“As Women, We Must Confidently Own Our Spaces and Sell Our Vision”- Tomi Otudeko, Founder of Itanna

Tomi Otudeko is Head of Innovation and Sustainability at the Honeywell Group. She is also Director of Itanna, a four-months training program for tech-enabled Nigerian startups.  Startups accepted into the accelerator receive major funding from the Honeywell Group. Selected startups also need to demonstrate traction through customer growth or partnerships with customer acquisition enablers. Participants need to have a clear vision, technical capability, sector knowledge and the desire to scale. In this interview, Otudeko meets with Mary Olushoga, Founder of AWP Network to discuss what inspired her company, Honeywell Group to launch this accelerator program and to discuss plans for the future. 

What do women entrepreneurs need to know about finding investors and securing investment deals?

Women entrepreneurs like all entrepreneurs need to solve real problems. Investors will invest in businesses they believe have a high chance of success. As entrepreneurs pitch for investors, they need to be knowledgeable about their business and be confident as they pitch. It is not enough to know about your business, entrepreneurs should also be knowledgeable about their industry, their competition, and their numbers.

Women in Nigeria are encouraged to be modest and demure but when it comes to pitching for investments we cannot afford to revert to stereotypes. We must confidently own our space and sell our vision. 

What/who inspired you to start? Could you explain why Honeywell Group chose to invest in tech startups?

For us at Honeywell Group, Itanna was the next logical step. As a Group with many “traditional” businesses, we had thought about the future of our businesses and the ultimate question became how we ensure that we are sustainable for generations to come. When the opportunity to create Itanna came about, it was clear that investing in and helping to develop the businesses of the future was not just an option but a key imperative for the Group.

How did you come up with your business name? 

Itanna ( i-tah-nah) is derived (although not pronounced the same way) from the Yoruba word Ìtanná, which means to light up or to ignite.  My team and I struggled to come up with a name that adequately captured what we were trying to achieve. So I reached out to  my father about the name and he took the time to think about it and came up with a few options. As soon as I heard the word ‘Itanna,’ I knew that it was right.  At Itanna, we are focused on igniting businesses that can help to ‘light up’ change in Nigeria and the continent as a whole, which is why I feel ‘Itanna’ is apt.

Who is your target market?

We are looking to help tech and tech-enabled businesses in Lagos. The businesses we want to invest in do not have to be purely technology startups but startups that use technology to disrupt the sector they are in.  We are interested in startups that solve problems and believe that these businesses will impact the society and the economy.

In selecting the businesses to invest in, we ensure that we are clear on our selection criteria and that we invest in people that are not only solving real problems but have already taken the risk to create a product or service. The businesses we look at must have made some traction and we believe our investment in such a company would help to catalyze their growth.

What is your competitive edge?

As a corporate-backed venture capital fund and accelerator, Itanna has the unique position of being able to leverage on Honeywell Group’s 45 years of experience, building and scaling businesses across different sectors. To the extent that we can, we are able to tap into Honeywell Group’s extensive network of entrepreneurs and mentors to impart their knowledge and industry experience to the businesses that are part of our accelerator program. We also use our networks to open doors and to assist our investee companies to build their businesses.

What is the long-term plan for Itanna?

To be a proactive member of the local tech ecosystem and support in growing businesses solving real problems.  We would like to have a portfolio of companies that are innovative and have grown overtime into businesses that are competing both locally and globally.

What key things have you learned since starting this idea?

