By Salif Romano Niang, Co-Founder & Chief Impact Officer, Malo Traders and New Voices Fellow, The Aspen Institute
When I was growing up in Ethiopia, Cameroon and Mali in the 90s, my friends and I talked about creating companies that addressed problems in our communities. However, we always thought that first we’d have to become financially solvent ourselves. The perception that planting the seeds for a formal business requires a degree of financial security, experience or access to capital still persists, especially across the developing world.
But it is no longer warranted. The information required for designing a business with the potential for positive social and economic returns in virtually any part of the world has been democratized. What it takes is an awareness of the opportunity and the will and a strategy to pursue it.
For many aspiring social entrepreneurs, developing actionable ideas that inspire them is challenging. However, I would urge them to instead look to successful…