Reimagining Social Ventures During COVID-19

2020 Social Venture Challenge winners share their journey

As this year’s Social Venture Challenge teams prepare to pitch their ventures to a panel of judges, we revisit a few of last year’s teams to see how they are faring and what role reimagining and resilience have played in their entrepreneurship journey.

FONA Health Initiative

Samson Idabu

Caption: Samson Idabu. Founder of FONA Health Initiative, Tanzania.

Tell us about yourself and the name of your team 

My name is Samson Idabu, a Tanzanian by nationality and a Mastercard Foundation Scholar currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Cape Town. I am passionate about solving problems facing the community and seek to share my skills with others to add value and build the capacity of creating a better community. My venture is FONA health Initiative.

What is the challenge that your venture, FONA Health Initiative, is addressing and what has been the impact so far? 

Founded in 2019, FONA Health Initiative is a community education, give-back project based in Tanzania that is focused on training vulnerable youth and rural communities about nutrition education to address malnutrition. Our goal is to ensure access to nutritional information in rural communities and use of local resources to develop nutrition products. We also provide the tools and knowledge to produce pumpkin and chickpea seed supplements to address the problem of malnutrition.

How did you feel when you were announced as a winner of the Social Venture Challenge and how has winning impacted your venture?  

Winning and being part of the Resolution Fellowship was a big step to FONA Health Initiative, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fellowship has provided tremendous support and has been a safe space to share our achievements, challenges, and downfalls. Currently, we are working with 24 youth to educate the community and supply nutritional supplements.

How have you had to reimagine your venture since winning last year? How do you see it changing again in the post-Covid year? 

COVID-19 pandemic has brought a big shift in the plan of action of both small and large businesses. We have however adapted, redefined, and reimagined our business model and approach with resilience and boldness. Before the COVID-19 pandemic we went to the households educating and training the community, after COVID-19 hit our areas, one of the options adopted by many enterprises was to deploy the use of technology and work remotely. As a small enterprise, we had limited technology infrastructure and knowledge among our targeted people. We had to reimagine our approach  on training the youth and conveying nutritional information to the community. We introduced a poster delivery approach and mobile phone consultations (using WhatsApp groups) have helped manage and train the youth working with us. We hope to use both approaches post-COVID as the information will reach more people and create a bigger impact.

What have you learned about leadership as a Social Venture Challenge winner and as an entrepreneur? 

I have learnt that the greatest asset of a leader is the confidence to change. Business environments change as time passes, so the need to re-imagine working systems is inevitable. Additionally, I have learnt that the venture leadership cannot go higher as the foundation of a leader, if you want the venture to have a successful leadership, you need to build a strong foundation as a leader.

We are grateful for the support provided by the Resolution Project in the form of help us develop digital infrastructure which will in turn equip us to train youth remotely and allow access to nutrition information with ease.

What advice do you have for the current Social Venture Challenge finalists? 

I would advise the Social Venture Challenge finalists to spend more time figuring out the core values of the problem they are solving. These values will give them broad expertise on the quality of solution they will offer. This will further help them to stay optimistic, resilient, and bold when challenges come along the way. Finally, it is critical to have a good team and share your deep-down convictions and strong arguments on why you are in that enterprise. These are the reasons that will give the venture identity and strength when tough times come.

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