In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a new emphasis has been placed on teaching children about entrepreneurship. In Morocco, four out of every five young people between the ages of 15 and 34 are unemployed and not taking an active role in changing their circumstances.

The idea behind encouraging young people to become entrepreneurs is that they will eventually create jobs for themselves and others as well. Injaz is a non-profit at the forefront of this initiative.

According to their website, Injaz aims to “reveal to youth their potential and stimulate their spirit of initiative through a partnership between the corporate and the public worlds.” They have 10 offices all over MENA that are carrying out programs that teach young people about how to create a business.

Injaz has volunteers on the ground who are engaging students at all grade levels for two hours during a three-week period in each location. During their time at each place, volunteers attempt to implement Junior Achievement programs, which has been a global leader of entrepreneurship since 1919.

These programs work to get unemployed youth engaged and re-energized about their futures.

The high unemployment rate can be attributed to several factors: public sector employment preferences, lack of “high quality” jobs and a mishandling of skills and the education that is provided when it comes to what jobs are most needed in the job market.

These and other intricately interwoven factors contribute to the lack of engaged youth and the clear need for an entrepreneurial initiative.

Although the governments in MENA have recognized and attempted to enthusiastically rectify this growing problem, they haven’t been able to gain the trust and respect of its people due to their predecessors. The public is skeptical because there have been many failures on the part of past government officials when it comes to this initiative.

It is important to remember that there have been failures, yes, but also many success stories, some of which are shared on Injaz’s website.

In 2014, the efforts of Injaz helped to provide almost 11,000 students with hands-on classes on global business, practical entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy and an encouragement towards imagination and creativity.

As Sarah Alaoui, a team member of the American Moroccan Legal Empowerment Network, says, “the fairies of innovation and entrepreneurship will not magically dissipate the hurdles faced by unemployed youth in the country, [but] if cultivated properly, they are a long-term channel for Morocco’s youth to contribute to the country’s growth and development as valuable members of society… [and] the ship of entrepreneurship must be encouraged to stay afloat in Morocco.”

Drusilla Gibbs

Sources: Al Jazeera, Injaz Morocco, Huffington Post
Photo: Morocco World News

Bpeace, short for Business Council for Peace, is an organization comprised of business savvy individuals who have combined their efforts to aid business owners in areas who have suffered from violence and war.

Bpeace volunteers help decrease violence in conflict-ridden communities by accelerating job creation and, in turn, decreasing poverty. They have aided business owners in countries like Rwanda, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Guatemala and more.

Bpeace was founded in 2002 in New York City. Serving as a pro bono management consulting firm, Bpeace helps entrepreneurs scale their businesses, create significant employment for members of their communities and expand the economic power of women.

The founders of Bpeace believe the most efficient way to spread world peace is by creating jobs, and they apply this philosophy to all of their practices. Jobs have a big multiplier effect. This creates local purchasing power, which helps families become sustainable.

Since 2009, Bpeace has held an event called Pedal for Peace that brings together donors and bikers to raise money for local entrepreneurs in developing countries. Participants ride either a sixty-mile or 25-mile race while donating at least $500. Every dollar is donated to families in Afghanistan, El Salvador and Guatemala.

In 2015, Bpeace provided mentoring to over 65 entrepreneurs, with their efforts reaching 2,657 employees. In total, 12,000 families have been positively affected by Bpeace’s effort. Bpeace also assists business owners with finances to keep violence away from their businesses.

Karina Koper, a business owner in Guatemala, uses the financial assistance she receives from Bpeace to pay for her employees to take cabs to and from work to avoid being mugged or assaulted and to pay off gangs from messing with her shops.

Another example of this is Veronica Mejia Handal, a business owner in El Salvador, who received social media marketing training from Bpeace and used her newfound skills to market herself to potential customers around the world.

