Transformative businesses leaning into profit and purpose are showcasing Africa’s potential as a go-to destination for domestic and global investors on the continent. As philanthropic funding declines, Africa is turning to business as a sustainable driver of change. It is the perfect place for testing innovations.
“Africa is the global sandbox for impact in the world,” says Dr. Frank Aswani, CEO of the African Venture Philanthropy Alliance. His organization helps impact investors find and back effective enterprises. “No one has the kind of opportunities to test new models, new products, new services than we do. If your innovation works in Africa, it’s globally scalable because we offer you the extreme of conditions to test anything.”
This new wave of entrepreneurship is advancing the UN SDGs through the private sector and opening big opportunities for impact investing. Below are two examples of Council Stewards highlighting the alignment between profit and purpose.
Farmz2U is a supply chain company enabling a sustainable food system that is profitable for all market players: growers, suppliers, and buyers. Today they operate in Nigeria and Kenya, and the company aims to scale across Africa.
“It is critical to have data on market activities and to be able to communicate more effectively across the various levels of the farming process and the broader agricultural supply chain to increase efficiency and profitability,” says Aisha Raheem, CEO of Farmz2U. “The market is highly fragmented, and what Farmz2u is attempting to do is create streamlined transactions across the supply chain using digital tools.”
With a goal to become the leading strategic sourcing partner of agricultural produce for Buyers, while leading efficient farm operations for Growers, which include smallholder and emerging commercial farmers, Farmz2u seeks to build structure in one of Africa’s largest and most informal sectors, agriculture. By 2050, 25% of the world’s population will call Africa home, further highlighting the need for the sustainable transformation of the agricultural sector in the region most susceptible to climate costs.
Traders of Africa
E-commerce marketplace Traders of Africa hopes to e “the Alibaba of Africa.” The company is creating sustainable wealth for individuals and communities, and boosting the African economy by bridging the trade gap within the continent and globally.
“There is an urgent need to expose to Africans what is obtainable in our locality and from our surroundings, as well as showcase African products to the rest of the world,” says Uju Uzo-Ojinnaka, founder and CEO of Traders of Africa.
At the heart of TOFA’s mission is an inherent drive to impact the lives of others. Uzo-Ojinnaka was struck by how hard it was for farmers to sell their products before they became inedible, especially after hearing how many of them had borrowed funds to purchase seeds and equipment. Through the various offerings on TOFA’s online platform, including providing a trusted payment method, the company enables greater efficiency in the trading process. TOFA Academy also provides farmers, aggregators, and individuals training and financing. The program has already provided training for 300 individuals and over $200,000 in funding.