AAE2015 Recognizes Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs

The Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship recognize African entrepreneurs who are dedicated to social impact through the Outstanding Social Entrepreneur Award. Following the double bottom line, finalists in this category pursue revenue generation as well as the social good. Each of the finalists have earned between USD $150,000 and USD $2.5 million over the course of the previous fiscal year, thereafter re-focusing their earnings on giving back.

ZAAF is a luxury leather accessory company based in Ethiopia. Employing traditional designs and techniques used in the Ethiopian province of Wollo, ZAAF’s creative director, Abai Schulze is committed to using her background in economics and fine arts to create unique and practical expressions of beauty, and to open avenues of opportunity for talented artisans in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa. Her designs draw upon precious cultural relics and allow them renewed expression through fresh, uplifting and modern designs. Says Schulze,

“ZAAF was built to generate economic opportunities with local resources. For us, real economic development is about producing top quality products using unique cultural, natural, and human resources to challenge the marketplace and compete globally. I am proud that our company has helped drive a movement that makes Africa synonymous with desired quality.”

The Young Educators Foundation (YEF) is an African social enterprise that is devoted to the education of youth through literacy. Using internationally recognized extra-curricular formats including debate, spelling bees, and science fairs, YEF aims to remedy the falling standards of English language education on the continent. YEF CEO, Eugenie Tachie-Mension, has launched The Spelling Bee (TSB), The Young Debaters (TYD), and The Science and Tech Fair (STF) in Ghana and Nigeria, with plans to expand throughout the continent. The initial programs have been smashing successes, instilling a passion for learning in eager African students. YEF has also obtained the franchise to operate the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Ghana.

Groupe AMH provides care for 1,400 patients with disabilities, through services including physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and psychotherapy. Groupe AMH also fits prostheses and wheelchairs at an up to 80% discount for low-income patients. Groupe AMH now runs six ongoing projects and companies, with 200 employees and 25,000 beneficiaries. In regard to the work Groupe AMH does, CEO Amina Slaoui emphasizes,

“Dealing with disability issues implies adopting a sustainable [and] holistic approach to social inclusion.”

These three African social enterprises represent a new model of doing business – one in which revenue streams can be channeled towards sustainable social impact.

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