  1. Never stop learning. The entire process of this business has been a learning experience and I have learned so many new things in the past few years.
  2. Know what you stand for and what you want to achieve but be flexible on how you get there. The process has been a series of pivots and changes as we have had to adjust how we get to the end.
  3. Accountability. Strong corporate governance is critical for growth and success. The progress we have made at Itanna has been due to the fact that we are accountable to our steering committee. As I continue to engage with startups, I observe that the more successful startups have strong boards of directors and advisers they are accountable to.
  4. Your Team Matters. It is a team effort and we have been most successful when we partner with others. There is no single person whose work is more important than the other. Everyone’s expertise is necessary to make this a successful venture not only for those of us who work at Itanna, but also for the startups who are part of our cohort.
  5. Do not give up on your goals. The process of getting Itanna off the ground was a lengthy one for our team. But as shared earlier, knowing what you stand for and what you want to achieve is important in keeping you focused and reminds you of what you are working towards. We always knew the end goal and kept working towards that regardless of the challenges we faced and here we are, still standing.

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

 “I don’t have the capital,” “Nobody wants to give me capital,” “Where will I get money to execute my idea.” These are common reasons people give for not starting or putting their ideas into action. Yes, access to capital is one of the biggest threats to entrepreneurs around the world and every year, thousands of passionate people – especially in Africa – give up on their business ideas, projects and dreams just because they cannot access capital.

In my opinion, a lack of capital is not the real problem. The problem is that many do not know where to look for it. A lack of awareness about where and how to raise capital is the real dream killer.  According to Quartz Africa Reports, more capital has been flowing into Africa. In 2015, the continent received up to $276.5 million in startup funding and in 2016, the number rose to $366.8 million (Quartz Africa, 2017). These numbers are just for tech startups alone. There are a lot of Incubators and Accelerators like Itanna, CC Hub, etc. who not only provide funding but help in accelerating and mentoring businesses to achieve their goals.

In summary, the lack of capital should not be an issue to execute ones’ ideas. Young people must work at getting the information. There is money out there, you just need to know where to look. As long as you have a good idea, work hard and have a bit of luck, you will succeed.

Some examples of young people with ideas but not enough funding are: Jason Njoku, CEO and Founder of iROKOtv (mobile entertainment and internet TV platform for African movies); Bethlehem Alemu, Founder of soleRebels (Africa’s popular and faster growing footwear brand), etc. These entrepreneurs made it against all the financial odds because they knew where to look.

How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?

To support and improve innovation in Africa, it is essential that the ecosystem is effectively developed. This requires the right input into the system to ensure there is an enabling environment. Education is key and the curiosity for innovation needs to start early, across all levels of the educational system, and STEM education needs to be a focus. We also need to develop people that think differently and are learning for understanding and not just for recollection or regurgitation. More importantly, government and businesses must also work at funding research projects to encourage and develop these ideas.

In terms of business environment, there should be more emphasis on making the process of establishing and running enterprises easier with a focus on transparency and lowering the costs of financial & legal regulations and compliance.

Lastly, we all know how difficult it is to do business in Africa, and infrastructure is a major inhibitor. It is difficult to innovate when you are struggling with the basics such as power, transportation, and basic connectivity. Government has a key role to play in ensuring the ease of doing business in Africa and freeing up the players to innovate. The responsibility is for all players in the ecosystem to help build the innovative Africa we truly want to see.

Twitter: ItannaAfrica

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Website: ItannaAfrica 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meet the Young Entrepreneurs Up for the $100,000 Anzisha Prize

Entrepreneurship is central to Africa’s economic growth and is one of the keys to unlocking job opportunities for young people across the continent. Today, Mastercard Foundation in partnership with the African Leadership Academy (ALA) is pleased to announce that 20 of Africa’s youngest and brightest entrepreneurs will join the Anzisha Fellowship–a lifelong affiliation that will help accelerate their path to entrepreneurship success.  On Tuesday, October 23, these 20 finalists will compete for the Anzisha Prize, Africa’s premier award for her youngest entrepreneurs.

The Anzisha Prize awards young entrepreneurs who have developed and implemented innovative solutions to social challenges or started successful businesses within their communities.  Selected from a pool of over 600 applicants, from 13 countries, the finalists are armed with the tools they need to grow their business and attract investment, and are coached and mentored by industry experts. As Anzisha Fellows, they emerge as role models igniting the entrepreneurial spirit within their peers and creating job opportunities in their communities.

