Friend Africa Launches Social Shopping Portal to Fund Self-Sustainable Anti-Poverty Programs in rural Africa

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Shoppers Invited to Buy Online and Portion of referral commission funds carefully selected family/community projects that enable Rural Africa’s weakest to work their own way out of poverty.

Friend Africa, a certified member of Social Enterprise UK and a successful business originating from the Petchey Innovation Centre in East London, launched today as a new social shopping portal.

The social enterprise is using the purchase of goods and services from the world’s biggest and most trusted online shopping outlets such as Amazon, Argos,Groupon Global, Living Social, O2 and others to raise funds to support anti-poverty programs in rural Africa. Friend Africa is working with established non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to finance self-sustainability programs for Africa’s weakest and most underprivileged people.

“The African diaspora remits money to the homeland whenever they can, but cannot influence how those funds are spent. Friend Africa is our answer to help finance anti-poverty sustainability programs, and have a say on how the funds are used” said Ponciano Govere, founder of Friend Africa. “People can shop online from our portal and a portion of the referral commission goes directly to fund selected projects. The entire experience is seamless and simple. We work with organisations already on the ground in Africa to identify and administer our programs”.

Discounted goods and services are provided by merchandisers and featured on the Friend Africa website. When shoppers select items to buy, the purchase is made on the merchandisers’ respective sites. 80% of the profit made from the referral commission picked up from every purchase from this portal is channelled directly towards funding family/community projects that enable Africa’s rural weakest to work their own way out of poverty.

‘What is particularly interesting in this model, is it provides unprecedented power to everybody and especially the middle class diaspora to support development in rural Africa at no extra cost to themselves. Services on offer include Flight and Holiday booking Engines, Sending money online and daily deals that enable users to do something good as they get on with life’ said the Coordinator at Friend Africa Jadres Rukina.

To access the social shopping portal, visit http://www.friendafrica.com.

Fact Sheet
What: Friend Africa is located at the Petchey Innovation Centre in East London, United Kingdom. As a social enterprise and certified member of Social Enterprise UK, it aims to enable the weakest in rural Africa to work their own way out of poverty. Its effort together with trusted local organizations contributes to anti-poverty efforts in Africa one social buy at a time.

Friend Africa is a social organization founded by people who largely identify Africa as their homeland. Others have families and friends in Africa and make the effort to remain in touch with their roots. Collectively, their voices can be heard speaking ‘for’ and ‘from’ the weakest and most under-privileged in rural Africa.

Our mission is to fund anti-poverty projects by the use of year-round funds generated by our social-shopping portal. We provide funding for small family farming and community food growing projects in rural Africa for sustainable change. Friend Africa is guided by its passionate belief that the poor must be able to grow their own food.

Why: Though the African diaspora provides funding in the form of remittances, they cannot influence use of this funding. People are in agreement that there is a need for funding and capital that is used differently from traditional methods.

Africa is a resource-rich continent. Its resources include an estimated 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land giving it a comparative advantage in global trade. Africa generally lacks the required initial capital investment to exploit its crude land resources for the underprivileged. Approximately 70 percent of Africans and about 80 percent of the continent’s poor live in rural areas and depend mainly on agriculture for their livelihood.

Modernizing agriculture in Africa has the best chance of unlocking Africa’s potential. Increases in food yield per hectare can only be realized through increased funding/modernization of agriculture. Friend Africa is working towards raising needed funds seamlessly through the power of consumption to enable the rural poor to work their own way out of poverty by providing seed capital. Rather than taking donations to raise funds, we do business and turn over profits to achieve our aim.

We are hugely inspired by the following projects in Africa, that aim primarily to enable Africa’s rural weakest to become actors in changing their own situations around.

One example of a project started by OXFAM in Zambia entailed buying a cow for the target beneficiary. When the cow produces a female calf, the family continues to own the calf, benefiting from the milk until the calf is weaned. Once weaned, that calf is passed on to the next beneficiary while the remaining calves to be born will remain the property of the first beneficiary. That way the benefits continue to grow and spread through the community, strengthening kinship ties within the community of beneficiaries.

Another example on a large scale, is Infrastructural Consortium for Africa (InfraCo)’s irrigation projects in sub-Saharan Africa in which land from small-scale farming families is leased to grow food for export to the developed countries and local consumption.

Infraco has developed irrigation capacities that have seen considerable positive changes to the livelihoods of the small scale farming families involved. These projects clearly show that when land is treated as capital, with the rural poor participating as owners and equal partners in a build, operate and transfer agricultural model, rural communities can be maintained and enhanced.

Capital can combine with local land resources to improve productivity by the introduction of technology such as irrigation infrastructure leading to an increased and sustained income per capita beyond subsistence levels with strong potential to lift the rural poor out of poverty.

How It Works: Friend Africa is affiliated with Amazon, Groupon Goods Global, Living Social, O2,Mothercare, among others. Users can send money using Western Union, World Remit and others and also book flights and holidays on a selection of booking engines. It offers access to 5+ million discounted products from more than 1,000 reputable merchants. All products can be shared among friends and family and tracked to Friend Africa. The more these are shared, the more lives can be turned around among Africa’s rural weakest.

