BURN Manufacturing, a Kenya-based clean cookstoves firm, gets $450,000 investment from TikTok and Yunus Social Business partnership

TikTok, the short video entertainment platform, and Yunus Social Business (YSB), a dedicated non-profit organisation fostering 60 social businesses, have announced a transformative $1.5 million partnership, aiming to financially invest in selected social enterprises while providing others with training and mentorship on brand building, sales and e-commerce as well as how to leverage digital platforms for business success.

According to research conducted by YSB in 2021, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) play a pivotal role in Kenya’s economy, making up 98% of all businesses and employing 90% of the workforce. Social businesses – a small subset of MSMEs – focus on social mission at their core, and work to benefit low-income and disadvantaged populations. The research further suggests that data points to these types of businesses having the potential to contribute 50% of the GDP over the next three years, with social businesses on their own having the potential to employ more than 400,000 people by 2030 with the right support.

(TOP: The first major investment by #TikTokEmpower went to BURN Manufacturing with an injection of $450,000. Stacy Wairimu, Chief of Staff & Head of Strategy at BURN Manufacturing – centre – poses with the dummy cheque of $ 450,000 flanked by Ababu Namwamba, CS for Youth Affairs, Creative Economy, and Sports and Ara Yoo Han, Global Social Impact Lead at ByteDance / TikTok to the left. On the right is Fortune Sibanda, Public Policy and Government Relations Director, TikTok & Zara Basharat Higgs, Head of Public Policy Program, Pakistan, TikTok). 

However, over a third of these social businesses face significant challenges in growth and sustainability, including raising financial capital and receiving non-financial support such as digital marketing skills training.

In support of social businesses in Kenya, alongside the announcement of the partnership with YSB, TikTok announced its first investment in BURN Manufacturing with an injection of $450,000. The clean cookstoves produced by BURN use less fuel, cook faster, produce less fumes, and save families $150 per year. It is the only modern cookstove manufacturing facility in Africa that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 80% and has already reached over 22.5 million people.

The $450,000 cheque was handed over by Ababu Namwamba, the CS for Youth Affairs, Creative Economy, and Sports, who was the Chief Guest at the launch event. In his remarks, Namwamba highlighted the important role TikTok has played in the lives of users across Kenya.

“TikTok has had an impact that extends beyond entertainment and social interaction; it has influenced various aspects of society, education, and philanthropy, positioning itself as an impact organisation by providing a platform for individuals from diverse backgrounds to share their stories, talents, and creativity. It has also empowered creators to express themselves, build communities, and find their voices, fostering inclusivity and diversity”, he said.

Namwamba also reiterated the impact of the partnership in Kenya and the region, stating: “The collaboration between TikTok and Yunus Social Business (YSB) represents a pivotal effort to leverage business solutions for social good; it will help address the “missing middle” problem for entrepreneurs by providing long-term, low-interest loans and growth support to social businesses, small and medium enterprises in Kenya and the wider East Africa region. With the $1.5 million partnership between TikTok and YSB, we trust our entrepreneurs will continue to use platforms such as TikTok positively, encouraging innovation and economic growth”.

Other social enterprises to benefit from this partnership include Ndivisi Enterprises and ED Partners Africa amongst others. The firms will get access to digital skills training, resources and brand-building mentorship as part of the offering.

“This #TikTokEmpower partnership with YSB represents a transformative opportunity to empower entrepreneurs, address social challenges, and drive sustainable economic growth in Kenya and East Africa. We have seen the profound impact and real-world opportunity that TikTok brings to small businesses around the world, and we are proud to foster this entrepreneurial spirit and digital innovation in Africa. The creative economy is a key priority for Kenya and this is the time to amplify these opportunities as we celebrate Kenya@60”, said Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, TikTok’s Director of Government Relations and Public Policy for sub-Saharan Africa.

Yunus Social Business’s Regional Director for East Africa, Susan Ngalawa notes that while the organisation has a strong legacy in social entrepreneurship models, this partnership signifies a strategic shift towards embracing digital innovation to empower aspiring entrepreneurs.

“We believe that social businesses hold solutions to some of the most pressing problems of our time, but they cannot deliver or scale those solutions alone. This collaboration with TikTok is designed to help overcome specific social business challenges. For example, by providing them with direct financial support, upskilling their teams in digital marketing to strengthen their position in the digital economy, and giving them access to markets so that as the social businesses grow, their impact can grow as well. We look forward to this opportunity,” said Ngalawa.

The partnership stands as a testament to TikTok’s commitment to supporting Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, creating opportunities for individuals to make a difference in their communities. TikTok and Yunus Social Business are united in paving the way for a new generation of social entrepreneurs, leveraging the power of technology to drive positive change and sustainable economic growth in Kenya and East Africa.

TikTok will also be showcasing at the 2023 Youth Konnect Africa Summit hosted at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre from December 8 – 12, 2023.

Yunus Social Business (YSB) was established 10 years ago by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, an activist for a world of three zeros: zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions. YSB supports social businesses focused on livelihoods, agriculture, and clean energy with long-term and low-interest rate loans and growth support by providing training, mentoring, and market access.


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