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Straight Talk: Wisdom & Advice From Your Momentum Sisters
4 MIN. READ

Solving African Poverty

Soft-spoken, eloquent, and full of passion, Sivan Ya’ari is an Israeli social entrepreneur who has proven that simple solutions can have far-reaching effects. As the founder of Innovation Africa, Sivan has spearheaded a movement that is transforming rural Africa through Israeli innovations, improving healthcare and education, and providing communities with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty. Within nine years, Sivan’s work has impacted almost one million people in seven countries. Sivan has shared her story with many Momentum Trips. We spoke to Sivan about how she deals with the emotional aspects of her work, as well as her advice for other mothers who want to make a difference in the world.

What first inspired you to dedicate yourself to fighting poverty in Africa?

When I was 20, I worked for a clothing company that had factories in Africa. I traveled to Madagascar on business and saw real poverty for the first time. I, too, was poor growing up, but the poverty in Africa was on a different level. I realized that the main challenge was the lack of energy. With no energy, medical centers couldn’t refrigerate vaccines; people couldn’t pump the water that existed underground, and, without water to drink and grow food, children were too weak to travel to school. If there were energy, people would have much better lives. The simplicity of the solution made me want to help. I believed that it would be simple to transfer Israeli technology — including solar panels and drip irrigation systems — and know-how to African villages.

"Within our small and miraculous country, Israelis have created many innovations that can make the world a better place. It is our responsibility to share our innovations and minds with people who can benefit from them. I believe that, when we do so, we are fulfilling our role as a “light unto the nations.”"

What keeps you passionate about your work?

It is priceless to visit a village where we recently installed solar energy panels and see the children drinking clean water for the first time, or witness the children seeing light at night for the first time. These experiences encourage my team and me to continue bringing energy to more villages, schools, orphanages, and medical centers. With so little investment — just sharing Israeli technology and knowledge — we are making a tremendous impact on people’s lives.

How do you deal with the emotional aspects of your work?

I can’t disconnect from my work because when I visit a new village, I see the people watching me leave, and I know that they are hoping that I will return. We never promise that we will, but we, too, hope to return. That stays with me. Also, when we bring energy to a village, mothers celebrate with songs. It’s unreal for them, and this stays with me, too.

What keeps you passionate about your work?

It is priceless to visit a village where we recently installed solar energy panels and see the children drinking clean water for the first time, or witness the children seeing light at night for the first time. These experiences encourage my team and me to continue bringing energy to more villages, schools, orphanages, and medical centers. With so little investment — just sharing Israeli technology and knowledge — we are making a tremendous impact on people’s lives.

How do you deal with the emotional aspects of your work?

I can’t disconnect from my work because when I visit a new village, I see the people watching me leave, and I know that they are hoping that I will return. We never promise that we will, but we, too, hope to return. That stays with me. Also, when we bring energy to a village, mothers celebrate with songs. It’s unreal for them, and this stays with me, too.

How can other people get involved in Innovation Africa?

The best thing to do is to adopt a village, school, orphanage, or medical center to help us share Israeli technology and improve life in Africa. Families can even travel to villages on the day of the installation and see the impact they are making.


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