Today, Bpeace continues to help entrepreneurs, creates jobs and helps end gang violence by spreading employment to constituents of all backgrounds.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Fox Business, Bpeace 1, Bpeace 2, Indiegogo
Photo: Pause for Thought

The following businesses were created by young entrepreneurs in Nigeria:

House of Dabira

In 2011, at the age of 18, Inioluwa Ajayi founded the House of Dabira. Based in Ibadan, the House of Dabira designs high-quality, custom-made clothing.

Since the company’s beginning, Ajayi has been in multiple fashion shows. She has also won various awards, including Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2014 Oyo Students Entrepreneurship Awards.

Ajayi is now 21 and has graduated from the University of Ibadan with a law degree. She has around four to six clients each month and hopes to expand in the future.

“We plan to significantly grow our client base both within and outside Africa by creating signature collections for top retailers, opening House of Dabira stores in key cities across the continent, listing on e-commerce shopping sites like Jumia … and creating a diffusion line, Da’ara, to produce more affordable outfits,” she explained to How We Made it in Africa.

Ajayi also hopes to donate part of her profits to help fight domestic violence. “Finally, we plan to grow the House of Dabira Campaign against domestic violence by investing five percent of all profit into supporting victims of domestic violence, leading multimedia campaigns to eradicate the scourge and creating projects to teach young girls about design,” she said.

Kenny Palm Oil

Ndilemeni Kenechukwu is a 22-year-old electrical engineering student who founded Kenny Palms Nigeria, which packages and sells various forms of palm oil.

Kenechukwu became interested in entrepreneurship when he was 13 years old and read the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, an American businessman and investor.

The company began in 2013. Today, it employs 12 people. “There is increasing demand for hygienic and low-cholesterol, edible palm oil due to the upsurge of heart-related ailments, disease prevention awareness and the most recent Ebola outbreak,” said Kenechukwu.

Kenechukwu has high hopes for his company’s future; by 2035, he hopes to be the leading producer of palm oil in Africa. He is currently investing his profits so he can expand production.

Greenville Organic Foods

Kavode Yussuf is a 21-year-old and is head of Greenville Organic Foods in Alimosho, near Lagos, Nigeria. The company processes the West African cassava root and turns it into garri, a popular, tapioca-like food.

The company began in Dec. 2014 and is making around $600 per month. Greenville Organic Foods employs two people and provides cassava farmers with a stable income, something that they were not previously receiving.

“Farmers must sell off their cassava within two weeks of harvesting,” said Yussuf. “This makes cassava farmers anxious and this anxiety makes buyers price down the cassava. So our coming on board gives some farmers the assurance that there is a market for their product.”

Yussuf hopes to raise enough money to build a production plant; as of now, due to lack of funding, production and packaging are outsourced.

“It will cut our production cost,” he said. “We will [be able to] employ more people, make more profits and, best of all, we will be in direct control of the quality of our products.”

– Margaret Mary Anderson

Sources: How We Made it in Africa, Anzisha Prize
Photo: How We Made it in Africa

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is the combined efforts of the U.S. government, Non-Governmental Organizations, universities and companies to support African youth and future leaders in hopes of creating a better future for Africa as a whole. It was established by President Obama in 2010.

Not only does YALI aim to create and shape African leaders, but it also wants to create a network between them. What is striking about this measure is that it lays down a framework for these future leaders who are full of potential, but then leaves the more substantial and meaningful portion of the work to the young leaders themselves, leaving it up to them to shape their world.

YALI goes about this goal in several ways. For example, it offers online courses for individuals who want to learn more about areas such as entrepreneurship, leadership and public management. Completion of a YALI course not only means that a person has learned about honing valuable life skills, but also that they receive a certificate to prove it.

YALI is also working to construct Regional Leadership Centers throughout Africa with the intent of increasing accessibility and relevance of training programs to leaders and future leaders across Africa. Two have opened so far this year, in Accra and Nairobi, and two more are planned for Dakar and Pretoria by the end of 2015.

The YALI Network face2face is a Facebook group that helps young African leaders share events encouraging leadership and fellowship, or even create new skills. Members are encouraged not only to attend events but to create their own on topics that interest them or that would be beneficial to their particular community. It’s a tool to help create and maintain connections.

