Bete Demeke On The Five Essential Components For Rural Community Development — Impact Boom | Social Impact Blog & Podcast | Global Changemaker Community | Social Innovation, Enterprise, Design

It’s going to be such a great event with such an amazing group of participants globally. At the forum Bete, you’ll be presenting on a panel discussing social enterprise in community health. So can you please share with us how social enterprise in community health is implemented in the work that Project Mercy is doing in rural Ethiopia?

Tom, thank you very much for asking this question. To start getting at the answer, I’d like to first decouple the words, social enterprise and community health for a moment.

I think the broad definition of social enterprise is an enterprise, private or public, that is cause-driven and it’s primary reason for being is to improve, or serve a common good of community, people or society.

When we look at community health, I think that’s the total sum of all initiatives; education, health, hygiene, sanitation, clean water, and of course, healthcare services. So, as I mentioned to you earlier, we at Project Mercy work very closely with the community to address needs that are raised not by us, but by the community. So as an example, when the community asked for a clinic, which I mentioned earlier, is now a primary hospital, we committed to do our part, but we also asked what it is that the community is willing to do to realise this dream.

So the community got together and they worked amongst themselves to come up with the land on which their hospital was going to be built. The social enterprise part of this is that community figured out how to give up valuable land, which is really how they make their living. And their rural farmers’ land is a precious, precious resource, that is passed on from grandparent to parent to child. So, they came up with a scheme by how they collectively are going to give up this very valuable resource so that the hospital can be built for the common good of the people that are living in the area. In essence, they prepaid or they fully financed the land acquisition investment required for this initiative. So, of course, in our portion we brought the total solution together for the community by building this and operating this hospital. But we’re also augmenting it with other community outreach programs that have to do with education, hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and other related programs that the community needs.

Of course, it’s really impossible to do this type of work without partnerships with other organisations like Johnson and Johnson. I mention Johnson and Johnson, and in full transparency we’re participating at this event along with Johnson and Johnson. But really there are many institutions worth and deserve being mentioned, that work in this space and globally, to make this kind of partnership possible, where there is an enterprise with a view, towards really impacting lives in the developing world. And then there’s a community at the local level. And then there are organisations like us that actually connect this, make it work at the community level.