African Startup Winning! mSurvey Secures $3.5m Series A Investment

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mSurvey, the mobile-first consumer feedback platform for businesses and consumers in Africa, today announces a Series A round of USD$3.5m, led by Africa focused venture firm TLcom Capital with investment from Social Capital, Kapor Capital, Golden Palm, and Richard Owen; founding team of Net Promoter Score (NPS). This follows Seed Investment rounds from Cross Culture Ventures, Alpha Angels and Safaricom’s Spark Venture Fund.  The investment will enable the company to continue building out its infrastructure and partnerships, in order to scale and expand into more African countries.

Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and with a recently launched office in Lagos, Nigeria, mSurvey leads the way in developing in-depth understanding into the African consumer, gathering real-time insights via mobile SMS conversations with its Voice of the Customer and Consumer Wallet products, as well as through its successful launch of Net Promoter Score [NPS] in Africa. Last year alone, the company conducted over 12M conversations with consumers on the continent and works with businesses such as Commercial Bank of Africa, Kenya Commercial Bank, Safaricom, Airtel, Java House, Liberty Insurance, and Britam as well as US-based companies and institutions including Harvard, Emory and CNN.

mSurvey is the first to bring increased visibility and understanding of the African consumer, coupled with two-way conversations between businesses and their customers. Over 66% of Africa’s economic activity takes place in the informal sector, making it challenging for any business to understand who their customer really is, and hindering the analysis of feedback. Through partnerships with leading mobile network operators such as Kenya’s Safaricom, mSurvey is able to comprehensively map a customer’s journey through every single touchpoint, allowing businesses to identify any weak spots that exist within their product or service delivery, directly from the source; the customer. For example, Chloride Exide, an energy company in East Africa, can now map their customer journey via 5 touch points allowing them to understand and improve efficiencies and this has resulted in 800% growth.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Dr. Kenfield Griffith, mSurvey co-founder and CEO says, “Completing our Series A round allows us to tackle this difficult, yet enormous opportunity that exists in connecting African consumers with businesses to develop trust, and ensuring that  millions more two-way conversations can take place each year. African consumers will be spending $2.1 trillion a year on consumer goods by 2025, a growth rate of at 4.5%[1]. We see mSurvey as a strategic partner for thousands of companies who are part of this growth trajectory.”

“Businesses looking to compete in Africa, those already operating on the continent, or international companies looking to expand here, cannot build a detailed, reliable or robust understanding of their customer base through arbitrary pen and paper interviews taken in small, mostly urban, hubs. This requires in-depth and continuous conversations to get to what is really important to consumers on the continent. mSurvey offers a unique proposition in that we can deliver these far-reaching and valuable conversations with customers, at scale. The trust that we have helped build between consumers and brands in Africa is, I believe, a unique and compelling proposition that has helped us secure this investment. We will be working with our investors, at a strategic level to ensure we continue impacting business-ready companies looking to grow in Africa,” added Claire Munene, mSurvey’s  Chief Commercial Officer.

“mSurvey is enabling the supply side of the vast underserved consumer markets in Africa to have a better understanding of their customers. Large corporates and SMEs desperately need more data on the African consumer to serve a growing demand that is only reachable via the mobile platform. This is a unique business proposition with the potential of scaling quickly and transforming the way African consumers are finally understood and properly served.” said Andreata Muforo, Partner at TLcom Capital, who is joining the board of mSurvey.

TLcom Capital has a diverse team with backgrounds in investment, entrepreneurship, and government, with a unique focus on Africa. The firm is the only African VC firm that has achieved significant exits in the African technology space so far, with an unparalleled track record in selecting African pioneering companies such as Andela and Terragon.

Africa is one of the world’s youngest, fastest growing and most dynamic emerging markets, yet many business’ knowledge around who their customers are or how their customers feel about their service remains relatively opaque. mSurvey is the first platform to reach consumers at every touchpoint, via mobile, or indeed comprehensively map the African customer experience. mSurvey’s technology channels the dialogue between business and consumer and the benefits are twofold; customers have a safe and trusted platform to have their say and engage with brands they interact with regularly, whilst businesses can communicate directly with their customers and use that real-time feedback to improve their business operations, positively affecting their bottom line, by reducing both Customer Acquisition Cost [CCA] and Customer Retention Cost [CRC] and churn. On average, mSurvey-powered companies record new product delivery, service efficiencies, and new services.

Data from GSMA reveals that unique mobile subscriber numbers in Africa will increase by 6.2% [CAGR] from 420m in 2016 to 535m in 2020.[2] Leveraging the continent’s most powerful communication tool, the mobile phone, mSurvey allows businesses of any size to engage with their audience and develop a stronger relationship with their audience. The mobile phone is the single most powerful technology which has the potential scale and power to normalize access – giving consumers on the continent the power of choice and businesses the power of knowing; building trusted relationships between businesses and consumers.

