Unveiling Realities: A Social Entrepreneur’s Journey in Africa — Reflections on Purpose, Power, and Funding Challenges

Raby Gueye
4 min readJan 11, 2024


In 2019, I made a life-altering decision to leave the United States and return to my homeland, Senegal. I embarked on a mission close to my heart, founding a nonprofit organization named Teach For Senegal. The past five years have been a whirlwind of challenges, triumphs, and invaluable lessons that have shaped my perspective on social entrepreneurship in Africa.

1. The Power of Purposeful Initiatives

Teaching for Senegal was not just a professional move; it was a profound commitment to addressing educational disparities in my native country. The power of purpose has been my guiding force. Witnessing the impact of our initiatives on the ground — classrooms buzzing with enthusiasm, eager minds absorbing knowledge — reaffirms the significance of purpose-driven work.

2. Transformative Change Requires Giving Local Communities Unrestrictive Power

Empowering local communities with unrestrictive power has been pivotal. Recognizing the wisdom and agency within communities fosters sustainable and impactful change. It’s about creating a space where their voices not only matter but steer the course of initiatives. This has led to more inclusive and community-driven projects that better address the specific needs of the people we serve.

3. Funding Dynamics: Dealing with Donors and Governments

Navigating the complex landscape of funding has been a challenge. Dealing with donors and government bodies requires finesse, patience, and strategic planning. Balancing the needs of the organization with external expectations has been an ongoing juggling act. It’s not just about securing funds but ensuring that these resources align with the long-term goals and autonomy of the local communities.

4. Working on the Ground: Where the Joy Is

While funding and bureaucracy present their challenges, the true joy of this work lies in the communities we serve. Being on the ground, witnessing the tangible impact, and connecting with the individuals we aim to empower — that’s where the heart of our mission beats strongest. The real victories are found in the smiling faces of students, Fellows, and the positive changes taking root in the community.

5. International Organizations, Impact, and Funding Challenges: The Blunt Reality

The dynamics with international organizations have been enlightening. While our impact and data attract attention, the unvarnished truth is that navigating the waters of funding can be tricky. International organizations often leverage our impact to fundraise millions, yet the reality is that the funds returned to us can be disproportionately low. It’s a challenge we face in ensuring that the resources garnered genuinely translate into substantial support for the initiatives on the ground. It’s not just about celebrating the recognition but demanding equity and transparency in the distribution of resources.

6. African Entrepreneurs: Overcoming Stigma

A unique challenge faced by African entrepreneurs is the stigma surrounding trust and money. Building trust with funders often involves overcoming unfounded biases. The journey is not only about showcasing the potential for impactful change but also dispelling misconceptions about Africans and financial responsibility. It’s a continuous effort to redefine narratives and prove that Africa’s entrepreneurs are not just capable but crucial drivers of positive change on the continent.

7. Navigating Indifference: Not Everyone Shares the Vision

One of the tough lessons I’ve learned is that not everyone is as passionate about social causes. It’s disheartening to encounter individuals who, for various reasons, simply don’t care about transforming the education system. While my mission is fueled by a deep commitment to positive change, I have realized that not everyone shares that same commitment. Navigating this indifference challenges you to focus on those who are receptive to change, ensuring your efforts make the most significant impact where they are valued. It’s a reminder that change starts with those who believe in it.

As I blow out the candles on my 30th birthday cake, I’m filled with gratitude for the incredible journey and the lessons learned. To everyone who has been a part of this adventure — the dedicated team at Teach for Senegal, our partners, and the communities we serve — thank you for making these five years extraordinary.

Looking ahead, the road of a social entrepreneur in Africa unfolds with new challenges, aspirations, and opportunities. Here’s to the next chapter and the collective effort toward a brighter, more inclusive future for education in Senegal and beyond.



Raby Gueye

Mom. Educator. Social Entrepreneur who enjoys writing. #TeachForSenegal #decolonizeeducation