All Articles Tagged "africa development"
For several women in Njabini, Kenya, clothes, jewelry and yoga mat bags are the key to financial empowerment. The Boston Globe reports on a steadily growing company called Njabini Apparel which is working to employ landless and physically disabled women and provide financial stability to the area.
“One of my desires is to see as many women empowered as possible because being here so long, I can tell you there are so many women that need to be empowered,” Mike Behan, one of the co-founders of Njabini Apparel said to the Boston Globe. Behan is a 21-year-old rising senior at Northeastern University. “Many men are not responsible in their families and that means that all the responsibilities are left to the women — feeding the children, clothing the children, paying the school fee.”
Behan first visited Njabini as a volunteer with the non-profit Flying Kites. With help from the non-profit, he and two other volunteers—Tom Mwangi and Erin O’Malley— started the apparel company in 2010. Since then, they have been able to employ eight women in the local community. To qualify as an employee the women must have at least one child under the age of 12, be physically disabled or landless, and live within 10 miles of Njabini. The company’s eight employees each make four times the average national income which is about $780. In addition, Njabini Apparel buys as much fabric and materials from the local area as possible and also provides employees with seminars and programs to encourage monthly budgeting, saving and business development.
Over the past two years the company has also been able to secure three project-specific grants to create outreach and educational programs. In December 2011 they started a pilot credit program for non-consumption-based assets loans. Njabini employees as well as other members of the community are able to receive $2,000-30,000 for small business projects.
“…to the women, they’re definitely not microloans,” Behan said. “They’re really flexible. It’s tailored to what each woman wants to accomplish.”
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By Steven Barboza
Africa, the second largest continent, is in a fix. It is rich in natural resources. It has a relatively young population, but fifty years after it shook off the last colonialist, it is up to its neck in aid. It still has big problems stemming from a failure of governance, and it has the world’s poorest people.
African philanthropists are working to clean up the mess, using hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money to transform Africa both socially and economically. Some want to develop Africa’s fledgling markets. Others want to strengthen the private sector and work with government agencies to develop business-friendly policies. One wants to use African businesses as a world-class entrepreneurial training ground. If African government leaders play along, economic transformation could ensue.
One African business leader, Tony O. Elumelu, is fond of saying, “Nobody is going to develop Africa except us.” It is his way of saying Africans must control Africa’s financial future — and thus reap Africa’s financial rewards.
“Africa is brimming with talent and innovation, and the continent’s growth and development can best be achieved through private sector investing that creates economic prosperity and social wealth. Africa’s political leaders must urgently focus on creating the enabling environment for business to flourish.”
Elumelu has put his money where his mouth is. The former bank CEO, who is credited for having modernized West African banking, established a foundation (named for him) that seeks to drive Africa’s economic growth from within. The foundation, based in Nigeria, makes what he calls “impact investments” with an aim to turn a profit while focusing on social and environmental problems. Elumelu believes impact investing is a much more sustainable means of capitalization than direct grants because of the entrepreneurial rigor needed to produce a financial return.
The foundation’s inaugural impact investment went to a farm-livestock business in southern Tanzania, Mtanga Farms. The 2,200 hectare operation that will use the grant to launch a seed potato industry, which will produce new varieties of potatoes in the region, benefiting 125,000 farmers. The deal is the first cross-border impact investment in Africa.
Earlier this month The World Economic Forum released its Global Competitiveness Report for 2011-2012. While the United States continued its decline in the rankings, now holding steady in fifth place, South Africa moved up in the ranks. But South Africa, which ranks 50 among the nations was only one of three African countries to cut through the top half of the rankings. 13 African nations were ranked among the lowest economically competitive.
What does competitive mean? According to the Forum, “a more competitive economy is one that is likely to grow faster over time” due to institutions and policies in place. Since we like to pay homage to the motherland here’s a list of the top ten economies on the continent of Africa:
Coming in at number ten is Senegal. The Global Competitiveness report put them at 111 among all the nations and here’s why. The nation relies heavily on donor assistance, and when the global financial meltdown of 2009 came about Senegal suffered. Their GDP declined 2 percent. Since then the nation which since 2007 has battled an unemployment rate of roughly 48 percent has struggled to get its bearings. Industries and services only make up 22 percent of jobs, as Senegal is mostly committed to agricultural. The nation has also been hampered by protests against what many claim is a corrupt government.