Many projects and new socially-beneficial technologies designed for the rural developing world fail to achieve sustainability due to a lack of local investment and an inappropriate infrastructure for project implementation. The Kwala LaunchPad will serve as a rural incubator for new ideas, generating income from entrepreneurs and student groups in need of a safe location and the proper infrastructure to implement self-sustaining projects in the rural developing world.
61% of Africans live in rural communities. Many of these small villages are rich in culture and community but lacking in economic opportunity, resulting in exponential urban migration. The introduction of new technologies to rural communities is not a new concept. However, many of these technologies fail to become self-sustaining during implementation because they were not suited for the local culture and economy or due to a lack of resources, information, and local markets. Further, the many enterprises and institutions that are designing such technologies are often left without a suitable environment to successfully test and implement their ideas.
Amend develops, implements, evaluates, and brings to scale evidence-based public health programs to reduce the incidence of child road traffic injury in the developing world. Road traffic injury is the leading cause of death for children ages 5 and over in Africa. Poor infrastructure, spotty law enforcement, bad vehicle maintenance, and ineadquate education, along with other factors, make Africa the continent with the world’s highest rate of road traffic injury. Research shows that over 4% of children in urban Africa are injured in road traffic in any given year. With operations in Ghana and Tanzania, Amend’s “See and Be Seen” program combines a variety of interventions to reduce the incidence of child road traffic injury in Africa. One of Amend’s interventions is the promotion of reflector use; the use of reflectors and other visibility-enhancing measures (“conspicuity enhancement” in the terminology) has been proven to reduce injury.
Over the last several years, Amend has developed a reflector-enhanced schoolbag made expressly for the African market. The bags are designed to be affordable, durable, and, of course, provide conspicuity enhancement qualities to help keep children safe as they walk by the road. As our goal is to reach as many at-risk children as possible with our schoolbags, simply giving them away is not sustainable. Most children in urban Africa, even ones from poor families, already use schoolbags of some sort; in other words, parents are already buying bags for their children. So Amend uses social marketing techniques to distribute and sell the schoolbags. Amend’s competitive advantages in the schoolbag market are as follows: they can lose money on the bags in the short term; their long term aim is to be financially self-sustainable; various services (design, advertising, marketing, business advice) are provided pro bono; and the quality of the bags is significantly higher than most other bags of a similar, or higher, price in the marketplace.
Prosperity Candle celebrates women as a global force for peace and prosperity. The company partners with women entrepreneurs in places of conflict and natural disaster, like Iraq, who are excited to start their own businesses producing distinctive candles for local and international markets.
Candles are the right product and enterprise for a woman working from the safety of her home – an important consideration where there is conflict and unrest. In addition, the product appeals to consumers around the world, and making it must offer a woman the opportunity to grow a successful business. Prosperity Candle’s focus is on how women can earn more than a living wage, and provide employment for others. Candle-making is a highly scalable craft that requires incremental investments in low-cost equipment. It is a business that can begin in the safety of a home, then easily be expanded to employ dozens of people. Candles enjoy large local and international markets, are wonderful gifts, and play a central role in countless traditions and gatherings throughout the world.
Farm Builders, based in Liberia and Cambridge, is a new startup social enterprise that will provide financing and management services for smallholder farmers in Africa. The Company is in the beginning stages of its development, having raised initial funding from multiple fellowships including Echoing Green, Rainer Arnhold, and the McCall MacBain Foundation. Starting in September 2010, Farm Builders will begin its pilot project in the Todee District of Liberia. The Company’s pilot project calls for the replanting of more than 100 farms on 3600ha of land. Following a successful pilot, Farm Builders will begin to scale throughout the rest of Liberia and into other African countries.
A team of 3-4 MIT Sloan students will work on the following projects: