Study into social/environmental enterprise sectors in Africa launched

A research project aimed at examining social and environmental enterprise in Eastern and Southern Africa was launched in a bid to highlight the role and potential contribution of such enterprises to sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

TOA launch at Queen’s University Management School

Dubbed Trickle Out Africa (TOA), the project will compile a directory of social or environmental enterprises that produce, retail, manufacture or offer services within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC) regions.

The TOA Directory will be the first searchable Guide of these types of organisations covering the 19 countries of Southern and Eastern Africa. Data collected will remain classified and will be used to guide future initiatives like training, trade links and enterprise development schemes.

TOA is a research project funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, and is based in Queen’s University Management School, Queen’s University Belfast. TOA, which is expected to last for the next 26 months, will also seek to evaluate these enterprises through survey and case study research to measure, map and analyze their characteristics, identify their triple bottom line impact in economic as well as environmental and social terms.

TOA will mainly be targeted to those who represent or own a social, environmental enterprise or NGO with any commercial activity, co-operative or membership association that represents such organisations or representative of a donor/aid agency that supports such bodies. Individual entrepreneurs selling green products or services also qualify.

Speaking during the launch, Alison Coutts the British Council Kenya Director hailed the unveiling of the Trickle Out Africa project terming it a step in the right direction. “Trickle Out Africa scheme is very timely for not only identifying viable enterprises that will impact positively on communities within the targeted regions but it will also act as a useful guide to future projects,” said Coutts.

On her part, Dr. Diane Holt, Principal Investigator, Queen’s University Management School, Queen’s University – Belfast, noted that the creation of the Directory would also assist in the networking of the enterprises within the SADC and the EAC. “The primary role of the project is to create a comprehensive directory, which will have crucial information on the types of business models, funding and business history for the benefit of the SADC and EAC regions,” said Dr. Holt.

Dr. Holt went on to add, “We hope that in some small way the TOA project will help showcase the innovative, home- grown, truly transformative business models that form the bedrock of modern Kenya and other countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.”

The TOA directory will be free to register and only relevant information will be available to the public. The directory will provide enterprises an opportunity to share their work with interested customers, supporters and volunteers.

As the project progresses TOA project will publish a series of detailed case studies on some of these organisations identifying the trickle out benefits they produce in their communities and further afield. After completion of the project, organisations in the SADC and EAC will be able to correctly identify potential partners in other countries. Businesses in these regions will also be in a better position to identify potential suppliers and customers will also locate these firms.

Support and donor agencies, through the TOA project, will also be able to identify potential recipients of their initiatives and those firms that do not have a web presence will get an opportunity to have their details available on the web free of charge.

Source: CSR Africa.Net – 14 Dec 2011