The Responsible Citizen - June 2023

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JUNE 2023 | ISSUE 7
INSIDE HAPPYFARM on Promoting and Facilitating Sustainable Farming in Gambia HARNESSING CARBON
to Empower Communities and
Society Environmental sustainability and community development at
Nigeria’s Africa
THE RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN MAGAZINE is an industry stalwart supporter in profiling successes in organizational CSI/CSR policy across multiple industries, bringing to the fore an informative and educational approach to showcasing the individuals and institutions driving sustainable practices in business, entrepreneurship and community development. Ours is a development and non-controversial publication which also provides good reference material that can be used by policy makers, academics and professionals. To feature your CSI mission and advertise your business with us, contact: Tel: +267 3116813 / 73 329 959 Email: |


12 | Stanbic Incubation Hub: Empowering entrepreneurship and innovation in SMEs

15 | Botswana ESG and Sustainable Finance Forum 2023: Unpacking the key take aways

20 | Roam at the Forefront of an Electrifying Revolution in the Transportation Sector

2 | THE RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN | BUSINESS • COMMUNITY • IMPACT Contents 06 | Founder’s Welcome 07 | Editor’s Note 08 | ABSA Corporate Investment Banking: Driving Africa’s Inclusion and Sustainability Focused Growth
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24 | Youth on a quest for environmental impact through Light On a Hill (LOAH) Kenya

28 | Alexander Akhigbe holds forte with the Africa CleanUp Initiative

32 | Spotlight on Amble Pantry: Food by the community for the community

36 | Entrepreneurs Organisation South Africa: An entrepreneur’s haven


40 | Project Mabu: Partnering to celebrate new life

42 | The HappyFarm Journey: Promoting and Facilitating Sustainable Farming Techniques in Gambia

47 | Africa’s Path to Sustainability: Harnessing Carbon Markets to Empower Communities and African Society

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EDITORIAL Founder and Editor

Mpho Moletlo Kgosietsile Managing Director of Wise Leadership (Pty) Ltd Editor

Yvonne C Mtengwa Narratives PR FZ-LLC Dubai, UAE


Lorraine Kinnear

Daphine Mabhiza

Peter Kinuthia

Zimkhita Kweza

Bem Abubakar

Thembile Legwaila



Lucy Nkosi





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Founder’s Welcome

MN Capital recently hosted an ESG conference in Gaborone, Botswana on the 12th to 13th of April 2023, and with The Responsible Citizen Magazine participating as the event’s media sponsor, I had the opportunity to present and moderate the proceedings of the second day of the conference. This was a gathering of great minds which considered how Botswana could put her best foot forward regarding the integration of ESG into the normal day to day business of organisations.

The Botswana Stock Exchange and Business Botswana presented their cases as key stakeholders. The common message derived from this conference is that we still need to do more in guiding the implementation of ESG. This would call for it to be driven from the national agenda, regulators, stakeholders, the business community, and leaders. ESG is the undoubtedly new way of doing business, it is not a myth, it is a reality. It is a tool that is used by investors to determine where their money should go.

One of the key takeaways is that there is a need to build a culture of ESG right from the Small and Medium Enterprises because it is harder to assimilate once they have grown much bigger. Statistics showed that 85% of businesses in Botswana are SMME’s while only 15% are corporate. Therefore, more work needs to be done from the root. For this to be effective, ESG needs to be demystified and made simpler for the average person to understand. Data is also critical as it helps in proper and accurate ESG reporting for long term sustainability. Access to quality ESG data is important for responsible investment decisions. These decisions have seen companies with proficient integrated reporting perform better.

Looking ahead, we can all anticipate greater collaborative efforts in ushering the country towards

more responsible investing, sustainable practices and reporting. But it all begins with driving more conversations to facilitate better understanding of ESG and how it stands to benefits our society.


Mpho KgosietsileMoletlo

Editor’s Note

ith Africa Day having recently been commemorated on May 25th, Africans and lovers of the continent worldwide had the opportunity to invoke a celebratory spirit, not only as an ode to this date’s marking of the formation of the African Union 60 years ago, but also to reflect upon the rallying cry: “Our Afri -

Wca, Our Future”. One gets the sense that Africa at large – leaders, changemakers, commercial institutions, religious groups and the citizenry alike, are as ready as they possibly can be in raising awareness of our historical and present milestones, on this journey of unity, shared dreams and pursuit of global influence.

But the journey to success begins with incremental steps at the grassroots. The notions of sustainability, or environmental, social and governance issues are no longer buzzwords, but active frameworks that institutions are adopting to safeguard in very broad terms, the future of our world. It is encouraging to see the increasing discourse in the political and commercial spaces, and even more so, the role of individuals and small business owners in pursuing more conscious, sustainably viable practices that have community and the environment at the center of their operations.

In this Issue, we traverse Africa, learning about how the global carbon market is benefitting farmers in East Africa, keeping Nigeria clean through recycling efforts, entrepreneurship support through innovation and networking hubs in South Africa and Zimbabwe, key take aways from the first ESG-focused mega conference to take place in Botswana and more. Thank you for staying the course with us, as we unpack more on what institutions and individuals are doing to protect our Africa for our future and that of generations after us.

Yours truly,

YvonneC.Mtengw a


ABSA Corporate Investment Banking:

Driving Africa’s Inclusion and Sustainability Focused Growth



At Absa Corporate Investment Banking, a Sustainable Finance team has been established with the purpose of driving sustainable development across the African Continent. To unpack Absa Group’s sustainability approach, we had a discussion with the Head of Sustainable Finance at Absa Group, Heidi Barends.

Barends holds a bachelor’s degree, Industrial Engineering from the University of Pretoria, and a Master of Philosophy - MPhil, Engineering for Sustainable Development from the University of Cambridge. She has longstanding banking sector experience, having worked in retail as well

as investment banking. The team Absa Group team mandated to deliver the organisation’s sustainability strategy, is dedicated to providing financial solutions that drive sustainable development throughout the African region.

TRC: Briefly tell us about Absa Group CIB’s Sustainable Finance?

HB: Absa Group's Sustainability Finance exists to finance and support clients' sustainability goals. One of Absa's key enablers, as a leading African financial institution, is shaping Africa's growth and sustainability.

The Bank is dedicated to assisting clients in their transition to low-carbon, inclusive, circular economies. Absa's strength as a financial institution lies in its strong connections to various stakeholders across sectors and the economy. The bank's vision is to capitalize on this.

TRC: Kindly unpack Absa Group’s Sustainable

Finance Issuance Framework

This framework outlines the criteria under which Absa Group and its subsidiaries (Absa or the Group) intend to issue thematic liability instruments such as green, social, and/or sustainable bonds and loans, referred to in this work as sustainable instruments. This framework's focus aligns with one of Absa Group's key strategic themes of being an active force for good in everything we do and leading with purpose to delivering shared value to a diverse range of stakeholders.

The proceeds of this venture will be used to finance or refinance activities or assets, loans, project financing, and project investments in accordance with international best practices and guidance issued by the International Capital Markets Association (ICMA) Green Bond Principles (GBP), Social Bond Principles (SBP), Sustainability Bond Guidelines (SBG), Loan Market Association (LMA) Green Loan Principles (GLP), and Social Loan Principles (SLP).

This framework stems from Absa's 2018 growth strategy which laid the groundwork for reimagining the company as a standalone entity. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 brought a significantly different operating context than the one in which the original growth strategy established. As a result, the Bank saw a refreshed Group strategy in 2021, re-anchoring it to 2018 while incorporating a new operating environment. The Bank's strategic direction builds on its past successes while recognising areas for improvement.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities, as well as digitalisation, were elevated in this revised strategy.

