What inspired you in 2023?

In this year’s final post we wanted to share some hope and optimism so we asked our friends and partners about their inspirations from 2023. We received a mosaic of inspiring events, anecdotes, realizations, persons and more. Thank you to everyone who shared their inspirations with us!

Let’s dive right in…

…to stories about poker games, sack races and football tournaments.

Wishing you all a wonderful start of the year 2024! 🎉


Aisha Yesufu’s fight for justice

“I was inspired by Aisha Yesufu’s strength and ability to stand up to injustice against all odds. She has been a trail blazer since the issue of the kidnapped girls from norther part of Nigeria. She also showed incredible leadership during the last election in Nigeria.”

/ Josephine Nzerem, Advisory Board Azurit Foundation

Moving personal mountains

“One of the things that brought me a lot of joy and strength lately has been witnessing the remarkable progress of some of my team members at Kabakoo. I’m particularly moved by the transformation I’ve seen since January 2022. Their journey is not just about professional growth; it has also been a personal glow up, if I may say, a testament of personal metamorphosis. When I look back and see where they were at, and where they are now, what they are building: their growth is inspiring. It’s hopeful, it’s the full display of what you can achieve with the right determination and guidance. I personally lean into that to find the energy to keep me going. When I see the personal mountains they have been moving, I know it’s possible.”

/ Michèle Traoré, Co-Founder and CEO at Kabakoo Academies

The Rural is Cool Tournament

“Organizing the first-ever Rural is Cool Tournament, where 10 rural communities came together in a harmonious and nurturing environment, has been an immense source of inspiration for me this year. The endeavor to unite these communities through sports for discussions on positive contributions to their development seemed like a daunting task, but the tournament not only made it achievable but has already begun to manifest impactful changes within these communities.

Moreover, the fulfillment derived from witnessing 10 rural footballers, including 2 females, being identified and selected to join an academy in Nigeria is truly gratifying. It underscores the incredible talent that exists in rural areas and the global opportunities that can emerge from these seemingly remote spaces. With great anticipation, we eagerly look forward to the next iteration of the tournament next year, confident that it will continue to sow the seeds of positive change and empowerment within these communities.”

/ Tony Joy, Founder and Director at Durian

Charlot Magayi’s story

“A poker game isn’t where I usually find inspiration. But that all changed when I invited my colleague Charlot Magayi to speak at a charity tournament that I helped co-host. I listened as Charlot told her story – about growing up in a Kenyan slum neighborhood, about how caring for her children motivated her to start her own social enterprise, and about her journey growing Mukuru Clean Stoves into what is now a global award-winning enterprise that has impacted the lives of 2M people. I also watched as her story moved an audience in a San Francisco ballroom to engage and offer support. Months later I am just as inspired. When strong local leaders are at the forefront of development, and they have support and partnership, we can overcome anything.”

/ Nick Fusso, Co-founder at D-Prize

Purpose in the community

“To know that my community work means so much to someone else, makes me understand the value that comes from helping each other. I do not know if I have ever been so satisfied with anything I have done before.”

/ Micheline Barandereka, Founder and Executive Director at Shekinah Center

Sack races and solving malnutrition

“What has inspired me is that our team of community health workers (CHWs) has helped over 3,000 children recover from acute malnutrition this year. To celebrate, we hosted a big BBQ, where we learned that our CHWs are very good at sack races in addition to saving children’s lives!

Also, earlier this year, we joined coalition members from UnlockAid for an advocacy week in DC. We spent an inspiring week alongside 50+ other social enterprises and non-profits talking about the importance of localization, transparency, and results and got some great traction with lawmakers!

We’re massive nerds, but we’re excited and inspired by the new set of World Health Organization (WHO) technical guidelines for the treatment of acute malnutrition. The innovations that have been approved by these guidelines suggest that even good interventions (like malnutrition treatment) can and should be made better, which makes us optimistic about the future of our own innovation portfolio!”

