Furthering social entrepreneurship in Africa, Tigo and Reach for Change arm in arm

For a joint venture focused on implementing a social entrepreneurship program to improve the lives of children living in Africa, mobile network operator Millicom International Cellular S.A., which operates under the brandname Tigo, today announced a partnership with Reach for Change, a child-oriented nonprofit.

Currently, a joint program expected to run through this year is on launch in countries including DRC, Chad, Senegal, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The program, which was piloted in Ghana, reached an estimated 140,000 children in 2011 alone. Five social entrepreneurs were afterwawards chosen for the incubator whose respective ventures, according to Tigo, are now improving the lives of the children.

Tigo and Reach for Change have said they are inviting applicants from the African countries Tigo operates to submit innovative ideas derivable for improving the lives of the children.

The top candidates, proved to have the most entrepreneurial and most promising ideas, will join a three-year incubator program focused on helping them transform their ideas into sustainable enterprises.

The two have pledged to issue out salary funding, mentoring and professional advice, from senior Tigo employees, to the top candidates.

Reach for Change’s chief executive Sara Damber said she believes that giving the rights tools to the people who are fervent about their tasks and who have the the entrepreneurial driving force to make a change is the best way to create social change.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to improve the lives of children in Africa on a large scale together with Tigo,” she said.

Mikael Grahne, chief executive of Millicom, said the program with Reach for Change helps her company to understand the burning social issues affecting children’s lives and a unique one to work hands-on alongside the local talents to address them.

“There is hardly a better way to take part in building the long-term success of the countries in which we operate than investing in children and local entrepreneurship,” Grahne said.

In Africa alone, the United Nations estimates 400 million people live on less than $1.25 a day, even more shocking is that close to 21,000 children under the age of five die each day, according to UNICEF. This indicates nearly 7.6 million children die from preventable problems including lack of water, food and basic medicine.

“The world’s population cannot sit by and let the preventable deaths of 7.6 million children occur each and every year without doing more. I, for one, know that I cannot sit by without doing everything I can to help the poor and dying children of Africa,” said Ray Dinning, of Social Entrepreneurship in Africa, in a post.

The concept of social entrepreneurship has been in use since the 1960s although it came into widespread use in the eighties enhanced by by Bill Drayton the founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Today, like Tigo and Reach for Change, many other mobile network operators such as Kenya’s Safaricom — and its philanthropic arm the Safaricom Foundation — have taken up the role of mentoring, advising and promoting social entreprenuers in Africa.

A large number of universities and colleges, aside from the nonprofits, foundations, non-governmental organisations, governments or individuals, have also continued to establish programs targeted at educating and mentoring social entrepreneurs. An example includes Wittenberg University in Springfield, which recently partnered with Village Markets of Africa to offer students hands-on experience with an organisation working directly with producers.

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