TRC: What is the importance of the Sustainable Finance function within Absa Group?

HB: The private sector, particularly the finance sector, will now and in the future play a vital role in redefining business as usual in order to enable the region's just transition. The finance sector can play a unique role in the just transition by ensuring clients actively manage their ESG risks, and by providing financing for the capital investments required to realise the just transition.


Africa is currently confronted with the triple challenge of inequality, climate change, and post-pandemic economic recovery, and as a company, we are confident that sustainable finance can drive much-needed change. The region has experienced some dramatic climate events in recent years, including the 2019/2020 East African locust plague, cyclones in Mozambique, and drought in South Africa. Combating the continent's climate crisis is a complex challenge against a backdrop of large infrastructure gaps and social inequality. Sustainable finance is an important nexus between our current challenges and long-term solutions.

TRC: What are the Sustainable Finance team’s key focus areas?

HB: Recognising the immense challenges that affect businesses, ecosystems and communities in Africa, Absa has invested in banking that balances risk and opportunity. This means that by embedding Sustainable Finance into Corporate Investment Banking, we find ways to help enterprise reduce or better manage ESG risks, while providing financial solutions to infrastructure that drive sustainable development such as affordable housing and green energy.

TRC: What developmental investments have been put in place by Sustainable Finance?

HB: The African region requires large investments to combat climate change and promote inclusive growth. According to the African Development Bank, financing for the continent's infrastructure falls short by up to US$108 billion per year. This is where sustainable finance comes into play. Sustainable Finance looks to allocate capital to projects and

businesses that promote environmental protection and inclusive growth.

Absa has actively invested in renewable energy solutions. Among these initiatives is South Africa's first utility-scale renewable energy captive power project. Absa functioned as joint mandated lead arranger and lender for this utility scale renewable energy captive power project, which will include 200MW of solar power and will be built in South Africa's Northwest province at a cost of R4.1 billion.

From a social perspective, Absa has invested in affordable housing. An example of this is Transcend, a JSE-listed REIT with an affordable housing portfolio of 22 properties totaling 4,012 units, mostly in Gauteng and the Western Cape that Absa provided financing to.

TRC: Are there any important highlights to note in the space of sustainability and social impact?

HB: In September 2019, Absa became a founding signatory of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Finance Initiative's Principles for Responsible Banking (PRBs), as a framework for implementing sustainability throughout the Group. In December 2019, the Board of Directors approved a Group Sustainability Policy based on these principles, as well as a Coal Financing Standard. Both were published in April 2020, following consultation with various stakeholders. In March 2020, Absa became the first JSE-listed South African company to voluntarily include a climate change resolution in its annual general meeting (AGM) resolutions. More than 99% of shareholders voted in favour of the resolution.

In July 2020, we established a Sustainable Finance Team within Corporate and Investment Bank (CIB). Our Sustainable


Finance Committee meets monthly, and is comprised of employees from risk, treasury, Group sustainability, and various CIB teams. In October 2020, our Board of Directors elevated sustainability risk to a principal risk in our Enterprise Risk Management Framework (ERMF). We provided an assessment of the exposure to climate change risk in our lending and the opportunities to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation in our first Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) report in March 2021 in response to our AGM climate change resolution. In addition, we released our first PRB report.

In March 2021, we were the first South African bank to announce Sustainable Finance targets. By 2025, CIB intends to finance R100 billion in ESG-related loans and debt. Relationship Banking also intends to finance R2.5 billion, or 250MW, in embedded power in South Africa by 2025. These are important milestones to note in South Africa only and coinciding efforts are being implemented in other markets based on market-to-market needs.



Empowering Entrepreneurship And Innovation In SMEs

Zimbabwe is laden with entrepreneurs, as studies on employment in the country show that informal entrepreneurship accounts for close to 90% of the nation’s workforce. A total of 3.4 million businesses have been established in Zimbabwe, of which 71% are sole proprietors, 24% are micro enterprises employing 1–5 workers, and 4% are small businesses. This informal economy has contributed to the country’s GDP significantly in different areas including agriculture, technology, retail and others. However, the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face is a lack of support and guidance.


Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe identified these challenges and created the Incubation Hub to support Zimbabwean entrepreneurs with training and support programs through the Incubation Hub. The incubator has programs which capacitate and upskill existing entrepreneurs and start-ups. This is achieved through a model which is based on pillars that include ideation, incubation and acceleration. The Hub also provides a nurturing, instructive and supportive environment for entrepreneurs at different stages of the business life cycle. This is a place for SMEs to come in, work and share on innovative ideas for their existing or upcoming businesses.

Located in Harare on the edge of the city centre, the Incubator Hub was opened in 2018, closed because of Covid-19, and later reopened in March 2022. The Hub is a vibrant co-working space that provides entrepreneurs, and freelancers a space to work and connect with like-minded individuals. With unlimited WIFI and comfortable seating, the Incubator Hub is where young and talented individuals birth their business ideas and ideas become a reality.

Stanbic Bank works to provide support to these skilled individuals through knowledge and networking.

“The reception has been good. Although Covid-19 affected our progress, we have worked to get back the momentum”, commented Paidamoyo, the Hub’s Coordinator who has worked closely with the Hub’s users, offering the support they need for their business to go from incubation level to becoming fully established.

Many budding entrepreneurs and remote workers use the Hub and have greatly benefitted from the support. “The reception has been good, although Covid-19 affected our progress, we have worked to get back to momentum”.

Many budding entrepreneurs and remote workers use the Hub and have greatly benefitted from the support, providing professionals with a free working space to conduct business and a dedicated space for teams to work in a designed and well-decorated space that offers comfort to users throughout the day.

A huge benefit for start-ups is the opportunity to acquire contacts and connections with other professionals from different industries, helping them grow their business and gain insight into different markets, which can be very difficult for those starting out. Stanbic also organises initiatives for networking such as the Women’s Dendere, a women’s event that was hosted in March for female entrepreneurs to learn from each other and discuss the challenges they may be


facing in starting a business. Whether it is meeting people at such events, or introducing oneself to others over coffee, the hub offers a space to share knowledge and gain partnerships.


The Hub was created to be a comfortable workspace, with optimal lighting, bathroom facilities and an amazing aesthetic set to maximise productivity. It is an efficient meeting space bearing an outer terrace, where one can get to decompress while enjoying a dose fresh air while connecting with others. Working from the Hub gives users a healthy work-life balance between their workspace and personal spaces, helping them to associate the Hub with productivity, which is extremely beneficial for mental health. The Hub offers users access for a minimum of 2 hours.

Tawanda Takure is the founder of Footnote, a digital marketing agency that works with brands in Zimbabwe and South Africa. He started working at the Hub in October last year and has enjoyed the many benefits the Hub has to offer growing his business by taking advantage of the plethora of networking opportunities. “The Hub has helped me connect very well with fellow entrepreneurs who I’ve managed to share experiences and ideas with so far,” Tawanda says.

Stanbic’s Incubation Hub empowers young entrepreneurs with the resources they need to make a difference, helping people develop the skills and confidence to go from an idea to a fully functioning business, become innovative and powerful influencers of change, and is slated to produce the next wave of leaders in business and beyond.



ESG And Sustainable Finance Forum 2023: Unpacking the key take aways


Environmental, Social and Governance frameworks enable stakeholders to comprehend how a company is handling possibilities and dangers associated with environmental, social, and governance standards (also known as ESG factors). ESG adopts the comprehensive viewpoint that sustainability encompasses more than just environmental concerns. ESG considerations give investors and investment institutions a more comprehensive understanding of a company’s performance, enabling them to make more informed and well-rounded investment choices. Factoring these into businesses is becoming more of a need than a nice-to-have as our world and global economies continue to be affected by events related to the changes in our environment, the social landscape and governance factors.