Friend Africa is not a fulfilment centre; it does not ship goods to registered users.

Friend Africa receives a referral commission from purchased goods, invisible to buyers. It earmarks 80 percent of collected funds directly towards funding programs and projects in partnership with local Africa aid organizations already on the ground.

It depends on trusted and hand-picked local organizations to administer funds that help with capital for food growth.

Who We Work With: The next big thing in fundraising is the social enterprise. While you experience daily life without skipping a beat, where you shop becomes all the more critical for social enterprises like Friend Africa. When you click “buy” from our shopping portal, your purchase contributes directly towards funding family and community projects that enable Africa’s weakest to work their own way out of poverty at no extra cost to yourself.

Our funds come from and go to: Everyone. You, your family, your neighbor, your workmate, or boss can all help contribute to our mission. We need each of you to help gain traction with a purchase so our referral commission from reputable merchants can make a difference among the rural poor in Africa.

The African Diaspora. Worldwide estimates show there are millions of Africans living outside the continent with 40 million living in the United States alone. The Friend Africa project is about the undying/unbreakable links between Africa and her diaspora/friends. Friend Africa depends on that unbroken bond of the African Diaspora to the homeland.

Reputable Organizations. We rely on established organizations to be our eyes and ears to administer local programs. We recognize that Friend Africa cannot be everywhere, and that’s why it’s so important for us to work with trusted partners already on the ground in Africa. We need organizations on the ground to help us identify viable projects for the poor to lift themselves out of poverty.
Founding Friend Africa

Ponciano Govere is the Director and Founder of Friend Africa. He is from Zimbabwe, and he has lived in London for approximately 10 years. Since being awarded a Going Global Bursary at the University of East London to fund his research to assess the impact of land deals on livelihoods of the rural poor in Zambia, he has not looked back. His study clearly showed that when land is treated as capital, with the rural poor participating as owners and equal partners in build operate and transfer community projects, rural communities can be maintained and enhanced. This coupled with his research on Belonging in the Diaspora turned his thoughts strongly towards the homeland.

His work encompasses a vision to use technology to seamlessly provide funding for anti-poverty programs in rural Africa particularly to enable beneficiaries to participate in changing their own situations around. Friend Africa is a product of intense interactions with individuals/organizations who are passionate about the fight against poverty.

As a start-up incubated at the Petchey Centre for Innovation in East London, Friend Africa benefits from exceptional business facilities, advice, training and access to industrial networks offered by the centre.

Being a member of Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) has seen the organisation grow from strength to strength inspired by a team of professionals while accessing great opportunities to network with other social enterprises committed to changing our world through business. Friend Africa has participated in SEUK events at parliament which has kept us in touch with and able to contribute to the debates surrounding the future of social enterprising and the fight against poverty not only in the UK but globally where we are set to expand in the near future.

While actively participating in campaigns against extreme poverty with the Comic Relief Common Ground Initiative, ONECampaign UK, Business Fights Poverty, Action 2015,VSO UK among many others, Friend Africa adds another dimension to giving and development finance. We provide an interface that makes it possible for all to contribute to the fight against poverty in rural Africa seamlessly as users enjoy discounted products as they get on with life.

The Friend Africa team consists mainly of former students of the University of East London, who share the vision of harnessing technology to seamlessly finance anti-poverty programs in rural Africa and enable Africa’s rural weakest to lift themselves out of poverty.

Meet the Team
Ponciano Govere Director
Jadress Ferreira Coordinator
The African Diaspora worldwide is a critical segment of Friend Africa. The African diaspora has been around for a while playing a critical role in shifting paradigms. The history of the African diaspora includes activism to end the slave trade approximately 200 years ago and more recently, active participation in ending colonialism. It follows then that in the new millennium, Africa’s diaspora has a critical role in fighting poverty (which is inextricably linked to this history) on the continent.

In the fight against poverty, Friend Africa and Africa’s many friends will be guided by the keen understanding that they are global citizens with something to offer. Africa’s diaspora share the glory and agony of the African people. There are shared concerns that some advertisements with well-intended purposes sometimes show children/adults (the poor) in Africa in ways that may appear/seem knowingly/unknowingly as devaluing the intended beneficiaries.

Research shows uneasiness and discomfort when such advertising is used in fundraising, followed by a collusion with this discomfort by many in attempts to be in harmony with the society they live in. Friend Africa makes no attempt to romanticize extreme poverty. Because of the emotional discord between inadvertent devaluation of the intended grateful beneficiaries and the well- intended purposes, we seek to encourage the use of more friendly terminology as demonstrated on our platform.

Friend Africa will participate in changing the narrative on Africa to a positive future noting the progress made so far and acknowledging more could be done. We encourage Africa’s youth in the diaspora to come together and help us change Africa’s narrative to a positive future. Friend Africa’s youth and friends engagement involves the volunteering of the youth to travel to Africa and spending some time working on our funded projects with the guidance of our partnering NGOs on the ground. Returning youths will contribute to our Game Changing Projects blog.

Contact:
Ponciano Govere
friendafrica4u(at)gmail(dot)com

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ponciano Govere
@friendafrica
since: 09/2014
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