Monrovia-When U.S. superstar Akon landed in Liberia to launch the Light to Learn Initiative alongside Bridge Partnership Schools for Liberia, in his entourage were two gentlemen of whom nothing has been heard about.
Nacshon and Arieh Mimran, born and bred in Senegal, are the founders of the NGO Tikkum Olam (TO). The brothers are the sons of Jean-Claude Mimran, founder of the Mimran Group, which has been an entrepreneurial force in Senegal’s agriculture sector for three generations.
TO is one of the partners who has helped to make the #LightToLearn initiative in the country a reality. Founded in 2012, it is an open platform that cultivates and promotes kind business through supporting and nurturing entrepreneurs and companies. The platform aims to create authentic brands that are working to make a real difference in the world.
Despite being born with a silver spoon, the brother knew that they always want to make a difference as they believe in the need for education to develop communities.
“Inequality in our world does not come from a lack of personal effort, it comes from a lack of opportunity in society,” says a lean back Arieh. “Similarly, quality education does not simply benefit a child’s personal growth, it provides opportunity to an entire community.” Perhaps their driving motto, this kick started the Light to Learn intiative.
In November 2014, Nacshon and Arieh hosted Akon on their family farm, in Northern Senegal. The Senegalese singer and entrepreneur had recently launched Solektra, the company behind his “Akon Lighting Africa” project, with fellow West African entrepreneur Samba Bathily and activist Thione Niang. Akon had seen the potential of solar energy and spoken publicly about his hope of bringing electricity to millions of Africans, who, like his grandmother, lived without electricity. Less than a week after Akon had visited the Mimran farm, Solektra delivered solar power equipment to a school supported by the Marie Louise Mimran Foundation.
Realizing their interest were aligning, they introduced Akon to the co-founder of Bridge International Academies (BIA) Dr. Shannon May who, alongside her husband Jay Kimmelman, founded the mission driven organization to design and deliver cost-effective solutions that enable parents and governments to have high performing nursery and primary schools.
In May 2016, the dots were finally connected when Nachson and Arieh saw the opportunity to start a campaign around education and energy. They introduced the founders of Bridge International Academies to the founders of Solektra with the “Akon Lighting Africa” initiative. The idea was for Solektra to power the communities around Bridge schools in several African countries. The Light to Learn partnership was born and aimed to address the energy and education crisis in Africa.
The Mimran brothers and TO joined Akon and Bridge Partnership Schools for Liberia on October 20 and 21 last week to launch the Light To Learn at the J.W. Pearson School on Carey Street in downtown Monrovia and the Zuluyee Public School in Nimba County and also paid a courtesy visit to President Sirleaf.