Another huge event put on by the group is the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, which brought 500 African leaders ages 25 to 35 to the United States in 2014 and 2015. Fellows take academic courses in business, civic engagement and public administration and receive leadership training. Some also participate in internships. What they take home is access to new opportunities, seed funding and useful skill sets to help build their own communities.

Participants in the fellowship are selected from almost 50,000 applicants. Next year, there are plans to double the number of participants to 1,000, as well as to develop an exchange program where 80 Americans are sent to Africa to work with alumni of the fellowship program.

Each applicant has his or her own story and set of experiences that make them valuable contributors to the fellowship. For example, Grace Alache Jerry, Miss Wheelchair Nigeria, is a spokesperson for people with disabilities, founder of her own nonprofit organization and organizer of a series of benefit concerts.

Eldine Chilembo is an advocate for women’s empowerment in the maritime industry in Angola. Noluthando Duma helps orphans in her South African Province of KwaZulu Natal and hopes to develop a home to provide resources to such children.

Kenyan Kezy Mukiri said of her experience in the fellowship, “What I’m taking back with me is humanity. We need to connect; the world is becoming a global village.”

The bringing together of such inspired, dedicated minds is an undoubtedly noble cause. President Obama summed up the goal of the movement nicely at his speech at this year’s Washington Summit.

“Our hope is. . . when you have all gone on to be ministers in government or leaders in business or pioneers of social change, that you will still be connecting with each other, that you will still be learning from each other.”

Emily Dieckman

Sources: Insidevoa, Miami Herald, NPR, State, Voanews, Young African Leaders
Photo: The White House Blog

Poverty alleviation through microcredit is the Whole Planet Foundation’s mission. This foundation was created by the Whole Foods Market chain. It provides microcredit to different organizations in areas of Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East. These organizations, in turn, offer loan programs, training and financial services that provide help to self-employed people living under poor conditions.

According to the Whole Planet Foundation’s website, they are currently supporting more than 1,000,000 micro-entrepreneurs in around 60 countries throughout the world.

Partnerships are an important pillar of the foundation because they help support these micro-entrepreneurs. The foundation has microfinance partners, supplier partners, collaborating partners, custom contributions and musicians for microcredit.

The foundation’s microfinance partners are the ones in the field. These foundations are located across the globe in places such as Honduras and China.

The Adelante Foundation in Honduras, Aga Khan Foundation in Ivory Coast, Association Costa Rica Grameen in Costa Rica, Banco do Povo Credito Solidario in Brazil, Banigualdad in Chile, CASHPOR in India, CAURIE in Senegal, Chamroeun Microfinance Limited in Cambodia, Entrepreneurs du Monde in Togo, INMAA in Morocco, KOMIDA in Israel, Pro Mujer in Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru and the Women and Family Development Fund in Laos are some of the microfinance partners that the Whole Planet Foundation works with.

On the other side, the foundation’s supplier partners have donated millions in order to advocate for the Whole Planet Foundation’s mission. These partners support the foundation’s mission through different fund programs: the $100,000 Fund, the Supplier Alliance, the Poverty is Unnecessary Fund, the Ten Thousand Dollar Fund and the Microloan a Month Fund.

The partners supporting the $100,000 Fund are Frontier Co-op, Living On One, Papyrus-Recycled Greeting and Whole Foods Market.

The Supplier Alliance, the Poverty is Unnecessary Fund, the Ten Thousand Dollar Fund and the Microloan a Month Fund are supported by different organizations like Alaffia, Allegro Coffee, Amazing Grass, Blue Avocado, Garden of Life, Hain Celestial, Organic India, Suja Juice, Greyston Bakery, Rainbow Light, Chavez for Charity, Teatulia and Gourmet Guru, among others.

The foundation also has a scan-back program in which Whole Foods Market supplier partners can donate a part of their sales to the Whole Planet Foundation. According to the foundation’s website, they have more than 600 suppliers in this program.

