Complexity and overwhelming nature of issues to be coped with in some countries of the world calls forth the need to add extra dimensions to state’s combating the issues in terms of implementing its functions, and change existing systems and institutions. Social entrepreneurship represents a process by which citizens can either create or transform institutions to advance solutions to such issues, as poverty, illnesses, environment pollution, corruption and human rights abuses (Bornstein&Davis 1-2).
The mission of the KickStart International that represents a bright example of social entrepreneurship initiative is “to get millions of people out of poverty quickly, cost-efficiently and sustainably, changing the way the world fights poverty” (KickStart International 1). For ages different institutions of developed countries have been elaborating on the ways to fight poverty. While “handout” approach was proved to be inefficient, giving people, suffering from poverty the way to earn income is the method that enabled 770,000 people to get out of poverty by creating 150,000 new businesses in Kenya, Tanzania, Mali and the rest of Africa. The mission of the company is important for particular people, who aim at developing the business, as well as the whole population of the countries, impacted by KickStart International.
Kickstart International uses several methods to provide African population with technical assistance to make business. The leading ones are providing technological products and developing microfinance schemes. Both of the methods are not unique. Distribution of new agriculture technologies is exercised by many social enterprises in different regions of Africa. For instance, “Africans feeding Africa” social enterprise aims at “providing an access for smallholder farmers to affordable green farming technologies and training”, “improving the income of smallholder farmers and rural communities”, as well as “developing sustainable agricultural value chains” and “providing greater nutrition for population” (Africans feed Africans 1) The most well-known example of microfinance-based social entrepreneurship scheme was developed by Mohammad Yunus, founder and manager of Grameen bank and 2006 Noble prize winner. Similar to the KickStart International model, microcredit model aims at empowering the people to utilize the skills they already possess instead of looking forward to getting monetary help. There many opinions concerning the differences in wellbeing among states. It is evident that the fact that people are unable to earn income can be viewed as a cause of poverty, so it may be suggested that the system is aimed at influencing the cause. On the other hand, comparing the method of KickStart to other ways of providing help to those in poverty, the business can be considered to change this system.
The company assumes that its product is “a big ticket”, and, therefore, considers that when a person buys its products, he/she invests in his/her getting out of poverty. In order to promote its impact and aspire the people from rural areas, the company has launched a comprehensive marketing campaign called “Farming is my business” (KickStart International 1).
The business initiative acts both as a manufacturer of products and a distributor. The business model, developed by KickStart is well aligned with the mission due to the fact that it allows the company to give local people a chance to get an access to technical assistance that can help them enhance their income. Both manufacturing and distributing aspects of the business are characterized with quality alignment with the mission. In terms of manufacturing the company adheres to the principles of considering each product a part of successful business model; affordability; safeness and efficiency; portability; easy installation and reparation; durable period of use that help the company. These principles make the locals’ investment into KickStart products reliable and worth their price. Distribution is based on the aspiration to gain access to the rural populations. So, both manufacturing and distribution are aimed at meeting the needs of the poor as the main target of the business. The peculiarity of the company’s value chain lies in aligning classical logistics, marketing and sales strategies to the complicated market, consisting of the rural customers that are hard to reach (KickStart International 1). Marketing strategy of the company is aimed not only at emphasizing the uniqueness of the products’ marketing mix, but promoting farming as key way to enhance the level of income.
The external environment the company functions within can be characterized as quite a challenging one. Political situation in vast majority of African countries is characterized by significant level of political corruption and the lack of political will to provide governmental support for meeting the needs of marginalized population groups. Legal framework for running business is not stable, and can be subjected to changes. A range of environmental issues are likely to influence farmers’ aspiration to run agricultural business. Technological environment is hard to function within due to the lack of developed infrastructure. With rising popularity of social entrepreneurship, different tools to launch small business (e.g., microcredits, technical assistance) become available to African population from different social enterprises. Nonetheless, taking into account specific nature of the products by KickStart, significant number of consumers at current markets of operation and availability of other markets, the competition cannot be considered threatening. Partnerships can be created with various social enterprises in order to launch mutual microfinance initiatives.
Organization’s effectiveness is most frequently associated with the efficiency with which an enterprise can meet its objectives (Zammuto 28-29). The organization is efficient as it manages to exert significant impact on poverty in Africa (150,000 new businesses, 140,000 new jobs etc.) with the help of quite modest tools that go far beyond traditional developmental aid, whose provision requires significant inputs, and are more effective due to providing sustainable effect.
The Kickstart initiative is a real change of mode from traditional ineffective development aid to providing people with assistance to get sustainable income. The operation of Kickstart is based on what can be called creative destruction or associated with the intervention into the functioning of the system by changing its goals (Meadow 10). While traditional systems aim at finding most efficient ways to provide as many people as possible with nutrition or clothes, the Kickstart aims at providing people with the opportunity to earn income themselves, making best use of skills they already possess. Another place to intervene is self-organization. The Kickstart model promotes self-organization of farmers and their right to independently decide on the way they are going to utilize technical assistance and microcredits they can get with the help of KickStart.
Society is a complicated system that is characterized by significant number of interrelated social issues. While poverty is a very important issue that needs to be combat in order to ensure the quality of life in African countries, there are still lots of areas to be addressed in order to facilitate social change in countries KickStart operates within. Among them it is necessary to mention safe water issues, quality of environmental protection, education, quality of healthcare and so on. In order to promote systemic changes, Kickstart can think about developing other forms of social entrepreneurship that can promote the development of businesses, aimed not on production of nutrition items, but cleaning drinking water, providing healthcare services and so on. In this regard it is worth mentioning that a systemic change is frequently considered not possible without political changes. For instance, David Brooks, a popular U.S. columnist considers that social entrepreneurship cannot launch a systemic change due to the fact that it is unable to fight “corruption, veniality and disorder” (Brooks 1). I disagree with this statement, because systemic change is a continuous process that is accompanied by effective development of human capital that can further be converted into political elite. Furthermore, systemic change can be viewed not only in terms of a state, but in terms of the life of a family or even one person, and it is evident that social entrepreneurship tools are quite effective at this level. I think that KickStart can still consider the ways to influence other issues, different from poverty, but try to introduce systemic changes to lives of separate people, not at the state level.
KickStart is a good example of social enterprise that exerts significant impact on the issue of poverty of Africa. It works effectively, providing sustainable change. The business model, developed by KickStart is perfectly aligned with the mission. Despite functioning in complicated external environment, the initiative is continuously improving the way it functions and aims at getting access to as many people from the rural areas as possible. The model is adjustable to combating other social issue in Africa.
Africans feeding Africa. Official website, 2013. Web.
Bornstein, D., Davis, S.. Social entrepreneurship: what everyone needs to know. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.
Brooks, D. Sam spade at Starbucks. The New York Times 20 Apr. 2012. Web.
KickStart. Official website, 2013. Web.
Meadows, D.H. Leverage points. Places to intervene in a system. Whole Earth Winter, 1997. Web.
Zammuto, R.F. Assessing organizational effectiveness: systems change, adaptation and strategy. NY: SUNY Press, 1982.Print.