Looking to boost economic opportunities for smallholder farmers in Uganda, Robert Okodia launched the ARYODI Bee Farm. The farm provides farmers, especially women and youth, with training in modern beekeeping and purchases the raw materials they produce to create products from honey wine to beeswax.
Robert is one of more than 1,350 young social entrepreneurs supported through IYF’s YouthActionNet® initiative, and one of nine to benefit from an analysis of their work carried out by students enrolled in Georgetown University’s Global Human Development Program.
For the YouthActionNet Case Study Series, the graduate students examined each venture’s operational model, key assets, challenges, and potential investment opportunities. The ARYODI Bee Farm, for example, was found to possess a unique combination of technical know-how, business savvy, and strong relationships with local suppliers. To ensure its continued growth—and social impact—ARYODI’s student advisor outlined steps it could take to increase the quality and quantity of the honey it receives, and encouraged the social enterprise to undertake a market survey and revisit its branding strategy.
Both the students and YouthActionNet fellows reported multiple benefits from the practicum. Nearly 90 percent of the youth ventures gained greater clarity and focus, with 63 percent increasing their understanding of their organization’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. More than half benefited from marketing/communications advice and strategies for scaling their work.
Said Leonardo Párraga, Founder of The BogotArt Foundation in Colombia, “The case study opened the doors to self-reflection and becoming more aware of what we’ve achieved and where we still have room to develop.” BogotArt equips youth and community members with the tools to identify local needs and develop arts-based solutions. In particular, Leonardo gained insights into the value of BogotArt’s diverse team and willingness to experiment and learn from failure.
The practicum was carried out as part of YouthActionNet’s University Connect initiative, which brings learning to life on college campuses through enabling students to apply their knowledge in practical ways while contributing to fellow ventures. All students engaged in the Georgetown exercise reported gaining new insights into how young people are taking action to achieve social change, with 57 percent saying the experience was highly useful in providing them with hands-on experience to augment classroom learning.
For Matthew Johnson, a Master’s degree candidate at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service the most satisfying aspect of the assignment was “having the opportunity to investigate a social enterprise and comparing what it saw as its weakness and strengths against my own observations.”
Among the other social ventures to benefit from the Georgetown experience were Spur Projects which is fostering greater mental health awareness and suicide prevention in Australia, and SwimAbility Canada, which provides therapeutic swim lessons to children with severe developmental disabilities.