 

 

 

 

 

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Founder of AWP Network to serve as a Judge at the 2018 Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition in Berlin

Mary Olushoga, Founder, AWP Network

Mary Olushoga, Founder of the AWP Network will once again serve as a judge at the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition set to take place in Berlin on October 7, 2018. The entrepreneurship program is part of the UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

The Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition is a global program established to empower young entrepreneurs to create a sustainable world. This global platform empowers young entrepreneurs (age 15-35) from around the world to engage in a more peaceful world. Participants submitted their innovative ideas and projects with a societal impact, which champion and implement one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).  The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 related targets address the most important social, economic, environmental, health and governance challenges of our time.

Learn more about the competition here: Youth Citizen Entrepreneurs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I Left KPMG to Start My Business, I Only Had $10 In The Bank – Founder of Audeo Nigeria Tells Her Story

Abimbola Bamigboye

Abimbola Bamigboye sat with the AWP Network to discuss her business, what inspired her to start and her plans for the future.

How did you arrive at your business name? 

Audeo is a Latin word, which means, “I dare” in English. It could also mean “venture” amongst other translations. I first saw it in a novel when I was 12 years old and it stuck with me. The interesting thing is that I do not even remember the title of the novel but I always knew that when I owned my business one day I would call it that.

What inspired you to start? 

My first job experience was my inspiration. I was hired to do telesales for a family portrait studio right out of university. During my time at this company, I soon realized that even though it was well-funded and had shareholders who were wealthy, the business failed because they did not have the right people working for them. The company did not keep proper books and therefore, did not have the information with which to make the right business decisions and were running a blind ship. So I had an idea!

You know how in Nigeria it does not matter what you go to the hospital for, but they always give you Vitamin C? I had the idea that I could create a Vitamin C type product that would help small businesses succeed. I worked with the company for about 18 months before I went on to KPMG and sadly the portrait studio closed down shortly after. I remember feeling that if only the company had access to this product that I want to create, maybe their story would have been different.

Who is your target market?

Audeo works with small and medium scale businesses (SMEs). My company provides management accounting, tax and advisory services at varying levels of the business development process.

How have you financed the idea?

Bootstrapping. When I left KPMG I had only 3000 naira in the bank. At the time, leaving the job might not have been the greatest idea but I would not have had it any other way. The business has grown organically from revenues and with support from friends and families. Heaven knows that I have some “loans” which are never going to come due.

What is your competitive edge?

This is a tough question to answer especially as every business will tell you that they are better than the competitor. I can only talk about my vision and in that I am narrow-minded. I want to help businesses to succeed and this is “WHY” that determines how we shape our business and how we deliver value to our clients. I do not know what drives my competitors.

What is the long-term plan for this idea?

The long time plan for this idea is to scale across Africa and to become the premier choice for back-office support for SMEs. It is my goal to build a full service Pan-African business with exceptional people who are committed to helping businesses succeed.

What challenges do you face?

The same challenges as every small and growing business! financing and talent sourcing. It has been extremely difficult to raise money to fund a professional services firm no matter how noble or grand the idea is. It is not a tangible product so banks won’t come near it (even though we sign yearly contracts with our clients) and even when they do, the costs of the funds are too exorbitant.

The challenges relating to talent sourcing are two-fold; for one, without money it is hard to hire, train and retain good people and secondly, good people are hard to find. We are constantly recruiting and for any business, the cost of recruitment is always a challenge. However, I guess what not having money does for you is that it makes you extremely creative in solving problems so I have learned to hire for attitude before skill and now I can say that I have a team of exceptional, energetic people!

What key things have you learned since starting this idea?

  • You will fail
  • Your idea will change several times
  • Not everyone is your client
  • Put your people first
  • Be careful about partnerships and alliances

What key things do start-up entrepreneurs need to know?

  1. Keep account. Even if you cannot afford to outsource at the start, use excel and record everything going out and coming in.
  2. Network. Network. Network. Work your network, it takes a village.
  3. Focus on your customers. Do not lose sleep over your competition. Trust me, everyone is on the same hustle, so focus and trust your journey.
  4. Fear Not. Do not be afraid to take risks. Of course, I do not advice that you be foolish but you know it is good when it is uncomfortable. The worst that will happen is that you will fail but you will learn.
  5. Read a lot. Read everything that you can – on leadership, on money, on growing your business etc.

What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no  money’?

