Clara Rulegura Ford joined the Hunt Institute’s Social Enterprise Program as a social entrepreneur in the 2020 Cohort. Clara is the Founder and CEO of Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions (K.I.S.S.) and a Class of 2020 commitment maker with the Clinton Global Initiatives University (CGIU).
Clara partnered with Dr. Jessie Zarazaga, Hunt Institute Fellow, to work on a Global Development Lab project in the Hunt Institute with a focus on the development of a sustainable fence for the community center she aspires to build in Kasisa. The Kijiji Project in Tanzania’s focus is on sustainable solutions for the community through the Rulegura Center. Phase 1 was completed in the summer of 2020.
Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions is a registered nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote sustainable development in Tanzania through education, community activism, sustainable initiatives, and youth and women empowerment. These initiatives will be implemented through the K.I.S.S. Training and Education Center located in the village of Kasisa in northern Tanzania.
The center will focus on the following nine training and education projects: sustainable and durable housing, energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean water access, toilet design & sanitation system, sustainable agriculture & aquaculture, garbage reduction & recycling, education & vocational training, and health care. Collectively, these development programs will reduce rural poverty and significantly improve the quality of life for the individuals and families living in the region.
“Our icon means ‘help me to help you’, a symbol of cooperation and interdependence. That’s what K.I.S.S. is all about. To bring about sustained economic development through cooperation and interdependence between us, our partners, and the communities we serve.” says Clara Rulegura Ford.
The land for the K.I.S.S. Training and Education Center has been purchased and construction will commence soon. Ford’s goal is for the Center to be in operation by 2022. KISS in partnership with SMU’s Sustainability + Development Program (S + DP), the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, and three universities in Tanzania to launch an architectural competition for the design of the Rulegura Centre. The finalist were exhibited in the Hunt Institute in the spring of 2021. Winners were announced over the summer months and an update was released in the fall of 2021. November 2021, the Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity will host an Impact Forum where the 2020 & 2021 Cohorts will present their impact work.
When asked about her motivation and passion for her work Clara said, “I wouldn’t be here where I am today if not for all the people who have helped me along the way. The Kijiji Project is one of the ways for me to pay it forward. Along the way I realized it will take a diverse model that brings all stakeholders together, to work in symbiosis to better address problems that are unique to each locale. Through Kijiji Innovative Sustainable solutions we have a platform to do that. The partnerships we make with various educational institutions, NGOs, businesses and individual volunteers together with the communities we try to help make a ‘mastermind’ necessary to generate real solutions that will empower the locals in the long run to lift themselves out of poverty.”
Clara was born and raised in Tanzania, but has lived in the United States since 2000. After earning a BBA in Accounting from University of Houston-Downtown and two MA degrees in Applied Economics and Sustainability & Development from SMU, Clara worked in the financial services industry for JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America. She is currently a senior associate examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. From a young age, her dad, a politician, and her mom, a public-school teacher, instilled in her the importance of public service and giving back. With this goal in mind, Ms. Ford founded K.I.S.S. along with her former economics professor at SMU, Thomas Osang.
Stay tuned to the Hunt Institute Digest for updates on the Kijiji project and for more examples of social entrepreneurs.
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Rachel LevittRachel Levitt
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