Ragball International

Ragball International

South Africa
Organization type: 
for profit
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Ragball International is an income generation project in which young people from Africa produce handmade soccer balls from recycled materials in exchange for a fair wage and entrepreneurial training.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Adverse conditions in Khayelitsha, South Africa, such as poverty, AIDS, and lack of education have traditionally hindered successful entrepreneurship. With over 60% of the population unemployed, young people in Khayelitsha have little chance at finding gainful employment and tertiary education opportunities. Relying on an expansive network cultivated from over 30 years combined experience in the Sport for Development field, the founders of Ragball have established longstanding partnerships within both the private and public sectors to help root the business in local communities. For example, our contacts within Grassroot Soccer and FIFA in Cape Town allowed us to identify reliable coaches to serve as mentors and identify potential youth crafters.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Ragball International is an innovative initiative because it was launched as a for-profit social entrepreneurship venture and not as a non-profit. Ragball proves that sustainable social change can be made through the generation of profit without relying on international aid or private donations. Ragball proves that for-profit initiatives, which maximize the efficiency of consumer markets, can improve the lives of African youth. Furthermore, Ragball has not incurred debt since its start-up phase. Rather, we have utilized strategic partners to help guide us to take logical steps in our development. Ragball provides an example to the Sport for Development field that African youth can be trusted to deliver in a business model if they are provided with high expectations and they are properly managed.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Ragball International offers young soccer players (ages 15-20) the opportunity to make money and learn savings and investment skills through the production of handmade soccer balls. Youth throughout South Africa make soccer balls from available materials. Ragball has marketed this practice by selling these balls internationally to socially conscious consumers. Each ball comes with a player card that tells the consumer about the young crafter that made the ragball. Profits are returned to the youth, who also receive education and mentoring to gain basic business skills that can be applied throughout life.
About You
Organization:
Ragball International
About You
First Name

Ian

Last Name

Oliver

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Ragball International

Organization Country

, DC, Washington

Country where this project is creating social impact

, WC

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Sean Hinkle, Ian Oliver, and Jeff DeCelles have collaborated for the past several years on training, youth development, program scale up, and public-private-partnerships within global public health initiatives. They have developed innovative approaches that integrate core values of citizen participation in community development issues. They are experts in optimizing program performance, team building, streamlining program management, and program scale up.

This team of entrepreneurs has represented leading global institutions, both non-profit and for-profit, including the Academy for Educational Development, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, and Grassroot Soccer, among others. They have focused much of their work on social marketing and behavior change communication interventions in African countries as a response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Their work has resulted in effective, large scale and sustainable community-based health programs across the African continent targeting OVCs, youth, and young adults.

Ragball co-founder Jeff DeCelles realized the potential of this company in Zambia when he traded an old Nike soccer ball for a handmade ball made by 12 year-old Boniface Mumba. Both Jeff and Boniface walked away thinking they had seriously swindled the other. Upon seeing his friends’ positive reaction to Boniface’s plastic bag ball, Jeff wondered if people in the US might be willing to actually pay for a handmade ball, and if so, how much?

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

To date over 6,000 Ragballs have been sold throughout Africa, US, and Europe. We have grown to a team of 25 crafters in South Africa. Additionally, Lunga Sidzumo, Ragball South Africa Country Director was awarded a prestigious fellowship from MAC AIDS Leadership Initiative.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

101- 1,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Year 1 - Expand production to 100 youth in Khayelitsha and initiate production process in two new African sites. Identify partner organizations in Brazil for World Cup 2014
Year 2 - Begin production in new African sites and Brazil. Partner with academic institutions to conduct an evaluation to measure the impact our project has on the psychosocial health and financial literacy of our crafters
Year 3 - Ragball is fully functional in South Africa, Brazil, and two additional African sites with over 250 youth enrolled. Lunga Sidzumo, Ragball South Africa Country Director takes over majority of administrative responsibilities.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Low sale of Ragballs might hinder success. If this is an issue, we will test new markets and find new customers/events. We are also considering making our entrepreneurship/financial education portion non-profit as to solicit donations, or possibly collaborate with other groups. This would allow us to continue our education portion in case of no/low income from the sale of Ragballs.

Tell us about your partnerships

We have relied heavily on our expansive network cultivated from over 30 years combined experience in the Sport for Development field. For example, our contacts within Grassroot Soccer in Cape Town allowed us to identify reliable coaches to serve as mentors and identify potential youth crafters. Perhaps Ragball’s most important partnership to date has been Eurosport (soccer.com), the world’s largest online soccer distributor. Eurosport provides access to socially conscious soccer fans throughout the world and has allowed Ragball to provide their product directly to their consumer. Additionally, South African Airways, the Corporate Council on Africa, and others have provided not only free services, but lessons in the for-profit field that have been invaluable to the founders of Ragball, who come from the non-profit sector.

Explain your selections

Ragball International is solely supported from the sale of Ragballs. For this reason, Ragball has not incurred any debt since its start-up phase.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

Year 1 - Establish the best vendors/markets/events for our product
Year 2 - Have data from evaluation to show Ragball's impact on the psychosocial health and financial literacy of our crafters; expand to new markets with new partners
Year 3 - Ragball site is fully functional in South Africa, Brazil, and two additional African sites with over 250 youth enrolled. Lunga Sidzumo, Ragball South Africa Country Director takes over majority of administrative responsibilities

Challenges
Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

Underemployment

SECONDARY

Lack of skills/training

TERTIARY

Lack of access to information and networks

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

Ragball International offers young people the rare opportunity to make money and gain financial literacy through the production of handmade soccer balls. Youth throughout South Africa make soccer balls from available materials. Ragball has marketed this practice by selling these balls internationally to socially conscious consumers. Each ball comes with a player card that tells the consumer about the young crafter that made the ragball. Profits are returned to the youth, who also receive education and mentoring to gain basic business skills that can be applied throughout life.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services

SECONDARY

TERTIARY

Grown geographic reach: Multi-country

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

We have developed and are currently piloting our financial education curriculum with our crafters in Cape Town. With its success, we will be able to expand more readily with the help of partners established in other locations, within South Africa and then countries around the world.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?