JENA learning best practices from Miller Center : Accelerating entrepreneurship to end poverty and protect environment through business plans.

Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network in Africa and Madagascar (JENA) held its maiden social entrepreneur workshop at Center Cristus in Rwanda Kigali from the 26th to 30th November 2018. The workshop was conducted by Miller Center for Social entrepreneurship from the United States (US) and the director of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network in Africa.

Present in the workshop were more than 15 directors from the Jesuit Social Centers and the lay the Jesuit collaborators in Africa.
In introducing the workshop, Fr Charles Chilufya SJ (Director and Coordinator of the JCAM Social Ministries) helped the participants to understand where the network was in the social ministry sector. He emphasized on one reason as to why the Jesuits involve themselves  in social apostolate is to reduce poverty levels and empower the people that they served. This should also help them move away from the donor dependency syndrome and embrace social innovation with aim of creating sustainable jobs.
Social centers were encouraged to change the way that they have been working, and  adopt business models, have new visions, learn from other sectors. But most important help their communities to be innovative and engage in sustainable projects. “The communities should be helped to understand they have a responsibility too in fighting poverty,” said Fr Charles.
Fr Keith Douglass Warner OFM from Miller Center for social entrepreneurship shared this to the participants “With donor funding declining rapidly, we need to be more deliberate in figuring out how the communities that we serve will sustain themselves in future”. He further emphasized to the directors that there was need to transition from the stubborn behavioral trait of expecting handouts to becoming innovative in using already existing resources to create self-sustaining businesses. This is because no one wants to fund organizations forever, in fact most donors fund impact. This was the gist of the workshop that the participants were taken through by miller center model for social entrepreneurship.
The miller Center link Silicon Valley idea to catholic social centres and its mission is to help the centres understand themselves as non-profit accelerators. Miller center works in the following ways: Accelerate entrepreneurship to end poverty and protect environment through business plans. Promotes the vision of laudato Si for humanity and integrity and finally works with social enterprises and assess how their activities or interventions align their goals to Sustainable Development Goals SDGs.
The social centers were encouraged to adopt PIVOT Africa model that reimage African development with social entrepreneurship. The pivot Africa model offers works in the following manner scalability approach- replication of programs in other areas, forming transformative entrepreneurial leaders and Leveraging the network into a high performance with best practices in programming.
Apart from that participants were led to vision where they want the network to be in the five years. All the participants reported that they wanted to see independent social centers in Africa that make use of resources, lead young people to be innovative, employ its people and discourage Africa people from migrating to Europe with the aim of  looking for greener pasture. This is because social entrepreneurship is driven by the spirit of helping people that it serves. This is what Miller center hope to see the Jesuit social centres in Africa adopts.

Article by Elizabeth

JENA Communications officer