/ Dr. Abubakar Umar and Justin Graham, Co-Founders at The Taimaka Project

Ashoka’s Visionary Journey to East Africa

“An invigorating “Social Entrepreneur” field trip organized by Ashoka across East Africa sparked connections with dynamic local changemakers while at the same time fostering a rich exchange of insights and future collective growth with global colleagues, one of them being Lea, Azurit’s MD. Engaging with Lea in our ongoing, influential dialogue continues to yield invaluable learnings that enrich my – and the foundations’ – perspective.”

/ Marion Gehring, General Manager at Frey Charitable Foundation

Precious, the fashion designer

“This year the person who has really inspired me is our fashion and design trainer Precious Ndovie. Precious trained with Tingathe in 2017 and following his graduation, he would create garments and bring them to the center to get feedback. He improved the quality of his products and began selling them to a wide market, including an international market that was impressed by his innovative and well-crafted designs.

He was the immediate choice that came to mind when we needed to recruit a new trainer in fashion and design and beyond being an excellent teacher, his passion for personal development and excellence is the core of what he infuses in the students. Precious has also attended our construction classes and urban horticulture and has grown tremendously as an individual. He bought land, built a house using his skill, practices permaculture with his family and is a shining example in his community. Precious truly embodies and lives the Tingathe ethos of building wealth and wellbeing, he is an ardent fitness trainer and embodies positivity and desire for knowledge and growth.

I am inspired by Precious and honoured to know such a great person.”

/ Sarah Lindeire, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Tingathe

Gladys Onyango’s wisdom

“This article from Gladys Onyango inspired me. I believe that it is filled with wisdom that we, as donors, can apply on our journeys. My takeaway from it is that: “Being resource holders doesn’t imply knowing it all; rather, it emphasizes our responsibility to channel resources to those on the frontlines who understand what it takes to build sustainable and transformative solutions for communities”

/ Liana N. Nsengimana, Investment Manager at Segal Family Foundation

Embracing Growth: My Journey of Transformation at the Mandela Washington Fellowship

“The 2023 Mandela Washington Fellowship was a transformational voyage, transcending borders and igniting change. Picture this: 700 exceptional young African leaders, carefully chosen from a vast pool of over 40,000 applicants, converging in the United States for a captivating journey of knowledge, leadership immersion, and invaluable connections.

I ventured beyond my comfort zone. I soared, not only metaphorically but also on thrilling roller coasters, confirming  that personal growth thrives on embracing discomfort. Stepping onto the stage during a cultural showcase, I danced with passion, sharing fragments of my Congolese heritage through the rhythmic beats of RUMBA. The audience’s joyful applause confirmed that embracing the unknown is a powerful thing.

One of the memorable moments arrived when I had the privilege of meeting Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken. His words wove a tapestry of commitment, reinforcing the connections between American citizens and Africans, united in a shared vision of progress.

This story is not mine alone; it is a narrative of transformation. Throughout the Fellowship, I evolved into a servant leader, an ambassador for inclusivity, and a bridge builder within communities. We can illuminate the path of inspiration, igniting hope and fostering positive change with and for the people who need it the most.”

/ Daniel Baraka, Co-Founder at Congo Innovation Academy (CINA)

Bringing ideas to life

“My 2023 highlights include receiving funding from D-Prize and Azurit Foundation to implement the Sugar Daddy Awareness pilot, the inspiration to put my ideas into action led to co-founding Hope Springs Health Foundation Uganda. I am optimistic about the future.”

/ Safaa Garelnabi, Co-Founder and Team Leader at Hope Springs Health Foundation Uganda

Raising impactful young people

“During the Opportunity Collaboration 2023 conference, our facilitator Chrissy Garton shared that her desire as a parent is to raise influential and impactful young people. That hit home. As educators, this is exactly what we hope and strive for.”

/ Patience Khembo, Founder and Executive Director at Ladder to Learning


photo credit top bannerEfe Kurnaz on Unsplash


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