Merriam-Webster dictionary defines innovation as the “introduction of something new, a new idea, method or device.” To this, we introduce you to Applause Africa’s top pick for innovative companies and organizations whose initiatives are having great impact across Africa,and African communities around the world.
LIBERTY & JUSTICE
An innovative project started by Adam Butlein and Chid Liberty, Liberty and Justice is an initiative driven by a pursuit for social justice and sustainable development in Af- rica. The company is on a mission to change the “status quo” of the global apparel supply chain, trans- forming it from “exploitation to- wards partnership and sustainabil- ity”.The multidimensional brand is Africa’s first Fair Trade CertifiedTM apparel company. Initially launched as Sustainable Global Sourcing Inc, Butlein and Liberty expanded their company to include major corpora- tions such as FEED/Godiva, PrAna, Haggar and Itochu where you can find their products. The inspiration to raise the bar in sustainable development came from Liberia’s Women’s movement where a small group of women were able to affect change in their country peacefully. Liberty and Justice initiated the LiberianWomen’s Sewing Project with a 49% Employee Stock Ownership Plan.The factory has social programs for the women including family planning and literacy programs.
In 2013,Liberty and Justice launched aTrade and Finance Fund, the world’s first investment vehicle that ties the social and environmental impact space.Tackling the problem of finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in Africa, the Trade and Finance Fund seeks to create a network of factories that have safe and efficient working environments.“ Everything is there to make Africa economically viable,” says Liberty and Justice co-founder Chid Liberty.“ We pride ourselves in being a fair-trade and innovative company and have created an envi- ronment that beats Asia’s manufacturing prices.” The pilot program was launched in Ghana where factories are forced to borrow at high rates from banks and often are left with no choice but to lay off workers and cease to function. With the Trade and Finance Fund, the factories are loaned the money at rate that range from 10-21% depending on the fac- tory’s social or environment Impact rating. For example, a factory that is Fair Trade Certified receives a loan at a rate of 21%.The lowest interest rate is for factories that are not only FairTrade Certified,but have implemented social programs for women such as family plan- ning and literacy programs and has instituted a form of profit-sharing program. By the end of 2013, Liberty and Justice will establish addi- tional regional hubs in CapeTown and Nairobi with 120 factories in the network. By building on already existing infrastructure, Liberty and Justice is able to establish a network of socially responsible factories that have positive social change and while addressing the needs of local stakeholders.
WHY WE LOVE THIS:‘Liberty and Justice’ is an in- novative company that champions progress and the economic independence for African women while transforming the nature of the way Africans do business. Besides, who wouldn’t love the sound of “Made in Africa”?
THE BASSIOUNI GROUP
The Bassiouni Group & Partners, colloquially known as TBG, is a consulting firm dedicated to helping organizations solve problems and seize opportunities.TBG “creates, provides and develops sustainable solutions that empower our clients, positively impact the communities in which they operate and improve the overall quality of life.” Founded by Dr. David Bassiouni, the organization is comprised of specialists with varying backgrounds in integrated marketing, crisis management and international develop- ment and the like.TBG is headquartered in both NewYork City and Geneva and operates across Europe,Africa, North America,Africa and South America.Their clients range from both public and private sector organizations, from Fortune 500 firms like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson to the governments of Egypt, Nige- ria, Israel, etc.TBG is staffed from with United Nations veterans and experienced consultants and executives.The organizational structure of TBG includes subsidiaries Bassiouni Ventures, the business incubation arm for Emerging Mar- kets, and Bassiouni Global Sustainability Forum, which focuses on sustainable development in such markets.
WHY WE LOVE THIS: TBG is committed to empow- ering sustaining business solutions, programs and projects that enrich communities.
