By Ngozi Nwoke
” Making positive impact on humanity with the aim to build a generation of creative minds and productivity is the sole purpose of our organisation,” says the director, Ashoka Anglophone West Africa, Josephine Nzerem.
At a conference recently in Lagos, which had the presence of fellows from other countries such as South Africa, Malawi, the United States and Kenya, Nzerem said the group was envisioned towards making people change-makers with the “Everyone a Changemaker” (EACH) initiative.
She said: “To realize this vision of ‘everyone a changemaker’, Ashoka and the UPS Foundation have joined forces on Pan-African project to promote equity and economic empowerment through social entrepreneurship collaboration to support social entrepreneurs focused on empowering marginalized communities and female innovators as part of the Initiative.
“Ashoka is a global network of over 4,000 social entrepreneurs, and the UPS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of global logistics leader UPS, today announced a partnership to create greater equity and economic development across the African continent. The partnership will empower marginalized communities by engaging 15 equity leaders in an accelerator program and cultivating a community of 80 women changemakers across Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Morocco to reach 160,000 beneficiaries.
“The Ashoka team is looking forward to working closely with UPS, an organization that not only understands the importance of systems change but also the significance of shifting mindsets so that every person-regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, or socio-economic status self-actualizes as a changemaker. I believe this collaboration is the start of something powerful and transformative.”
Nzerem maintained that, to achieve a world that enables people to become profitable to the society, change making must be intentional.
“Ashoka will offer up to three grants of $5,000 to groups of fellows who commit to a collaborative project during the townhall. There will be two follow-up virtual town halls to grow and continue cultivating the community initiated in Lagos.
“The direct connection between Ashoka’s mission of creating an everyone a changemaker world and supporting social entrepreneurs; and The UPS Foundation’s mission to create a more equitable and just world, allows for this partnership and alignment to help drive system change in the Equity Ecosystem to create a wholly inclusive Africa.
Vice President of Empathy for Ashoka Africa, Angelou Ezeilo, stated: “Ashoka Africa is excited about the newly formed Pan African Strategic Partnership with The UPS Foundation. The UPS Foundation allocated more than US$170,000 to source, select, and support initiatives directly serving marginalized communities in the region to drive real, positive and impactful change.
“The UPS-Ashoka equity accelerator programme is timely for the fast-paced changing world that we are all living in today. Our social entrepreneurs are working on solutions to some of Africa’s most pressing social and economic challenges, and we are thrilled to provide them with resources to reach more beneficiaries. Ashoka identifies and supports the world-leading social entrepreneurs, learns from the patterns in their innovations, and mobilizes a global community that embraces these new frameworks to build a world where everyone is a changemaker.
“NGO advisor has ranked Ashoka among the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with more than 3.800 Ashoka Fellows in over 90 countries, including over 500 Fellows and young changemakers in 20 countries in Africa, 121 fellows in the 11 Arab Countries, and putting their system changing ideas into practice on a global scale.”
President of Indian subcontinent, Middle East, Africa and Central Asia at UPS, Ufku Akaltan, also noted: “At UPS, we’re committed to advancing equity and inclusion, and we are proud to partner with Ashoka to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs and leaders.
“We believe entrepreneurship is key to driving innovation, unlocking prosperity and creating equity, which is why we offer programs like the women exporters programme and the green exporters programme. We look forward to working with Ashoka to help inspire and support these young leaders as they embark on improving the lives and livelihoods of their communities.”
“Concretely, the partnership will see a number of activities take place: 15 equity leaders from across Africa will be brought together in Lagos, Nigeria from January 15th to 18th, where they will participate in an accelerator program that can spark collaborations as well as support them to drive scale.
“The UPS Foundation’s philanthropic approach centers on four focus areas that reflect its mission, UPS’s corporate values and expertise: Health & Humanitarian Relief, Equity & Economic Empowerment, Local Community Engagement and Planet Protection. Founded in 1951, The UPS Foundation leads the UPS’s global citizenship programs and is responsible for facilitating community involvement in local, national, and global communities.
“A group of 20 women social entrepreneurs from the four target countries will attend the Pan-African Women’s Town Hall, hosted by the Women’s Initiative for Social Entrepreneurship (WISE), and is intended to create connections between women innovators on the African continent.”