Just start. Having money does not guarantee that your business or idea will be successful. If you have an idea that requires capital outlay then you have to find the money or the right partner who has money.

How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?

African youths can support each other by divorcing mediocrity and embracing education. I saw replies to a tweet the other day about the need for job seekers to ensure that their CVs were properly edited and spell checked. You know, the basic stuff and I was appalled. From raining insults at the person who tweeted it to saying English is not our first language. We must push each other to do the things that are right and required for our advancement.

How many jobs have you created so far?

At the moment, we have about 16 people on the team but a lot more jobs have been created overtime as some people have come and gone in the (6) six years that the company has existed.

How has technology enhanced your business idea? 

Technology is very crucial to our business, from using an accounting software to our in-house training portal which we are currently building. Technology gives us the ability to deliver financial statements accurately, as well as perform simple and complex analyses and share information effectively.

How can we support and improve innovation in Africa? 

In Africa, we must be committed to building an ecosystem that allows all kinds of ideas to be developed. We must also continue to invest in education and infrastructure. The mind is truly a terrible thing to waste.

Twitter: Audeo

Website: Audeo

Facebook: Audeo 

Instagram: Audeo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenya’s mSurvey Expands Into Nigeria

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mSurvey, the mobile-first consumer experience platform, is expanding into Nigeria. The move comes as the Kenya-based company seeks to consolidate its position as Africa’s leading technology-powered customer loyalty platform. Backed by international and African investors, including Safaricom’s Spark Fund, Cross Culture Ventures and Alpha Angels, mSurvey will be opening a new office and growing a Lagos-based team, who will focus on building partnerships with Nigerian MNOs and Banks, before rolling out their services namely, Voice of the Customer, Consumer Wallet and Net Promoter Score to Nigeria.

Launched in 2012, with the mission to simplify access to high-quality data from hard-to-reach communities, mSurvey has brought hidden and offline voices into the global conversation, via in-depth, mobile phone conversations. The company has worked with brands such as Safaricom, Java House Africa, KCB (Kenya Commercial Bank), Britam Insurance, Digicel (Trinidad and Tobago)]. Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, with a presence in the U.S., the move into the Nigerian market signals the company’s focus on connecting brands and business-ready companies to their customers, to quantify consumer spending habits, to understand customers’ relationships with brands, and to build a detailed and segmented map of the African consumer. To-date, mSurvey has made a little over 13 million engagements in mobile conversations since its inception.

Dr. Kenfield Griffith PhD, mSurvey CEO and co-Founder says, “We’re excited to be expanding into the Nigerian market, and capturing the daily consumer experiences of Africa’s most populous country. In Kenya, we’ve seen many of our partner companies see an increase in sales, having used one of our products to better understand their customers. The question we are asking, and subsequently working with our clients to answer, is: how can you attract and retain your valued customers, if you don’t know how they feel about your product or service?

“Nigeria is a tantalizing market for us to expand into; we know that Nigerians like to voice their opinions and give honest feedback – but all too often, companies and brands aren’t able to capture this feedback in a meaningful or indeed tangible way, so they are unable to reconfigure their business practices to fit with their customers’ requirements. This is where mSurvey can help – by enabling our customers to ask the right questions and speak directly to consumers, we can ensure that our clients can listen to and get really get to know their customers. In an ever competitive market, knowing how to retain your customers is critical to any company’s growth”.

mSurvey’s platform enables a two-way conversation on any topic, with any local audience, opening a dynamic, interactive and unfiltered communication channel that delivers insights from real people, in real-time. To-date, mSurvey has worked with some of the world’s most recognisable businesses, government organisations and academic institutions. Through in-depth consumer conversations, data analytics and previously unobtainable metrics, the company is changing how businesses create interactive and individual relationships with their customers by providing unprecedented access to real-time, direct feedback. In less than five minutes, any business, organization or individual can start a conversation with select people or random, diverse populations via mSurvey’s feedback platform – no printed questionnaire, local administrator or long response time needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The AWP Network Promotes Entrepreneurship at Afe Babalola University

 

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In line with its mission to power small business success for African entrepreneurs through training and support, the AWP Network organized a pitch competition for young entrepreneurs at Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria.

The event was done in collaboration with the Inspire Young Leaders Summit (IYLS), an organization led by Mide Popoola. The AWP Network provided the tools needed to help these university students complete their business plans and develop their entrepreneurial ideas.

At the AWP Network, we strongly believe that working to promote entrepreneurship to the next generation will help to reduce high youth unemployment rates. At the end of the training, AWP connected the winning business plan, pitch, and idea to various resources and business support programs so as to ensure sustainability.

