Seeing the enormous potential for Israeli clean technologies in solar energy and water for the developing world, Sivan Yaari-Borowich started an NGO to help Africa. She puts two and two together by taking Israeli technologies and matching them with Jewish donors in the United States to fund real world green energy projects in Africa.
I was one of the first to interview Yaari-Borowich when she started her baby, a Jewish Heart For Africa now rebranded as Innovation: Africa. Her hard work and idealistic spirit has paid off: the United Nations just presented her with a prize, acknowledging the importance of her work.
The prize, one of five of its kind awarded annually was presented in Nairobi when the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation organised an expo on green initiatives, the UN Global South – South Development Expo. It was attended by industry-experts and diplomats, including the UN Dept Secretary-General and the President of Kenya.
There, Yaari-Borowich now the president of Innovation: Africa gave her presentation about bringing their work in bring solar energy to African villages, medical clinics, orphanages, schools and water pumping stations using Israeli technologies.
To date, Innovation: Africa has completed 66 projects in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi impacting the lives of 478,661 people. Browse the site and read the personal stories of the people’s lives she has touched and changed. (You can also donate money to the organization online).
At the UN event she presented a cost-efficient and self-sustaining model for small-scale rural electrification demonstrated in the United Republic of Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda. A model that could be used elsewhere.
In America she calls on donors to give up their birthday gifts and donate money to the charity instead. Annual galas call on influentials in New York to pay it forward in the Innovation: Africa spirit. The donation not only pays for systems in Africa, by buying them in Israel the charity supports the home-grown efforts of Israelis trying to get green tech businesses off the ground.
In Judaism there is a concept called tikkun olam (no it’s not the hidden marijuana farm – that’s something else). Tikkun olam in the traditional sense roughly means ‘fixing the world’. Those who subscribe to Jewish law believe it is the will of god and the job of the Jewish people to make this world a better place today than what it was yesterday. Our world is broken. Environmentalists can get that. People who live in dire poverty with not even a switch to turn on a light get that. Yaari-Borowich fixes the world in meaningful ways now celebrated by the prominent international organization.
Above Yaari-Borowich accepts the award in Nairobi, alongside the UN’s head of environment program Achim Steiner (left).
Ambassador of Israel to Kenya, Gil Haskel, said the following: “Innovation Africa is a brilliant concept of combining Israeli creative energy and innovative spirit, with the Jewish concept of ‘Tikun Olam’ and compassion. Together these characteristics are making a significant difference for so many lives in rural Africa, and building eternal bridges of friendship between Jews, Israelis and Africans.”
If you are keen on being part of creating clean web solutions for developing markets join the Dev4Dev Clean Web Hackathon happening at the Google Campus in Tel Aviv next week, Nov 14 and 15. Join Green Prophet’s team (learn more and sign up here) as we try to build the Start Up Farm. If it works maybe we can help Yaari-Borowich reach many more African kids with her Jewish heart. At the very least we’ll have fun trying.
We won’t hold it against you if you sign up for another team either. The Hackathon website is here.