The Geeks Gone Global team is excited to lead you on an excursion to check out the innovative things happening in the social enterprise space in Ghana, Nigeria, South African, and Kenya. Check out the first of four country and company profiles to prep you for the trip.
Ghana is among the fastest growing economies in the world. The country has been known for its stable democracy, large deposits of gold, and tasty cocoa. The country has faced headwinds with a disputed presidential election, concerns over government management of oil revenue, and the Ghana Cedi depreciating due to rumors of the US Federal Reserve drawing quantitative easing to an end. Despite this, there has been no shortage of excitement about Ghana’s future.
Last year, President John Mahama announced the groundbreaking of Hope City, a $10 billion technology hub that would locate outside of Accra. Hope City will compete with Konza City in Kenya for bragging rights as being the Silicon Valley of Africa.
The startup space in Ghana is humming. A few months ago, Accra-based Dropifi became the first African startup accepted into Dave McClure’s 500 Startups Accelerator Program. Startups that have gone through the program include the likes of StyleSeat and TaskRabbit. Other startups that are making waves in Nandi Mobile and Leti Arts, just to name a few.
The social enterprise maybe has not gotten the same kind of attention that the technology startups have received, but that is sure to change in the next year or so as more and more pop up in Accra. Social enterprise startups like Ashesi University are revolutionizing what it means to educate in Africa. Global Mamas brings together makers in order to give them greater exposure through one big retail shop. Golda Addo is building the Born.Again recycling label, a recycled and up cycled line of products. Exciting stuff.
Meet Waste Enterprisers, a social enterprise based in Accra that is focused on creating value from energy found in human waste. Ashley Murray founded the company in 2010 after completing her doctoral studies in sanitation engineering at UC Berkeley. The company wants to see a global sanitation revolution that – one in which waste is no longer seen as that, but as a free resource.
Waste Enterprisers takes human waste and converts it into biomass the company calls Green Heat, an energy source that is 20 percent more efficient than comparable biomasses. Green Heat comes in brick form and the company generated between 10 and 20 tons of the product during its pilot phase.
On the competitive landscape in Ghana, Tim Wade, Waste Enterprisers’ COO, stated that the social enterprise space in waste is still in its early stages. The company has come across a few enterprises and international NGOs looking for ways to contribute to sanitation management in Accra.
Looking forward, the team at Waste Enterprisers want to master being a manufacturer that contributes to sanitation as a by-product of its work. If the team gets the model right, it wants to see uptake of the model in Accra’s sanitation industry and around the world.
If you’re not pumped for January’s trip after this, you need to get a TastyKake and RC Cola, and go think about yourself in the corner of a room for a while. Then sign up and let’s go!