It is through having a deep understanding of these considerations that MN Capital Group saw it fit to put together Botswana’s first ever ESG and Sustainable Finance Forum. The Forum took place under the theme, "Green-Growth Paradigm for Botswana

Investment Strategies for Sustainable Value Creation" and was held at Avani Gaborone Resort & Casino, on the 12th and 13th April 2023. Important stakeholders such as government officials, institutional investors, corporate executives, environment and sustainability professionals and activists, fund & asset managers, and many other key stakeholders in the investment and sustainability space came together to unpack matters in the space.

MNCapital Group is a South Africa-headquartered, Africa-focused institutional investment communications and research firm that has become synonymous with hosting high-end conferences and trainings that are specifically

curated to highlight investment opportunities within the African continent. It assists institutional funds to function optimally through industry-focused training programmes like the Fund Trustees Intensive, designed to provide trustees with knowledge and skills that they need to navigate their fast-paced working environment.

Event core tenets

The ESG and Sustainable Finance Forum took place as a country-specific programme primarily developed for institutional investors and corporations to come together and engage in implementable conversations that will lead to the formulation of strategies that will see the country thrive economically whilst adopting non-financial factors like the planet and people into their investment decisions.

The Forum was designed as a meeting platform for the entire institutional and ESG ecosystem where participants


will engage on best practices on ESG and formulate implementable strategies with the goal of aligning, planet, people and profits. Two key pools of participants were invited, namely key players and stakeholders of Banking and Finance as well as The Corporate Sector.

The evolution of ESG Conferences under MNCapital’s watch

There is a rich history that has followed the ultimate planning and execution of the Forum in Botswana. On the 5th of August 2011, MNCapital hosted the first-ever ESG Conference in Africa, under the banner of, "Africa ESG Integration Forum". The Forum was held at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in Sandton, South Africa. The conference was focusing on "Integrating ESG Investment Strategies in Portfolio Management An Africa Perspective," and was designed to "present an opportunity for Africa's finance and investment community to meet, share, network, and discuss ESG issues in the African context. The keynote speaker at this inaugural ESG conference in Africa, John Oliphant, then Head of Investments and Actuarial at the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) - South Africa, said, "As long-term investors and fiduciaries, institutional investors have the responsibility to ensure that we invest in a way that promote long-term sustainability."

At the time, the ESG conversations were around the capital markets circles and were not a huge concern, if any at all, for the corporate executives. The issues of climate change have become part of the agenda within the context of investors,


governments and business in Africa, however, for a very long time, until only about a few years back, it had only been generally seen as "a good thing to do" but not necessarily something that needed to top the agenda across various boardrooms. Now the conversations are rapidly changing, and the world is experiencing an inevitable ESG paradigm shift as external pressure for businesses to operate sustainably mounts.

Now the question, now that ESG has embedded itself into the investment decision processes and the corporate strategy is, can the corporate sector turn ESG into an asset? We believe that ESG is no longer just a consideration, but a business imperative, and it should play an integral part in both the corporate strategy as well as the institutional investment decision making and it being a business imperative, it should be viewed as a new way of doing business, meaning that businesses should continue making profits, and investors should continue getting healthy returns on their investments, only that this time around, there is a deliberate focus on the non-financial issues.

Commenting on the evolution of the ESG Conversations in Africa, as championed by the MNCapital Group, the General Manager of MNCapital Botswana Rre Gobopaone Gasietsiwe said, "Since 2011, the Africa ESG Forum has evolved, and will be on its 9th installment in Cape Town, following the success of our post-Covid-19 pandemic offering of the same event in Mauritius last year (2022). Due to the growing need for stakeholder engagements around the ESG issues, MNCapital Group has decided to intensify its efforts of creating such platforms for these critical conversations, and hence instead of having just one ESG conference that is open to the entire continent, we bring it down to the specific requirements of selected countries, and that is exactly how the Botswana ESG and Sustainable Forum has been born. So far, the responses we are getting from the stakeholders is proof of the importance of this critical project of healing our planet, taking care of our community members, all this while we continue to build our economy."

Why ESG Integration is Fast Becoming Mission-Critical

The year 2020 altered the course of history and ushered in what has come to be known as "the new normal"; today, governments, financial experts, businesspeople, and community members are all attempting to navigate this brave new world and make the most of it in their own unique ways.


Environmental and social responsibility issues have gained attention in the post-pandemic world, and governments and the business sector are under intense pressure to prioritise environmental protection, as well as enhancing the quality of life for those living in their immediate communities, while also achieving their financial objectives.

Why Should the Corporate Sector Integrate ESG Factors?

The corporate world is at the brink of a major turning point as corporate sustainability, championed by the ESG framework, is fast becoming a critical business imperative.

The management teams across various industries will continue to find themselves in a position where they are compelled by investors, shareholders, customers and other stakeholders to strike a balance between financial and non-financial factors, and then marry these into their companies' strategic corporate objectives. Because of this external pressure, some corporate executives might choose to dismiss the whole ESG agenda as merely an item on the list that they need to check off for the sake of appearing to be ESG compliant. This kind of approach would be amiss because the integration of ESG into the core values and principles of any business will avail value-creation opportunities.

ESG Integration into the Institutional Investor Decision-Making

The Covid-19 wave hit while the world, particularly the emerging markets were making headway with the tech-oriented fourth industrial revolution (4iR), with the talks of digitisation of most of the things that were previously done manually, like for example, introducing paperless banking technologies within banking and payments space, the rise of digital music and on-demand "television"; paperless offices, where one could sign-off a document digitally and send it back to the relevant recipients without having to print it out, physically sign it, scan it and send back via email or fax

machines. This was all done with the key benefits being, 'efficiency' and 'convenience'.

The pandemic, as it forced people to find "socially-safe" ways of going about their day-to-day businesses and activities, brought to the fore E, S and G issues, and it has since become pivotal for governments, institutional investors and the corporate sector alike, to place a special focus on the triple bottom-line (3BL), "Planet, People, and Profits".

This might sound like an easy approach to simply place as much focus and resources on environmental and social issues as you do on Return on Investment (RoI), however, due to various factors involved in the process of making ESG a key investment decision-making criterion, there is a need for continued intensive trainings and stakeholder engagements as regulations evolve.



A considerable number of people were glued to the screens when the television show Game of Thrones was streaming. One of the most favorite characters in the show was Jammie Lannister, who played the role of the hand of king. His real name is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and he seems to have changed his focus to the planet, going from epic filming to driving planet-friendly initiatives.


Nikolaj recently paid a visit to Kenya, and his destination was a start-up company named Roam. Roam is a start-up company that is at the center of manufacturing and distributing electric vehicles and motorcycles in the country and in the region. Not only does Roam engage in the manufacturing of electric vehicles, but they are also involved in the conversion of the current fossil-fuel vehicles to electric at a cost. Because of this, they have attracted attention from the government, development agencies, and television stars such as Nikolaj.

You may ask what a Game of Throne star wants with a company in the business of producing electric vehicles. It turns out that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is in the process of producing a documen-

tary series entitled, ““An Optimist’s Guide to The Planet” which will have up to six episodes. The documentary will be produced by Cream Production, and ILL productions and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau will be the host. From the title, one can tell that Nikolaj is into innovations and efforts that are geared towards making the planet safe and also reducing the effects of climate change.

“The climate crisis impacts all of us, however, what I hope this show demonstrates is that we are not doomed,” said Nikolaj. From this comment, it was clear that Nikolaj intends to highlight that there is hope for planet earth amidst the current crises that different parts of the world are experiencing due to climate change. I echo his words that climate


change is affecting everyone and each country on the planet is contending with the harsh realities of climate change ranging from droughts, floods, extreme temperatures, cyclones, pests and diseases, and other extremities that are being triggered by the continued changes in weather patterns.


