Written by Sammy Bellamy
One impression that was made on me during my time in Kenya was the unanimous desire to bring lasting change to the continent of Africa by the people of Africa.
When speaking with Kenyans about the social and economic status of their beloved homeland, I noticed an undeniable trend of shared responsibility, and a mutual want for progress.
It was also made abundantly clear to me that Kenyans want to work for themselves. They have a strong drive to be their own boss, to avoid the life of being an “employee”. After speaking with several men and women about this trend, it became apparent that this phenomenon was fueled by pride. As in most countries, there is a sense of fulfillment that comes along with being your own boss. Suddenly, a world of opportunities becomes available: your hours can change on a day-to-day basis, or you can be a delivery person one day and a manager the next. The direction of your business is in your hands. Entrepreneurship is synonymous for freedom in the eyes of many people, and this is no different in the Kenyan culture.
This idea, combined with Kenyans’ heavy emphasis on creating a lasting impact in Africa, makes perfect sense as to why they tend to hone in on an entrepreneurial lifestyle. Social enterprise is the perfect solution for Kenyans – it allows them to work for themselves, avoid being just another “employee,” while working toward change. It does not take much time after arriving in Kenya to feel a sense of interconnectedness. There is a high value placed on this ideal, and I am glad to say it has been hard to shake since arriving back home in the States.
After living in a community of mutual and contagious accountability, it suddenly just made sense to me that social enterprise is taking off in Kenya. If anything, we should be taking lessons from Kenyan ideals on their responsible business mindsets. Their societal sensitivity is something that I strive toward every day, and a huge key to the social entrepreneurship puzzle. Kenyans simply need a way to facilitate the skills and knowledge to start a socially responsible business, which is where _SocialStarters comes in. By pairing experienced professionals with social enterprises in hard to reach places, we are hoping to create lasting and sensible change in every corner of the world.
_SocialStarters will be working with youth groups who have accessed loans from Youth Enterprise Development Fund in and around Eldoret in Kenya. These youth groups have all demonstrated a passion for social entrepreneurialsim – they are generating private revenues from the work they do in the community, as well as tackling social issues like public waste, sanitation, sexual health and disadvantaged youth.