The Whole Planet Foundation’s collaborating partners are organizations that help to increase the foundation’s reach, potency and success. A Glimmer of Hope, Aldea Artisans, My Social Canvas, The Rainforest Alliance and Valley Credit Union are some of the collaborating organizations of the foundation.

The custom contributors collect sources that help the Whole Planet Foundation support poverty alleviation. Some of their contributors are Aurora University, Hand in Hand Soap, Pura Vida Bracelets, Barefoot Wine, Crafted Peru and FedEx Office, among others.

Another way for the Whole Planet Foundation to support poverty alleviation is through the use of music. The foundation partners with musicians that are advocating for poverty alleviation and empowering entrepreneurship around the world.

Musicians like Rocky Dawuni, Aziza & the Cure, Patrick Bradley and Tiffany Parker are donating part of their album sales to the foundation.

If the general public wants to get involved and support the Whole Planet Foundation mission, they should know that fundraising is an option. People can create a fundraising campaign page in order to support entrepreneur communities around the world, and spread the word to their family, friends and colleagues.

Partnerships are an important aspect and pillar of the Whole Planet Foundation. These partnerships have helped the organization to support poverty alleviation throughout the world and use entrepreneurship as a crucial way to target poverty.

Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: Whole Planet Foundation 1, Whole Planet Foundation 2, Whole Planet Foundation 3, Whole Planet Foundation 4, Whole Planet Foundation 5, Whole Planet Foundation 6, Whole Planet Foundation 7, Whole Planet Foundation 8, Whole Planet Foundation 9
Photo: Whole Planet Foundation

Three Entrepreneurs from Ghana, Cameroon and Rwanda are applicants to The Anzisha Prize. The prize aims to support young, African entrepreneurs who have created innovative change in their communities by addressing social issues or starting successful small businesses.

Twelve of the finalists win a free, week-long trip to South Africa to participate in entrepreneurship workshops and conferences at the African Leadership Academy campus near Johannesburg. The grand prize winners are then selected from the top twelve and receive $75,000 dollar prizes that will give their small businesses a jump-start as well as publicity.

In 2015, the organization selected winners from a pool of around 500 applicants. The amount of applications this year is a record—but only 27 percent of them were women applicants.

Despite the low number of women applicants, there are many women entrepreneurs in Africa. However, they are often forced into innovative solutions out of need, rather than a desire to do so. How We Made it In Africa described in an illustrative example, “This means that they might be self-employed by selling fruit on the side of the road, but the opportunity for them to grow beyond the informal stage may never present itself.”

African women usually lack access to education on financial and development skills; this is due to the fact that males are typically sent to school more often than females.

Still, the following Anzisha Prize women have overcome the odds and made positive, impactful changes in their communities through their entrepreneurial innovation.

Mabel Suglo: Assembling Shoes to Employ the Disabled

Mabel Suglo is a 21 year old woman from Ghana, a co-founder of the Eco-Shoes Project. The initiative helps disabled artisans assemble desirable, marketable shoes out of used tires and recycled clothing.

The Project began in 2013; today five people work for Suglo.

“There are millions of discarded car tyre stockpiles and waste materials in Ghana which pose an environmental and health hazard. Eco-Shoes rescues some of the millions of tyres and other material waste creating an environmental nuisance, to make fashionable and comfortable shoes.” said Suglo, according to How We Made it in Africa.

If Suglo wins the Anzisha Prize, she plans to invest in more sophisticated machinery to increase shoe output. She also wants to create an e-commerce site and give her workers improved training in technology.

Vanessa Zommi: Tea to treat Diabetes in Cameroon

In 2013, when Vanessa Zommi was only seventeen, she founded Emerald Moringa Tea in Molyko, Cameroon. The company treats the moringa plant, transforming the raw substance into a healthy tea that treats diabetes.

“The World Health Organisation’s research estimates 190 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide. This research further estimates that by the year 2025, there will be about 330 million patients in the world. Studies show that drinking moringa tea after a meal can ease digestion, and after two hours of intake, sugar levels in the body drop.” said Zommi, according to How We Made it in Africa.

