by Isabel Guerrero.

End of February and Nairobi was buzzing with social entrepreneurs, from all over Africa and beyond. IMAGOGG was luck to be part of it. One of these events was the Sankalp Africa Forum 2016, which brought together over 450 delegates from 25 countries.

Two days at the Kenya School of Government, where many young social entrepreneurs showcased their work to investors, governments, corporations and service providers working at the Base of the Pyramid. There were sessions on impact investment, ecosystems, financing, new frontiers and many stories that were shared all through campus including the booths that showed wonderful innovations.

My favorite sessions were those where social entrepreneurs pitched there ideas to potential investors who rated them on several dimensions (innovation, impact and potential) and made initial expressions of interest to finance them. I also enjoyed the speed dating sessions where social entrepreneurs sat on one side of the table and service providers sat on the other, spending 5 minutes discovering whether they could help each other and then moving to the next.

 

sankalp 2016 panel invitation

It was exciting to see so much innovation happening in Africa. What surprised me, coming back to Kenya after many years, were 3 things:

  • Africa is on the move. And it must have been for some time. Moving away from depending on foreign aid, to finding their own solutions to development challenges.
  • African women have a wonderful can-do attitude and celebrate their beauty in their own original way. Met so many women CEOs and COOS, who were competent, confident and celebrating their roots in the way they dress, expressing themselves through fashion and design.
  • There was huge interest from foreign investors, most of them young, in finding promising social entrepreneurs that have a business model that can scale to achieve large impact.

Because of this I left Nairobi excited and feeling that the future is in Africa. There are many problems, and people are tired of corruption and other long-term challenges that have not changed. But the new generations have an opportunity to change all this, by focusing their energy and creativity in building a new system that reflects the potential that I saw last week at the Sankalp Africa Forum.