The AWP Network also provided seed funding to the top three (3) winning ideas. Founder of the AWP Network, Mary Olushoga stated, “with the success of this program, it is our intention that this initiative is replicated across private and public universities in Nigeria.”

Feedback from winners and participants as follows:

Gbana Nkasike stated, “I want to express my profound gratitude again to the AWP Network for sowing this seed to help me nurture my business idea and assistance in helping me to bring it to fruition.”

Sharon Agwunobi said, “this opportunity led to my first official feature in a national newspaper. I am still letting this entire experience sink in and not let the fame get to my head. The AWP Network has provided a credible platform for young entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas and to receive financial support. Thank you so much to the AWP Network.

 

The 2017 AWP Network Power List

Be the change. Be Inspired. Be you.

Recognizing (40) African women with powerful, inspiring, and influential voices.

Introducing Africa’s leading women! 

At the AWP Network, we aim to encourage more African women with powerful voices who will continue to create programs and policies that support the development and growth of African women and girls.

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  1. Africa’s First Olympic Bobsled Team (Nigeria) relentless, focused and determined: Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga – are the first African, the first Nigerian bobsled team to ever qualify for and compete in the Winter Olympics. The team raised funds to participate in the Olympics using GoFundMe. They did not just meet their  fundraising goal but were also able to sign a sponsorship deal with VISA. The AWP Network is proud of these women for inspiring the next generation of women and girls and for showing the world that ‘impossible is nothing.’
  2. Sabetha Mwambenja (Tanzania) is the first woman general manager and CEO in Tanzania’s banking sector. Currently, she serves as the managing director and chief executive officer of the Covenant Bank for Women Tanzania Limited, where she facilitates small business growth for women entrepreneurs through innovative financial products and services.
  3. Funke Opeke (Nigeria) is Chief Executive Officer of Main One Cable company, a privately owned company with an open access 7,000-kilometer undersea high-capacity cable submarine stretching from Portugal to South Africa with landings along the route in Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria. Opeke is also founder of Main Street Technologies. Prior to founding her company, she served as the Chief Technical Officer for MTN Nigeria.
  4. Gail Makenete (Lesotho) is the second deputy governor of the central bank of Lesotho, a position she has held since January 2012. Prior to this appointment, she served as the director of financial markets at the Bank. Makenete serves as a member of the Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion Committee (GWFIC) of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI).
  5. Wendy Luhabe (South Africa) is an entrepreneur, author, and pioneer. She previously served as the jury president for Sub-Saharan Africa for the Cartier women’s initiative award. Luhabe is currently chairperson of Vendome SA, the Industrial Development Corporation, and the International Marketing Council.
  6. Susan Mashibe (Tanzania) is founder and executive director of VIA Aviation. She is a FAA certified commercial pilot and an aircraft maintenance engineer. Mashibe is the first woman with both qualifications in Tanzania. She also serves as Director of the Kilimanjaro Aviation logistic Center.
  7. Irene Ovonji-Odida (Uganda) is chief executive officer of the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers. She is recognized as one of the pioneers of legal aid and public legal education in sub-Saharan Africa. Ovonji-Odida also serves as the chairperson for Action Aid International and was recently appointed to a UN High-Level Panel on illicit financial flows from Africa.
  8. Linah Mohohlo (Botswana) played a key role in one of Africa’s most successful economies as former governor of Botswana’s central bank. She is a member of the Commission for Africa and the Africa Progress Panel.
  9. Dambisa Moyo (Zambia) serves on the boards of several companies to include Barclays Bank, Chevron and the Barrick Gold corporation. Prior to this, she worked at the World Bank and Goldman Sachs. Moyo is an author and an international economist who analyzes macroeconomic and global affairs.
  10. Ruth Oniang’o (Kenya) is a leading academic expert in Food Security and Nutrition. She founded the African Journal for Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development – a peer-reviewed journal on agricultural development in Africa. Oniang’o is also founder of the Rural Outreach Program, an NGO focused on improving the lives of those in rural areas.
