__”Small big ideas”… What are yours?
Most people in Africa live in rural areas. We will never truly develop Africa until we can take entrepreneurship to these areas! Today I want to look at “small big ideas” that can transform rural communities or are already doing so. I want to hear from entrepreneurs doing “small big things” in rural areas, either for-profit or as social investors. “Small big ideas” are impacting communities all around the world, even through “entrepreneurially-minded” policymakers.
Write to me about anything you are doing, or have seen, that constitutes a “small big idea” that is changing people’s lives.
As an entrepreneur, you should always challenge yourself to find solutions to improve the lives of rural people and empower them to generate higher incomes.
Let me start with something I have been working on with my wife and daughter with the help of some family friends in South Africa:
__ “An egg a day for under-fives.”
During my last board meeting at the Rockefeller Foundation a few months ago, someone shared with me an expert study about the impact of eggs… a “small big idea”! For those who are interested, I will share the link in the Afterthought below.
Now I am sure everyone on this platform knows that malnutrition is one of the greatest challenges affecting poor rural children in some parts of Africa, as well as other parts of the world.
“Stunting” is a condition resulting from poor nutrition and affects children’s’ size and height, as well as their learning potential in school. Children who suffer from stunting may have difficulty concentrating, and thus fall behind their peers in the classroom.
This tragedy not only affects the individual children, but also robs a nation of its future workforce, ultimately contributing to low economic development for the whole nation.
Nutritionists, policymakers, economists and philanthropists have battled to deal with stunting for decades. In some African and South Asian rural communities, stunting affects as many as 40% of the kids!
__What can we do?
While there are many solutions being developed, one study which caught my attention found that if you feed an infant one egg a day up to age five, you can cut incidents of stunting by 47%…
When I showed the study to one of my daughters she asked, “Why don’t we feed the kids eggs?”
“Okay. Let’s put together a project team where we locate regions with a high concentration of stunting, supply them with eggs and see what happens,” suggested her mom.
We then consulted a friend of ours who runs a KFC on how we can secure enough eggs to supply schools in rural areas.
“You can train smallholder farmers to rear “layers” and buy their produce. Any young entrepreneur can be trained to raise chickens. They key is to give them a guaranteed market for their eggs…”
“An egg a day for under-fives” is just one “small big idea” of ours, with many beneficiaries now, and into future generations… (I will update you later as our research and pilot project continue).
Meanwhile let me share the “big” idea:
# It helps to deal with the health of the nation and its future workforce.
# It can stimulate an industry. Do you know how big the egg industry is worldwide?
# It can stimulate a national economy.
Do you have a “small big idea” for rural entrepreneurship? Let’s talk.
To be continued. . .
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa