Photo by: Nareto Latia 

What is Lightup Impact?

Problem

The social entrepreneurial scene in Kenya and Eastern Africa is young and so are their leaders. Of all the social organizations that were established in Kenya since 1980, 64% were registered in the past five years with over half of the leaders aged under 35. Young leadership in social enterprise points to a pressing need for job creation among young people. 

But how many of these young leaders really succeed or really manage to successfully get enough funding to scale?

More specifically, of all the 44.000 social enterprises currently registered in Kenya, one third focuses on solving problems related to women’s health and reproductive rights as well as gender inequalities. 

In our problem validation interviews we discovered that these young entrepreneurs lack access to capital and funding. But this is only part of the story. Lack of partnerships, redundancies and competition rather than cooperation is still a big challenge. 

In addition, the inexperience of such young leaders, lack of entrepreneurial skills but mostly lack of right opportunities is a great impediment to the growth and scaling of their organization. Facts indicate that there is a great need to elevate the underrepresented voices of these entrepreneurs. 

By creating the right ecosystem made up of women’s health changemaker community, leadership & skills and networks of changemaker companies and NGOs, we foster an environment of change where young entrepreneurs can prosper, help each other and scale the impact they create. 

By solving this pressing problem we accelerate the achievement of important SDG goalsno poverty, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equity, partnerships for the goals, reduced inequalities, decent work and economic growth we directly empower entrepreneurs to become sustainable and we indirectly improve the lives of their beneficiaries – vulnerable women and girls.

Our approach and solution

Lightup Impact is building a networking, educational and social entrepreneurial hub for early stage social entrepreneurs working with women’s health and gender equity in East Africa. 

But Lightup Impact is not just a network. We care about each and every founder, and build our belonging as a community on a shared goal of women’s health. We bridge the gap between traditional NGOs and innovative sustainable models visible to our target group. Many community based organizations are not exposed to such concepts and will never switch their thinking from donor-based solutions to more sustainable approaches if not exposed to such learnings. In addition, the strength of our mentoring program is that it will be built with partners that will over time continue to support the founders in our ecosystem. We can show companies the benefits of engaging in social entrepreneurship together and inspire them through our story to drive change in women’s health.

Our community is composed of early stage social entrepreneurs in East Africa – currently mostly in Kenya, which have founded an organization – mostly community based organizations and NGOs – with a focus on women’s health, women’s rights or gender equity. Our entrepreneurs are growing slowly because they lack support, entrepreneurial skills and the necessary visibility and credibility they require to secure more funding and scale their impact.

Community: a place built with the founders and for the founders. A place to share, learn and grow together while having access to key growth opportunities.

Leadership & skills education: a hybrid entrepreneurial program tailored for founders of non-profits who have not been exposed to sustainable business thinking and other necessary entrepreneurial skills. We bridge the gap between non-profits and for-profit social enterprises by providing key complementary skills for hybrid organizations, such as grant writing, project management, business model, financial management, sustainability, communication skills and strategy, pitching and personal branding.

Network of companies, social enterprises and large NGOs with an interest in women’s health and gender equity. We want to help these companies, NGOs and entrepreneurs in our network to find shared values and partners. We will be the credibility stamp for the small organizations in our network and we will facilitate interactions. We can engage company employees in skilled volunteering and mentoring while triggering a social intrapreneurial behavior.

What is the mission, values and vision of Lightup Impact?

Mission

The mission of Lightup Impact is to help underrepresented voices and fight inequalities in health and gender via social entrepreneurship in East Africa. We believe that entrepreneurial skills development, cooperation across sectors and exposure to the right networking opportunities is what will help these young entrepreneurs increase their visibility and impact.

Vision

We envision a world with no inequalities in health and gender and equal opportunities for all. Only by working together and building new partnerships between all sectors of society (social entrepreneurs, for profit business, governments, universities, e-health sectors and others) will we be able to accelerate the achievement of sustainable development goals. Our vision in the next five to ten years is to grow the network to impact thousands of founders and millions of women and young beneficiaries in the rural communities. We will invest in building a high-quality network which is based on a sustainable business model.

Our Values

Empathic leadership: we listen and we care about each other and our beneficiaries

Passion for social impact: we take our cause truly at heart

Courage and can do attitude: we are not scared to take risky choices and we try our best to reach our goals

Collaboration over competition: we truly believe together we can do much more than alone

Where and how do we see Lightup Impact in the future? 

We see Lightup Impact as a network that will help women’s health entrepreneurs in East Africa today and perhaps in other countries tomorrow. We believe our network might grow across countries according to the founders’ needs in the future. While we might build in the future different geographical chapters, there are two aspects that are very important to us:

1. Never lose our focus on improving women’s health and gender equity
2. Never compromise quantity over quality.
 

We always want to be able to maintain that family and caring feeling in our network which is what makes it so special. 

Our impact so far

Since the beginning of Lightup Impact in April 2021, we have built a community of over 100 members comprising 40 early stage social entrepreneurs in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda with a focus on women’s health and gender equity, like-minded people, social enterprises and partners. We have connected these founders in a place where they belong together, where they learn and share useful information in order to solve challenges together and avoid duplicating work.

We continuously foster interactions with share & learn events and community meetups. During our first two events we have reached 80 founders with trainings provided by TripleMinds and Holby Training Solutions on fundraising, theory of change, grant writing and business and personal branding. 

With our channels of opportunities one of our founders successfully got selected and completed the Segal Family Foundation Acceleration program in Kenya for early stage entrepreneurs. In addition, by showcasing the work and achievements of the founders in our network through our communication and media campaign we raise awareness in civil society about the broad range of social issues affecting women and youth in underserved communities in East Africa.

What does Lightup Impact mean to our community?

Listen what our members share about us

References

British Council. (2016). State of Social Enterprise in Kenya. https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/state_of_social_enterprise_in_kenya_british_council_final.pdf
Izugbara, Chimaraoke & Covan, Eleanor & Fugate-Whitlock, Elizabeth. (2015). Women’s Health in Africa: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities. 
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279748370_Women’s_Health_in_Africa_Issues_Challenges_and_Opportunities
SDG Philanthropy Platform. (2016). Investing in the Sustainable Development Goals in Kenya. 
https://sdgfunders.org/reports/investing-in-the-sustainable-development-goals-in-kenya-a-primer-for-philanthropists-and-other-social-investors/
WHO Regional Office for Africa. (2012). Addressing the Challenge of Women’s Health in Africa: A Summary of the Report of the Commission on Women’s Health in the African Region. 
https://www.afro.who.int/publications/report-addressing-challenge-womens-health-africa
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Our Activity

What We Do

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Healthy Food

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Education

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About us

We are a dynamic and international team all driven by passion and determination because we want to make a difference for the growth of our founders and ultimately for the lives of women and girls that need our guidance and support. We care, we share and we learn together while being focused on achieving our goals as a team.

Lets get in touch and collaborate

Follow us on social media to get updates on our progress in the women’s health and gender equality field. Any other question? Just drop us a line!