Roam is at the center of greening the transportation industry by offering an alternative to the current conventional vehicles that use fossil fuels. It is for this reason that Roam is attracting attention because of its impressive innovation. If you already have a diesel or petrol vehicle and want to convert it to electric, Roam has got you covered. It has the machinery, the technology, and the expertise for converting any fossil fuel dependent vehicle into an all-electric vehicle.

One of its notable areas is the mass production of electric mo-

torcycles, which only cost about $1200. The motorcycle has the capacity of travelling up to 90 kilometers on a single full charge. The motorcycle has a compartment, where one can have two batteries, and therefore assuring the rider of 180 kilometers before you get to charge again.

Roam has attracted the attention of the public service vehicles and companies, and especially those with a plan of reducing the amount from their vehicles. A company such as Super Metro and Metro Trans have already gotten electric buses as a start for their move to electric buses. This initiative has been welcomed considering that most of these public transportation buses have been accused of emitting dangerous fumes while in the city center, contributing to air pollution.

Roam has also managed to get a tender with the government of Kenya in the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, which is the government public transportation system


that will purely use electric buses. The government of Kenya, just like any other government on the African continent and in the world is on the process of greening the transportation sector by reducing the amount of emissions from the industry. The statistics show that the transportation industry is responsible for emitting the largest share of the greenhouse gases into the environment, which is contributing to global warming, and in turn resulting in climate change.

According to the statistics from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), the transportation sector generates up to 28% of the total greenhouse emissions in the world. These emissions primarily come from the combustion of fossil fuels from vehicles, planes, and trains. As such, the efforts and initiative by a company such as Roam should be welcomed and embraced as it stands to offer solution to the huge emission of the greenhouse gases from the transportation sector.

As anticipation of the release of the documentary series by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau rises, the hope is that it will serve to sensitize policy makers and the public on the need to embrace clean transportation alternatives such as electric vehicles by and from Roam. For those that they feel the need to reduce their carbon footprint through their movement, they can consider contacting Roam to have their fossil fuel vehicle converted into a more efficient and environmentally friendly auto-mobile with zero emissions into the environment. Next time you visit a showroom to buy a car, remember there is an alternative to electric vehicles that is more efficient and would aid the campaign of reducing the emissions from the transportation sector. As much as it is the responsibility of corporations to ensure they cut down on their emissions, we also have individual responsible to consider viable alternatives that contribute to cutting down greenhouse gases and be part of fighting the effects of climate change.


Youth on a quest for environmental impact through Light On a Hill (LOAH) Kenya

Light On a Hill (LOAH) is a communitybased organisation founded by youth in September 2020. The achievement of sustainable development among communities in Meru County, Kenya, is at the heart of its mission. The mission of the organization is guided by Matthew 5:16. “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your heavenly Father.” As a result, LOAH strives to spread its light around the world by educating communities on issues that are important to today’s youth.


The organisation is under the fine leadership Eva Makandi, 2022 Global Landscapes Forum Forest Restoration Steward, a North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) EE 30 Under 30 class of 2022 and a 2023 Community Engagement Exchange Fellow.

While most scientists believe that we're currently in the middle of an enormous extinction event, in which many species (plant and animal species alike) are being lost over a short geological time scale, many young people are investing in the restoration and preservation of natural resources. The youth of today are solution-driven, carrying the belief that camaraderie rather than competition will get us far especially on issues of preserving natural resources.

Homegrown Social Impact

Makandi has dedicated her life to achieving sustainable community development and empowering commu-


nities to find long-term solutions to some of the socioeconomic challenges they face. This was her primary motivation for establishing LOAH, which came inspired by the issues she noted in her environment which she believed that if she collaborated with her peers and community, they could effectively come up with sustainable solutions.

“Over the past 10 years we observed a decline in agricultural outputs. My mother, a farmer, has occasionally complained about changes in rainfall patterns and its harsh effects on agriculture as seasons passed. This sentiment being shared by a lot of farmers in our community brings them a great deal of unease and a true sense of hopelessness,” Makandi shares.

“Additionally, I could see that other natural resources such as forests and rivers were starting to decline in my community too. I knew something had to change, and we all have our part to play.”

LOAH has since launched initiatives such as "Restore Mama Earth”, which focuses on environmental conservation and restoration with the goal of lowering the carbon footprint. They mainly drive their efforts through environmental education among children aged 5-12 years, hoping to empower and inspire a younger generation that loves, connects, and intentionally learns to conserve, protect, Envand restore

their natural environment.

LOAH has also established a green space that hosts a classroom, organic vegetable garden, a green house and tree nursery. This has been made possible through collaboration with Global Landscape Forum, Kenya Environmental Action Network and a local community school, Mama Day, that donated the land and whose pupils they directly mentor and work with.

They also organise cleanups and oversee the recycling of plastic and glass bottles to create art. LOAH also intends to have their green space as a hub for Meru County and Kenya as a whole, where children, youth and adults come and learn varied progressive means of conservation and restoring the environment.

Future-forward and Globalised

Environmental education has proven to be a very effective driver of change among their target groups and especially through behavioral change. Tree growing plays a pivotal role in restoring land, especially for farmers, and so for LOAH, growing trees that can support the wider conservation and restoration mandate of sustainable development is key to its objectives.


Under their restoration résumé they have a total count of 434 tree seedlings, mentored over 230 kids on environmental conservation and restoration, carried out 5 community clean ups and advocacy activities, had successful exchange visits to a green space of sister organization (ICT 011) located in Isiolo County and established two tree nurseries that housed 1700 tree seedlings in 2021.

In 2022, the organisation revised its programs to mainly focus on educating and mentoring children. They shifted to small scale restoration such as “kitchen gardening” which allows families to have vegetables to feed their families and recycle water they use in their homesteads. This provides real time solutions to challenges local communities face. Additionally, if it’s tree planting, LOAH are keen on growing the trees to maturity and encourage fruit tree planting as they bear future incentives for families.

Public recognition for continued impact

Makandi was recognised as one of the Global Landscapes Forum's Restoration Stewards for 2022, and she has received a grant of 5000 Euros to help her develop her restoration proj-

ects. Her goal is to continue to develop a learning space that promotes audio-visual learning, nurseries, and gardens as well as recycling points for the communities.

While she works with others in her mission, she also believes there is so much more that Africans can do in terms of being proactive about the environmental challenges in their communities. She applauds those already contributing toward the cause, especially as this is sometimes viewed as challenging work.

“I wish to see a shift in mindset, a generation, a continent and a globe that appreciates the planet, the environment and all these small and big efforts that all these practitioners are putting in to healing our planet and to making it a better place, she asserts.”

People are not the only beneficiaries of social impact, other lifeforms on Earth can thrive when businesses and organisations consciously choose sustainable ways to operate and to financially support grass root organizations such as LOAH Kenya. It is always important to make a difference in the world. When one aspect of society thrives, many other aspects of their lives thrive as well. This has the potential to result in bigger and better changes.


Alexander Akhigbe holds forte with the Africa CleanUp Initiative

Alexander Akhigbe is an environmentalist and social entrepreneur who founded the African CleanUp Initiative (ACI), a non-profit organization focused on promoting environmental sustainability and community development within the Ajegunle area and, by extension, Lagos state, Nigeria. The synergistic collaboration between the organization, the people, and the government has greatly impacted waste collection and is helping keep Lagos clean.


