Africa Forward is changing the African conversation about sustainable livelihoods by challenging organizations and governments to support individuals and communities more sustainably. Launched on the 11th of May during Catalyst 2030’s Catalysing Change week, the purpose of Africa Forward is to rewrite Africa’s narrative. Its strategic shifts include five critical pillars: (1) Narrative Shift, (2) Ecosystem Development, (3) Funding, (4) Job Creation and Career Counseling, and (5) Training and Capacity Development.

This month’s edition, moderated by Dr. Una Osili, Associate Dean for Research and International Programs at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, took place on the 22nd of September, 2022. Dr. Osili described Sustainable livelihoods as an SDG participatory approach to alleviating poverty, where individuals and communities are given adequate assistance with the recognition that they have innate resilient abilities and assets they can harness to help them improve their lives.

Speakers at the event include Mary Olushoga, Founder of African Women Power (AWP) Network and Nadia Kist, Director of Africa Partnerships of Blood: Water.

According to Mary Olushoga, “Women should think strategically about their businesses moving from “survival entrepreneurship” to “innovative entrepreneurship” so that they can leave legacy type businesses changing the trajectory for their communities in the process.

Through AWP, Mary Olushoga helps women and girls to transform ideas into sustainable businesses. This is achieved through its vendor program which focuses on helping women build legacy-type businesses in the long run, that is, moving from survival entrepreneurs to innovative entrepreneurs. “We invite the CAC to help them incorporate their businesses. We also work with NAFDAC to help those in the food business get their products on the shelves of big supermarkets,” Olushoga stated. Her organisation helps these entrepreneurs re-strategise their businesses to access more market opportunities.

“Getting these women to think more strategically about their business is a game changer because if you are thinking of access to market opportunities, you need to have your business structured so it can access the available opportunities,” Olushoga added. Many of the women who have undergone the AWP vendor program have received contracts worth millions of naira from Shoprite supermarket and other leading local supermarket brands in Nigeria.

Nadia Kist, Calls for homegrown development initiatives which empower and give communities the resources and autonomy to decide how to address challenges. According to Kist, “Communities are the most effective change agents for driving positive impacts in project execution. They mobilize and catalyze activities around their members to have a positive effect.”

Blood: Water is working with organisations that are seeking to serve the wholeness of people across the highest development issues and to improve livelihoods at the community level. They offer a partnership approach that is flexible and has a long-term commitment from the onset to enable both parties to walk the journey together while ensuring that organisation health and institutional change is a smooth process. “What we are seeing with the organisations we’ve partnered with is that by offering a diverse range of institutional investment, looking at the different dimensions of the whole is an improvement in overall organisational health gains by 20 per cent over a 4-year-period,” Kist said.

The Africa Forward monthly series aims to inspire and charge social entrepreneurs on the best ways to change the narrative about Africa. The next session will take place in November 2022.

About Catalyst 2030

Catalyst 2030 is a global movement of social entrepreneurs and social innovators from all sectors who share the common goal of creating innovative, people-centric approaches to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Joining forces with communities, governments, businesses, and others, Catalyst 2030 members are changing systems at all levels through collective action and bold, new strategies.

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