Geneva, Switzerland: Thirty-one social entrepreneurs have been recognized by the Schwab Foundation as awardees of the 2015 Social Entrepreneur of the Year. They were recognized for their outstanding contributions as social entrepreneurs working in health, education, employment, gender, finance and environmental sustainability. The winners were selected by Schwab Foundation board members, including Muhammad Yunus, in recognition of their innovative approaches and potential for global impact.
Three of the four awardees for Africa are women who are each making an incredibly positive social impact on the continent. Meet them here....
Katherine Lucey of Solar Sister
Katherine Lucey is the CEO of Solar Sister, a network of women entrepreneurs bringing clean energy to rural Africa. According to the World Bank, 1.6 billion people live without electricity, which is 25 percent of the world’s population. Seventy percent of that number are women and girls living in the developing world who often use dangerous and expensive fuels for cooking and lighting their homes. To address this humanitarian crisis in Africa, Solar Sister has developed a unique market-based solution leveraging the talent and networks of women. It is actively recruiting, training and maintaining a growing sales force, which is comprised of women from rural African communities that are most in need of safe and affordable solar energy. By selling portable lamps, mobile phone chargers and clean cookstoves, Solar Sister combines the breakthrough potential of clean energy technologies with a grassroots network of businesswomen. With more than 1,250 entrepreneurs, Solar Sister is making a big impact.
Katherine Lucey has been recognized for leading Solar Sister’s success in improving the health, safety, education and economic prosperity of communities in rural Africa through solar energy businesses. Speaking about her recognition by the Schwab Foundation, she says: “More than 600 million people in Africa live without electricity, and this lack of access to electricity is both a cause and an effect of unremitting poverty. Solar Sister is proud to be part of the solution. By investing in women, and kick-starting their solar businesses, we’re providing the economic opportunities they want and need to create healthier, more prosperous communities.”
Christie Peacock of Sidai Africa
With a three decade career in agriculture and livestock research and development, Christie Peacock has turned to increasing the productivity of poor livestock farmers through her own social entrepreneurship initiative, Sidai Africa. Christie recognised that about 80% of Africans are farmers and most remain in deep poverty. Livestock play critical and multiple roles in supporting rural families in Africa. They serve as the family’s main asset, source of high protein food, and importantly, source of income. However, livestock keepers lack access to knowledge of how to improve the productivity of their livestock and the vaccines, drugs and feeds they need, therefore not fulfilling the livestock potential to lift people out of poverty.
As a solution, Sidai is creating a network of branded, quality-assured, livestock service centres owned and managed by qualified livestock professionals operating under a franchise agreement. These outlets stock quality products and offer quality services to farmers, providing them with a genuine choice in the market. Farmers can therefore have the knowledge, products and services they need to look after their livestock and crops and improve their production and increase income levels. Sidai charges farmers a fair price for all its products and services. In this way, it generates revenues to support the delivery of services to underserved communities in remote locations, as well as to further expand the organisation through a franchising business model. Sidai's steadily growing network has improved the businesses of its franchisees, their families and their customers. It is currently operating through a network of 96 franchises and 340 stockists, and selling to more than 60,000 customers across Kenya. It is also providing farmers’ trainings, as well as a young professionals internship programs.
Sharanjeet Shan of Maths Centre
Sharanjeet Shan is the Executive Director of Maths Centre South Africa, a non-profit organisation that strives to improve Maths, Science and Technology Education in South Africa. Spread across all provinces, the primary objective is to equip teachers, learners and parents with learning materials and programmes that will further develop their competency and performance in these curriculums for Grades R – 12 in South Africa.
Sharanjeet Shan and her organisation have a vision to enable world-class performance of both teachers and learners in Maths, Science and Technology education in South Africa.
To help achieve this vision, Maths Centre, under the direction of Sharanjeet Shan, aims to provide high impact support to the South African education system using proven methods and resources to develop effective teachers and promote measurable improvement of learner performance in Maths, Science and Technology. At a practical level, the Maths Centre aims to enhance teacher qualifications, competencies and professionalism in Mathematics, Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship subjects within a whole school context through intensive classroom and workshop based, needs based programmes. It also looks to demonstrably enhance learner performance, through a systematic monitoring of learner progression, and to provide skills development programmes for in-school and out of school youth and informal businesses within the domain of MST and Entrepreneurship Education. Finally, the Maths Centre aims to produce much-needed, high quality, effective and efficient teaching and learning materials for Grades R – 12 in South Africa.
Speaking at the announcement of the 2015 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year, Hilde Schwab, co-Founder and Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship said “Social entrepreneurs are visionaries but are also realists, and are ultimately concerned with the practical implementation of scalable solutions". She went on to say, "The 31 outstanding social entrepreneurs we have selected into the Schwab Foundation community this year are designing transformative models in collaboration with government and business partners to generate truly inclusive growth. As such, social entrepreneurs represent an integral and dynamic community of the World Economic Forum.”
“We are seeing greater appetite among other stakeholder groups of the Forum to learn from social innovation models and collaborate with social entrepreneurs in innovative ways,” said David Aikman, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum. “I am confident this trend will only continue to grow in the future, and the World Economic Forum is proud to be at the forefront of catalysing partnerships among these stakeholder groups for social and environmental change.”
The awardees will become part of the broader Schwab Foundation community of Social Entrepreneurs, which includes more than 300 outstanding social entrepreneurs from 60 countries. Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs are fully integrated into the events and initiatives of the Forum. They contribute actively to and benefit from peer-to-peer exchanges with other social entrepreneurs, as well as interactions with top leaders in business, government, civil society and the media.