Extraordinary Voices: Saran Kaba Jones, Liberian Clean Water Advocate and Social Entrepreneur

Saran Kaba Jones was born in Monrovia, Liberia, in June 1982 to a career diplomat. Jones spent her formative years living in Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, France and Cyprus before moving to the United State in 1999.

She is the founder of FACE Africa, an organisation working to strengthen water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and services in rural communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to launching FACE Africa, Jones worked as an Investment Project Manager for the Singapore Economic Development Board.

She 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 workshop globally on entrepreneurship.

Jones Makes a Mark

Jones is a board member of the UN Women Civil Society Advisory Group West/Centre Africa.

In 2011, Jones received the Applause Africa “Person of the Year” award, Voss Foundation’s Women Helping Women Honouree, Huffington Post’s “Greatest Person of the Day” and Forbes Magazine’s 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa.

In 2012, Jones takes home Longines/Town&Country ‘Women Who Make a Difference’ award for her work with FACE Africa, is listed by Black Enterprise as one of 10 International Women of Power to Watch and Daily Muse “12 Women to Watch”.

In 2013, Jones was listed by Guardian UK as one of Africa’s 25 Top Women Achievers alongside President Joyce Banda of Malawi and Nobel Laureate  Leymah Gbowee, and was named World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. In 2015, she was presented with the MTV Africa Music Leadership Award, and in 2016, Jones was named TIME Magazine Next Generation Leader.

Jones Changes the Water Issue Narrative in Liberia

According to a March 2014 interview with Arise 360, Jones reveals how she got motivated to start her charity FACE Africa.

“I’m from Liberia originally. My family and I fled the country when I was eight years old as a result of the civil war. And I went back 20 years later and saw that there was a desperate need for basic social services like – access to clean water, health care, education. And I decided to make clean water my area of focus because it’s one of the largest health issues facing the world today. Nearly a billion people worldwide don’t have access to safe drinking water. And most of them are in Africa. On the continent 350 million people don’t have access to this basic necessity. So it’s a huge problem all across the border”

“At any one time, it is estimated that half the world’s hospital beds are occupied with patients suffering from waterborne diseases.” (WSCC, 2004)

What Jones’ charity FACE Africa does to improve this situation is that they purify the available source of water and at the same time build other sources like wells and boreholes while making sure that the water is made safe for drinking by the people living in the communities.

“90 percent of wastewater in developing countries is discharged into rivers and streams without any treatment.” (UNDP, UNEP, World Bank, and the World Resources Institute, “World Resources 2000-2001,” pg. 25-26)

In the course of her work, Jones uncovers two other issues in within the water issue – the health issue and the gender issue. In Liberia as in other developing countries of the world, women are responsible for collecting water for the household.

“Over 40 billion work hours are lost each year in Africa to the need to fetch drinking water.” (WHO, 2004)

Because of the water issue, a lot of young girls stay out of school as they are responsible for fetching the water.

“The water issue is a women’s issue, so once you solve the water crisis, you not only solve health, but you also allow girls go to school, you allow women focus more on productive activities….” Saran K. Jones

“The average distance that women in developing countries travel to collect water per day is four miles and the average weight that women carry on their heads is approximately 44 pounds.” (WSSCC, 2004)

The Ninth Annual WASH Gala themed ‘Water Fuels the Future’ holds today at The Current at Chelsea Piers, New York City. It is an evening to raise awareness and funds for clean water projects. It also celebrates Africans+Friends of Africa making a difference in their respective industries and communities. This year, their goal is to raise $500,000 to provide Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programs and facilities to communities in rural Liberia and Nigeria.

Jones Drives a Good Cause

Since launching FACE Africa in 2009, the organisation has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from JP Morgan Chase, Coca Cola, the Voss Foundation, P&G, Chevron and the Robert Bosch Foundation, among others; built over 50 WASH projects and reached 25,000 people in rural Liberia. During the Ebola crisis, FACE Africa was at the forefront of Ebola response efforts in Rivercess County, Liberia, where they conducted social mobilization, prevention and awareness and community engagement programs.

Her work with FACE Africa has been profiled extensively by Forbes, the Boston Globe, BBCFocus on Africa, Town&Country, and CNN.

Saran Kaba Jones is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Saran Jones


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!


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