  11. Almaz Negash (Eritrea / United States) is founder of the African Diaspora Network (ADN), which hosts the annual African Diaspora Investment Symposium, an event focused on helping investors and entrepreneurs in the diaspora connect with one another. Negash also serves as the senior managing director of Step Up Silicon Valley, a social innovation network and anti-poverty laboratory utilizing disruptive, research-based strategies to reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity in Silicon Valley.
  12. Elizabeth Elango Bintliff (Cameroon) is chief executive officer of Junior Achievement Africa, a well-known organization providing business and economic education to young people. Prior to this appointment, she served as the vice-president of Africa programs at Heifer International.
  13. Aishah Ahmad (Nigeria) was recently appointed Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Prior to this, she was Head of Consumer and Privilege Banking at Diamond Bank. Ahmed also recently served as the chairperson of the executive council for WimBiz, an organization focused on addressing issues affecting women professionals in business and corporate bodies, with a particular attention on promoting and increasing women’s roles in corporate governance and leadership.
  14. Eniola Aluko (Nigeria/England) is a footballer who plays forward for Chelsea Ladies FC. She is also founder of Crescenda Sport, an organization providing internships and vocational experiences in the global sports industry to undergraduate and postgraduate students.  Aluko helped to expose the extent of discrimination and racism in the Football Association as she courageously gave her testimony of bullying, harassment, and racism to the select committee on culture, media, and sports in England.
  15. Polo Leteka (South Africa) is a co-founding shareholder of Identity Partners, Alitheia Identity Managers, and IDF Capital. IDF Capital invests in women entrepreneurs and women-led businesses.
  16. Ethiopia Habtemariam (Ethiopia / United States) is president of Motown Records and president of Urban Music/Co-Head of Creative at Universal Publishing Music Group. She is the 2017 recipient of the Mark of Excellence prize at the African Diaspora Awards.
  17. Osayi Alile (Nigeria) is chief executive officer of ACT Foundation, a subsidiary in partnership with Access Bank. Prior to this, she led the FATE Foundation and worked as the Vice President of Programs at Junior Achievement.
  18. Phanice Nkwamboka (Kenya): is the chief executive officer of Eye on Africa, a pan-African public affairs organization highlighting development and showcasing investment opportunities across sub-Saharan Africa. Nkwamboka has advised several presidential candidates across Africa and has campaigned for President Alassane Ouattara and Akinwunmi Adesina of the African Development Bank.
  19. Ilwad Elman (Somalia): is a Somali-Canadian social activist who works at the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Mogadishu. Elman also runs Sister Somalia, the country’s first program for supporting victims of gender-based violence. The center provides counseling, health and housing support for women in need.
  20. Dorothy Njamze (Nigeria) is an actress and activist. Her, Edu Ene-Okoro, Justina Etim and Amarachi Jessyforth won a lawsuit against the Nigerian government in the ECOWAS court for a gross violation of their rights to dignity. They were abducted and assaulted sexually, physically, verbally and unlawfully detained from January 2011 and March 2013 by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board and other government agencies, to include the police and the military. In collaboration with other civil society organizations, they were awarded 18 million naira against the federal government of Nigeria.
  21. Peace Hyde (Ghana/Britain) is founder of Aim Higher Africa, a non-profit focused on enriching the quality of education for students in Ghana by incorporating the use of ICT. Hyde is also the Forbes West Africa Correspondent and Head of Digital Media and Partnerships for Forbes Africa.
  22. Molara Wood (Nigeria) is a writer, author, journalist and critic, who is described as ‘one of the eminent voices in Nigeria’s Art space.’ Wood previously served as a judge for the Etisalat Prize for Literature. She is on the advisory board of the Aké Arts and Book Festival and a participant at many literary events including the Lagos Book & Art Festival.
  23. Adaku Ufere (Nigeria) is a feminist, blogger and lawyer who specializes in regulatory compliance, contract negotiation and contract administration with a focus on oil, gas, and power. She is the youngest African and first Nigerian to win the African Legal Attorney of the Year award.
  24. Imelme Umana (Nigeria / United States) was recognized Person of the Year at the African Diaspora Awards. She is the first black woman to be elected President of Harvard Law Review.
  25. Judith Owigar (Kenya) is founder of Juakali and president of Akirachix, a platform focused on supporting African women in technology ecosystem. Owigar is a coder, blogger and tech enthusiast.
