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Social Entrepreneur Drew Harding of Senai in Ethiopia

Interview by Isaac Klepac of Servant Entrepreneur - I valued enterprise and organizations that produce valuable products before, but my three week trip to Ethiopia change the way I look at business forever. In the United States we talk about how we take things for granted. Is it even possible for us to be conscious of all that we have? Many in our country actually despise business owners. Yes there is greed and many other negative symptoms, but what do we have? Going to another country and seeing needs that we are not used to seeing helps us begin to understand what we lack and what we have. At the same time that there is a great need in Ethiopia there is also a great challenge and a great opportunity. On returning from Ethiopia I began looking for ways to connect back. Through a friend I met Drew Harding the founder of Senai. I was beside myself at how I could connect so quickly with Drew’s vision. I look forward to you having the chance to learn more about the inspiring work of Senai. Entrepreneur

The following is an interview with Drew the founder so Senai

SE What was your favorite thing about growing up in Ethiopia?

DH The people and the language: there isn’t another country I have been to where the people are so radiant and hospitable. They literally will give you their last meal if you come to visit them. In America, we tend to give if we have abundance, rather than giving/sharing as a part of who we are as individuals and families. Being able to connect to the people in their native language of Amharic instantly creates friendships and breaks down any walls of communication. This continues to draw me back to help the people of Ethiopia.

SE Was there anything in particular that set you on the path of building Senai?

DH Seeing the impact of water on the communities in Ethiopia from the time I was 5 years old had a huge impact on why I started Senai. But being able to empower indigenous business, and provide safe water for communities really launched Senai, creating a non-profit that uses Social Enterprise to meet the needs of the poor.

SE Where did the idea for Senai come from?

DH The name came from the Amharic word “Senai” that means “charitable and blessed” It also was one of a few words that could be pronounce in the Western Hemisphere! Senai was birthed out of a passion to empower people through creating and supporting economic engines to lift people out of poverty. I have witnessed many forms of “aid” and empowering people to help themselves always proved to be the most sustainable, thus Senai focuses on being the impetus to creating sustainable economic growth.

SE What kind of people and organizations are you looking to partner with?

DH This is a great question. One of the other reasons for creating Senai, was to not do things on our own, but through partnerships with other businesses and non-profits. We are currently wanting to launch a Micro-Finance division of Senai, so I am looking for people interested in MFI’s and also people to help fund the creation of communities banks in developing countries. I want to engage businessmen and business to partner with Senai to empower indigenous businesses in the developing world, tracking their impact, creating sustainable change.

SE Is there anything that you would want to share with others who are considering starting an organization or social enterprise?

DH Start serving or volunteering where you are at, whether in school, work, or retirement. Then as opportunities come up, connect with existing non-profits that need your expertise and help. If a niche market develops for your own non-profit, go ahead and incorporate, but be ready for a long road of paperwork and fund raising!

Isaac Klepac is a contributor at large to the Business as Mission Network. He's a social entrepreneur and writer behind the blog, Servant Entrepreneur.

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posted by Justin Forman | 3.07.2009 - 1:12 PM


Drew.......so thrilled that you are able to impact the part of the world you so love in this way. We are praying for you and believe people in Ethiopia will be healthier, and encouraged as a result of your bringing this to our attention! Thanks.....GH
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 4:51 PM  

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