With a lust for life and affinity towards advancing sustainable development, Clara Rulegura Ford, CEO of Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions (K.I.S.S.), joined the Hunt Institute’s Social Enterprise 2021 Cohort as a Social Entrepreneur, with aspirations of encouraging sustained economic development.
A multifaceted individual, Clara Ford is an alumna of the Clinton Global Initiative University and has earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting as well as a dual master’s degree in Applied Economics and Sustainability & Development from SMU. She is currently a Senior Associate Examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and has over 10 years of experience in commercial lending and the financial industry.
Clara grew up in Tanzania, and she aspires to generate real solutions to sustainability issues in order to inspire locals to be able to lift themselves out of poverty. From a young age, her parents had instilled in her the importance of public service and giving back. Given this inspiration, Clara founded her nonprofit organization — Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions (K.I.S.S) — with her former economics professor at SMU, Dr. Thomas Osang. K.I.S.S aims to promote development in rural Tanzanian villages through education, community activism, sustainable initiatives, and youth and women empowerment. Plans to implement these initiatives are highlighted through her current project’s focus: the buildout of K.I.S.S. Training and Education Center in the village of Kasisa in northern Tanzania.
In the summer of 2020, Phase 1 of her Kijiji project was completed through a partnership with Hunt Institute Fellow Dr. Jessie Zarazaga and the Institute’s Global Development Lab. The focus was on the development of a sustainable fence for the community center she aspires to build in Kasisa.
Now, her project has turned to the center’s initiatives, to 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 hope to reduce rural poverty and significantly improve the quality of life for local rural communities.
Her nonprofit’s logo “means ‘help me to help you’, a symbol of cooperation and interdependence,” says Clara Ford. “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.”
In partnership with SMU’s Sustainability + Development Program (S + DP), the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, and three universities in Tanzania, Clara’s team launched an architectural competition for the design of the Rulegura Centre. Winners were announced over the summer months and the finalists were exhibited in the Hunt Institute in the spring of 2021. Most recently, an update of this competition was released in the fall of 2021.
Clara discussed her passion for her impact work saying, “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 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.”
Stay tuned to the Hunt Institute Digest for updates on the Kijiji project and for more examples of social entrepreneurs.
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- DeeDee Conway, Ed.D., Hunt Institute Fellow - October 21, 2021
- Kathy Jack, Ph.D., Hunt Institute Fellow - October 8, 2021
- Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions Design Competition Update - September 24, 2021