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Ideation Africa charts path to successful social entrepreneurship


SOCIAL entrepreneurs, otherwise known as not-for profit organisations, must be driven by a particular underlying passion, which “naturally triggers, nurtures and sustains their zeal in a chosen specialty, if such enterprise must stand the test of time.”

This passion, according to the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Gbenga Sesan, who was keynote speaker at the “Development Dialogue: Stakeholders’ Exchange Forum” hosted in Lagos by Ideation Hub Africa, is the major string anchoring other growth and sustainability indices.

He warned practitioners against impatience and greed, insisting that success in this sector is often driven by personal experiences. And “if the venture being undertaken bears no relationship with the practitioners’ personal experiences,” it would suffer from inadequate knowledge and motivation.

Sesan, a 2014 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year and an Ashoka Fellow, who was also listed in 2012 by the Cable News Network as a Top 10 African Tech Voices To Follow on Twitter, identified another key factor as capacity, which has to do with the practitioner’s skills, since the field has no room for mediocrity.

Maintaining that “the motivating anger is the mainstay of the enterprise, even when things are not working fine,” he told the participants drawn from across the country that such anger must be continually fanned by vital updates, through different training platforms, including seminars, workshops and symposia.

Nonetheless, he said, “the mission must solve a unique problem; you must have skills to sell, and the vision must be strong enough to attract others, because people would need to see what even you do not see.”

Meanwhile, host of the programme and Executive Director, Ideation Hub Africa, Debola Deji-Kurunmi, has lamented the absence of training for indigenous players in the Nigerian social enterprise sector. Such deficiency, she disclosed, adversely affects their capacity to adequately “allocate resources,” including human and financial, during “implementation of plans.”

All the same, the 2012 United Nations Scholar at the UN University for Peace and 2014 Crans Montana New Leader for Tomorrow tasked social entrepreneurs to first identify the required baseline in their chosen fields that would enable them attain success.

Similarly, Nneka Okonkwor of Apostles in the Market Place (AiMP) stressed that social workers must have in place the kind of entrepreneurship model that gets partners to know expected benefits, as opposed to the attitude of always looking to have everything provided free for them.

She urged them to emulate their counterparts in other segments of the economy, especially the profit-oriented entrepreneurs, who seek respectable partnerships and shared commitments in achieving their dreams, rather than just receive aid for their missions.

However, new entrants at the forum have deplored the absence of accurate data in the field, regretting that government merely maps policies but do not implement them, which negatively affects record keeping.

The forum recommended partnership or collaboration with colleagues in similar fields or relevant government agencies. Intending partners, though, must have good knowledge of the mindset of partners, target publics, the structure and challenge of credit in event of success. This is to ensure that the partnership does not unnecessarily increase burdens.

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