Strengthening social entrepreneurship for women and youth in South Africa and Senegal

A new cross-country initiative between South Africa and Senegal envisages over 400 youth enrolled in a social entrepreneurship capacitation program, with over 90 budding women social entrepreneurs emerging over the next three years. ORIBI, in collaboration with Agence Française de DéveloppementGroupe SOS Pulse (France), Jógjëf (Senegal), is delighted to announce the launch of REACH; an initiative dedicated to enabling women and youth in marginalised communities to develop social entrepreneurship ventures.

The emerging economies of both South Africa and Senegal rely on social entrepreneurship to address pertinent social and environmental issues that hinder the livelihoods and well-being of many people. “Enabled entrepreneurs, driven by solidarity and social entrepreneurship, will re-shape and uplift under-resourced communities and rural places, addressing unemployment and poverty,” says Nthakoana Maema, CEO at Oribi in Cape Town. Oribi seeks to unlock socioeconomic opportunities for women and youth through impact entrepreneurship, building on ongoing initiatives like #GirlsInBusiness and #FoodSystems.

REACH is dedicated to enabling enrolled entrepreneurs through comprehensive entrepreneurial skills development, mentorship, and coaching provided by industry experts and accomplished social entrepreneurs. REACH aims to assist these entrepreneurs in refining sustainable business models, offering opportunities for financing, networking support, and ensuring the enduring success of their impactful ventures.

The labour market in South Africa remains more favourable to men than women, revealing large gender gaps in employment. According to Statistics South Africa, the labour force participation rate for women currently sits at 54.3%, compared to 64.9% for men. In 10 years the labour force participation rate for women has only increased by 4%. Youth unemployment also stands at 32.9% in the first quarter of 2023. “Social entrepreneurship plays a massive role in creating employment opportunities for youth and women in key areas for social upliftment and community development, while addressing the gender gap in these working groups,” adds Maema. 

The partnership between Oribi and JògJëf to launch REACH, is based on shared organisational aspirations to make social entrepreneurship accessible to underserved populations in Africa. The two social impact incubators will exchange expertise in impact measurement, sustainable business models, and supporting women, fostering essential collaborations. Over the next three years, Agence Française de Développement have committed to fund €800,000 to support REACH.

REACH will span three years to June 2026 with a total budget of €1.638 Million (R37 490 165,26), and aims to democratise social entrepreneurship across Africa. 

“Enabling women from under-resourced communities through impact entrepreneurship is not just a social imperative; it’s an economic catalyst. REACH will act as a platform for youth and women to create and grow important social impact ventures. It will play a role in shaping the social entrepreneurship ecosystem with policy development that is more inclusive of women and youth in business,” shares Tasneem Jhetam, Programmes and Innovation Lead at Oribi. “We are actively looking to invite additional funding partners to contribute to REACH and its potential to create a sustainable impact in South Africa and Senegal,” adds Jhetam.

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