The Social Business in Africa Initiative (SBAI) seeks to launch a pilot program of business incubation and venture funding for African entrepreneurs who are able to propose innovative solutions to the challenges faced by their countries in addressing key areas such as renewable energy; sustainable agriculture; health; and water and sanitation.
Given the complexity of the some of the issues faced by African countries in terms of addressing the area of climate change, renewable energy, and Information Communications Technologies (ICT) among others, the SBAI seeks to collaborate with the African Diaspora of the countries it targets. It is clear that there are educated Africans living in the US and elsewhere with expertise in these areas, who are often looking for ways to contribute to their home countries. The SBAI seeks to collaborate with them as mentors and potential partners to the African entrepreneurs in their home country.
SBAI was launched through a research project entitled; “Addressing Poverty and Development through Funding Innovation and Socially Conscious Entrepreneurship in Africa with Partnership of the African Diaspora.” The research proposed that in order to address poverty and other pressing development issues in Africa, it would be effective to explore mechanisms that could spur the growth of social businesses on the continent. Social businesses are those that seek social as well as financial returns for investors.
The key project activities undertaken during the first phase of the project were research on best practice business incubators and social venture funds in Africa. Based on research findings, a model for promoting socially conscious entrepreneurship has been developed. The project is entering the second phase of activities involving the launch of a pilot program in one country that will involve establishment of a business incubation center and a social venture fund as well as a program of African Diaspora mentorship/ partnership to be replicated in various African countries.