Ashoka launches initiative to support African social entrepreneurs addressing COVID-19
Ashoka, the association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs has launched the “Changemakers United Africa” initiative, a collective effort geared towards supporting African social entrepreneurs at the forefront of developing solutions that address various issues linked to the COVID-19 crisis on the continent.
13 Ashoka Fellows and 3 young leaders working on better access to healthcare, education, economic resilience, protection of vulnerable groups and transparency among other areas have been selected for the programme which will provide them with tailored support and expertise aimed at scaling up the impact of their projects in communities.
To date, Africa’s coronavirus cases now total over 1.62 million, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
The virus has greatly affected livelihoods, damaging business operations, government balance sheets, and has threatened to reverse the continent’s development gains and growth prospects.
Projections indicate that COVID-19 will trigger a surge in extreme poverty on the African continent with various studies predicting that an additional 12 million Africans might be pushed below the threshold of living of an income of less than USD 1.9 per day.
“Governments, companies and social entrepreneurs, youth and women are having to think, operate and lead in new ways during these uncertain and unprecedented circumstances; we must all learn together with empathy, urgency, confidence, and humility. Ashoka is building the field of systems change in Africa to accelerate and scale up African solutions & stories to foster changemaking by engaging social innovators and co-creating with companies, youth and African diaspora members,” said Pape Samb, the Executive Director of Ashoka Africa.
Social entrepreneurship has increasingly become a critical model to tackle society’s most pressing social, cultural, and environmental challenges. With the outbreak, social entrepreneurs have pivoted their strategies and services to reach vulnerable populations most affected by the crisis and provide key services.
Speaking on the initiative, Vincent Otieno Odhiambo, the Regional Director Ashoka East Africa commented: “We are learning from social entrepreneurs that to succeed in a world characterized by rapid changes and uncertainties such as the ones caused by COVID-19 pandemic, we need to champion cross-sectoral collaborative entrepreneurship models to help maximize on resource utilization, common good, economic justice, social safety nets, responsible and responsive governance.”
He added that in line with this vision, a summit to foster the interaction between the key actors who contribute to creating favorable conditions for the growth of sustainable social enterprises in Africa is scheduled in November to attract further support and investment into impactful and critical projects that will inspire millions of Africans to be changemakers who shape resilient, sustainable and equitable societies.