The competition is only open to people between 18-34 years-old and resident in UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Does this apply to you
Tell us about your personal background. Why are you passionate about this issue? Making an idea a reality takes innovation, dedication and strong leadership. Do you have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize your vision?
Since three years I am working for the LiveBuild Foundation, a small Dutch foundation that supports local water and education projects in Cameroon. During my work in both the Netherlands and Cameroon I came to realize that the work that we do is great, but that we are unable to realize real and large scale change. The current institutions and frameworks we have in place to address the huge global water crisis are not effective and fail to deliver water to millions of people around the world.
Contemporary development aid is just not cutting it to supply all people in developing countries with access to affordable, sustainable and safe drinking water, especially not with the current budget cuts and public criticism that we find all around us. Funds are too dispersed over sectors, countries and regions. To really make a change, massive investments and a strong focus on a single area and a single sector are needed. The investment needed to supply al rural area's in Cameroon with access to an improved-water source amounts between 22.5 and 52 million dollars. The only way to raise these kind of investments is through the capital markets.
Traditional firms on the other hand are also unable to address this issue. For them, the risk is too big and the rewards are too small. Next to this, traditional firms are not equipped to take on the massive challenges of doing business in a country like Cameroon. In Cameroon, there are almost no companies active in the rural water supply sector.
We think that we have a solution. We want to address a social problem (access to safe water) via a business approach. We are setting up a social enterprise that invests in water systems and solutions for rural communities in Cameroon. Because we ask local communities to chip in (in other words, they have to pay a fair price for the water) we can recuperate our investments. This means two things. First we have access to more funds because (opposed to traditional development aid) we pay back our funds. Secondly, because the money comes back, we can re-invest it and serve even more people.
I think that I have the necessary skills to make this project a success, altough doing business in Cameroon will be tough. As one of the founders of LiveBuild I know how to set up and develop a business (or foundation). I have experience with coordinating development projects in Cameroon and already have a strong network of motivated partners in place in Cameroon.
Next to my job I'm also finishing my Masters' degree in International Financial Economics at the University of Amsterdam. I'm currently writing my thesis on social entrepreneurship and impact investing and how these can be a solution for delivering social services in sub-Saharan Africa when markets, NGO's and governments fail.