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Social Capitalism in Words

The concept of social entrepreneurship means different things to different people. Here some people discuss what two particular social projects mean to them.

Joyce Wanderi, 28
Brand manager of Population Services International’s Safe Water Program
Nairobi, Kenya

“About 10% of Kenyan children die before their fifth birthday, and we know that about half of those deaths are the result of drinking contaminated water. Waterguard is distributed all over the country–in supermarkets, in kiosks, by women’s groups who sell door-to-door. Initially, chemical treatment was not acceptable to Kenyans; they were used to boiling water. Besides TV, print, and radio ads, we had live demonstrations at clinics. We found all sorts of questions: Is it safe for my child? What happens if I overdose? Some worried that it tasted bad. To show them it was safe, we drank the treated water ourselves, then invited them to try.

“It’s working. In 2005, more than 900,000 households were using the product. When you give things to people for free, they actually don’t appreciate it. When people pay just a little, even a few cents, they use it.”

Melcy Kagendo, 30
Nairobi, Kenya

“I’ve been using Waterguard for about four months. I use it in my house, at my mom’s house, and I sell it in my kiosk. I have one son. He is 11 years and he lives with my mom. They use a borehole to get water. There are amoebas in the water. He was sometimes getting sick– stomach problems. Then from the time I gave him the Waterguard, I have not had any complaints.”

Fausto Moreira, 59
Former president, Alcoa Brazil
São Paulo, Brazil

“Ivan has a very sweet spot: He’s in an industry with a lot of potential and not too many competitors. But when I met him, I could tell that he was already feeling the pressure of having too much in his hands. He needed guidance, someone he could spill his guts to. Should I expand? Should I invest in this or in that? His business was much, much smaller than what I was used to, but I could tell right away that Ivan was pretty good. He was buying the right machines, trying to reach the right kinds of clients. It’s good to see someone his age doing what he was doing and working very hard. He’s someone you feel glad to help.”

Ivan Calia Barchese, 34
CEO, Mextra
São Paulo, Brazil

“My dad started Mextra in 1978, after he figured out a way to manufacture chromium powder– something Brazil only imported at the time. When I took over in 1998, Mextra was a $500,000 company; by the time I was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur, in 2004, I had grown the company to $5 million. When Endeavor told me that my mentor was going to be Fausto Moreira, I thought, ‘Wow. Fausto.’ The guy is a legend in my business. I was building a new plant, I expanded into recycling scrap metals, and I wanted to go into aluminum powders. Fausto showed me the path. I can tell him my ideas, we talk strategy, and he points out the risks. And the networking! Fausto has a lot of friends. In just three years, we’ve grown to $35 million and 150 employees.”


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