  26. Nshuti Lucy Mbabazi (Rwanda) is passionate about expanding access to digital and financial services throughout Africa. She currently serves as the group manager of Push Payments – Transnational Incorporated. Prior to this role, she worked as the Country Manager for Visa in Rwanda and as the Policy and Strategy Advisor for the Rwanda Development Board and ICT Department. Mbabazi is at the forefront of promoting and encouraging young women to pursue careers in technology.
  27. Pauline Mujawamariya-Koelbl (Rwanda/Switzerland) is director of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA). She is a Bellagio/PopTech Catalyst, a joint initiative between the Rockefeller Foundation and PopTech, which brings together a global community of innovators and thought leaders from different fields to share insights and work together to create lasting change. Mujawamariya-Koelbl also sits on the board of the Flame Tree Initiative, an NGO focused on using ICTs to address the digital divide through collaboration with African universities.
  28. Lola Omolola (Nigeria/Chicago) is founder of ‘Female in Nigeria’, an empowerment group on Facebook with over one million members. The group highlights the voices of women around the world and was created to be a safe space to discuss the stories and struggles about life, love, sex, family and career.
  29. Toyin Odulate (Nigeria) is country director of Danone Nutricia Early Life Nutrition and founder of Olori Cosmetics – a hair, bath, body and beauty product line created with the best natural ingredients available in Africa. Odulate is recognized as one of the pioneers of organic beauty products in Nigeria.
  30. Marlise Montcho (Benin) is a telecoms engineer and president of FemTICDev, an organization focused on supporting women and girls in Benin by equipping them with the I.T. skills needed to become important actors in the technology ecosystem. Montcho is a YALI fellow and a Moremi Initiative ‘Emerging Women Leader.’
  31. Eunice Baguma Ball (Uganda/United Kingdom) is founder of the Africa Technology Business Network, a platform established to build a bridge between the tech communities in the United Kingdom and Africa. Her London-based social enterprise works to drive growth and impact in the African tech ecosystem by enabling investments, skills exchange, and collaborative opportunities. Ball also launched #HerFutureAfrica – a program helping to put women at the forefront of innovation in Africa by supporting them to create high-impact businesses.
  32. Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin (Nigeria) is founder of Pearls Africa Foundation, an organization that facilitates opportunities for vulnerable young girls in Nigeria. She is also creator of #GirlsCoding Nigeria, an initiative that equips, mentors, and trains girls from underserved communities in functional I.T. skills for the purpose of economic independence.
  33. Glory Edozien (Nigeria) is a blogger and the convener of  ‘9to5Chick’, a platform created to enable young women advance their careers by connecting them to accomplished executives as mentors and to discuss strategies for rising to the top.
  34. Blessing Effiom Egbe (Nigeria) is a leading Nollywood producer and content producer. She is also chief executive officer of B’Concept Network Productions.
  35. Oluwaseun Ayodeji Owosobi (Nigeria) is executive director of the Stand to End Rape Initiative, a youth-led not-for-profit organization raising awareness for, and working to end all forms of rape through education, supporting survivors, and changing community perceptions towards sexual violence and abuse in Nigeria. Owosobi also organizes the HERE Exhibition, which uses photography to share the stories of survivors.
  36. Ink Eze (Nigeria) is founder of AsoEbiBella.com, a platform created to share African traditional styles and fabrics. With the AsoEbiBella platform, BellaNaija Weddings has gained international prominence and has become Africa’s foremost wedding media brand with millions of followers across several platforms.
  37. Uneku Atawodi-Ekun (Nigeria) is general manager of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Ghana. She is also recognized as ‘Nigeria’s Polo Queen.’
  38. Esther Ijewere (Nigeria) is a Vital Voices Leadership Fellow, an activist and founder of Rubies Ink Initiative for Women and Children, an organization that organizes projects to include, the Walk Against Rape, Women of Rubies, Project Capable, Rubies Ink Media and the College Acquaintance Rape Education Workshops.
  39. Moiyattu Banya (Sierra Leone/United States) is a feminist, writer, activist, and founder of the Girls Empowerment Summit. Banya is passionate about getting young girls out of poverty. Her platform, the Girls Empowerment summit was established to build the leadership capabilities and skills of young girls in Sierra Leone.
  40. Bidemi Zakariyau (Nigeria) is an entrepreneur and founder of LSF|PR, a public relations consulting firm with core competencies in corporate communications, consumer and lifestyle brands. Zakariyau also founded The Luxe Digest, a pan-African luxury content platform. She handles the day–to-day management of LSF|PR and leads her team to create the communications strategy for clients. She is winner of the 2017 LaPriga Rising PR Practitioner of the Year Award.

