From the Media Capital, to the Global Ethiopian Community
Wednesday May 24th 2017

Rebecca Emiru: Send Me to Kenya!

‘I want to be part of the Innovation Institute because it rejects the traditional donor-recipient relationship between the developed and developing world.’
– Rebecca Emiru, Candidate, Innovation Institute

Editor’s Note:

Rebecca Emiru was recently selected from a competitive pool of applicants to participate in a social entrepreneurship program in Kayafungo, Kenya, with Think Impact. The organization is awarding a $6,000 scholarship for the program based on votes. It takes 3 clicks to cast your vote and send Rebecca to Kenya! You can vote for Rebecca by clicking here, scrolling down to her name (Rebecca Emiru), and clicking on the picture. Visit ThinkImpact and vote today, urge your friends to do the same! But hurry, the contest ends on Monday, January 31, 5pm EST. Below is an essay written by Rebecca on why you should vote for her.

By, Rebecca Emiru: You should vote for me because I will use this opportunity to begin making a difference. I hope to use this program as a stepping stone to a career in entrepreneurship and development in East Africa. I am currently a senior Political Science major at Amherst College. My experiences working with and leading groups on my campus, volunteering abroad, and interning with various organizations- including the United Nations- all led to my interest in social entrepreneurship as an alternative to the current development paradigm.

A social entrepreneur is someone whose returns benefit not just themselves but the community of which they are a part. By extension, social entrepreneurship is an approach to business ventures whose returns are not necessarily monetary and whose benefits are extended beyond the involved individual to the group in which they live. Social entrepreneurship represents a way of actively tackling social problems at the local level rather than waiting for government policies to do the trick. It represents a very necessary fusion of a practical, business approach with an ideological approach that addresses structural societal problems.

Essentially, the social entrepreneur has to have a clear understanding of how markets contribute to poverty alleviation. Markets are the primary means through which rural communities relate to urban centers and global markets and rural communities in turn are defined by their distance from cities and in their ability to transport their agricultural goods to markets where these can be sold. For instance, in Ethiopia, the largest producer of coffee in Africa, markets are essential to rural coffee farmers to sell their crops but also to keep abreast of the developments of the coffee market. Any attempt at rural poverty alleviation must address this fundamental feature of rural communities. Thus, facilitating access to markets can alleviate rural poverty in two ways. First, through the improvement of infrastructure such as roads and communication, rural actors can have better access to markets and information regarding their goods. Second, structures can be built that improve the position of rural actors within the market to bargain and act autonomously. To return to the example of Ethiopia, the establishment of the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange by Eleni Gebremedhin gave coffee farmers accurate information about the global coffee market so that they could make more informed decisions.

If we can capitalize on the connection between markets and poverty alleviation through social entrepreneurship, then we can strengthen Africa’s role in the 21st century significantly. Regardless of how much money aid donors pledge to send or how many loans the World Bank and IMF decides to lend or how many well-meaning activists Western countries dispatch, the fate of Africa lies in the hands of its inhabitants. There are two possible outcomes. On the one hand, Africa may continue to serve as a source of raw materials and markets for the global economy, serving as an object to be spoken of and rather than spoken to. On the other hand, Africans can change this negative trajectory by addressing the health pandemics, demanding more representative government, and adapting economic and political models to its own needs. This change can only come about if the masses of people will it to, coupled with responsive and responsible leadership. Although often cited as a repository of bad leadership, the continent also has a history of innovation. Politically, the African Socialism of Julius Nyrere, the pan Africanism of Kwame Nkrumah and the “people’s power” philosophy of the African National Congress and the United Democratic Front in South Africa demonstrate that Africa is a source of ground-breaking custom-built solutions. This role can be expanded in the 21st century as Africa continues to occupy this position. For instance, the active participation of developing countries in the global dialogue regarding climate change has expanded the focus from conservation and reduction of emissions to include sustainable development and the harm done to less-developed nations by industrialized nations in the developed world.

I want to be part of the Innovation Institute because it rejects the traditional donor-recipient relationship between the developed and developing world. Instead, the program emphasizes the fact that participants are there to learn rather than to give, which enables a two-way exchange between the community and program participants, like me. By making the needs and choices of the local community paramount, ThinkImpact is facilitating people’s empowerment, which is more long-lasting than any shipment of supplies.

Reader Feedback

22 Responses to “Rebecca Emiru: Send Me to Kenya!”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tsehainy, Tsehainy. Tsehainy said: http://tsehainy.com/4492 [...]

  2. Alemayehu Behulu says:

    Good luck!

  3. Amanuel Hadera says:

    I I am willing to vote to Rebecca

  4. dario says:

    Good point on social entrepreneurship, but i think that in cases where there is still everything to build and the task really huge, a public-private partnership is really necessary. Be it at least to improve the environment and system in which the companies will evolve (in terms of law, infrastructure etc).

    Check out these links, although it’s from an outsider’s look and probably very incomplete, you can see the state of academic and private research on the 2 countries:

    http://www.poverties.org/poverty-in-kenya.html

    http://www.poverties.org/poverty-in-ethiopia.html

    Good luck Rebecca !

  5. lidya says:

    I wish you the best.

  6. Nazrawi says:

    I’ve voted, too, Rebecca! Berchi, and best of luck!

    By the way, this project could make an interesting senior thesis, both at the undergraduate and graduate school level.

    Cheers,

  7. Tadesse K. says:

    Rebecca,
    I’ll be delighted to vote for young people like you, who knows what’s really important for human progress. Hope you would be accepted, if not what a hec? You’re already a star!
    Good Luck,

    Tadesse

  8. Worku kebede says:

    Rebecca!
    I wish all the best good luck My Deer Ethio.
    I am very glad to give you my vote

  9. Worku kebede says:

    I have voted to Rebeca Emeru

  10. sara says:

    I voted for you. Keep up the good work kid!

  11. molla says:

    I have voted to Rebecca, and good luck

  12. Solomon says:

    Good luck. I wish happy time and result.
    Solomon

  13. Tes says:

    I vote for Rebecca, not for her familiar face (Ethiopian) but for her outside the box thinking and ideas…Go girl!

  14. Rebecca Emiru says:

    Hey everyone,

    Thank you so much for the support, everyone! I really appreciate your encouragement and I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the contest this afternoon.

    Dario, thank you for the links. I think the domain of public-private partnerships is promising if the proper time is taken to imagine partnerships that are appropriate to the specific contexts. As you pointed out, not all manifestations of poverty are identical.

    Again, thank you all.

    -Rebecca Emiru

  15. Done! Hope you make it. Give me a shout if you’re ever in Nairobi.

  16. Negash says:

    Hi Rebecca, Good luck for your planned. I just voted for you, three things you have to remember pray, hard work and never quite the rest it seats by itself.

  17. selam says:

    voted a few days ago, checking for the results no winner yet :( but they said 5pm on Monday?!

  18. Minutana says:

    Good Luck Rebecca!!!

  19. naomi says:

    all te best swts Rebbeca u wil make it.hala me wen in kenya

  20. Dav says:

    Good luck Rebecca and make a good use of your time. BONNE CHANCE !

  21. kefelegn asrat says:

    wish you good luck, support you with any thing(every) i could, or can. god be with you.

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