Vikas is a staff writer for the Sustainable Development news and editorial section on Justmeans. He is an MBA with 20 years of managerial and entrepreneurial experience and global travel. He is the author of "The Power of Money" (Scholars, 2003), a book that presents a revolutionary monetary economic theory on poverty alleviation in the developing world. Vikas is also the official writer...
New Social Enterprise Model in West Africa
Atacora Essential, a unique social enterprise founded by David Goldman in 2009, is building a Fair Partnership business model that confers ownership to the African collaborators. Atacora Essential aims to promote environmental stewardship, empower women and revalue indigenous natural resources to provide a boost to the rural African communities. The enterprise is engaged in the business of bringing healthy and natural botanical products from West Africa to the world markets.
Atacora Essential ensures that the local communities receive fair prices for the raw material and the local workers are given fair wages. Goldman makes sure that the best practices in social entrepreneurship are applied to the business at every level. Cultivating and maintaining personal relationships with African collaborators has been the keystone to overcome cultural and environmental differences and achieve success in this social venture.
Goldman shares insights about how a social enterprise can succeed in a culturally divergent environment such as the interior regions of West Africa. He says, "Understanding and respecting local customs and societal values is crucial to building relationships. I am an American, and it would be easy for Beninese people to pin me as an outsider and treat our interaction on the basis of assumptions often applied to foreigners. These assumptions or stereotypes are difficult to confront and even more difficult to dispel."
"Getting to know people well enough to effectively explain that it is largely within their own power and based on their own effort and resources that they can truly own their own future is key to building a successful venture," Goldman adds. Atacora Essential's success at a building a strong supply chain is a direct result of the web of its personal relationships with the local communities and local leaders. The sense of ownership that the Fair Partnership Model provides encourages the Beninese team to perform to their fullest potential.
Atacora Essential is increasing the awareness about its social enterprise model and its activities by going on radio and reaching out to the people through the local Beninese press. Its relationships with the local government departments has opened new opportunities such as gaining entry into the urban African markets and participating at African trade fairs and exhibitions.
Photo Credit: srbichara