AWP Network 2013 Power List 

AWP Network 2014 Power List

AWP Network 2015 Power List

AWP Network 2016 Power List

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Entrepreneurs Join the Jobs for Youths in Africa Initiative

The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims at creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million youth over the next ten years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs.

PYAG members are:

  • Ashish Thakkar, CEO, Mara Group, Tanzania (Chair);
  • Uzodinma Iweala, award-winning author, Nigeria;
  • Mamadou Toure, Founder / CEO, Africa 2.0 / Ubuntu Capital, Cameroon;
  • Vanessa Moungar, Human and Social Development Director, AfDB and member of President Macron’s Presidential Council for Africa, Chad;
  • Francine Muyumba, President, Panafrican Youth Union, Democratic Republic of Congo;
  • Jeremy Johnson, Co-founder, Andela, USA;
  • Clarisse Iribagiza, CEO, Hehe, Rwanda;
  • Ada Osakwe, CEO, Agrolay Ventures, Nigeria;
  • Monica Musonda, CEO of Java Foods, Zambia.

President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina, has launched the Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) to provide insights and innovative solutions for job creation for Africa’s youth, as outlined in the Bank’s Jobs for Youths in Africa Strategy.

The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims at creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million youth over the next ten years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs. It is currently the largest effort going on for youth employment in Africa today.

The advisory group, inaugurated on the sidelines of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum in Abidjan on Monday, November 27, will work with the Bank to create jobs for Africa’s youth.

“This is a huge opportunity for Africa. If we fix the youth unemployment challenge, Africa will gain 10-20% annual growth. That means Africa’s GDP will grow by $500 million per year for the next thirty years. Africa’s per capita income will rise by 55% every year to the year 2050,” Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said at the inauguration of the Group.

Learn more here: Jobs for African Youths 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cornell Student, Kanyinsola Obayan to Establish Creative Arts School in Nigeria

Kányinsọ́lá Ọbáyàn is a doctoral candidate in Africana Studies at Cornell, an Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York where her research examines the relationships between the Lagos startup ecosystem migration and the larger urban environment. Obayan is also founder of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Orísun Collective Inc., which holds summer camps in the creative arts for secondary school students in Lagos, Nigeria. She is passionate about arts and culture, social entrepreneurship, and economic development on the African Continent.

How did you come up with your business name? 

For my business, I wanted a name that reflected my passion for the African culture. I also wanted something meaningful. After a brainstorming session with my father, I came up with the name Orisun, which means ‘the source’ or ‘beginning’ in Yoruba. I then spoke with several individuals who would later become members of my team and the “collective” part was later added on to it.

Who or what inspired you to start this idea? 

December 2015, I was having brunch with some friends and I had informed them that I would like to start a school for the creative arts in Nigeria within the next seven to ten years. My friends were very supportive but at that time it was simply an idea and I didn’t know how to implement it. However one friend in particular, who is now an advisory board member gave me the push I really needed to start. He encouraged me to work on the idea right away. He said, “why don’t you start a summer camp in the meantime to get the traction you need until you can afford to build a school.” And that was how Orisun Collective was born.

Who is your target market?  

My target market is secondary school students ages 10 to 17.

How have you financed the idea?

As a nonprofit, we have mainly relied on crowdfunding, individual donations, and grants. Right now, we are pursuing different funding methods to include: monthly giving programs as well as integrating a price structure for the students while offering reduced or free tuition for the economically disadvantaged.

What is your competitive edge?

There are many summer camps in Lagos that focus on the creative arts, we are however unique because of the emphasis on access and equity for all. Our program model foregrounds the necessity of diversity and inclusion by serving public and private secondary school students. We are also in the process of reconfiguring our program model to incorporate more technology and hands-on experiential knowledge.

What is the long-term plan for this idea?

We plan to expand the camp into a four-week residential summer experience for students across Nigeria. We also intend to implement an internship or apprenticeship component, which will provide interested students with hands-on experience. Lastly, we hope to transform the summer camp program into a premier secondary school for the creative arts for students across the continent and the Diaspora within the next seven to ten years.

What challenges have you faced?

One of the main challenges that we face as a nonprofit is in regards to the funding and sustainability of the program. Traditionally, nonprofits rely on individual donations, corporate donations, and grants. These methods can be very difficult especially for smaller nonprofits. Consequently, we are looking beyond these methods and thinking more creatively about new processes that can be integrated and implemented, to ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of the organization.

What five (5) things have you learned since starting this idea?

  1. Value people. Businesses are only as good as the communities they impact and the communities who support them.
  2. No experience—good or bad—is ever lost. Remember that it is just an opportunity that life presents for growth, personal or organizational.
  3. Value Hard work. Your gifts alone will not make room for you. But your gifts and hard work will make room for you.
  4. Be humble. True leadership is not about power. It is about service. It is about having a heart for people in need and caring about their stories.
  5. Self-care is necessary. Knowing when to step away for some time will make you more productive.

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What five (5) things do startup entrepreneurs need to know?

  1. Network, Network, Network! Startup entrepreneurs need to become expert networkers, who confidently seize every opportunity to build meaningful relationships.
  2. Seek knowledge. Seek knowledge and inspiration because this process will help you to refine your ideas.
  3. Keep the big picture in mind! In the startup phase, it is very easy to get bogged down with tiny details that come with building something new. Although focusing on the details are important, you should also remember the big picture, as it will serve as an overall filter for you.
  4. Be flexible and open. Flexibility is key especially when you are working with a team of people. You cannot do any of this alone. It is important to make sure that people have a voice and their voices are heard, listened to, and valued. Being open ensures that your team members play an integral role in helping you to actualize your vision.
  5. Be fearless. Do not let the fear of rejection or the unknown, limit you before you even start. Once you start, do not let fear stop you from achieving your mission. Have faith and be confident in your purpose as an individual and in your organization’s mission to society.

