Daphne Nederhorst

Sawa World

Vancouver, BC

Sector Impact

Children & Youth

Civic Engagement

Economic Development


Health & Well-being

Human Rights & Equality

Amplifying local “Sawa Sparks” in poverty to scale their successful interventions

Daphne Nederhorst offers a unique approach that spreads local and easy-to-start innovations of marginalized youth that live in poverty to other vulnerable youth so that they can lift themselves out of poverty.

Local solutions to poverty.

46 percent of the world’s population live in poverty, making less than 5.50 USD per day, and barely meeting their basic needs. Foreign aid spending and programs over the last sixty years have not eradicated poverty and often made the problems worse. Sawa World has an  innovative approach by finding local innovators that live in poverty and sharing their successful innovative to address poverty in their own communities.

Daphne had the passion to create an equal world from the age of seven. While growing up in Africa and during her extensive travels around the world, she’d witnessed the challenges faced by the people in extreme poverty while noticing by their innovative spirit and ability to solve their own issues.  Drawing on her background in international development and film and video, Daphne Nederhorst could see an opportunity for an impactful and locally-led intervention

She wanted to use her skills and education to empower the people in dire poverty with their own solutions.

After spending many years working for international organizations and governments, Daphne saw that the foreign aid models often overlooked the potential of local communities to lift themselves out of poverty with their own solutions.

In 2007, Daphne founded Sawa World in an effort to combat global poverty with local solutions. Sawa World facilitates large-scale access to simple and locally created solutions by youth entrepreneurs (Sawa Sparks) that alleviate poverty. Other vulnerable youth can apply these solutions in their own communities, start small-scale enterprises in one day, gain income and transform their lives. The Sparks freely share their solutions through peer-to-peer training sessions and act as powerful local mentors to other youth – this is called the “spark effect”. The Sparks generated solutions are also shared through self-learning educational tools such as “how-to” videos and posters, can be learned in one day, with start up funds anywhere between five to twenty-five dollars and have the potential to generate income within one month.

She is currently working with leading global corporations, such as Lavazza, to offer the local solutions with the goal to solve some of the pressing global challenges including sustainable agriculture, climate change and youth unemployment.

Between 2011 and 2019, over 80,000 marginalized youth have been impacted by Sawa World’s local solutions and over 700,000 people have been reached indirectly. Since 2014, 12,329 small-scale businesses were started (with local skills) by the beneficiaries and their monthly average income grew by  27.21 USD. This has raised the total income of the vulnerable youth in poverty by 1.3 million dollars. Sawa World aims to impact 1 billion youth with local solutions by 2030.

Sawa World’s approach has received numerous international awards such as the Pan African Awards for Innovation in Education and endorsed by renowned leaders such as political leader, Kofi Annan.

Sawa World 

Highlights from the Network

Sawa World’s campaign to support unemployed youth gain international attention
Daphne Nederhorst shares her story on how she made the leap to Sawa World