Akhigbe grew up in Lagos State but was born in Benin, Edo State, Nigeria in 1989. He received his bachelor’s degree in Geography and Planning from the University of Lagos in 2012 and following graduation, he worked as a Field Coordinator for the Women’s Health and Action Research Centre (WHARC), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting women’s health and rights in Nigeria. After witnessing environmental degradation, Akhigbe decided it was time he would establish the African Cleanup Initiative (ACI) and went on to do so in 2015.

Under his leadership, ACI has up to today, grown to become one of Africa’s leading environmental organizations, boasting presence in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Cameroon, Kenya, and Tanzania, as well as significant expansion potential in other African countries.

The Africa Youth Awards named Akhigbe one of the 100 Most Influential Young Africans in 2019. He was also given the Nigeria Green Award for his contributions to Nigeria’s environmental sustainability, giving credit to his commitment to promoting environmentally sustainable practices and empowering young people to act on environmental issues.

Rolling out the RecyclesPay Educational Project

The RecyclesPay Educational Project is an eco-friendly innovation by ACI that allows parents living in low-income communities to pay school fees for their children using


recyclables, also giving schools the same opportunity to use recyclable materials such as plastic bottles, cans, cartons, glass bottles, and papers, to address their financial challenges.

The innovative project was born out of the need to tackle two pressing issues simultaneously: plastic pollution and educational inequality. By incentivizing individuals to collect and exchange plastic for cash, not only is plastic waste reduced, but it also provides access to education for children in the Ajegunle community. The ACI participates in cleanup projects, public awareness campaigns, and advocacy work in local communities to further emphasize the value of recycling and environmental cleanliness.

This drive of exchanging plastic for funds to send children in vulnerable communities to school has had a significant impact on the communities where it operates. Since the launch of the RecyclesPay project in these communities, it has been adopted in over 100 schools (both private and public); 3000+ pupils have directly benefited from this program; and over 83 tons of recyclables have been recovered. This initiative is helping children stay in school, with new students also being enrolled and gain access to academic materials. Some schools have been able to use this program to maintain school infrastructure and acquire teaching materials.

Measuring effectiveness and impact

The impact of this initiative over time is measured with the aid of some monitoring tools such as questionnaires, recorded data, attendance sheets, interviews, feedback forms, and the delivery of monthly impact reports. These monitoring tools help ensure accurate numbers of children enrolled or retained in schools (both male and female), the number of participating schools and communities that have been impacted, the number of households that have been reached through sensitization and are practicing recycling, as well as the number of recyclables recovered from the environment.

Thus far, this project has been very effective because it has helped shape the culture of improper waste disposal in some communities who now believe in the value that can be gotten from waste, thus helping reduce the negative effect of plastic waste. Presently the program is being replicated in various communities, and is believed to soon illustrate further tangible benefits within the Lagos State, Anambra, as well as Enugu after its most recent launch in other states beyond Lagos.

83215.4kg of recyclable waste has been prevented from entering local seas and landfills, as well as helping communities collect waste that would have otherwise blocked drainage systems and caused flooding. This milestone is huge! Over 8,000 people in different communities (adults and children included) have adopted the culture of recycling, which is now seen as a means to reduce pollution and generate income for themselves. It has also created opportunities to talk about the work ACI is doing on big stages and its impact, as well as recycling, on social platforms, which


has helped reach over 20,000 audiences, including people from different African countries.

There are individuals who work with ACI today because they have seen the impact of their work and have gone on to donate too. In turn, they have received training while at it, some have gotten internships that have opened them to other opportunities like supporting their startups, and mentorship too.

Sustaining RecyclePay’s ambitions

This project is mostly sustained through donations, as some organizations and individuals donate their recyclables to help support schools, keep the project running, and children in school. Grants also help to scale up the program, for example, the Coca-Cola Foundation grant helped to scale the program from 10 schools in 2018/2019 to over 50 schools in 2020/2021. The government provides endorsement support for the project to run in public schools, awarding students additional access to academic materials, maintain the school infrastructure and source teaching materials as well. Simultaneously, head teachers are excited that their school benefits from the donations of well-wishers too because, as they can pay teachers and still maintain the school structure.


SPOTLIGHT ON AMBLE PANTRY: Food by the community for the community

For a sophisticated emerging market economy like South Africa, tackling one of the world’s highest Gini coefficient rates and youth unemployment numbers, supporting small local businesses and investing in internal markets is a smart economic growth strategy. Businesses like Amble Pantry make up an incredible network of companies that help reduce our carbon footprint while providing employment and making a change in the community by buying products that are from the community by the community.


Amble Pantry is a Cape Town based South African company that offers good quality, fine foods produced by local farmers. The business’s mission is to celebrate South Africa’s wonderful, hard-working farmers, beekeepers, and makers by getting their products in the pantries of people who are conscious consumers, enjoy knowing where their food comes from and love consuming locally made products.

Founder of Amble Pantry

Danette Mulder recalls some of her fondest memories growing up in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa were sitting around the table, sharing locally made food and produce was part of her daily routine. After years of travelling around the world as an adult, Danette found that no other place in the world had a rich culture of gathering, hosting, and serving food like South Africa.

She wanted to celebrate South Africa’s fertile land while focusing on the bespoke culture and heritage through good quality food. The first thing that Danette did was host events that used local products, highlighting local farmers, creating a great relationship with them, and this led to her placing large orders for her friends and family. Thus, the idea to marry wonderful local farmers, beekeepers, and makers with consumers through Amble, was born.


Amble is proud to be one of the biggest support-


ers of the local community because buying local means that a large portion of the money exchange stays within the local community. This inadvertently results in increased job opportunities, such that economists have reported that buying local encourages a sense of culture into the community.

With a small team behind Amble, every product is thoughtfully chosen and then packaged in a signature minimalist packaging that makes the products integrate into any household while giving the consumer the option to recycle and reuse.

The current range consists of extra virgin, olive oil, raw honey, Egyptian Dukkah, organic Rooibos Loose Leaf Tea, Tahini, almond butter, and apple cider vinegar. Amble believes that what sets them apart is how they are always in search of the finest quality, single batch, and single origin food products, only adding a product to their offering when it's something they have personally used and if the quality is exceptional.

From courier companies to printing houses to glass manufacturers and farmers, Amble might be small, but it is truly mighty with regards to its network and connecting with both big and small local businesses. Some of the companies Amble works with include FNB South Africa, Hot Ink Printing, The Courier Guy, Bonpak, CK Printing, Alphabet Social, Merrypak, Geskenk, Maree Louw Photography, Kalmoesfontein and Fabulous Flowers.


McKinsey reports that SMEs represent over 98% of South African businesses and employ 60% of the country’s workforce across sectors. These small and medium-sized entities make up for 25% of job growth in the private sector thus, making it essential to source from and support small businesses wherever

possible. Even though SMEs like Amble are some of the South African economic drivers, there are many adversities these ventures face and are yet to overcome. One of the challenges Amble faces is its product line being easily accessible up against competition with products easily found in big conglomerates like supermarkets.

The business is aware that when it comes to getting their products, consumers have an added layer of admin because they can’t just pick them up from their nearest supermarket. Danette says to combat the challenge of consumer access to product lines, they have decided to offer home delivery at a fraction of the cost of usual couriers and are implementing a few collection points in and around Cape Town and Stellenbosch, so it is easier to stock up on Amble favourites.

Furthermore, Amble has embarked on a new business journey into the cooperate gifting space, providing gift hampers that are filled with locally produced products as opposed to filler products that people wouldn’t normally purchase for themselves.

Future Goals for Amble

Danette and her team aspire to expand their product offerings by including an in-house herbal tea range. And when it comes to more long-term goals, Amble is hoping to expand their customer base and export their products to neighbouring countries and abroad. Amble Pantry doesn’t only aim to spread a single narrative of the importance of buying local but one of transparency and making sure that consumers know the history of the products they are consuming, what’s in their food, how it is made and where exactly it comes from.



