We had the good fortune of connecting with Samuel Kimani and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samuel, how does your business help the community?
Elpis Africa is a social enterprise committed to improving the health, safety, and economic conditions for the 8 million artisanal small-scale miners in sub-Saharan Africa. We are commencing our operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, providing affordable access to PPE, heavy-duty mining equipment, and software with plans to scale throughout the region and continent. The problems we are tackling are 70-80% of miners experience injury or develop respiratory diseases, leading to a life expectancy shortened by 7 years when compared to non-miners. Further, majority of the miners subsist on insufficient wages forcing them to endure economic hardship. Therefore, we are on a mission to improve the quality of life for artisanal miners and to promote economic mobility at the local level.
What should our readers know about your business?
Elpis means “Hope” in Greek. Elpis Africa was therefore formed to give hope to those who are facing adverse impacts to health and enduring economic hardship resulting from their involvement in artisanal mining operations.
Materials in many of the electronics we use today, a majority of them actually, are mined by millions of miners whose daily payout is at most $2. A majority of these miners lack protective equipment and thus are inhaling significant amounts of dust, leading many of them to develop respiratory diseases. Life expectancy of artisanal miners in Congo is 7 years less than non-miners.
Elpis Africa wants to change this. It is our goal to redress the health, safety, and economic conditions for artisanal small-scale miners in sub-Saharan African, by providing them with access to affordable safety and mining equipment and capacity building services in order to improve their quality of life and promote economic mobility at the local level.
Our initial goal is to reach the 2 million artisanal miners in Congo and then scale our efforts to reach the 8 million artisanal miners in the continent.
How did Elpis Africa come to be? It didn’t happen overnight. Even before the business idea, I spent time cultivating business development and strategic planning expertise while working for different firms. The social entrepreneurship degree from USC definitely increased my capacity as a business leader.
When thinking about challenges, I look at my experience as an immigrant to America as an asset. I know poverty first hand, and I know the work my father took on to get through graduate school and help keep our family afloat. Those experiences have provided me with insight and a level of understanding to know what it means to not have what you need. I identify with the work ethic and struggle of the artisanal small-scale miners in Congo and sub-Saharan Africa. I want to do my part in securing their economic sustainability.
I have learned so much in building Elpis Africa. My top three takeaways are the importance of resilience, having a good support system, and quality mentorship. Just knowing where I want to go isn’t always enough, having a mentor who has “been there” – that wisdom is priceless. I cannot do this by myself.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
While there are a few places I’d take friends or visitors, having them over for a home cooked meal would be the most preferable. This is what we Africans do. We enjoying hosting. As far as places to visit, Southern California has a lot to offer when it comes to the outdoors. My favorite places to recommend are the beaches (Newport, Laguna, and Manhattan) and Big Bear for hiking and to marvel at God’s creation. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are quite a few people that come to mind when giving thanks and expressing my gratitude. I have to mention the USC Marshall Social Entrepreneurship program. The courses I took and the community I was around played a significant role in laying the foundation I needed to launch Elpis Africa. The tools gained and the intellectual capital amassed were invaluable. The connections I formed while going through the Social Entrepreneurship Program are still paying off today and have enabled me to advance the company to its current stage.
Rick, Mark, and Daniel are three of my lead mentors, however, there are many others who have been instrumental in the Elpis Africa journey, providing guidance, strategy, and support.
The Elpis Africa team deserves a tremendous amount of credit as well. They’ve allowed me to go from vision to reality in a short amount of time, much less than had I been a solo founder. We’re certainly enjoying working together to create economic opportunity for the artisanal small-scale miners in Congo. I’m looking forward to pressing on with them on this important work. Thank you: Dale, Lauren, Dan, Diana, Espoir, Dr. Gilbert, and Aime.
Team Kimani – my wife, Denise, and our three sons, have been my inspiration and anchor. Denise is extremely supportive, even as she builds her own business, Denise Kimani Designs. My family has truly allowed me to keep going. This journey would be very hard without them, and traveling would be out of the question without Denise’s support.
To all who I may not have called out by name, know that your support is absolutely appreciated. I am grateful for you all.