Aid money is not just about hand-outs, it is more and more about igniting and fostering long term, self-sustaining development projects. A key tactic in this is providing training and support for small-business ventures that lead to self-employment and job growth.

One such project funded by the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Trade Center (ITC) and the UN, called Ethical Fashion, makes handbags, accessories and clothing for world famous designers. This project was conceived by Simone Cipriani, an Italian shoemaker, who saw no reason why Italy’s model of fashion production could not be recreated in Kenya, and places like it. Mr. Cipriani sought out unemployed and underemployed women with experience in basic beadwork and tailoring, and with training he turned the small idea into a profitable company. Ethical Fashion had sales of $900,000 in 2012, and employs 1,200 women full time. Their wages have gone from about $2 a day to nearly $8, and this income then circulates back into the community and further expands economic growth.

This project is indicative of social-entrepreneur projects and international aid programs that are spreading all around Africa and the developing world. Desmond Tutu started his own fellowship program in South Africa, to promote this entrepreneurial solution to poverty and hardship. With funding from the UN, international foreign aid, and private companies, Tutu’s fellowship now spearheads organizations and businesses across Africa, making marked improvements in the communities they serve.

Gbenga Sesan, a Tutu Fellow, started his own company in Nigeria, where 90 percent of graduates are unable to find full-time jobs. His company targets these unemployed but highly skilled individuals. Many of them come from disadvantaged communities, and could easily get pulled into petty crime and theft in order to provide for themselves. But Mr. Sesan, working in one of the poorest slums in the country, provides them with IT training and entrepreneurial skills, connects them with internships and local employers, and helps them start their own small businesses. Since he started his work in 2007, and has since helped to improve the lives of over 13,000 young Nigerians.

Stories like these are endless, and the focus on job creation is ever expanding as precedent shows real progress in third-world development. To learn how this type of foreign aid helps the US economy and US jobs, click here.

– Mary Purcell

Source: The Economist, The Guardian
Photo: Huffington Post


Developing Africa Through Social EnterpriseIn 2007, 22 young Africans, emerging leaders in the community, business, and government sectors, were selected to participate in the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship Programme in Johannesburg. Implemented by the African Leadership Institute, the objective of the yearlong program was to develop the next generation of leaders in Africa.

Gbenga Sesan of Lagos, one of the 22 Tutu Fellows, was inspired to launch an employment and training program aimed at helping his fellow Nigerians secure full-time jobs. His project works to provide IT, entrepreneurial and communication skills to unemployed but highly-skilled Nigerians. Since Sesan completed the fellowship program in 2007, he has been able to help 13,000 Nigerians find work in a country where 90% of graduates are unable to find full-time employment.

Another Tutu Fellow, Tracey Webster, had left her banking career in London to found a charity that would care for forgotten children. By the time she left the charity to run the Branson’s Centre for Entrepreneurship in South Africa, 22,000 children were being fed, clothed and educated. Webster now works with the government and through micro-entrepreneurship to create jobs and make it easier for young South Africans to start their own ventures.

In the fellowship program, Webster was taught that leadership was “understanding what needs to change for our dreams to come true, and then influencing the right people and working in partnership to get the job done.”

Established in 2003, the African Leadership Institute was founded on the importance of good leadership and governance and focused on nurturing leadership talents in high potential Africans. The course places much focus on social entrepreneurship, ethical business, and the importance of business as a force for social change. One of the core teachings of the program is the philosophy of “ubuntu,” which Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains means “interconnectedness.” Tutu says that at the center of “ubuntu” is the idea that “you are connected and what you do affects the whole world.”

At the core of the fellowship program are a social enterprise and the objective of finding internal solutions and a more sustainable Africa that can develop itself free from foreign aid and philanthropy.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: The Guardian