Wynonna Rinkacs, Senior, Oakland Catholic High School
Roy Morrison, a South African delegate, received a grant from the One Young World Social Business Fund on Friday afternoon. Mr. Morrison showed his excitement during an interview Friday night, “knowing that I will be benefiting from the social business fund gives me new motivation, and I think that’s actually more important than the actual money.”
Mr. Morrison founded his social business, Rise Africa Rise, last year. “The vision of Rise Africa Rise is to contribute to African prosperity by providing entrepreneurial solutions to socio-economic challenges, and that’s a long term vision and a broad vision, but it’s a broad vision with purpose.” Since Rise Africa Rise is a young business, Mr. Morrison’s first step involves selling locally made t-shirts in order to raise a seed capital. “Actually what I’m doing is not selling the t-shirts, it’s more of selling an investment into African prosperity.” The production of t-shirts provides jobs for South African women who have been marginalized by the globalization process and for youths who are employed by a local screen-printing business in Cape Town. The remaining profit goes to establishing a seed capital which will be used to grow the business.
The idea to found a social business came to Mr. Morrison while he was studying entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town. He went to college with the intention of studying the social sciences and possibly working with the UN or an NGO (non-governmental organization) in the future. However, after harsh critiques, Mr. Morrison decided he could still make a positive change in the world through social business after learning about entrepreneurship from his girlfriend at the time. Then in 2010, while attending an Emerging Leaders Program at his university, Mr. Morrison attended a speech by former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki. “[Mbeki] just spoke about the needs to help Africa rise again to its former glory and that planted the seeds for me, or at least for my company name.”
Reenergized by the grant, Mr. Morrison will use the new motivation and money to bring Rise Africa Rise to a new level. The money from the One Young World Social Business Grant, which is estimated between €500 and €2000, will be spent on investing in a website, integrating new t-shirts, and training employees. “Aside from the financial point of view, I think actually, what’s maybe even bigger is that it’s given me new energy and it’s almost like a magical shift.” Prior to receiving the grant, Mr. Morrison faced financial and motivational struggles. Apart from running Rise Africa Rise, Mr. Morrison also works at a call center, where he soon hopes to decrease his time in order to focus on his business, as he considers working there to be “a huge drain on my energy and motivation, especially in addition to the fact that my business itself is struggling.” The first batch of t-shirts Rise Africa Rise produces was unfit to be sold, due to the limited means of the women he employed. After sitting down with the women, the inadequate machinery was identified as the problem, and the company set off to find a solution. “And I’m very very proud to say that I actually did nothing there, [the women] managed to do that themselves, and that was quite a big step.” Nonetheless, it took about five to seven months to make the improvements, causing Mr. Morrison to rethink his role in Rise Africa Rise. “Sometimes I just think actually it’s easier just to give up, it’s not really worth it. Sometimes fears own you and you think you’ve studied at one of the leading universities in Africa, and all I’m doing is working in a call center while some of my peers are working in good jobs. And I’m thinking, well if this is not working out, then what I am really doing?”
The audience at the One Young World 2012 Summit witnessed Mr. Morrison’s frustration when he acknowledged his struggles during the comment and question portion of the Plenary Session on Global Business Friday afternoon. When asked about his comment Friday evening, Mr. Morrison replied, “Somebody has to take the lead and admit, ‘well I’m struggling’, and maybe that can be the activist for others also to admit it. Then they can maybe sit down together and say, ‘well what can we do to fix it’? So I think there’s no harm in admitting that you are struggling, I mean it is a temporary thing that can be transformed.”
The One Young World Social Business Grant will help transform Rise Africa Rise, but Mr. Morrison remains grounded as he realizes there is still work to do. “This is just a continuation of the journey, I’m in no situation to think everything is sold out, more challenges will arise.”