How Leroy Mwasaru is addressing challenges facing African businesses
Leroy Mwasaru attended the first ever One Young World Expert Event. His venture, Greenpact, is a direct response to the sewage challenge his region was facing. Leroy’s social enterprise work at Greenpact has been featured on CNN, Forbes, Grist, The Huffington Post, Fast Company and CCTV America.
The following has been adapted from an essay submission written by Leroy:
Today, much attention is shifting to the African leader. Our definition of leadership leaves a lot to be desired. “Young leader” - two strong words that are nurtured by how willing we are to unearth solutions to our very own hurdles. A leader to me would sensitise on the essence of making sure the cost of acquiring consumers downplays the Life-time Value of these consumers. This enforces Africapitalism, as Tony Elumelu puts it: growing the private sector into transforming Africa through long term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth. African businesses tend to spend more resources on acquiring users for our products and services hence outdoing the lifetime value of the customer – a lesson I learnt when I developed my startup- Greenpact, emulating ubiquitous players in mobile telephony such as Safaricom and Vodafone.
As a conscious social entrepreneur, I believe that most startups lose their value through excessive marketing.
It takes an arithmetic crack to achieve this through conducting e-conferences while introducing tools useful in business leverage. Which leads me to believe that African businesses are crippled by idea problems, not money problems.
A sustained focus on employee talents
As typical Africans, lukewarm isn’t our cup of tea as we like it served hot or cold. This is a perfect cue for African businesses and entrants into the business scene. Most African businesses pay little to no attention to employees’ talents. Talent and ability to adapt serve perfectly in effective business delivery and performance. In most African countries we have consistently cursed the current education systems we have, that only program us to get perfect grades. In my own perspective, streamlining programs that encourage budding entrepreneurs as well as leadership values at a tender age would be the perfect solution. Reducing government bottlenecks to these organisations that champion for the same in African learning institutions would also serve as a parallel solution. As a young African leader, plugging programs into businesses that identify outstanding employee talents are the big boost we need as it is this that will spur on passion driven results.
Building confidence among the disabled in the African business scene
The African business map shows an almost unnoticed turn out of ‘startuppers’ representing this valuable group. Setting up strategic innovation hubs within African countries would give ‘startuppers’ mainstream support and an exemplary platform to indulge into businesses, an unchartered initiative. Matt King, the first Facebook engineer, is a glint of hope that African leaders ought to embrace in making African businesses leap towards a good cause. In light of this, autism has never been given a chance in Africa. In this regard, such talks are shunned upon. Using an intellectual approach, genius is a striking symptom of autism. It is with great haste and regard that we must light such candles that have been ‘preserved’, most notably by our African culture.
An emphasis on strictly focused innovation
Most technology startups innovate for a problem, rather than innovate for the intended, leading to constant loss making. By African businesses having ‘For-community’ workshops, they build a strong presence and solid understanding of the local communities they serve in where social startups will often innovate and iterate a business model that is cost effective in reaching low income beneficiaries too.
You are arguably a product of your life experiences, concentrated or diluted; an analogy that would best fit to describe Africa’s gems- its countries notwithstanding the degree of the solution content: positive (The collective power and responsibility we can uphold when we unite). As much as we have regional bloc meetings, which is more of a head-of-state affair, it is to the conviction of the youth that their atrocities are not adequately championed for in their rightful capacities. I would champion for greater youth representation for these forums and better still, for Entrepreneurship Conferences where the youth and government exchange views, only in a diversified platform. The skills from such conventions are useful and applicable in other crucial sectors of our countries.
In conclusion, the game changers are the impact enterprises in Africa, while today’s epic failures are tomorrow’s story of groundbreaking success.
What do Greenpact do?
Greenpact was inspired by a high school project 19 year-old Kenyan, Leroy Mwasaru, was involved in. The aim of the school project: to solve a foul sewer system and make a prototype that powers his school kitchen from Bio-gas, utilising both human and organic waste.
Leroy along with his classmates stood out to disrupt community conventions, aiming at employing Bio-gas solutions to curb mainstream problems that approximately 9 million Kenyans face - lack of access to cheap clean renewable energy and proper sanitation through its unique bio-gas toilet and digester models.
He has now pitched his project to several investors and is currently focusing on the growth of his startup. Amongst this he was selected out of 63 International applicants to be one of the five Harvard Social Innovation Collaboration Global Trailblazers making him the first African to assume this position according to VTRAC (Village To Raise A Child) Initiative. Come September he will be giving a presentation about Greenpact at the annual Igniting Innovation Summit to be held at Harvard University.
On behalf of the One Young Word we wish Leroy good luck at the Igniting Innovation Summit.