Accenture and VSO today announced that Umaro Kargo, a shoemaker from Makeni, Sierra Leone, is the winner of the Making Markets Work for the Poor: Entrepreneurship Award. The award, which honors an individual or group who demonstrates outstanding entrepreneurial spirit in the face of adversity, provides Mr. Kargo with $2,000 worth of in-kind support for business development training from VSO partners to help him build his business by accessing influential markets within West Africa.
Aligned with Accenture’s global corporate citizenship initiative Skills to Succeed – which by 2015 will equip 250,000 people around the world the skills to get a job or build a business – the award seeks to recognize and celebrate examples of how markets can work to help lift people out of poverty.
“I am truly honored to receive this award, as I will now receive the tools necessary to expand my business and create jobs and training opportunities for more physically challenged young people like myself,” said Mr. Kargo. “I want to help youth in Sierra Leone have access to a more meaningful and productive future.”
To be considered for the award, an individual or group must have overcome extreme disadvantage, stigma or discrimination and developed a sustainable business model as well as have the support of their community and a strong understanding of market supply and demand.Mr. Kargo, 29, suffered from childhood polio, lost his parents in the Sierra Leone Civil War and was forced to live on the streets before gaining the skills to build his business. With VSO’s support, he opened a small shop with ten employees who produce and sell shoes made from locally recycled materials such as used car tires and animal skins. The award recognizes his successful and sustainable business model, as well as his entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to providing jobs in his community.