Entrepreneurs all over the world can attest to the fact that one of the most lucrative assets one has is that of connection and community. This is why non-profit organisations like the global Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) exist and are the backbone of 17500+ leading entrepreneurs in 213 chapters and 60+ countries.

Founded in 1987, EO is a global organisation which is a peer-to-peer network where entrepreneurs learn from one other, have access to the best speakers and once in a lifetime experience relating to their growth personally, professionally and within their own families.


EO has quickly become one of South Africa’s most influential business networks with over 250 members nationwide. The South African branch of the Entrepreneurs Organisation is made up of four chapters situated in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, and Winelands. EO South Africa has been in operation since 2005, with their first and oldest chapter being in Johannesburg. Cape Town followed suite in 2011, followed by Durban in 2015 and their newest chapter now in Winelands, which was founded in 2021.

The Responsible Citizen Magazine sat down with EO Durban’s entrepreneur and Marketing & Communications Chair, Cindy Norcott.

TRC: What makes EO unique from other organisations like it?

CN: EO is unique in that it is member-led, so members take charge of running their chapters, with the help of a Chapter Manager. EO does not allow solicitation,

Cindy Norcott; EO Durban’s entrepreneur and Marketing & Communications Chair

so it is not a network group where people are always hustling and pitching their businesses. But having said that, members often end up doing business together once they have built up relationships of trust. In EO, members belong to a forum, which is essentially a board of like-minded peers, where they meet monthly and discuss issues relating to their businesses or to themselves personally in an atmosphere of confidentiality and non-judgement.

TRC: Why are organisations like EO important in South Africa and Africa as a whole?

CN: I think that organisations like EO are excellent for entrepreneurs in Africa. Through EO, members have access to a global network of entrepreneurs. There is access to the best learning opportunities and opportunities to learn from the best in any industry. It is impossible to know everything and having access to members who are all specialists in their own fields, results in members learning and growing together. Being an entrepreneur in a third world country poses so many unique challenges and it is impossible to have a handle on every single challenge. Being a part of EO creates a network of support, guidance, and like-minded people, many of whom have experienced similar problems to those you face.

TRC: Why is community important for entrepreneurs?

CN: Being an entrepreneur can be agonizingly lonely. Entrepreneurs often shoulder every burden on their own. By its very nature, entrepreneurship is lean, and most business owners are under-resourced. It is not appropriate or professional for a business owner to share their worries and concerns with their staff. They need a safe place to share ideas, concerns and to celebrate their wins too.

TRC: What advice could you give to new and old entrepreneurs

with regards to approaching the issue of loadshedding and the volatile South African economy?

CN: Companies need to consider load-shedding as a definite obstacle and not as a possible risk. Therefore, companies need to mitigate this risk by installing invertors, generators, or solar power. Wherever possible, entrepreneurs need to reduce their reliance on government run entities and use private service providers so that they are not left powerless. I also see load-shedding as a potential opportunity for entrepreneurs in the green energy industry. The South African economy, being an emerging market, is at the mercy of many global macro-economic factors. South African entrepreneurs need to be very agile and flexible in terms of their strategic and operational plans. They need to imagine a multiple number of scenarios and have plans for each of them. Cash is king and entrepreneurs need to gear their businesses in a low-risk manner, and they also need to have cash reserves in the event of another economic down-turn.

TRC: How/Why is it important to build sustainable (impacting people and planet positively) businesses in modern day?

CN: Consumers of today are far savvier than ever before. Companies that are good to their people and the planet are developing far more favourable brands than those that are exploitative in their approach. Consumers are voting with their wallets and there is a global trend towards consumers naming and shaming socially and environmentally irresponsible businesses. Social media is a free tool to shame or fame businesses. Years ago, businesses faced two diametrically opposed choices – either make a profit or be environmentally and society friendly. Now, businesses need to have profit, people, and planet as equal measures of success.


TRC: What lessons do you think entrepreneurs should learn from adversities such as the COVID-19 pandemic?

CN: I think Covid taught business so many lessons, namely –

1. Keep trimming the fat off. Every month, go through your expenses line by line and ask if these expenses are necessary. Ask “How can we reduce these costs by 10%”?”

2. Keep at least three months’ cash flow in the business.

3. Be relevant in what you are offering or else you will be redundant.

4. Customers want to know that you care about them.

5. An office is no longer necessary.

6. Because everything has gone online, it means that the world market is open to most businesses so think beyond your local markets.

TRC: What are some of the ingredients or non-negotiables when it comes to being a successful entrepreneur?

CN: I am listing them here as:

1. Resilience

2. Optimism

3. Creative problem solving

4. Self-belief

5. A can-do attitude

6. An appetite for risk

7. Knowing a little about a lot

8. Being an opportunist

9. Understanding how to give value.

10. Drive and determination

TRC: What are some of the biggest misconceptions within entrepreneurship?

CN: I used to believe in a quote, “Entrepreneurship is spending a few years of your life like nobody won’t so that you can spend the rest of your life like nobody can’t.” I no longer believe this. The entrepreneurship journey is long and hard, and it is not linear. Just because your business is going well today does not mean it is going to go well in the future. It takes years to create a great business and there is no short-cut to a sustainable, successful business. I also believe that you cannot go into a business just because it is lucrative. One needs to also believe in the business and be excited about it and add extra value to consumers.


Project Mabu: Partnering To Celebrate New Life

Starting and maintaining a family in an economy where the cost of living is constantly being stretched to its limits is no easy feat. With the rapid increase in the rate of unemployment, post-pandemic salary cuts and a vast array of societal challenges affecting vulnerable groups such as women and children, what used to be viewed as a blessing now carries with it a sense of burden for some.


In 2021, the South African High Commissioner to The Republic of Botswana, Her Excellency Thapinga Shope-Soumah identified the growing need for the culture of celebrating new life to make its return to those starting and growing their families here in Botswana. It was then she launched an initiative called Project MABU which, in collaboration with Botswana’s Ministry of Health, brings together equally vested partners to help create a positive experience for families welcoming the first babies of the year in the 18 districts under the District Health Management Teams (DHMT).

At the start of Project Mabu, the High Commissioner and Ministry of Health had managed to engage various sponsors who rallied together to make a positive contribution to 18 families by way of donating hampers filled with items for both the new babies and their mothers. The likes of CA Sales, Bokomo Botswana, Clover, MultiChoice Botswana, Choppies and Woolworths, have all committed to come together to ensure that Project Mabu recipients are able to attach at least one positive memory to the addition of new life into their families.

Speaking at a recent press conference announcing the third installment of Project Mabu, Her Excellency Thapinga Shope-Soumah had this to say about the importance of partnerships in Corporate Social Responsibility:

“Through Project MABU, the collaboration between the Ministry of Health, all our sponsors and the South African High Commission, we aim to add to the great joy of those families, whose little ones are the FIRST to come into the world at the dawn of each New Year. These are families for whom we know, every little contribution will make a great difference to their lives.”

While our project is focused on the ‘first babies to be born per district in every new year’, we intend to also use it, to bring our

attention to the urgent areas of need in our communities.”

Her Excellency Shope-Soumah went on to celebrate the onboarding of new sponsors for the 2023 installment of Project Mabu, “We are very grateful for the support we get from the Ministry of Health, and for all the contributions that we receive from our sponsors. Together we will make a difference.”

Raising awareness of the challenges faced by mothers

With most mothers of the Project Mabu babies being minors, unemployed and in vulnerable living conditions, the initiative has exposed large corporations to the growing threat of poverty within Botswana’s communities. This exposure has led to many of the participating sponsors identifying an extended need for donations which has led to additional support being given.

