want to help, and prefer to see where the money they are donating is going. Social media offers non-profit organisations a platform through which they can share project updates and successes with status updates, reports and photographs. Donors expect updates on funds raised through special events for a specific cause, and the increased transparency on the use of funds have encouraged previously sceptical people to donate.


Flickr/CC/Rocío Lara

How Africa’s ‘Brain Drain’ Could Be the Key to Successful Crowdfunding

By Zarreen Kamalie


The migration of skilled peoples from Africa to other, often more developed, parts of the world is not phenomenally new. Currently there are conflicting claims on whether the migration of skilled professionals is coming or going, but it most certainly has not died out. This loss of skills and professionalism has been termed, the African ‘Brain Drain’.

On the other hand, the migration of professionals and skilled persons from Africa has resulted in a growing diaspora that contribute to a substantial platform of potential investors for social enterprises based in Africa. Lack of access to investment from local banks is a common problem for small businesses and ventures, such that crowdfunding appears as an increasingly attractive alternative. Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet. This could mean that Africa’s brain drain could help provide the right conditions for social entrepreneurship. These financing techniques are fostering an interest in Africa not only as a place to invest in but also, ironically, as a destination for African migrants who once felt they had to leave for greener pastures.

Flickr/CC/Rocío Lara
Crowdfunding – Flickr/CC/Rocío Lara


Dr. Menghis Bairu, founder and CEO of Serenus Biotherapeutics, is convinced that “it’s not just a matter of attracting African expatriates home”. That instead, we should also be working to “attract talented professional from developed nations who have a passion for the continent and find rewards in being challenged to build, contribute and grow”. Crowdfunding, or as later explained, ‘crowd investing’ is quickly becoming a globally accessible means to not only engage with enterprises in Africa but to engage with the formation of the new social and professional landscape itself.

Yet, there still remain a number of obstacles that impinge the impact that crowdfunded social enterprises could have on the continent. According to

Laura DeLuca, PhD, assistant professor of Environmental, Peace Studies and Social Entrepreneurship at Naropa University, these are the occurrences of prominent African social entrepreneurs that move to the West after attending accelerators or incubators, contributing to the African Brain Drain. As well as low bandwidth and unreliable electricity that jeopardise access to entrepreneurial resources on the Internet, and lastly, the fact that crowdfunding through Internet platforms has not become firmly entrenched in entrepreneurial practice in Africa. DeLuca is convinced that crowdfunding, or raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the Internet, is a foreign concept in many parts of the African continent.

Though this is not to say that crowdfunding has not made its mark in Africa. Cameroonian Georges Badjang and his honey production business, Les Mielleries may never have been able to take off if it wasn’t for crowdfunding platform BlueBees. After his local bank turned him away, Badjang was able to acquire the appropriate funds through the platform that specializes in entrepreneurs from developing countries, connecting them with investors from Europe. Other platforms, including Fadev and Babyloan, have begun to offer opportunities for small African businesses by accessing the African Diaspora as a source of potential investors. This technique of targeting the African Diaspora has also been employed by Elizabeth Howard, co-founder of Lelapa Fund, an organisation that targets Africans living abroad who want to invest in and support projects “back home” identifies the platform as ‘crowd investing’.

“the best investors in Africa are Africans themselves”

Howard seems to believe that, unlike European investors or contributing parties, members of the African diaspora perceive fewer barriers to involving themselves with African projects than foreign investors. South African investor Patrick Schofield further iterates her point, stating that “it is no coincidence, said, because it is not easy to work directly out of Africa…[and] it can be expensive sending money to Africa and there is also uncertainty as well”.  Howard explains the incentive behind ‘crowd investing’ with the statement, “the best investors in Africa are Africans themselves”.



By Zarreen Kamalie

Sometimes it’s tricky identifying whether someone’s a social entrepreneur or a social activist. Social activists are often at the forefront of identifying and raising awareness around key social and political problems within a society. Their goal is essentially to bring about change in the way things are done. Whether that is through government policy, or through community engagement, social activists are convinced there can always be improvement. Social entrepreneurs see it this way too, though their focus is on building organizations, and specified solutions. Their paths can cross as they may work in similar spheres. Some even make the jump and use their knowledge of one field to advance the other.

Activists who turn into social entrepreneurs are the ones who address a social cause with a different approach, one that includes mobilizing resources, building organizations and applying business skills to social problems. Making the jump between the two is something worth noting because it takes a major shift in one’s comfort zone, possibly an acquisition of new skills, and even reaching out to the very institutions that you were protesting against.
The following African activists were able to make that transition, leaving behind a legacy to be proud of.

1) Wendy Luhabe
South African

Wikimedia Commons/CC/World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland
Wikimedia Commons/CC/World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland

As an economic activist for the past 20 years, Wendy Luhabe is a firm believer that once women have financial security, that they will be able to lift not only themselves up, but their communities as well.  Her latest project enables women in townships and rural areas to bake bread and earn a living. It could be life-changing, especially on the scale she envisages. She has been known to express her disregard for charity and welfare systems, as she believes they perpetuate dependency. In a political context that works toward social liberation, to be able to say ‘Nope, this is not the way to do it’ is pretty impressive.

Luhabe is the founder of Women Private Equity Fund, has been a pioneering Social Entrepreneur for the past two decades. Her passions lie in building an ecosystem for entrepreneurship in Africa and she is a recipient of 3 Honorary Doctorates and a member of the International Council of Business Women Leaders initiated by Hillary Clinton on the Economic Empowerment of Women.

Although Luhabe has indicated that she will not raise a second equity fund after the closure of the women-focused private equity fund, we can hope that her mentorship to other young entrepreneurs during her successes inspires innovation and initiative among the youth in South Africa.

2) Leymah Gbowee

Wikimedia Commons/CC/Jon Styer, Eastern Mennonite University
Wikimedia Commons/CC/Jon Styer, Eastern Mennonite University

The Women’s Rights and Peace activist was one of three female recipients to be awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, “for non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peacebuilding work.” During unstable times in Liberia, Gbowee has helped organize and lead the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, an alliance of Christian and Muslim women, in public protest. In her TEDx talk, she explained how as a social worker during the first war, she helped organize an interreligious coalition of Christian and Muslim women called the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement. If you’re well versed in Liberia’s bloody history, you’ll understand progressive implications of fostering interfaith unity after years of taught animosity.

Her organization, Women Peace and Security Network Africa, and the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa trains and empowers women in Africa to bring peace to their own countries. The foundation works towards facilitating equal access to opportunities, mainly through female empowerment into leadership roles in schools and communities. Madam Gbowee has definitely taken matters into her own hands here.

3) Mariéme Jamme

Mariéme Jamme, can be described as a kind of tech activist. She is the CEO of Spot One Global Solutions and the woman behind the Jjiguène Tech Hub based in Senegal, a tech network that supports young women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Jamme is also behind the platform, Africa Gathering, which engages social entrepreneurs and activists to pool their thoughts and provide practical solutions for Africa’s development.

Jamme continues to inspire young African thinkers and innovators. Her website, is dedicated to stories of activism, philanthropy, and the like, showcasing her varied interests and roots in social consciousness that has helped shape her knack for social enterprise.

All of the aforementioned individuals had been through a degree of hardship on a personal level that would later define and build their capacity to problem solve. Unlike activists alone, these social entrepreneurs were able to isolate a problem and develop a sustainable solution. While these individuals tackled massive issues that seem to have no end, like gender discrimination and financial inclusion, their drive enabled them to dig their claws into the problem and hang on until they saw fit to let go.




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