The best way to go about social entrepreneurship is finding what works for you and carving your own niche.
– By CleanWater4all
In the month of March, 2017, news broke out across Nigeria about the death of Queens College Students who had been exposed to cholera and diarrhoea by ingesting contaminated water. A local news outlet reported that since the beginning of January 2017, over 1,222 students of Queens College (QC) in Yaba, Lagos State have been treated at the school’s clinic for abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. Prior to this sad event, many cases of waterborne disease-related death cases have been reported and these facts are in direct correlation with the report by UNICEF on World Water Day, 2018 that 69 million Nigerians do not have access to clean water. Facts like these are what inspired the CleanWater4all initiative.
Before delving into your social enterprise, you need to understand how it affects the lives of those in your immediate community. At CleanWater4all, we were able to quickly identify ours, knowing that in Nigeria, only a few have access to water devoid of all forms of contamination, ranging from impurities to micro-organisms. In Urban settlements, this is evident in the over-reliance on sachet water popularly called pure water, whereas those in rural communities rely heavily on wells and streams as their water sources.
Therefore, finding your niche would require;
- Research On How The Problem Affects Your Community
Identifying a problem is one thing and conducting research on how the problem is embedded in the society is another. Adequate efforts to conduct research of the problem will give a clear and concise direction on how you can tackle whatever societal problem you hope to solve. Undoubtedly, you are approaching that problem as a professional, amassing the necessary knowledge and efficiently learning how to solve the problem.
For CleanWater4All.ng, there was a lot of introspective questions that kept running through our minds such as,
- How safe are these sachet water for drinking?
- How was the water filtration and treatment process carried out?
- How can the life of the Nigerian child in hard-to-reach communities be protected?
- How can the negative impact of waterborne diseases in our society be abated?
These queries highlight some of the soul searching questions that kick-started our research.
- Proffer a Unique and Innovative Solution
Now that you have identified the problem and have been equipped with a deeper understanding on how it is affecting lives within your community, it is time to creatively and innovatively counter the problem with a solution. Your Solution must be cost effective, efficient and sustaining.
At CleanWater4All Nigeria, we partnered with an American firm that produces innovative handheld water filtration devices called the VF100 and the VF200 pre-carbon filter. Beside affordability, this filtration system eliminates 99.9999% of bacteria, protozoa, and cyst and can last a family for 4 years; this is the area efficiency and sustainability come to play. So, during your process of brainstorming and creativity on which solution to introduce, ensure that it solves the problem in a very unique way.
- Build a Solid Team
Your team will be responsible on how far your impact is felt and this requires you to develop yourself into a true leader. Be ready to serve your team and their commitment will amaze you. At CleanWater4All Nigeria, with just a handful of staff, we have been able to grow in an unprecedented rapid rate, leading to the execution of numerous projects in Lagos and Ondo State with over 25,000 families as beneficiaries. You do not want to spend all of your funds on salaries and wages. With the right set of individuals as well as the support of volunteers, great things can be achieved. Problems are solved in record time, new ideas are generated faster and there is a sense of belonging amongst your team.
“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work”
– Vincent Thomas Lombardi, American football player & Coach
- Seek the Right Partnerships
The major breakthrough recorded at CleanWater4All.ng was the partnership with Megasea Foundation, a charity organisation. Megasea Foundation provided the avenue that made it easy for communities in Lagos and Ondo state to have access to potable water. Partnership are what I call propellers, meaning once you have worked hard to a certain level, they give you the necessary push needed for your social enterprise to stand and thrive. That is one major benefit of the synergy between Cleanwater4all.ng and Megasea Foundation.
The right partnership will open your social enterprise to a wealth of shared resources.Our partnership with Megasea Foundation was a game changer and your budding social enterprise will need partnerships and allies to prosper.
Running a social enterprise largely involves carving a niche for yourself in the numerous problems that you can target to solve. Using the above tips will help you in getting started.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.