BOOKBRIDGE goes South Africa

Dorah in Kekirawa, Sri Lanka

Are we really going to South Africa? This news might be a big surprise to many of our bridgebuilders. In reality, it is a new great way to transfer the business and leadership skills learnt in our Capability Program into your own social enterprise. Following their participation in our program, Christina and Dorah from Seed Community decided to open up Green Business College as a social enterprise in Johannisburg, South Africa. We keep fingers crossed for the big opening on August 6.

It all started with a phone call in January 2016. Christina, Founder of Seed Community, contacted us and told us with great passion about the activities of her NGO in South Africa. In her conversation with Carsten, she painted the dream of a training center for the local community to foster entrepreneurial thinking and acting. And she showed interest in our learning center model and the Capability Program as a way to acquire the skillset needed to setup and operate a training center as a social enterprise.

A few weeks later, Carsten met with Willy Mummenthaler from Fondation ManPower in Switzerland. Willy was looking for an opportunity to support BOOKBRIDGE in expanding its impact. After hearing about Christina‘s dream, Willy decided to partially sponsor a participation of Christina and her South African colleague Dorah in BOOKBRIDGE‘s program with the University of Basel, the CAS in Global Social Entrepreneurship.

Dorah, Christina and Carsten on Zoom

Christina and Dorah participated in our program and learnt by setting up a new learning center in Kekirawa, Sri Lanka. Throughout the program, they were accompanied by Carsten to apply our approach to her situation. “The regular calls and milestones helped us a lot in making progress”, recalls Christina the whole program. Encouraged by the progress made with their team on the learning center in Sri Lanka, they worked in parallel on the business plan and pitch for her own venture in South Africa.

In this process, Christina and Dorah were guided by their vision of a place where people learn to sustain themselves financially by developing green business products, ideas and skills. Their aim is to recruit, train and develop aspiring ‘green entrepreneurs’. They would like to do this by engaging the under-employed members of the community to learn new ‘green skills’, which will assist them to set up a sustainable, environmentally-friendly small business.

Dorah atthe cooking station

All students of the Green Business College will receive practical training of a ‘green skill’, training on how to turn their skill into a business and finally direct access to sales channels where they will be able to sell their products. Ultimately, they will know how to use these green skills to create products and services to generate a sustainable income for themselves and their families.

The kinds of skills they will include in their training portfolio:

  • Green Business Skills: Entrepreneurship training – how to ‘give yourself a job.
  • Making Hot Bags: making and selling energy saving cooking bags using African fabrics
  • Keeping Bees for Business: the skills and tools required to be a bee-keeper)
  • Learning Vermiculture (keeping a worm farm to produce compost to sell and use)
  • Learning Permaculture (how to grow your own food and herbs to sell)
  • Herb and Food Processing (processing food and making green cosmetics and preserved food for sale)
  • Building a Bio-digester (building bio-digesters for individuals or communities; use waste to generate cooking and heating gas)
  • Making Solar Ovens (how to build an oven that cooks with the energy of the sun)
  • Recycled/Up-cycled Jewellery-making (making jewellery from trash)

Besides the skills and support by Carsten, Christina and Dorah also found new allies among our Family of Bridgebuilders. To the big surprise by all of us, HILTI Foundation – one of BOOKBRIDGE‘s main investors in learning centers – decided to invest EUR 10,000 as a soft loan into the Green Business College.

The Green Business College opens its doors on August 6, 2017. We keep the fingers crossed for the vision of Christina and Dorah. They are eager to get started and we are looking forward to building bridges with them to South Africa.

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One thought on “BOOKBRIDGE goes South Africa

  • Viola says:

    What a great story and what a nice example of how the ‘Bookbridge spirit’ grows into new dimensions.
    I wish Christina and Dorah all the best and lots of success for their Green Business College.

    Kind regards from Switzerland!

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