Akili Dada’s inaugural Washa Social Impact Summit took place on the 25th of March at the Strathmore Business School. The summit brought together key players in the social enterprise sector and gave young women and youth with an interest in the sector an opportunity to showcase their work, challenge one another and cross-pollinate ideas.
Washa intentionally sought to debunk the myths on the concept of social enterprise and entrepreneurship while laying bare the realities of engaging in the sector. The Summit ultimately provided stakeholders the opportunity to explore, interrogate and participate in critical conversations providing an insight into what it takes to engage in the social enterprise scene in Kenya and Africa.
The Summit was indeed a unique forum that saw youth and key sector players start the process of engaging in conversations that are needed to shape and propel the sector going forward. Washa provided a platform for youth exposure, enabling them to see themselves as viable agents of social change, while giving sector players an opportunity to build networks and share information.
Akili Dada’s Executive Director – Purity Kagwiria highlighted startling statistics facing the youth population including the fact that that close to 10 million youth enter the workforce annually and yet approximately 60% of Africa’s youth are unemployed. Additionally she sited that entrepreneurship is shaping up as a critical tool for solving some of Africa’s most pressing problems.
Rosemary Okello-Orlale who represented our key partner Ford Foundation noted that youth are the hope of today and the future of tomorrow and encouraged young people to take up the spaces brought about by the emergence of the social enterprise sector. The main panel featured key players in the social enterprise scene in Kenya including that included Ashoka, Amani Institute, Action Network for the Disabled and Akili Dada. The panel highlighted the fact that Africa has many needs to be addressed but encouraged Summit participants to view these needs as opportunities for them to plug in and develop solutions.
The keynote address was delivered by Joanne Mwangi, founder and CEO of Professional Marketing Services Group and the Chair of the Federation of Women Entrepreneur Associations who reminded participants that social enterprise is fundamentally a passion driven business model, and that by the same token social entrepreneurs need to be clear about their priorities and determine what profit looks like.
Heshan de Silva, one of Kenya’s youngest venture capitalists encouraged youth not to be limited by their comfort zone but to instead strive to be exceptional in one business venture before moving on to the next.
We also hosted breakout sessions to explore opportunities in the arts, education, health, technology, environment and women rights issues sub-sectors. Key take included a conclusion that players in each of the subsectors need to understand what they are bring to the table (be it skill, talent or solutions) and balance this by understanding the scale of the problem they seek to address. It also emerged that it was pertinent for players in the sector to build meaningful partnerships – ‘Not everyone is a social entrepreneur but everyone can be a change maker therefore all can engage in the sector’
The summit concluded with the graduation of Akili Dada’s 2015 Cohort of Fellows, highlighting the growth and success of their social impact initiatives and launching these young women and their organizations into the next chapter of their lives.
By Joy Zawadi: Communications and Impact Manager, Akili Dada