Zommi plans to expand her company in the future; she currently employs six people and sales are limited to Molyko, Cameroon. She hopes the prize money will assist her in this expansion.

Chantal Butare: Milk Cooperative to help Farmers Sell

Chantal Butare, a twenty-one-year-old graduate of the University of Rwanda founded a dairy cooperative that aids farmers who produce milk in accessing markets.

Butare started the Kinazi Dairy Cooperative in 2012; she noticed farmers, especially women farmers, often struggled to sell all of the milk they produced.

The Cooperative, to date, has helped over 3,200 farmers. It employs twelve milk collectors who supply Rwanda and Burundi.

“My vision is to help eradicate poverty and hunger among vulnerable people in my community,” said Butare, according to How We Made it in Africa.

Aaron Andree

Sources: Anzisha Prize, How We Made It in Africa
Photo: Clinton Foundation

Soccer unites people. It is one of the few things that crosses social, geographic, ethnic and religious boundaries. It is widely understood and played by many. This is why Uncharted Play tapped into the love of soccer to make a difference in the world. They believed in the power of play.

Uncharted Play was founded in 2011 with the strong belief that through the pursuit of play and happiness, they could create something that “would show the world how play could be a tangible tool for inspiring social invention.”

The two founders of Uncharted Play, Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman, met during their junior year at Harvard University, where they teamed up to create the SOCCKET as a class project.

The SOCCKET is a soccer ball with an LED light and a plug off the side. It has a mechanism on the inside that converts kinetic energy to electricity, which powers an LED light for three hours after just thirty minutes of play.

Uncharted Play’s first large-scale success was in Mexico in March 2013, where the largest television station, Televisa, gave out 150 SOCCKETs for free at a ceremony.

However, the first big problem that users ran into with the SOCCKETs was the invention’s low durability. Uncharted Play took this into account and began making improvements. Matthews said, “We’re not Nike. We’re not Walmart… We’re a group of eight people in an apartment in New York City.” She later added, “Things may not always go right, but we are always, always, always… trying to do our best and doing it for the bigger picture.”

Since the creation of the SOCCKET in 2008 and the establishment of Uncharted Play in 2011, they have created a second product—energy-storing jump ropes—and have improved on the first.

Uncharted Play recognized that nearly 1.2 billion people live without electricity and sought to find a solution that not only reduced this number, but also increased happiness. The SOCCKETs are used to light homes and help children do their homework, and most importantly, it gets the kids out to play. Here, soccer and global poverty truly do collide—with positive results.

Hannah Resnick

Sources: Smithsonian, Public Radio International, Uncharted Play, World Bank
Photo: Development Crossing

Source via a nice article published in SoccerTimes

Established in 2000, one of the Millennium Development Goals was to increase the availability of clean drinking water. More specifically, the United Nations aimed to reduce the number of people without access to safe drinking water in half. In 2010, this goal was met. In fact, it was the first Millennium Development Goal to be met.

Despite these advancements, over 750 million people lack access to clean drinking water even today. That’s almost two and a half times the population of the United States without safe water. That’s about 1 in 9 people in total.

This is what Italian designer Gabriele Diamanti wanted to change with the Eliodomestico, a solar powered ceramic water purifier. The Eliodomestico boils water to separate the unwanted elements from the clean drinking water.

Diamanti wanted to make something simple and inexpensive, using materials found in the area so that a local craftsman could put it together. In the end, Diamanti built the Eliodomestico to work like “an upside-down coffee percolator”.

The Elliodomestico is made of terracotta, anodized zinc and recycled plastic. It consists of two ceramic containers, one atop the other. Salt water is poured into the top container, which then gets heated by the sun and converted to steam. The increase in pressure forces the steam to travel through a tube to the lower container where it re-condenses. The clean drinking water gathers at the bottom of the lower container.