What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?

Start small, think big. Identify the core aspects of the idea and begin with that. You will be surprised at how far that will take you.

How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?

African youths can support one another by creating collaborative communities where resources, expertise, and inspiration can be shared.

How many jobs have you created so far?

We have created about 20 jobs so far.

How has technology enhanced your business? 

Technology is integral to our business. Operating with a small team requires that we make efficient use of our time. With technology, we are able to save money by utilizing user-friendly platforms or outsourcing to freelancers for more skilled work. Our website and social media platforms has been instrumental in raising awareness for our brand.

How can we support and improve innovation in Africa? 

By passionately and intentionally pursuing our purpose in service of the African Continent. No contribution is too small or insignificant.

Learn more about Orisun Collective here:

Website: Orisun Collective 

Instagram: Orisun Collective

Facebook: Orisun Collective

Twitter: Orisun Collective 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Winners of the Orange Social Venture Prize for Africa and the Middle East

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For the seventh year in a row, the Orange Group recognizes innovative projects that further development within the region. The objective of the prize is to stimulate entrepreneurial initiatives that use new technologies to meet the needs of people in Africa and the Middle East.

Open from February to June 2017, the call for applications received nearly 1,200 innovative project entries, which was 60% more than 2016. These projects illustrate the diverse ideas from local entrepreneurs and the potential of ICT in the development of Africa and the Middle East. Amongst the 49 local winners, 11 projects were selected and submitted to a jury made up of professionals, investors, external organizations and Orange organizations. The three winners will receive bursaries of €25,000, €15,000 and €10,000 and the Special Content Prize winner will receive €5,000. The finalists of the Orange Social Entrepreneur Prize will also enjoy priority support for six months from the NGO Grow Movement and Orange experts.

The winning projects are:

1st prize was awarded to Manzer Partazer in Madagascar: The objective of the Malagasy startup is to reduce food waste by sharing excess food from restaurants, hotels or supermarkets with partner organisations such as orphanages and disadvantaged populations. A collaborative platform will allow direct communication between different stakeholders.

2nd prize was awarded to City Taps in Niger: CityTaps has developed a solution which bridges the gap between water services and the most disadvantaged citizens: a pre-payment service which includes a smart water meter and billing software. The beneficiaries use their mobile to prepay for running water with any mobile phone, at any time, for any amount, which improves their household budget.

3rd prize was awarded to eFret.tn in Tunisia: eFret.tn is a website based on the freight exchange principle. It links up senders, whether private individuals or companies, with transport and transit professionals in Tunisia. The senders publish adverts describing their needs and receive free quotations from carriers, movers, and international transport companies and customs forwarding agents.

The Special Orange Content Prize was awarded to Génie Edu in Cameroon: This is an e-learning platform which aims to help students having problems by providing online video courses. The startup wants every student, including those in remote areas, to have access to high-quality courses at a very low cost, anytime and anywhere.

Internet users were also invited to choose their “User Favourite” project. This project automatically qualified for the international final. This was the Malgasy project Majika – which received over 2,800 votes out of 12,242 votes online. Majika is a social company aiming to facilitate economic development conditions in rural zones. It is based on two areas: access to renewable electricity and support for rural entrepreneurship. Majika works on an autonomous and ecological power plant in the village of Ampasindava.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Founder of AWP Network Joins the Host Committee for the African Diaspora Awards

Mary Olushoga, Founder of the AWP Network will join the host committee for the 7th Annual African Diaspora Awards set to take place in New York on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017.

The African Diaspora Awards will honor the new breed of African diaspora leaders, activists, designers and businesses solving the problems of today and tomorrow. The nominations over the years, has featured a cross-section of organizations, startups, and young talents.

The initiative celebrates innovation, creativity and enterprise amongst Africans in Diaspora aged 22 – 45. It has produced over 60 winners and over 1,550 nominees since its first edition in 2010.  There are 13 categories in all—ranging from Person of the Year, Advocate of the year, Entrepreneur of the year and more—and they’re judged by a sterling selection of designers and business leaders.

Learn more about the event here: ADA2017

Other members of the committee are:

Bette Mengesha
Saran Kaba Jones
Georgie Badiel
Rotimi Ogundeyin
Emmanuel Ohuabunwa
Mary Olushoga
Jessica Etsile Rapoo
Folake Eniola
Melissa Adeyemo
Mamadou Samba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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