Young Leader Wall of Fame: Saran Kaba Jones
Water is crucial in accomplishing Africa’s development goals. Africa faces endemic poverty, food insecurity and pervasive underdevelopment, with almost all countries lacking the human, economic and institutional capacities to effectively develop and manage their water resources sustainably. According to the United Nations, 768 million people worldwide are without access to improved water sources. One of the most marginalized areas affected by this is Rivercess County, Liberia, where only one-fifth of its 80,000 population has access to clean water. This week, Saran Kaba Jones is on our Young leader wall of fame; as she is one the young people who have taken it upon themselves to create lasting changes in their community and country at large. Saran is a social entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of FACE Africa, a community development organization working to strengthen water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and services in rural communities across sub-Saharan Africa.
Saran Kaba Jones is a global citizen, clean water advocate, fortune hunter, wife and a Mother. From a very young age she was exposed to a world of diplomacy, travel and community service. This paved the way for her and helped her to focus on something that would help people in a meaningful way; thus,the FACE Africa intiative.
Saran was born in Liberia but left the country at eight, shortly before the country’s civil war began. Saran spent her formative years living in Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, France and Cyprus before moving to the United States in 1999. On returning to Liberia almost 20 years after, Saran was chagrined to find her country in dire need for clean water and made it her mission to help. She focused on providing safe drinking water, sanitation and empowering women and girls through education and skills training.
[Tweet “.@sarankjones focused on providing safe drinking water, sanitation and empowering women.”]
Face Africa started out as a project to give back and contribute to improving lives in Liberia. When she realised the impact of Face Africa upon completion of her first project in October 2009, she decided to focus on the Project fully. She launched FACE Africa, and decided to quit her job to focus on running the organization full time. It was a hard decision for Sara to make at that time.
In an interview with a popular website, Saran stated “we completed our 20th project recently and our projects combined have impacted over 10,000 people in Monrovia and its outskirts. In January of 2013, we launched an ambitious new initiative to provide clean water coverage to the entire county of River Cess, one of the most marginalized and under-served counties in Liberia. We’re calling it our ‘County by County’ commitment and the goal is to construct 250 clean water points, which will provide clean water access to over 60,000 people. The plan will cost about $1.2 million and take place over 3 – 5 years so it’s a huge undertaking but once completed will be a major accomplishment for us and for Liberia”.
[Tweet “.@sarankjones: our projects combined have impacted over 10,000 people in Monrovia and its outskirts.”]
Saran used her company, Face Africa launched in 2009 to raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from JP Morgan Chase, Coca Cola, the Voss Foundation, P&G, Chevron and the Robert Bosch Foundation to build over 50 WASH projects and has reached 25,000 people in rural Liberia. Face Africa was also at the forefront of Ebola response efforts in Rivercess County, Liberia, where they conducted social mobilization, prevention and awareness and community engagement programs.
Face Africa was launched in 2009.
Saran says, “I decided to focus on water because water is life and directly affects every area of development. Children cannot attend school if they are sick from dirty water, and adults suffering from water-borne illnesses overwhelm hospitals and cannot go to work. Hours spent looking for and collecting clean water mean hours not spent adding to a family’s economic well being. It made sense to tackle the issue of water because without it, a country cannot make true progress in terms of development”.
[Tweet “.@sarankjones: I decided to focus on water because water is life and…”]
Saran is also a board member of the UN Women Civil Society Advisory Group West/Center Africa and a 2013 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She was listed by the Guardian UK as one of Africa’s 25 Top Women Achievers alongside President Joyce Banda of Malawi and Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee. She has received the Longines/ Town&Country “Women Who Make A Difference’ Award for her work with FACE Africa.
I also read an article that stated that saran is a frequent speaker on topics including water infrastructure, entrepreneurship and gender equality and has served on panels at the World Economic Forum, Harvard University, MIT, the London School of Economics, and the African Union. She is also a member of the U.S. State Department’s International Information Programs (IIP) and frequently conducts workshops globally on entrepreneurship. She has been selected as a TED Fellow, a prestigious international program comprising leaders from across the world (TEDGlobal 2017 Fellows). And she is first Ted fellow from Liberia.
I envisage a reader might say, ‘ she had a platform and he/she does not”. But am sorry to counter that notion by saying that; we can all make a difference; starting small.
Every little effort we put into a cause, springs up some how- only if we are dedicated to that cause/endeavour.
Saran’s zeal and achievement shows how much young people are making a huge difference across the global.
What is stopping you though?
You are Gold!