SAP SE (NYSE: SAP)—in collaboration with Acumen, a non-profit global social venture fund that invests in companies, leaders and ideas to change the way the world tackles poverty—gathered to celebrate the progress of the SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship today in Nairobi. Bringing together SAP’s global business and innovation expertise and Acumen’s 15 years of investing in early-stage social enterprises, the 100-day program was created to help social entrepreneurs in Africa and India bring their companies to scale and drive faster solutions to poverty by addressing the shared challenges social enterprises face in emerging markets.
“Social enterprises can accelerate innovation, create jobs, and spur economic growth,” said Andrew Waititu, Managing Director at SAP East Africa. “That’s especially true in Kenya, which needs to create more 3.9 million jobs by 2020, according to a new Endeavor Insight Report. The SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship gives these CEOs the opportunity to learn from business and technology experts, so they can take their business to the next level while driving sustainable growth in their countries.”
As part of the fellowship, the CEOs, all from Acumen’s portfolio, travelled to Silicon Valley in July to take part in a leadership development program before returning to execute their plans for growth in their respective countries. Their enterprises, which represent a variety of sectors including energy, agriculture and education, take an innovative approach to addressing the problems of poverty. They have proven business models with the potential to scale and replicate across multiple markets but face a number of challenges, ranging from marketing to talent recruitment, keeping them from becoming sustainable businesses capable of creating lasting social impact. The SAP fellowship was designed to address these challenges and build social enterprises to create jobs and promote economic growth throughout these emerging markets.
“With a 40-person team spread across seven countries, it’s been challenging to actually make swift progress,” said Ashifi Gogo, CEO of Sproxil, a mobile verification service that helps protect East African consumers from counterfeit medicine and other products. “We took the learnings from the fellowship to create a common language and synthesize our ideas. It can be lonely as a entrepreneur when you’re discovering these new growth frontiers, so it’s important to find like-minded people to reinforce our beliefs and trigger collective success. The fellowship was a tremendous platform to bring CEOs like myself together.”
Ninety percent of the participating entrepreneurs felt the program contributed to the growth of their businesses made significant progress in developing their company’s senior management and driving new innovations. On a whole, the entrepreneurs improved their leadership skills in a number of areas, ranging from sharpening their pitch for investors to taking a more strategic approach to operations in order to grow their business properly.
“The Acumen CEOs who participated in the felllowship together represent a new vision for a future where all people will have choice and opportunity,” said Duncan Onyango, Acumen’s East Africa Director. “Over the last 14 years, Acumen has invested in social enterprises that are creating a real, meaningful impact in the lives of the poor. Working together with companies like SAP that share our commitment, we are helping to build a stronger environment for social entrepreneurs to succeed and creating a more inclusive economy in which everyone will benefit.”
More than 100 of East Africa’s leading investors, social change leaders and technical partners from Acumen and SAP’s communities, including guest speaker Vimal Shah, CEO of Bidco Africa, attended the celebration event, which brought attention to the power of social enterprise in accelerating positive social change and the need to create new avenues for advancing social entrepreneurship in Africa and beyond.
As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 293,000 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit www.sap.com/africa.
With more than 1,300 customers across the continent, SAP is already enabling African businesses and governments to grow, scale and globalise, as well as make the transition to a digital economy. As part of this commitment, SAP Africa now takes responsibility for operations across 52 African countries.
Acumen is changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. We invest patient capital in businesses whose products and services are enabling the poor to transform their lives. Founded by Jacqueline Novogratz in 2001, Acumen has invested more than $88 million in 82 companies across Africa, Latin America and South Asia. We are also developing a global community of emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills and determination to create a more inclusive world. This year, Acumen was named one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profit Companies. Learn more at www.acumen.org and on Twitter @Acumen.