When it comes to doing business in Nigeria, young people face challenges such as access to resources, lack of knowledge, amongst others.
Sahara Group has recognized this and it is helping to empower young Africans to lead lives of impact and profit social entrepreneurship through its corporate social responsibility vehicle, Sahara Foundation.
Through it Sahara Impact Fund (SIF) Fellowship Programme, founded in 2020 through a strategic partnership with Ford Foundation, LEAP Africa and Impact Investment Foundation, the group is supporting the generation of innovative solutions which will increase access to energy and promote sustainable environments in Sub-Saharan Africa.
On Nairametrics’ Business Half Hour show, Pearl Uzokwe, Executive Director, Sahara Foundation emphasized that the Sahara Impact Fund was set up with the aim of creating an enabling environment for various social innovators and also social entrepreneurs to accelerate the attainment of the SDGs in a manner that results in measurable social impact.
This year, a total of 196 applications were received from 17 countries across Nigeria and other African countries out of which 21 successful candidates were selected to join this year’s SIF Fellowship Program while 11 outstanding fellows are in consideration to receive the Sahara Impact Fund Seed Grant of $5,000 each plus financial investment fund set up to help Fellows facilitate their business growth and stimulate income generation.
Uzokwe stressed that though the seed grant will be given to those who will be deserving them, what’s more important than that is providing them with the right mindset and tools.
Speaking about the future of the social investment landscape, Uzokwe believes that this a great hub for investment adding that the group is positioned to essentially see exponential growth as far as investment growth is concerned.
She said, “What we are saying is that we do not want to be giving people fish, we want to teach them how to fish. We know that Africans have the talent, and we are passionate about that because Sahara Group is owned multinational company looking at giving back to society. It only makes sense to tap into that. We have innovators here, we know that the population size – the challenges are certainly suited to impact investors. So, the most important thing is, ensuring that we provide them with tools to enable them do good and do well.”
To ensure that recipients manage the fund well, she said that the various programmes by the group provide them with the necessary tools and knowledge for that.
“At the start of the programme, we put together a great cut section of specialists in the various fields so we have individuals helping to infuse goof governance teaching to fellows for fellows. We also have individuals who are ensuring that the fundamentals of financial models in terms of target market analysis, looking at their competitive landscape analysis and value propositions so there are some various indices that are considered during this intern accelerator program. It is even down to the extent that we are getting trainers across Africa to ensure that they contribute to this and various African-specific knowledge that would be beneficial to various fellows.
“Having done that we are giving them the theories which is why we say the seed funding is not the most important thing. They are not only learning from the coaches, but they are also learning from each other and most importantly, we are working with key partners who will help us to keep in touch with them. Also, there is an alumni programme, so this means they have a fantastic network of individuals just like themselves who have basically gone through this programme.
“To achieve all of these and enable the group to track progress, she noted that the UN SDG 17 which is essentially partnering for the goal has guided the group in looking for partners who tend to have strength in areas they do not. In her words, “Sahara foundation has basically identified partners that are absolutely up to the task”
Speaking to businesses that are likely to be selected for the programme, she said, “We focus on SDG 7 which is challenges around energy across the world and SDG 13 which is promoting sustainable environment. With that in mind when we set out to look for those we can support, and also look out for social entrepreneurs and innovators working on solutions.”
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