SA High Commission’s Project Mabu initiative has aptly displayed the power in strategic partnerships when executing impactful Corporate Social Responsibility projects. With Corporate Social Responsibility often being a tick-box exercise for organizations who long to be seen to be doing outstanding work for individuals in need, it is rare to see large entities putting the ultimate purpose of their exercise before their need for recognition.

Through the existing sponsors on-board, Project Mabu has been able to make more of an impact each year than they would have alone. Organizations such as Woolworths Botswana have increased their annual donation in-kind since the beginning of the initiative, whilst new sponsors have joined the collaborative effort after seeing the level of impact it has had on changing lives.

The SA High Commission, Ministry of Health and its Project Mabu sponsors are currently in the planning stage for their annual hamper handover which is set to take place towards the end of winter 2023. This year the project will provide relief in kind to 20 babies across Botswana.


The HappyFarm Journey: Promoting and Facilitating Sustainable Farming Techniques in Gambia

Carbon markets for agriculture have expanded significantly over the years, providing farmers with more opportunities than ever before. Low carbon farming employs practices that are not only good for the soil and bring new income to the farm but are also good for the climate and all inhabitants of the planet.

Crop cultivation generates a lot of emissions, which are caused by practices like using chemical inputs or deep tillage. Agriculture is estimated to be responsible for 10-24% of global carbon emissions. While it may appear to be a large task, feeding the world is a huge responsibility.

However, there is always room for improvement, particularly when it comes to solutions that benefit farm income and the environment. This is where carbon farming and HappyFarm come into play. HappyFarm has a sole mission to regenerate degraded land for a climate-resilient future. The organisation does this by teaching smallholder farmers sustainable farming techniques that will link them to carbon finance. Leading our conversation around Happy Farm’s revolutionary and noble work is Fatoumata Njie.

Fatoumata is the Marketing Manager and Co-Founder of HappyFarm. She is currently under a Development and Environmental studies programme. Fatoumata has received several accolades and recognitions such as Young Entrepreneur of the year award 2021, issued by


Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), as well as Best Female Exhibitor at the 17th OIC Trade Fair in Dakar, issued by Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

TRC: Briefly tell us about HappyFarm – from your point of view, being core lead in the Gambia (both as Marketing Manager and Co-founder)

FN: HappyFarm is an eLearning app to teach smallholder farmers sustainable farming techniques and to connect them to carbon finance. The techniques we promote and facilitate help farmers restore degraded soils at scale, increase their crop yields, improve biodiversity, and provide local economic opportunities so that the young generation has a viable alternative to moving into bigger cities or leaving their home countries, which has been a big challenge in the past, especially in The Gambia. At the same time, global companies can use HappyFarm to offset their CO2 emissions.

HappyFarm pursues a bottom-up philosophy. We aim to spread these techniques from farmer to farmer and with the help of community ambassadors who can earn a substantial income from HappyFarm. We aim to do this at a fraction of the cost of traditional (e.g., centrally managed) projects.

The first method we promote and facilitate is Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). With FMNR, farmers regrow existing shrubs and tree stumps in their farmland into trees and then in-

tegrate these trees with crops. Many trees are nitrogen-fixing, e.g., they make the soil around them very fertile, which benefits crop yields around them. However, they also improve the hydrology of the farm and reduce the effects of droughts, erosion, and wind. On a regional level, more trees can even increase annual rainfall.

TRC: What are the organisation's core mission and values, and how do these help drive the work on the ground?

FN: Our mission is to promote and facilitate sustainable farming techniques. HappyFarm is committed to environmental and biodiversity improvements towards a sustainable future that strengthens the livelihoods of farming communities.

Our core values are Transparency, Commitment, Inclusiveness, and a Bottom-Up approach.

Transparency helps us build trust in an environment where it is rare, and people are used to being exploited. In our app, every participant can see how much money the others are supposed to receive, and which ambassador is carrying the money for them. This total transparency strengthens the integrity of our system.

Commitment helps us signal to the farmers that we mean it. We initially pay farmers a small sign-up bonus to demonstrate our seriousness, and we commit to them over several years. But we do not make unrealistic promises to please them in the short term.

Inclusiveness helps us reach as many farmers as possible. In


The Gambia, the learning videos in the app are shown in four different local languages (Wolof, Fula, Mandinka, Soninke). Bottom-Up means that a single community can use our app alone and that it can spread from farmer to farmer. Traditional projects often reach their financial and organizational limits when extending to a few thousand hectares. HappyFarm is designed to start small but to grow exponentially.

TRC: Please detail the pilot currently running in the Gambia, techniques, models, research, and results recorded so far.

FN: In May 2022, we started paying money to farmers if they introduced FMNR on their farmland. The average size per farm is roughly one hectare, and farmers are required to regrow 40 shrubs per hectare. Forty shrubs per hectare are the recommended number for FMNR in farmlands. As of this date, 124 farmers are in our pilot.

In the first villages, we offered farmers a high price to start FMNR. Farmers received a much lower price in the last villages but were equally excited to sign up. We learned that

even little money motivates farmers to start something. The challenge is to keep them engaged over the years until they see first-hand the benefits of the interventions in their farms so that they maintain the techniques even if the money stops. In the next phase of our pilot, we will evaluate different approaches to stimulate constant engagement among the farmers.

Ultimately, we will introduce other sustainable techniques to the farmers, such as no-tillage, mulching, planting pits, and composting. All techniques we promote and facilitate must benefit each other, make applying each other easier, and work without little to no external physical inputs, as this is where a digital platform like HappyFarm can have the most significant impact.

We have decided to run our pilot in The Gambia because of its small size. The Gambia is not a member of big land restoration initiatives like AFR100. Many development agencies and international foundations also overlook it, and hardly any multinational company is operating. These are ideal conditions for HappyFarm to build its product and optimize it before we expand to larger markets.

TRC: Why does HappyFarm believe engaging in sustainable practices is beneficial for both farmers and the African region? FN: Engaging farmers in sustainable practices help them reduce their cost of production by using less chemical fertilizer while restoring their soil health, increasing their yields, and thus improving their livelihoods.

Specifically, the FMNR method of integrating crops and trees in a farm also improves the situation of women and children, as they usually have to search for firewood far away from their houses and, therefore, cannot attend school or perform their economic activities.

HappyFarm also provides income opportunities to ambassadors and, in the future, other local partners, such as tree nurseries, who will supply the HappyFarm program, thereby contributing to the economic development of rural Africa.

TRC: Any important statistics to highlight that are specific to the Gambia?


FN: Coastal erosion, depletion of the natural resource base, loss of soil fertility, deforestation, and rapid population growth are among the most significant environmental concerns of The Gambia, besides the toll that global warming is taking everywhere.

TRC: How do you ensure innovation to meet the demands of a fast-changing world? Speak to technologies currently being used and any future ones on cue.

FN: HappyFarm is very data driven. In our product development, we run as many A/B tests as possible and put much effort into user research. This means we often try different models in different villages and see what engages the farmers most, so we can make informed decisions on which features are worth spending money on and which are not.

As for the current and future technologies being used to stay innovative, there are several to consider; for example, AI will be helpful to analyse the verification pictures farmers are sending us. AI, through pattern recognition, can tell farmers the species of a specific tree type, whether it is good for their farm, and which crops it can integrate with. Currently, our ambassadors are performing this task, but HappyFarm intends to automate this part through AI in the future.

GPS data can verify a tree's location and ensure it's at the place the farmer tells us.

Remote monitoring of activities and impact for data collection via satellite and drones will assist us to streamline our approach in the not-too-distant future.

TRC: How does HappyFarm Gambia relate to the Global HappyFarm organization?

