Israel's international airport is not fully operational due to the raging coronavirus, but for Michal Benari, chief of staff at Innovation Africa, limited flights are definitely not an obstacle.
Determined to bring Israeli technology and innovation to African countries, some of which have also been suffering from the pandemic, the NGO's mission is simple. It strives to provide remote and rural areas of the continent with access to energy and clean water.
For a continent, where nearly 800 million people have no access to such basic necessities, their work, as well as the activity of other Israeli companies with a similar mission, appears to be an uphill battle. Benari says that since the moment of its establishment the company has positively impacted the lives of more than 2.2 million people across ten African countries.
It all started in 2008, when Sivan Ya'ari, the CEO and founder of the NGO, travelled to Tanzania as part of her masters in international energy management and policy. It was there that she witnessed the impact that a lack of access to energy and clean water can have on rural communities, and it was there that she decided to dedicate her life to changing the world.
Back then, she managed to raise the necessary sum to power a medical centre via a small solar power system, but Ya'ari didn't want to stop there.
"Today, the organisation is a powerful force for change. Utilising Israeli innovations, the NGO helps to bring essential light and power equipment to schools, orphanages, and medical centres and by harnessing the energy from the Sun, the organisation constructs a solar water pumping system to pump safe, clean water from an aquifer just metres beneath the ground", explained Benari.
The feedback the NGO's getting is positive. Teams are warmly welcomed and most of the time enjoy cooperation with local communities, village chiefs, relevant ministers, and governmental officials.
Despite efforts of their international team and contractors, Benari says the NGO recognises that there are still millions in need of assistance and that their work is just a drop in the ocean".
"Over 620 million people across sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. And that means they cannot receive the quality education and the healthcare they need".
The practical meaning of this is that urgent operations that need to take place at night are either performed in the dark or are delayed until morning, putting the lives of patients at risk.
Life-saving vaccines that require refrigerators are not available, exposing thousands that could be saved to potential danger.
Innovation Africa is funded by generous donors including families and corporations, but despite their support, a mission to assist millions across the continent still requires constant financial flow".
The COVID pandemic, which has already damaged many economies around the world, could harm the NGO's chances of securing those funds but Benari is certain that the company will be able to overcome this and other difficulties.
"Despite the challenges posed by the global pandemic, the NGO has remained steadfast in its mission [to provide] clean water [to] already vulnerable communities. Since the start of 2020, we have expanded our operations and completed close to 200 projects in one year alone".
And they hope to continue their activity in the years to come.
"Our organisation proudly believes in the importance of 'tikkun olam'", says Benari, referring to the Hebrew notion that encourages action to change the globe.
"[Improving the world] is a global responsibility, and it is our duty to share the remarkable innovations that Israel has developed with those in need. We made our desert bloom many decades ago and we want to share our experience with African nations [that are going through similar hurdles right now]".