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Promoting Sustainable Development Through Innovation

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Forum Home > General Discussion > Reflections on our first class of social innovators

Gamuchirai
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2013-2014 was a first ever class which had 7 successful social innovators from the start. However the year ended with only 4 of these. It was a year full of great lessons and successes, which we will take forward as we hunt for the next class of fellows. The idea behind the fellowship has always been the need to create a community of like- minded individuals who can support and encourage each other especially when the going gets tough…because the going does get tough in the field of social entrepreneurship. They is always need for the supporters on the side lines for the race to be worth running or even making it easier. Starting a business is never easy in any conventional sense and to top it all, a business trying to address some of the stubborn challenges we face in Zimbabwe. We had a variety of business ideas addressing some of our tenacious challenges, such as child marriages, corruption, and access to education, employment and health care issues.

Two things were important to us in the selection of these fellows, their creative ability to come up with solutions to their identified problem and the passion and strength of the individual to follow through on their given solution. For change requires not just bold ideas but bold individuals. To find such a combination is exceptional as we later learnt. We faced individuals with bold ideas but lacking the will power to take action. Admittedly taking action is not as easy as it sounds in text books; it requires one to get out of their comfort zone, to knock on doors that you would never dream of knocking, to develop networks, to mobilise people and resources, to research, read and sleep less hours working on strategies. We had to deal with the usual expectations that people in Zimbabwe have when an opportunity comes; some thought it was a chance to get a job, some thought it was an easy way to get money for something they had no intention of doing; others wanted something to while up their time while they were waiting for that elusive dream job. When all these things didn’t materialise they were disappointed. We also had bold individuals who lacked bold ideas. They were available, passionate and willing to make a change but just did not have the right solution or could not figure out how to about it. Reconciling these two became our objective.

This in some way is the challenge facing Zimbabwe. We have people with innovative ideas but may not necessarily be the best placed to implement them and people willing to do something but may not have the right solutions to the problem. All over the world people look at Zimbabwe and the challenges we have gone through and ask why we don’t do something about it. We have a lot of educated people who seem to be failing to come up with solutions to the myriad problems we face. Or sometimes we have good plans that are poorly implemented. We haven’t got the answers just yet. We are still learning and trying to understand. We have set up a library stocked with books that tell us how other people and countries have done it, what it takes to make it happen, success and failed stories from other parts.

We are happy to see that with the remaining fellows they are taking a step closer to their vision. A year is not enough for us to see it all happen. But we have witnessed brilliant networks and alliances being formed among the fellows, opportunities to gain experience in their field of study, mobilisation of resources and most importantly a supportive network that always cheered them on to keep on scrapping at the surface, for they would surely find the sparkling diamonds one day.

We hope this next class of fellows will take us a step closer to getting it right, to solve the challenges we face, to making a difference in the lives of some people in Zimbabwe. We always welcome any partnership in promoting sustainable development in Zimbabwe.

 

June 24, 2014 at 8:31 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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