FN: HappyFarm Global Ltd (in London, UK) owns HappyFarm Senegambia Ltd (Gambia operation). HappyFarm Global manages our global client relationships and operates the HappyFarm technology.

HappyFarm Senegambia provides training and support to ambassadors and farmers in the region and makes sure that all legal requirements are met. It is also used to channel the funds from our global clients to the communities and to engage with local partners, such as mobile money and telecommunication services providers.

Beyond that, HappyFarm Global always tries to work with suppliers in The Gambia if they meet our quality criteria. For example, our corporate identity and eLearning videos are produced on the ground in The Gambia. Addi-


tionally, our curriculum is being developed in The Gambia. Our philosophy is "farmer first," We think local partners best understand farmers, and we would like to contribute to creating a digital ecosystem in The Gambia.

TRC: How will the work of HappyFarm Gambia impact the Gambian economy in the next few years?

FN: Using (FMNR) as our first technique, we intend to regenerate at least 25% of the total arable land over the next 10 years, so it can be under sustainable crop production. Historical evidence from other regions that have adopted FMNR practices has shown that crop yields can be at least doubled; with 110,000 hectares of arable land under sustainable cultivation, this would add an extra minimum of 100,000 tons to the farming output, generating higher revenues for farmers, which can help to boost the agricultural sector of The Gambia and contribute to its economic growth.

Sustainable farming practices can also help reduce production costs for farmers by reducing the need for expensive fertilizers, pesticides, and other inputs, increasing profitability, and improving farmers' competitiveness in domestic and international markets.

As more labour is necessary for tasks such as crop rotation, composting, and other sustainable practices, new (better paid) employment opportunities would be created in rural areas, helping to reduce the rural-urban drift of the youth, reducing the vast unemployment rates in the urban settlements along the coast and providing motivation for youth to stop the risky "adventure" of using the "back-way" to seek greener pastures abroad.

TRC: Future plans for HappyFarm to expand this initiative to other markets?

TN: HappyFarm Global intends to expand its operations across the sub-region and further afield, working with international clients

with a need to offset some of their carbon footprints on one side and with local partners to help us implement our system on the ground on the other side.

Our current curriculum offers the highest value in semi-arid areas. Senegal, Ethiopia, northern parts of Ghana and Nigeria, and the Sahel Zone are suitable matches for HappyFarm. Our vision is that HappyFarm will play a vital role in advancing the Great Green Wall. However, for now, we are focusing on our pilot in The Gambia.

Places closer to the tropics are also interesting, but our engagement there would involve more tree planting and less FMNR as trees grow much better there.


Africa's Path to Sustainability: Harnessing Carbon Markets to Empower Communities and African Society

Africa is still considered the host of developing and least developed countries in the world, with most still grappling with the issues of poverty and hunger, and climate change, which need urgent attention. From an economic perspective, scholars have indicated that Africa’s biggest potential lies in its natural resources, with a prime example being its land, and how the continent’s population depends on it for farming. However, apart from growing and selling agricultural produce, millions of smallholders farmers in Africa can benefit from billions in the larger carbon credit market.

Are you aware that the current worth of carbon market in the world stands at $176 billion?

According to the Deputy Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for African Office, Dr. Richard Munang, African only receives 5.5% of global financing. There is a great need for scientists, agroecologists, environmentalists, and agriculturalists to position African countries and especially smallholder farmers to benefit from the carbon financing and carbon credits in the world. Carbon financing dominates most of the Conference of Parties (COPs) discussions every year. However, there is no discussion of strategies on how developing and least developed countries can be positioned to tap into the billion-dollar worth of carbon credit markets.

On close analysis, it is evident that internal mechanisms that the individual African countries are using or have adopted to achieve food security and economic development in relation to developed nations, are not working despite being in 21st Century. The overwhelming dependence on food relief organizations and agencies such as the World Food Programme and the United States AID (USAID) is a clear indication that African countries are yet to resolve the food security crisis issue on their own. Yet it could be argued that Africa holds the majority of subsistence and commercial farmers, with the entire continent and global markets benefitting from exported produce.

The world, and African states included are currently facing the challenges of climate change. In a country such as Kenya, agri-

culture and farming contributes to about 70% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This means that in an African country like Kenya with up to 50 million citizens, 70% of this population are critically dependent on farming and agriculture for livelihood. However, most African countries are involved in the production and export of agricultural raw products, produce, and materials, which fetch low value in the larger global market. Comparatively, countries in developed regions such as Europe produce electronics and digital gadgets that are critical to the current globalization process.

Dissecting how carbon credits works

You may ask what carbon credits are and how they can empower small holder farmers in an African society. Carbon credits generated by a project are sold on the international carbon market to the entities whose operations results in generation of considerable emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHGs), and especially carbon. Most companies contributing to considerable revenues in western countries generate significant amounts of GHGs. These entities are required to show their commitment to sustainability, and one of the most feasible approaches is purchasing carbon credits to allow them to continue emitting GHGs as they work on greening their operations.

Revenue generated from the sale of these credits is then channeled back to the individuals and beneficiaries, including participating smallholder farmers. In some African countries,


this may involve community-based organizations (CBOs), in agroforestry, where they farm indigenous forests as a way of protecting them from illegal logging. This creates an additional income stream for the farmers, allowing them to improve their livelihoods, re-invest in their farms, and adapt to climate change.

Some of the organizations in Kenya have already positioned themselves to empower farmers and take advantage of the carbon markets. One of such organizations includes Kenya Tea Development Agency. Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) is a cooperative organization that bring together over 650,000 smallholder tea farmers in Kenya. KTDA alongside thousands of smallholder farmers are on the process of implementing a carbon credit project called the Tea Industry Climate Resilience Project. The project entails the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices and reducing emissions and supporting these farmers overcome the impacts of climate change. Through this project, KTDA generates carbon credits that are sold on the international carbon market, providing additional income for smallholder farmers.

Feasibility in an African context

Farmers across Africa are now benefitting from carbon markets through carbon credit earnings. In 2014, through the technical support from the World Bank, up to 64,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya benefitted from carbon credit, which was first of its kind in Africa (World Bank, 2014). These smallholder farmers owned a total acreage of up to 45,000 hectares and were guided on how to adopt sustainable agricultural practices (SAPs) that facilitated the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere and back into the soil. In the course of their farming and adoption of these sustainable agricultural land management (SALM) practices, these farmers managed to sequestrate up to 184,788 metric tons of carbon (IV) oxide, which equates to what approximately 5,164 vehicles emit every year whenever they move on the road (World Bank, 2014). It is worth noting that these carbon credits that these farmers were estimated to be worth about 600, 000 $ by the 2017.

Smallholder farmers across Africa can benefit from increased income and improved livelihoods through participation in carbon projects as demonstrated above. However, they need technical support from scientists and agro-ecologists, as well as access to climate related-funds which would enable these farmers to invest in productivity-enhancing technologies, diversify their income sources, and adapt to climate change impacts.

Further, carbon credits and related financing can promote gender equality and women empowerment by ensuring women's participation and empowerment in climate-resilient agriculture. Women play a crucial role in African agriculture as they are the biggest percentage of the farming workforce, and their inclusion in carbon projects can result in an improved decision-making, income distribution, and community empowerment. It is time to channel our knowledge and technical expertise in

agroecology, ensuring that we have smallholder farmers that are empowered and informed on how to be part of the fight against climate change and contribute to sustainable development by harnessing the potential of global carbon markets. Corporations in African can act as agents to this realization by adopting corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies that would empower smallholder farmers and also the organizations themselves. What most of these farmers need is technical support, training, sensitization, and guidance on how to adopt sustainable agricultural practices in their farms, which would serve to combat climate change and empower the communities through carbon credits.




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