Bébénoir is a New York based clothing company founded by Ibrahima Doukoure and jointly operated by him and his wife Fatima Doukoure. Originally from Guinée,West Africa, Ibrahima spent most of this childhood in Sen- egal and Italy.The idea of Bébénoir emerged in early 2004 as Ibrahima expressed his desire for Africa to produce necessities for the local market. Bébénoir’s mission is to build a success- ful African-owned fashion house committed to providing trade and economic opportunities for Africa. For both Ibrahima and Fatima, it is about the passion and love for the beauty of African fabric.They also carry an extensive collection of accessories for men and women. In addition, they provide a variety of apparel by both local and international designers.The one on one attention and styling service they provide to their customers is a crowd favorite.
WHY WE LOVE THIS: Bebenoir brings high fashion to the African community at an affordable price.
29-year old Ashish Thakkar, a Ugandan-born entrepreneur, began selling computers to classmates and friends in high school over fifteen years ago. Realizing the potential in his computer venture, his visits to Dubai to gather the materials for the computers became more frequent.Thakkar then dropped out of school to create the Mara Group, a firm specializing in advising outsiders on how to do business in Africa.The Mara Group is involved in a range of industries, from asset management to real estate to manufacturing. Acting as advisers who understand the continent, the group partners up with international strategic partners, and together set up joint ventures to co-invest in various projects.The company’s strength lies in its strategic partnerships with firms who bring subject matter expertise, while the Mara Group, with its proven track record, enables such firms to operate successfully across Africa.
WHY WE LOVE THIS: Beyond the group’s understand- ing of the dynamics in Africa, the company also recognizes the role corporate world plays in shaping the societies in which they work.As such, the Mara Group created a non-profit arm that focuses on entrepreneurship and educa- tion, impacting over 2,000 students through a variety of initiatives
Enovative TV is a premier media platform that provides international television and radio programming to its viewers via the cable, computer or mobile device. Based in New York, Enovative TV prides itself on its ability to offer the largest selection of programming from Africa in the form of both regional and international television and radio channels in English, Arab and French.Via IPTV, Enovative TV providing over 85 international channels span- ning 35 African countries. Such content ranges from music videos to local news, but also allows users to access previously aired shows that have been archived. Being able to easily stream content is the answer to the search of many Africans in the Diaspora attempting to stay up-to-date on the happenings of their home countries.
Why We Love This: Enovative TV is the ultimate democratization of African content with an uncanny ability that allows the Diaspora to connect to their home countries at their own convenience for a low price.
AFRICANS IN THE DIASPORA
Africans in the Diaspora (AiD), a non-profit organization founded in 2011, is pleased to announce the launch of its website. Africans in the Diaspora (AiD) unleashes the financial, social, and intellectual capital of Africans to advance social and economic change in Africa. AiD puts Africans at the forefront of African development, as funders, designers, and implementers.The organization was started and is led by Africans who are committed to giving back responsibly.This offers a unique platform that connects African skills, resourc- es, and ideas across borders towards social and economic change.AiD supports African organizations, which are at the forefront of change in their communities, but often at the short end of the funding stick.
Through its Funds, Connections, and Voices programs, AiD offers an online platform for Diaspora Africans to give back to Africa. Funds enables Diaspora Africans and allies to invest directly in innovative African social change organizations; Connections facilitates the exchange of expertise between the Diaspora and Africans on the continent; and Voices a multi-media blog, amplifies the voices of Africans and their contributions to Africa’s progress. Operating under the belief that Africa’s people are its most valuable resource, AiD mobilizes skills and resources of Diaspora Africans and allies to invest thoughtfully, stra- tegically, and collectively in transformational change in Africa.Through all its work, AiD aims to claims the rightful place of Africans as leaders and drivers of African development.
“Africa is often represented as a land of need and dependency.We know otherwise. Our work sheds light on stories of African ingenu- ity, creativity, and courage, not as an escape from or rejection of a complicated reality, but rather a reflection of it.We harness our col- lective skills, resources, and voices to tell many different stories,” says Co-founder Solome Lemma.
Africans in the Diaspora (AiD) is currently mobilizing funding for three African organiza- tions that are advancing social and eco- nomic change in their communities: Synapse Network incubates youth entrepreneurs in Senegal;WEM Integrated Health Services offers community owned economic empow- erment in Kenya, and Physicians for Social Justice provides innovative health services to rural Nigeria.
