Among our many impactful collaborations of the past year, Akili Group was honored to dive headfirst into an initiative spearheaded by Ashoka East Africa in partnership with the Charles Stewart Foundation. The project, “Improving the Livelihood of Smallholder Farmers in East Africa” – is tailor-made to spotlight the trailblazing innovators in Africa, who are making their mark in the realms of Renewable Energy and Sustainable Agriculture.
“The ‘Towards Improving the Livelihood of Small Holder Farmer in East Africa‘ project is dedicated to strengthening the adoption of solutions in key agricultural value chains, mitigating climate change and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers…” Ruth Soi Visionary Program Coordinator and Fellow Engagement Lead of Ashoka East Africa
Ruth Soi of Ashoka East Africa, delving into the purpose behind the project, and igniting a spark of inspiration that sets the tone for innovation and collaboration
The project, which officially launched in June 2023, will span a period of two years, and is set to conclude in May of 2025. The entire journey of the project was carefully marked out by Ashoka East Africa, highlighting the major milestones that would mark each phase.
In the first phase of the project, over 50 top innovators in East Africa were identified through a detailed survey, each of whom are turning the tables with initiatives spanning from plastic recycling to the use of technology in agricultural efforts and solar energy for irrigation.
Thus far, the project is clearly strategically positioned for success, thanks to an exciting ensemble of team members from Ashoka and Akili, willing to put in the work.
“Akili Group has enjoyed working with and learning from Ashoka East Africa, and we look forward to further collaboration with them.” Kasim Abednego, Project Manager, Akili Group
The overall aim of the first initial phase was to whittle down the 52 East African innovators to 12, shortlisting top East African Innovators through a careful process of elimination, with the characteristics of an Ashoka fellow as the benchmark. Of course, the findings of the survey aided and proved as a useful guide in the process of elimination and selection.
“Ashoka East Africa has demonstrated exceptional professionalism in spotlighting and discerning innovations among smallholders in East Africa. The commendable approach of conducting a questionnaire-based survey was not only thoughtful but also reflected in the positive reception of the findings by innovators and all stakeholders involved in the program.” Kasimu Abednego, Project Manager of Akili Group
Ashoka Fellows are all social entrepreneurs that are highly collaborative, and possess a great sense of creativity and innovation, strong ethical values, admirable leadership qualities and a passion to help people and entire communities. These are among the many qualities that Ashoka looks for as it maps out and identifies Fellows to support.
Vincent Odhiambo, the dedicated Regional Director of Ashoka East Africa, urging panelists to share valuable advice with eager innovators
The next phase – the Collaborative Entrepreneurship Program – was officially launched last week Thursday on the 18th of January, 2024 at the Jacaranda Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya in a colorful celebration. The launch began with a flawlessly executed introductory session guided by Bryan Chesoli, who serves as the Making More Health Accelerator and Project Associate at Ashoka East Africa.
Following that, Vincent Odhiambo, the Regional Director of Ashoka East Africa, and Ruth Soi, Visionary Program Coordinator and Fellow Engagement Lead also of Ashoka East Africa, skillfully led and coordinated us through a highly successful collaborative event. The gathering pooled together top innovators from across East Africa, poised to delve into the key challenges and opportunities within the Agricultural and Renewable Energy sector.
Kasimu Abednego, Project Manager of Akili Group, shares the compelling findings of the survey
Armed with the findings from a survey conducted to better understand the sector and the target demographic in question, Kasimu Abednego, Project Manager of Akili Group, took stakeholders through each detail via a well crafted and illustrated presentation.
The presentation helped shed light on the needs of farmers in East Africa, the needs of our innovators, and how Ashoka East Africa, together with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, can help support them.
The event ended with an exciting crescendo, as the top 12 chosen innovators – spanning from different regions in East Africa such as Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania – were announced and congratulated.
From your right, are the the top 12 selected innovators: Lucy Kirui, Lydia Wenga, John Dibaba, Ann Tobiko, Edwin Mumbere, David Mupenzi, Carl Norman Bielenberg, Hope Mwanake, John Webure, Emmanuel Chibasa, Samuel Thuita and Dr Aghan Oscar
“After careful selection, we’ve welcomed 12 innovators on an 18-month journey of capacity-building workshops, mentorship, and advisement…”Ruth Soi Visionary Program Coordinator and Fellow Engagement Lead of Ashoka East Africa
Haron Wachira, Ashoka Fellow and Akili Group CEO, passionately discusses the transformative power of community ecosystems in empowering smallholder farmers
The 12 innovators will be exposed to and mentored by existing Ashoka Fellows such as Mr Haron Wachira, CEO of Akili Group, to help augment their existing innovations and efforts in the Agricultural and Renewable Energy sector.
“ Our mission is to empower and support these initiatives, fostering their growth for maximum positive impact on small holder farmers throughout East Africa.” Ruth Soi Visionary Program Coordinator and Fellow Engagement Lead of Ashoka East Africa
In the end, ideas were exchanged, alliances were forged, and the foundation for the second phase – the Collaborative Entrepreneurship Program – of this groundbreaking project was laid. This is more than just a project, it’s a collective commitment to fostering change, empowering visionaries, and steering the course toward a more sustainable future in today’s changing world.
“ As we kick-started the program, the first steps toward our shared goal have been taken. I am optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead with these innovators, and I eagerly anticipate the transformative journey ahead.” Ruth Soi of Ashoka, East Africa
Stay tuned for more!