By Tilly Robinson-Miles.
As SIDshare plan to implement some new social enterprise projects in the coming months, we revisit one of our partners, KEDA, and look at how effective and inspiring their social enterprise models are, and consider what SIDshare can learn from them.
SIDshare is currently building a Field Centre for Research purposes in Tanzania in collaboration with KEDA. The Field Centre is a Social Enterprise whose funds will benefit both SIDshare and KEDA.
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime – Chinese proverb.
KEDA epitomise this Chinese proverb in their work. An alternative to what some in society would regard as the sole solution to triggering development- aid, their projects work on the principles of social enterprise. In the most part, KEDA’s projects allow beneficiaries to establish their own business in a sustainable manner, through the continuous sharing of skills and knowledge from which the whole community benefits. KEDA’s charity operations also follow many social enterprise principles: specifically that it was established to create a difference and enact positive social change in the lives of rural people living in the Kilimanjaro region. KEDA equips people with the skills to facilitate entrepreneurship with an emphasis on knowledge sharing. It is a social enterprise established by community members, in a community, to address community identified needs- empowering community members. This sustained community focus has proven effective, and enables whole communities to lift themselves out of poverty and develop their own livelihoods; this progression often resulting in further investment in the community from their success.
Stella’s tree nursery is as successful example of social enterprise. By initially sharing their knowledge and expertise, KEDA gave Stella the opportunity and chance to use newly acquired knowledge to develop her own business through investment in resources(tree saplings and seeds), thus expanding the enterprise and enabling money from sales to be reinvested in her business, which ultimately creates further employment opportunities in the community.
Although the line between business and social enterprise is often a blurred one Stella has now established a social enterprise alongside a successful business. People visit Stella’s tree nursery from as far afield as Kenya and she shares her skills and the knowledge KEDA taught her. She also visits primary schools to support the agricultural curriculum as she believes teaching future generations is an important aspect of the sustainable solution, and achieves the ‘social good’ aspect associated with the aims of social enterprises. Sharing and providing a sustainable solution to others is how I would distinguish a business and a social enterprise. A social enterprise is just as much about supporting someone else’s business and watching that flourish as supporting one’s own, and these values are the main building blocks of KEDA.
Although KEDA initially relied on livestock donations to establish their social enterprise structure for the Dairy project, once the 200 goats were donated by Heifer(an American NGO), KEDA have successfully maintained the project through their own initiatives. The ‘pass back’ and ‘pass on’ structure of young livestock ensures the project is sustainable- enabling more beneficiaries to receive their initial animal. Future plans to develop a cross breeding centre of Irish Saanen goats and Indigenous goats demonstrate KEDA’s social enterprise mindset- of ensuring the project meets the identified needs of the individuals within the community through provision of animals who have adapted to environmental and breed limitations/constraints.
Additionally the fact that KEDA prioritise the goat project over the similar chicken and pig projects illustrates the importance of adaptation in relation to a successful social enterprise project. The fact that community members have bought goats with the money they earned from the sale of piglets from KEDA donated sow is recognised by the charity. KEDA listen to their beneficiaries and the community they work within- a necessary factor for success and sustainability. Individual drive is just as important in social enterprise as in business. This is illustrated in the involvement of Mr Saabas, Mr Nyange and Mr Shirima; their enthusiasm has filtered down to the rest of the community- demonstrated by the fact that the goat project has continued for 16 years and KEDA can do this without the dependency many charities have on continuous investment.
KEDA are also aware of the importance of establishing a level playing field, that is to say initial beneficiaries will not receive further investment until everyone has been able to benefit from the initial investment stage. This model allows more people to climb up and out of the poverty trap, creates community cohesion, a sound knowledge and skill base and a community consensus for further development.