WHY SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
Guinea is a country of great need and limitless possibility. The current system of aid is not working to pull Guineans out of poverty fast enough, and Guinea’s development lags behind ot¬her countries in the region. Dare to Innovate believes in the power of social enterprise to create sustainable solutions to this problem.
Social enterprises measure profit in two ways—the financial gain of shareholders and the social gain for stakeholders— using profit as a tool for lasting social change. By leveraging social entrepreneurship, Guineans are empowered to start businesses and lift themselves and others out of poverty, creating employment, generating income, combating social issues and developing their country from the inside-out.
From Conference to Competition
In 2013 seven Peace Corps volunteers in the Community Economic Development sector saw an opportunity to take their introductory entrepreneurship curriculum to the next level.The result was Dare to Innovate, a movement for social entrepreneurship that selects and trains Guinean youth with the tools and frameworks necessary to create a social enterprise.
Comprised of four phases, the Dare to Innovate program begins with the Conference, which fosters an environment for idea generation and brainstorming, leading participants through a week-long journey into critical thinking, creative activities, technology trainings and business plan conception. During the Research and Development Period, participants fine-tune and craft their business ideas into presentable and persuadable plans. The process culminates in the Competition, where participants pitch their plans to a panel of judges who select the most innovative and feasible ideas to win seed-funding. Microfinance institutions are also invited to the competition so that all participants have the opportunity to access sustainable community funding. Throughout the process, participants collaborate with trained mentors in the field of social entrepreneurship. These mentors guide the entrepreneurs’ development, leading to the final phase—the establishment of a Movement of change-agents within an ecosystem of collaborative, creative, entrepreneurial exchange.
In late 2013 the first phase of Dare to Innovate brought together 21 Guinean youth to pitch their ideas to a jury of distinguished judges. The jury awarded startup funds to seven participants on the basis of creativity, innovation, quality of presentation, and caliber of business plan. As our programs progress, to date Dare to Innovate fellows have launched 28 social enterprises owned by 78 African youth, and are on track to employ 270 other young people by the end of the year.
Our Mentorship Program
Dare to Innovate is graciously supported by a team of educators, entrepreneurs and experts in the field of social entrepreneurship. Each of our participants is assigned a mentor who guides and advises during the enterprise planning and creation process. Amongst our mentors is the founder of Afrimarine, one of Guinea’s largest businesses devoted to maritime activities; a former World Bank official and husband to Guinea’s former Minister of Industry; and Madame Sylla Hadja M’Ballou Fofana, founder of the Organic Farm Fabik and winner of the 2011 prize for female investment in a rural setting. These relationships continue well beyond the Conference, combining the energy and inventiveness of the youth with the business experience of our mentors and creating the synergy that drives the Dare to Innovate Movement.