The Editors' Post: Staying out of trouble
Resilient, inspiring social enterprises in Johannesburg and in The Hague; impact accelerator blind spots; and an Indian perspective on financing disaster resilience. This week's view from the Pioneers Post newsroom.
Last week, BMW offered me the unusual opportunity to travel to South Africa (more on that next week). After three days of cars and corporate responsibility, I managed to squeeze in a visit to a Johannesburg social enterprise, Dlala Nje, which runs city tours, offers workshops and rents out its trendy cafe/bar space in an inner-city high-rise building, using the income to provide arts and education programmes for children and teenagers. We’d last spoken to Dlala Nje back in 2019: since then, the enterprise has survived through Covid-19, and is now being run by 26-year-old Grant Ngcobo, pictured above. He grew up in the building, and in his own words, used to visit Dlala Nje after school “to stay out of trouble”. What’s particularly compelling about the organisation is how it works on multiple levels – not only offering opportunities for people living there (creative education for young people, paid work for adults), but also helping change perceptions about a building that was once considered the one place in the city that you definitely don’t want to end up in. Dlala Nje is now looking to do a similar project in the Soweto township of Johannesburg – one worth watching.
While I was finishing up my South Africa trip, my colleague Estelle Uba was on her way to The Hague for its annual ImpactFest. The Dutch city has been billed “the city for entrepreneurs working on innovations for a better world” – and, while that’s not a unique claim, it certainly seemed to deliver on inspiration for Estelle, who visited a number of the city’s impact businesses on a media tour ahead of the main event. Despite figures revealed this week that show a downturn in global VC investment, Hague-based founders express a “fire to keep growing”, she told me. Do check out some of the interesting organisations she met, including i-did, Barefoot Law and Subul.
It’s not surprising that we’re seeing more and more accelerators focused on impact businesses – but research from Impact Shakers suggests that the number of such accelerators in Europe has actually doubled in recent years. Yonca Braeckman shares some emerging trends from around the continent. One of her observations is a greater focus on environmental impact than on social impact. Again, that might not be surprising given the huge interest in greentech and the greater ability to measure its success – but a blind spot when it comes to social issues is worrying.
Also this week, Meenakshi Iyer and Aarti Mohan share expert insights from India on financing crisis preparedness and response. Innovations exist, they argue, but we need to support a marketplace for these so that entrepreneurs can “truly rally around disaster relief”. Public and private organisations have a role to play – and disasters aren’t going away any time soon.
This week's top stories
Top photo: Grant Ngcobo of Dlala Nje (Anna Patton)