The Eliodomestico collects about 5 liters of clean drinking water per day, and it only costs $50 with no operating costs. In addition, the bottom container can be easily removed and transported on the head of the user, a common practice in developing countries.

Because the Eliodomestico doesn’t use electricity or filters, it is easier to maintain and more efficient than other solar water purifiers. Most solar powered water filters use a solar panel, which increases the cost and the style-factor, but not the efficiency. The Eliodomestico is efficient, cheap and easy to use and maintain, making it a simple solution to a wide spread problem.

Hannah Resnick

Sources: Gabriele Diamanti, Giz Mag, Global Citizen, Inhabit, UN Millennium Project,
Photo: Gabriele Diamanti

Economic development in Africa has been progressing at tremendous speeds over the last two decades, opening even the most rural entrepreneurs of the continent the chance to succeed in their endeavours. A number of nonprofits have made it their mission to help entrepreneurs in Africa succeed.

African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC)

Established in Rwanda in 2012, AEC now supports over 100 entrepreneurs as they develop and grow their businesses. Though many organizations focus on the initial establishment of new businesses, the AEC provides on-going support and consultation to fledgling entrepreneurs and helps them grow their businesses over time. The African Entrepreneur Collective has tailored their focus to a number of areas: business development, African Innovation Prize for students, low-cost funding, tech and SPRING, focused on innovations for girls.

The organization stated, “In order to create more jobs in Africa, we find the people who are already creating jobs, and help them do it better.”

Self Help Africa

Self Help Africa has been working for 30 years to help farmers in nine countries transition from subsistence farming to farming as a means of income. Self Help’s mission is to strengthen agricultural systems, improve access to goods and services and provide rural communities with market opportunities. In 2014 alone, the organization assisted 290,000 smallholder farmers and had 1.8 million beneficiaries. Some recently highlighted activities by the organization include hosting beekeeping training for a rural Ugandan village, funding a dress-making business in Tanzania and helping a goat farmer in Uganda expand his breeding stock.


WomensTrust is a New Hampshire-based organization working to empower women in Ghana to break the cycle of poverty and build better lives for themselves and those around them. The organization focuses on three main aspects: microlending for business expansion, education and healthcare. To date, the organization has served over 2,300 clients and supplied more than $400,000 in loans to Ghanese women.

Gina Lehner

Sources: Women’s Trust, Self Help Africa, African Entrerpreneur Collective
Photo: The Renegade Times

Student-Designed Water Purifier Helps In Cambodia
In 2008, Jonathan Liow set out for a life-changing trip to Cambodia. Upon witnessing firsthand the poverty that struck parts of the country, he decided to make a change in his own life and build something that could help people everywhere: a water purifier.

Across the globe, over 750 million people lack access to clean drinking water. This means that over 2.5 times the population of the United States doesn’t have safe water to drink. Liow learned that people in developing countries greatly needed a clean, cheap water purifier, and so he set out to make a difference.

As Liow’s graduate project at Australia’s Monash University, he created the Snowball. The Snowball looks like a hamster ball but is actually a spherical water purification system that uses the sun’s rays to produce clean drinking water.

How could something that looks like a hamster toy purify water for people in the developing world? It’s shockingly simple. The user pours polluted water into the Snowball, which is then heated by the sun from every angle through the transparent upper section of the ball. The water evaporates and then condenses on the inside of the ball. The condensation is then guided through a spout that runs along its diameter and comes out as pure, clean water. The contaminants are left behind in the un-evaporated water.

The Snowball is made of durable plastic, strong enough to withstand frequent use yet delicate enough to remain transparent. The prototype only produces 1 gallon of clean drinking water per use, meaning each person would need a few Snowballs to satisfy their daily thirst.

Liow, who has since graduated from Monash University, says that a big challenge is making the Snowball more efficient than other inventions without increasing in price or complexity. As of now, the water purifier is making an impact in Cambodia, where Liow first found his inspiration.

Hannah Resnick

Sources: Giz Mag, Global Citizen, Inhabit, Tree Hugger