Conference on Entrepreneurship Encourages Self-Sustainability of African Catholic Entities

Comboni Missionary Br. Dr. Jonas Dzinekou Yawovi, Mccj, Director of the Institute of Social Transformation, Tangaza University College, Nairobi, Kenya

The need to have Catholic entities including dioceses on the African continent operationalized without depending on donor funding was one of the key highlights at the recent social entrepreneurship conference during which people behind Catholic entities in Africa were encouraged to initiate socio-economic enterprises that can help achieve self-sustainability.

Speaking to ACI Africa on the sidelines of the conference, Comboni Missionary Br. Dr. Jonas Dzinekou Yawovi said, “As we are talking about sustainability of the Church today, parishes in each diocese need to create their own social enterprises that can improve the lives of the people and generate revenue to sustain the parishes.”

“Partnership and collaboration with the western world is important, but dependency will never solve our problems instead it (dependency) creates more problems,” Br. Yawovi who is the Director of the Institute of Social Transformation (IST) that hosted the conference said and added, “we therefore need to get out of the dependency syndrome and be able to work for our own development.”

“For dioceses to find ways on how to sustain themselves there is no magic formula, social entrepreneurship is the way to go,” Br. Yawovi emphasized ahead of the third Annual African Conference on Social Entrepreneurship (AACOSE).

The Togolese Missionary described the two-day conference that brought together practitioners and academicians within the field of social entrepreneurship in Africa as “a forum of learning, of creating connections and of finding ways to create synergies that can help us multiply sustainable enterprises in the continent.”


Highlighting the relevance of the conference to Catholic entities on the African continent, the Comboni Missionary Brother told ACI Africa, “the Church needs to educate people more on social entrepreneurship so they can be well equipped with skills and be able to develop and build social enterprises.”

Br. Yawovi who previously served as Principal of technical educational schools in Malawi and Zambia emphasized the need for Africans to change their mindset saying, “As Africans, we should have the mindset that believes that we can solve our problems on our own. We should change our mind from thinking that everything should be given to us but develop new mindset to say that yes we can count on ourselves and we are capable.”

He identified agriculture as a potential transformational enterprise and encouraged young people in Africa to venture into farming with support from relevant institutions on the continent.

“Agriculture should be embedded in our education system so that people may know that in agriculture there are opportunities that will help us generate jobs and generate revenues so as to support the development of our continent,” the Comboni Missionary said and added, “There is a need to support young people to be innovative so they don't need to look for greener pastures elsewhere but unlock their potentials to be able to solve their problems.” 

Fr. Felix Atinda a priest of Kenya’s Kisumu Archdiocese who participated in the conference shared with ACI Africa his impressions saying, “Many at times we have thought of social entrepreneurship and any other investment as externally motivated, but this conference is enabling us to discover that within us there are actually solutions to our own problems, what we need is to be committed.” 

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“We Africans normally talk about problems and we want somebody else to solve those problems for us,” Fr. Atinda registrar in charge of partnership resource mobilization and planning at Uzima University College, a Kisumu-based Catholic institution of higher learning said.

He added, “The paradigm shift coming up in this conference is that each person needs to take responsibility towards investing in social entrepreneurship.”

“Africans should be looking at social entrepreneurship from a social perspective that what affects one person affects all of us in one way or another and we cannot close our eyes towards that,” Fr. Atinda clarified. 

The Kenyan cleric concluded, “Africans should also look at social entrepreneurship at an economic paradigm that while people are lamenting the lack of jobs and the lack of opportunities in Africa, it begins with us on how to utilize the resources we have for the benefit of all.”

AACOSE was organized by IST, one of the nine Institutes of Tangaza University College in collaboration with Ashoka, a global organization that identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs.