Named in BusinessWeek in 2009 as ‘one of the top 25 products that could change the world’ and double winner of the Score4Africa ‘Best Enterprise’ award, Alive & Kicking is going places. 150 fair paid employees make over 70,000 balls a year, half of which go to disadvantaged people in society. The stitching centres operate health awareness programmes through sport and every ball is branded with a social message which raises awareness of avoidable disease. Of fundamental importance is that A&K operations in Kenya and Zambia are sustainable. They are not dependant on hand outs to survive; they create their own revenue from their business models, yet remain entirely not-for-profit.
On the foundations of two sustainable stitching centres and using their expertise, Alive & Kicking will embark on the creation of a third, in West Africa. West Africa has been selected because it can benefit from Alive & Kicking’s three charitable objectives, yet it cannot be served by Alive & Kicking’s current operations in East and Southern Africa.
In most areas of West Africa there is a shortage of balls for children to play with, there is high unemployment, and there is a lack of appropriate health education for young people. Alive & Kicking can respond to all three of these needs through a social enterprise model.
There are additional attractions to establishing a West African operation. The region has good transport and free trade links, and its unrivalled passion for football should make A&K welcome wherever we go. The case for moving into West Africa is so strong that it’s not a question of whether Alive & Kicking should look at operating in the region, but of how, where and when.
A planning phase
A West African operation would not be the first time that Alive & Kicking has reached beyond the borders of Kenya and Zambia. In 2008 a production centre was established in South Africa, but after 18 months we judged that it would be unable to sustain itself in the future, and it was eventually merged into A&K’s Zambian operation. Alive & Kicking has learned much from that experience and now, with the expertise we have gained through our hugely successful Kenyan and Zambian operations, we are ready and keen to expand again.
As a first step in our drive for expansion we have performed a review, based on a model used by international consultancies, of the causes of the enterprise’s success. The study has thrown up a number of factors which are critical to our success including political stability, appropriate labour laws, and the presence of markets for balls, and the results have formed the basis of a feasibility plan that is being checked with three West African countries, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. To be able to invest in one of these countries, Alive & Kicking needs to be sure of certain conditions. Furthermore, support will be required from funders, government departments and retailers within the country and the wider region.
Alive & Kicking is now looking for help to answer our feasibility questions, to find finance to set up, and to create partnerships that will ensure our success in our chosen country. Representatives of Alive & Kicking will be travelling to West Africa early in 2011.
If you can help please contact Alive & Kicking’s Director Will Prochaska firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 207 630 7333
Note to potential partners or funders: We have developed a successful international social enterprise model and have prepared ourselves for expansion through our constitution, governance and understanding from operating in Africa. A typical new stitching centre will employ approximately 50 stitchers and staff, technology is minimal, and generally local leather and materials are used. Our expansion will be recorded in milestone documents as we progress and these are available on request. So far these consist of: our Constitution, our governance, our results to date and now our Critical Success Factor report, Alternative Strategy Analysis, and List of Feasibility Questions.