This week I had the opportunity to speak with Shantha Bloemen, Founder of an exciting new startup whose mission is set to transform the lives of small scale farmers in sub-saharan Africa. We talk about her love for Zimbabwe and the belief that the country is on the path to a stronger, brighter future.
Mobility for Africa is a social enterprise that aims to bring renewable community based transport solutions to rural women in Africa that are affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly. Seventy percent of Zimbabwe’s agriculture are small scale farm holders so if the upcoming pilot is a success, Mobility for Africa could be a real game changer as it makes sense it would be adopted by other countries within the region.
Why will it be a game changer? It’s empowering rural women in Sub Saharan Africa with transport that can help them save time, better sell their goods at the market, take their children to the clinic and school, collect water, as well as improve their economic opportunities within the households and local communities.
” By building a model that reinforces and builds local distribution networks, seeks to change behavior and empower women, and works on a sustainability model that also creates shared economies, Mobility for Africa will create new opportunities and improve the quality of life for rural communities. “
We talk about Shantha’s background helping the world’s poorest. Having spent the last two decades working in international humanitarian and development assistance in Africa & Asia, Shantha is now able to put her experience into this venture, that if successful, will make a practical and concrete difference in women’s lives. In the past she’s been actively involved in getting media attention to child rights, global health and poverty.
Shantha and her team are currently in the middle of raising seed funding for the first shipment of electric bikes to Zimbabwe. On a recent visit to China, Shantha finalized the first order of tricycles. The Chinese company they are sourcing the bikes from has been in operation since 2005, and has produced more than 300,000 three wheel electric vehicles. The first container of 54 tricycle parts will be ready for shipment by the middle of November. So it’s all happening now.
I have been following Shantha and the work she does for vulnerable communities in developing countries and was really keen to hear more about the new venture, what led her there and also gain a better understanding of what some of the critical issues faced by these communities are that are now able to be addressed using new technology combined with strategic local and global partnerships.
It’s a crucial time for Mobility for Africa, Shantha has just been contacted by a donor since our chat, who promised matching funds for up to $12,500 so the startup is well on its way to achieving its target of $50,000. If you are interested in contacting Shantha or donating you can do so using this link or through her email and social media links below. I just love the social impact the success of this startup would foster across sub-saharan Africa, so I can’t wait to have her back to talk about just what the impact was on the ground. Enjoy the episode!