Entrepreneurs are essential to Africa’s development. Many Africans are already running micro-level homegrown businesses based on deep insights into local consumer demand. They identify gaps in the market for specific products and services, tapping into strong local networks to meet local needs. But few have the capacity for business expansion and for handling complex projects.
One of the biggest challenges facing Africa is capacity building. There are many worthy projects in some of Africa’s poorest communities, yet few young people have the education to lead these projects effectively. Even those with entrepreneurial ambition lack adequate training to create stable, scalable businesses that can support themselves and their families over time.
Igniting Africa has experienced this firsthand. Early on, the Igniting Africa team invested in a number of projects that failed to generate profits and were misunderstood by the communities in which they were launched. The Igniting Africa team discovered that the project leaders lacked the necessary skills to lead their organizations effectively. Without specific training in accounting, management, business planning and community relations, the project leaders faced countless challenges and lacked the experience to address them.
Igniting Africa’s early work in these communities exposed a critical need. In order to create sustainable, positive change, we must first improve the education of aspiring entrepreneurs. Our major task now is to identify prospective entrepreneurs and help them develop into seasoned professionals who are adequately trained to create lasting, positive change within their communities.
We seek to create an integrated network of tuition-free schools across Africa, beginning with the Torchbearer Foundation School of Christian Social Entrepreneurship in Cameroon. Our goal is to provide thousands of young Africans with comprehensive training in business and community leadership. The School will be a work-study, tuition-free opportunity for students who otherwise cannot afford higher education.
Our first campus is an organic farm located in Menteh, in the city Bamenda, located in the Northwest region of Cameroon. Students work on the farm, and in exchange, receive basic training in agriculture, solar energy, water systems, accounting, management, marketing, leadership, computer and other technologies. Following a work-study period on campus, students transition off campus to apprenticeships at Igniting Africa business and project sites, gaining hands-on experience in a specific trade. Upon graduation, alumni are armed with a bankable business plan and a humanitarian project plan, as well as the skills, character and wisdom they will need to be successful. Alumni receive capital loans from Igniting Africa to execute both their humanitarian project and community-based business in partnership with us.
We require those joining our team to commit to these:
- We are tuition free.
- We are work study (20 hours of work per week per student or mentee).
- We provide investment capital loans for businesses.
- We provide investment capital loans for humanitarian projects.
- We require that the businesses and humanitarian projects of our graduates serve as work stations for students and mentees.
- We require that business profits fund humanitarian projects, by distributing profits into the Project, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Global Funds.
- We require graduates to return to school to learn new skills and teach lessons learned in the field.
- We require graduates to bring together church leaders, government officials, business people, civic leaders, traditional rulers, and other centers of power, to examine the root causes of pain and suffering of the people.
Our Support Structure
One of the biggest risks facing young entrepreneurs is the isolation that occurs in the early days of running one’s own business. Igniting Africa schools will work with its alumni by hosting regular conferences and gatherings to encourage alumni to stay connected, share experiences and learn from other like-minded entrepreneurs.
In these ways, we build our Christian Humanitarian Entrepreneurs into a movement focused on building a united, safe, secure, powerful and prosperous Africa.
Our Commitment to Sustainability
An essential component of our strategy is its commitment to sustainability. Our goal is to turn job seekers into job creators and students into teachers.
The School will have an exponential impact on our efforts. By graduating 30-50 students from each class, Igniting Africa will be helping to develop dozens of new projects each year. By 2022, we expect to have projects underway in two new countries as well: Rwanda and Uganda.
Once these projects are well established, alumni will be expected to give back to the community and to Igniting Africa in two ways:
- Financially: a percentage of the profits go toward supporting Igniting Africa humanitarian projects, including the faculty and facilities of the School of Christian Social Entrepreneurship.
- Professionally: serving as mentors to future students and providing hands-on training to those interested in similar fields.