Sahara Group is committed to empowering young Africans to lead lives of impact and profit through social entrepreneurship via its corporate social responsibility vehicle, Sahara Foundation.
In 2020, Sahara Foundation launched the Sahara Impact Fund (SIF) Fellowship Programme, through a strategic partnership with Ford Foundation, LEAP Africa and Impact Investment Foundation to support the generation of innovative solutions which will increase access to energy and promote sustainable environments in Sub-Saharan Africa. This commitment is targeted at accelerating attainment of the SDGs in a manner that results in measurable social impact.
This year’s SIF Fellowship program kicked off with a call for applications in May 2022 from young African social innovators with business ideas and enterprises capable of maximizing profits while delivering positive social change to society and the environment. A total of one hundred and ninety-six (196) applications was received from the following 17 countries: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.
Out of the total entries, twenty-one (21) successful candidates were selected to join this year’s SIF Fellowship Program. The twenty-one finalists emerged from ten (10) African countries, namely, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Sudan, Kenya, Zambia, Cameroon, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, and Gambia.
The Fellows were taken through a three-month course module led by LEAP Africa and Impact Amplifier facilitators from July – September 2022. This nine-week intervention which combined virtual learning and in-class experiences exposed Fellows to the following subjects: investment readiness overview, target market analysis, competitive landscape and value proposition, marketing & sales plans, financial models for sustainable growth, pitch training to investors, governance and ethics, audits & risk management, as well as dedicated coaching and mentoring for all the Fellows.
The programme which helped equip Fellows with the knowledge, skills, and proven methodologies they require to strengthen their business models and scale profitably., culminated with the recognition of outstanding SIF Fellows at the LEAP Africa Social Innovators Programme & Award Ceremony (SIPA). This event which took place on Thursday, September 8th, 2022, at Eko Hotel & Suites themed ‘Reawaken, Redesign and Re-emerge: Africa Beyond Potential’ aims to support the growth of innovative youth-led social enterprises in Africa.
This year’s recognised SIF Fellows includes from Nigeria- Aminu Moses Rex, Oluwamayowa Salu, Ayilara Assurance Oluchi, Olawale Thompson, and Michael Osumune. In addition, Thuch Madhier from South Sudan, Siwelwa Lazarous from Zambia, Albert Moghomaye from Cameroon, Ligare Allan Muliru from Kenya, and Lamin Ceesay from Gambia.
These eleven (11) outstanding Fellows are also in consideration to receive the Sahara Impact Fund Seed Grant of $5,000 each. This financial investment was set up to help Fellows facilitate their business growth and stimulate income generation.
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The Fellows who received their awards before an audience of development stakeholders, including senior management staff from Sahara Group and Sahara Foundation also leveraged the event to engage with a network of potential investors, partners, clients, and customers.
Speaking at the event, Sahara Foundation Executive Director, Pearl Uzokwe discussed the gap the program is addressing. She stated that Sahara’s commitment to empowering African social innovators and changemakers is deeply rooted in its business DNA as a successfully birthed entrepreneurial idea. She asked the Fellows to take the knowledge and skills acquired during the programme and continue to apply it to their business enterprises with the aim of generating profit but also transforming Africa in an inspiring way.
Uzokwe who thanked LEAP Africa, Impact investment, and Ford Foundation for their partnership on the programme, congratulated all the deserving Fellows and wished them well as they continue to influence Africa’s narratively positively.
Sahara Foundation since inception has impacted over 2,000,000 lives and various communities across its locations in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Middle East. With the youth population accounting for over 50% of our beneficiaries, we remain committed to powering innovation and inspiring growth across Africa through our young people. This is so because we believe that the potential of our youth population is key to Africa’s sustainable development. And a sustainable Africa is one where all generations (today and tomorrow) thrive adequately.