In 2004, 11-year-old Kobozo Yadibert Mauricette first became aware of the project that would empower her community and later make her a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur with her enterprise, WA NZIN A GA ZO.
Still so young, she got engaged in scouting, which further inspired her desire to foster community-driven work. She challenged himself with tasks that were in service of the community. While being involved, she experienced firsthand the practice of entrepreneurship, being a part of the Scouting African Region through the Fifth World Center Pilot Project: ‘Developing Entrepreneurs of Leadership Throughout Africa’ in Lagos.
This project further inspired an even stronger sense of commitment to the social and economic issues her community faced, and intimately awakened specific interests in the world of business. Since then, she has frequently invested all personal resources in organising people to work together to assist others – especially women, young girls and physically challenged touched by various hardships, conflict and misfortune. This decision came equally with the desire to promote income-generating activities and strengthen the capacities of its members in different areas of activity, from sewing, masonry, handicrafts, and carpentry.
Around the world, people with disability face several challenges. In the Central African Republic, Kobozo’s organization is trying to solve the socio-economic barriers that further marginalize people living with disabilities. They offer basic education and teach certain skill sets with the expected outcome that their efforts will translate to marginalized people in the Central African Republic becoming more economically independent and are able to sustain themselves using the education and skills acquired from being empowered.
To create awareness, Kobozo uses radio, television, newspaper, social platforms on the internet and a user-friendly website; while it generates revenue from the sale of finished products, clothes fashion items and accessories produced. The social enterprise’s most significant achievement so far is the recognition from the Ministry of SMEs in Central African Republic as an NGO – giving them the opportunity to continue to drive impact. A major concern at the “WA NZIN A GA ZO” is that different people in the world tend to separate physically handicapped people from their societies. Physically challenged people, in the Central African Republic especially those at the bottom of the pyramid have been denied jobs in corporate, and several other opportunities. As such, they are unable to support their living.
In a society where physically handicapped people are not considered valuable and are not given opportunities to contribute to their community through work or other valuable activities, “WA NZIN A GA ZO”, provides a good quality dress catalogue and custom-designed baskets. The organisation creates impact by empowering the physically challenged to building a life of their own and becoming active participants within their society. It trains and connects them to paid work, offers basic education, teaches skill sets and providing business tools that create independence.
Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, WA NZIN A GA ZO continued to support the physically challenged by raising awareness about preventive measures among people living with disabilities in the eastern region bordering the Republic of Cameroon – a country heavily affected by this pandemic. They worked with unemployed and destitute young people, as well as street children, to avoid the spread of COVID-19. They also provided a means to facilitate the circulation and access to at-risk households, such as nose covers, gloves and handwashing kits.
For Kobozo, the mission is simple: how does our society evolve if it does not foster acceptance. It was the central question that led to the birth of one of Kenya’s social enterprises, with a focus on providing humanitarian aid to vulnerable people; raising awareness among the population on citizenship, peace, social cohesion and living together; fighting against gender-based violence, STI/AIDS and other pandemic diseases.
As a social entrepreneur, she is deeply concerned about maintaining sustainability. Recently, she joined the WEDO (Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization) organisation as Ambassador for the Central African Republic. In December 2020, she successfully organised an event with young women, and interacted with UN Women CAR. She hopes to join the community of the World Fair Trade Organization (Africa) based in Nairobi, with the expectation to expand her organization’s operations and have a bigger impact on her targets. The set-challenge is to have enough space where physically challenged people can convene around the basketry and sewing activities.
Kobozo continues to generate economic activities within the physically challenged people ecosystem. She is bridging the gap between the physically challenged people in the Central African Republic, helping them become integrated into mainstream society, giving them a sense of belonging and active citizenry. Though her organisation is not generating revenue, Kobozo’s truest benefit is in creating a space where everyone is recognized and given the purest form of dignity to live meaningful lives.