Empowering African Businesses

17 social entrepreneurs to benefit from GE, Miller Center program

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By Steve Umidha

Seventeen social entrepreneurs from nine African countries will undergo training and mentor-ship program organized by General Electric (GE) and Santa Clara University’s Miller Center.

The entrepreneurs from Burundi, DRC Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia is the pioneer group that will benefit from The healthymagination Mother and Child Programme which seeks to address maternal and child mortality by supporting their operations in the health sector.

The group is currently attending a three-day, in-person workshop in Nairobi, Kenya which is being moderated by mentors and business leaders from Miller Center and GE respectively.

The programme, launched in March 2016 is designed to help the selected social entrepreneurs acquire business fundamentals, improve their strategic thought processes and come up with a business plan touching on impact, growth and long-term financial sustainability.

In an exclusive interview with The African Business Fortune, GE’s President and CEO for Africa Jay Ireland said that the ongoing workshop in Nairobi will be followed by a six-month, online accelerator programme, “where mentor-ship will be provided by high-profile Silicon Valley-based executives who have benefited from training and mentor-ship programme by Miller Center.”

“What this programme is about trying to identify entrepreneurial ventures across Africa that we think can help scale to solve a lot of health issues, its a culmination of information flow and we are working with seven countries and we have fifteen groups that have won.

We are working with Miller Center because we feel they have a programme that they developed at The Santa Clara University in the USA around social entrepreneurship. So we hope to help them build this using our footprint in Africa,” he said.

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This programme is also expected to culminate in a “Premier Pitch” event in Africa where the 17 participants will present their respective enterprises to an audience of potential investors.

Yesterday Mr.Ireland said that the two-year programme had attracted over 150 applicants across the continent adding that, ‘there are a lot of potential especially from Kenya and we hope to get the same number of 15 and build on that in the coming year.’

“The program builds on GE’s strong track record in bringing innovation to emerging markets while increasing positive health outcomes,” said Robert Wells, executive director of strategy for GE’s healthymagination commitment.

The program will also lay focus on delivery of health services to mothers and children, medical equipment distribution, training, use or maintenance, development of products or technologies that improve knowledge in telemedicine, mobile technologies, data analysis as well as facilities associated with needs from pregnancy to pediatric care among others.

The move comes on the back of previous gains in the sector with a recent report by World Health Organisation (WHO), showing that the maternal deaths globally have declined from about 532,000 in 1990 to an estimated 303, 000 in 2016 – representing an estimated global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 216 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births, a drop of 385 in 26 years.

The WHO report further reveals that  by the end of 2015, about 99 per cent of the world’s maternal deaths occurred in developing regions, with Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounting for 2 in 3 about 66 per cent deaths – while 5.9 million children under age five died during the year, 16 000 every day globally.

The risk of a child dying before completing five years of age is still highest in the WHO African Region (81 per 1000 live births), about 7 times higher than that in the WHO European Region (11 per 1000 live births).

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