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KU students support social entrepreneurs from Kenya

Students of the KU Ingolstadt School Management (WFI) currently have a two-semester collaboration with five start-up companies from Kenya whose aim is to improve the quality of life in their home country. They mainly focus on the agricultural and healthcare sector. The group of students studies in the Master’s program “Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation” led by Prof. Dr. André Habisch (Professorship of Christian Social Ethics and Social Policy).

Students from the WFI module “Social Innovation” collaborate with five Kenyan start-up companies. (Photo: Schulte Strathaus)

Students from the WFI module “Social Innovation” collaborate with five Kenyan start-up companies. (Photo: Schulte Strathaus)

“The Bayer Foundations, through which contact with these companies was established, supports social impact pioneers financially, but also by offering mentoring and coaching programs and providing access to relevant networks in order to equip them with the necessary business expertise for their projects. An important component of this support is the collaboration with our KU students”, says Habisch. They get involved and contribute their expertise and creativity and, in turn, get the opportunity to apply what they have learned in practice: “They get first-hand experience on what it feels like to take over social responsibility as an entrepreneur and to fight ‘causes of migration and flight’”, explains Habisch.

A two-day kick-off workshop held at the FC Ingolstadt stadium prepared the students, who had the chance to exchange views with the Ingolstadt-based business consulting firm Achzig20, to critically question the business models of the social impact start-ups and to improve them by finding creative solutions. In addition, they met their project partners and learned about their business concepts.

The platform “M-shamba”, for example, has the aim of supporting smallholder farmers in expanding their business by not only selling their products to locals but also exporting them. Until now, many intermediaries are involved in the supply chain, who only pay the farmers very low prices for their products and then resell them at a premium. M-shamba approaches individual farmers with the help of cooperatives and NGOs to invite them to become part of the network in which such intermediate trade is eliminated so that the farmers can achieve a higher income. To this end, network partners need to learn the required technical skills so that they can publish their offer via the online platform. Over the upcoming weeks, students plan to investigate the farmers’ needs in connection with the perspective of being able to export their products.

Along with “M-shamba”, two other start-up companies from Kenya are also active in the agricultural sector. They work with online platforms to combat food waste or to find investors who can offer the farmers a broader business base. In addition, there are two start-ups firms working in the healthcare sector with the aim of providing financial support for people who are not insured in a national health insurance scheme to give them access to medical care or to ensure a cheap supply with sanitary towels in slum areas.