WHY WE LOVE THIS: Not only is AiD a collab- orative community effort that relies on the contributions, resources, and knowledge of Diaspora Africans, friends of Africa, and prac- titioners on the ground; it is also an innova- tive platform that challenges our ideas the effectiveness of Aid in Africa.
GEORGES MALAIKA FOUNDATION
The Georges Malaika Foundation (GMF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to unlocking the potential of African girls and their com- munities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through education.Their main base is in Kalebuka, Lubumbashi. Founded by Congolese model Noella Coursaris Musunka, (GMF) is dedicated to the advancement of African com- munities by providing educational opportuni- ties to young girls, ages 5 to 18.They provide support to the girls that give them opportunity to become more informed, giving them the ability to make informed decisions about their futures. To date, GMF has built two wells mak- ing it easier for women to find a source of clean water for their families leaving more time for girls to focus on their education. In collabora- tion with FIFA, GMF is currently constructing the Kalebuka Football for Hope Center, which will incorporate sports facilities near the school grounds in Kalebuka.
WHY WE LOVE THIS: GMF is a great initiative that seeks to break the circle of illiteracy and pov- erty by empowering the most vulnerable popu- lation, and in the process developing a well- rounded public health and education system that offers life skills for the entire community.
Empowering Minds for Tomorrow EMTOM’s vision is to bring transformative and social change to under-served communities in our world. Their mission in these under-served communities is to develop custom solutions to specific educational problems in the communi- ties by improving the educational and learning environment, one at a time. EMTOM firmly believes that an educated community transforms into a successful community.With their ultimate focus being in Nigeria, their goal is to improve the learning environment of children in Nigeria; increase access to academic resources to under- privileged children and reduce the dropout rate of children and increase the number of children matriculating to the next level.To date, EMTOM has distributed academic resources (notebooks, pens, chalks) to 1,700 school children at Central Primary School.
WHY WE LOVE THIS: With a belief that there is no one size fits all approach, EMTOM introduces a custom-solution approach to education by identifying communities with the most educa- tional needs, research solutions to those needs, fund-raise and address the identified needs.
US-Africa Synergy is non-profit organization founded in 2010 by a group of men and women in the African Diaspora eager to give back to their communities.With a mission to equip Africans of the Diaspora and Africa with the skills and knowledge to succeed in their academic, personal, and profession- al endeavors, US-Africa Synergy has developed programming that engages the community in engaging in sustainable transformation of Africa and Africans. Through Career Development, Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship Development, College Counseling, and the US-Africa Ambassadorship, the organization is able to stream- line the social insertion, promoting the professional growth of young Africans, and enables members of the African community to be more active in championing change in their society.
WHY WE LOVE THIS: US-Africa Synergy is an organization that celebrates the African community at large, and concurrently empowers the African youth not only to appreciate their culture, but to also pursue their dreams and develop their talents to the fullest.
Founded by twin sisters Saran and Sarata Kaba, Guinée Espoir (GE) (meaning Guinea Hope in French) is dedicated to promoting youth development in Guinea,West Africa. GE works together with other organizations, local part- ners, and established groups, on projects aiming to better the lives of children living in Guinea. Since its inception in 2004, GE has suc- cessfully carried out projects aiding hospitals, orphanages, libraries, schools and women’s associations. Currently, Guinée Espoir, in part- nership with FJC, has embarked on a project to build a new library in Guinea’s capital, Conakry.The two- story library will offer adult and children’s books covering multiple subjects, computers with Internet access, a play area, a film room and classrooms for various workshops and tutoring sessions.The library is scheduled to open its doors at the end of the year 2014.
WHY WE LOVE THIS: With very few public libraries in the Guinea and only a couple of schools in the area providing modest library resources for their own students, Guinée Espoir is addressing a crucial need for a public library which will pro- vide a broader and more enriching learning experience for children throughout the city.