At the start of March we took a group of our international partners to Uganda and Kenya to visit some of our social businesses alongside Professor Yunus. It was fantastic for our donors and supporters to see for themselves how their support to YSB is transformed into action. We got to witness first hand the passion and commitment of the entrepreneurs we support and the customers who they impact everyday.
Day 1: “Water Day” Kampala
We kicked off the trip with a visit to Motherland Academy to hear from the headteacher, Mr Kaddu and his students how access to clean water has transformed the health of their school. Impact Water showed us the change that they can create for schools, simply by installing a water filtration system, in Uganda alone they are providing more than 825,000 students with clean drinking water. It was so inspiring to hear the students speak confidently about how Impact Water has changed their experience at school: “I used to suffer from typhoid every time, but since I started using this water I’ve been able to concentrate at school”. Another young man told us that, “The water is always available at any moment, you don’t need to boil it”.
Then we hit the road to see the new Spouts of Water factory, which was constructed using the loan YSB provided, making it possible to produce more and better filters! Spouts are focussed on smaller ceramic technology filters for households, their smaller filters have a capacity of around 20 litres and are sold for $25, since their inception they have saved households $6.5million dollars of firewood, which means around 45,000 tonnes less CO2 in the atmosphere. We also spoke to the COO Dan about their plans to reach more consumers through their Direct to Consumer Programme.
In the evening, we were then joined by members of the YPO Great Lakes Chapter to hear Professor Yunus speak.
Day 2: Kampala
Accompanied by Professor Yunus, our next visit was Tugende, one of our most recent investments. The founder Michael presented his inspirational model, financing the micro-entrepreneur bodaboda (mototaxi) drivers on their path to ownership and increasing their incomes twofold.The access to finance offers a wide range of opportunities, as we were able to hear from their boda drivers they were able to pay for school fees for their children and buy pieces of land to start growing their own businesses.
We then visited Godfrey’s Chia Processing factory, Godson Commodities. Godfrey is a dedicated and capable entrepreneur supporting smallholder farmer across Uganda to create higher, more sustainable incomes. We saw the production of the Chia seeds in action and spoke to his employees in the factory.
The schedule was a packed one as we joined the Ugandan Launch of “A World of Three Zeros”, the new book by Professor Yunus.
Day 3: Kampala/ Nairobi
On our last morning in Uganda, we spoke to Brian from his beekeeping business Golden Bees. He shared his story from his very first check of $50, right up until his current expansion that his loan from YSB has allowed. We saw how he developed hives that are sustainable and effective using local materials and saw his team processing of the honey on site. We even got to try his own creation, lemongrass honey, which is sweetening our tea in the Berlin office as we speak!
Jumping on a plane to Nairobi, we were welcomed graciously for dinner by our Kenyan partners; Mr. Bharat Doshi, Mr. Vinay Sanghrajka and Mr. Nilesh Doshi.
Day 3: Nairobi
In Nairobi, we visited two businesses that had potential to be future investments – as the Kenya fund was due to be launched that evening! In the morning we visited Burton & Bamber, an agro-processing company that specializes in the preservation of fruit and other farm produce.The company aims to break the cycle of poverty in rural farming communities by reducing post-harvest loss and providing access to ready markets – both domestic and international.
Then came the official launch of YSB Kenya, around 300 people came to the cocktail reception, launching social business into the forefront of the Kenya business community. Prof. Yunus delivered a magnificent speech and the room was buzzing with excitement to kick off the movement in Kenya.
Day 3: Nairobi
After the launch, our final visit was to Plexus Energy who provide clean energy solutions, having already served over 900 customers.
The energy on the trip was absolutely fantastic and this was down to the passion from our international partners. Thanks to everyone! If you are interested in joining us on our next partner trip, make sure to reach out! It’s a truly life-altering experience.