Kaitlin Tait, Global General Manager of YGAP and Co-Founder of Spark* International, was guest speaker at the first Entrepreneur in Conversation Series event for 2016.
Tait spoke about the social impact YGAP has made through ventures such as the Spark Accelerator program which enables start-up entrepreneurs in some of the world's toughest communities to develop and grow their own business ventures.
Tait’s nine years of international development experience began with her leading a school for street-children in a Tanzania slum and managing an HIV orphanage in a Kenyan village, before launching Spark* and growing the model across Africa and the Asia Pacific.
Her expertise is in finding, accelerating and scaling impact entrepreneurs. Spark* has now backed 232 entrepreneurs and significantly and measurably changed the lives of more than 129,000 people living in poverty across seven countries.
Spark* International was founded in 2010 and merged with YGAP in 2015 after realising that to scale up they needed a fundraising capacity.
YGAP currently has more 470 volunteers who use creative fundraising initiatives and social enterprise to support community development projects in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda and South Africa.
“There is genius amongst the local communities – they just need the right tools and support to do incredible things for their community,” Tait said.
“Spark* is looking for people who are open to unconventional ways to solve a problem and will rigorously test the viability of the solution.”
Tait spoke about what innovation means to her and her business.
She said her team tries to foster innovation in the workplace and are looking for people who have the confidence to put ideas forward and run with them.
“Innovation is about having the courage and confidence to think differently – but (to quote Helen Keller) ideas without action are worthless,” she said.
In terms of legacy, Tait says she would like to see local entrepreneurs the heroes of the story.
“Spark* and YGAP aim to support over 1000 impact entrepreneurs over the next 3 years who will go on to improve the lives of 1 million people,” she said.
The six-part Entrepreneur in Conversation Series is hosted by RMIT Entrepreneur in Residence, Dr Marcus Powe and looks to explore and promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the wider community.
Story: Ainslie Logsdon