Now in its 8th year, the Anzisha Prize program attracts young entrepreneurs from across Africa and for the first time, the Prize is recognizing the achievements of entrepreneurs from Benin, Libya, and Sierra Leone. Applicants represent a wide variety of entrepreneurial efforts, from manufacturing, mining, and healthcare, but agripreneurs continue to dominate the applicant pool. Among them is Kenyan Kevin Kibet, the 22-year old founder of FarmMoja Limited which supports smallholder farmers by providing them with inputs, training, and access to reliable markets. Since its inception in 2016, FarmMoja has distributed inputs to 30 farmers, acquired a seven-acre farm with 1,000 trees, and raised $20,000 in equity funding from angel investors to underwrite its expansion activities. Another finalist, Vanessa Ishiimwe from Rwanda is running three learning centres within a Ugandan refugee camp which are educating more than 300 children and employing 18 youth as teachers.

The 20 finalists will be flown to Johannesburg for a 10-day entrepreneurship boot camp where they will receive intensive training from African Leadership Academy’s renowned Entrepreneurial Leadership faculty. They will be coached on how to pitch their business to a panel of judges for a share of the US$100,000 cash prize.  The grand prize winner will receive US$25,000. The remainder of the prize money will be shared among the rest of the finalists. Additionally, each finalist is enrolled in a Fellowship program that will provide over $7,500 in additional support and services.

This year, for the first time, the pitch competition will be live streamed across the continent.  Online audiences will have the opportunity to tune into the pitch competition and rally behind the entrepreneurs who inspire them most, possibly motivating them to begin their own entrepreneurial journey. The pitching event will be hosted by Cameroonian Tonje Bakang, a tech entrepreneur who created Africa’s Netflix, Afrostream and a long-time supporter of young entrepreneurs.

The 2018 finalists for the Anzisha Prize are:

  1. Akpe Kevin Edorh, 21, Togo: Akpe founded Dashmake, an SMS-based, rapid response system that allows users to quickly and efficiently get assistance to victims of emergency situations.
  2. Aldred Dogue , 21, Benin: Aldred is the founder of Africa Foods Mill, a company that purchases local agricultural produce from smallholder farmers and transforms it into packaged convenience foods.
  3. Alhaji Bah, 18, Sierra Leone: Alhaji is the founder of Rugsal Trading, a company that produces handcrafted paper bags as well as briquettes for cooking fuel.
  4. Alina Karimamusama, 21, Zambia: Alina is the founder of Youth Arize, a non-profit that empowers women with tangible skills they can use to find or create work for themselves.
  5. Amanda Jojo, 21, South Africa: Amanda is the founder of The Trea Garden, an upscale cafe providing high-quality coffee and accompaniments in a relaxing atmosphere.
  6. Awah Ntseh, 22, Cameroon: Awah is the founder of Farmers Forte, a snail farm that extracts snail mucin from snails to use for a line of cosmetics.
  7. Boluwatife Omotayo, 21, Nigeria: Boluwatife is the founder of TabDigitals, an IT company that helps consumers find artisans who can repair and replace electronic gadgets.
  8. Farah Emara, 20, Egypt: Farah is the founder of Jidar Wall Art, a non-profit collective that harnesses the power of art to transform interior spaces into works of art.
  9. Joan Nalubega, 21, Uganda: Joan is the founder of Uganics, which aims to combat malaria by producing anti-malaria products: a long-lasting mosquito repellent soap for children and families.
  10. Kevin Kibet, 22, Kenya: Kevin is the founder of FarmMoja Limited, which works with smallholder farmers by giving them training and access to reliable markets.
  11. Kisseka Samson, 22, Uganda: Kisseka is the founder of Hello Mushrooms, a co-operative that collaborates with farmers to grow and sell mushrooms.
  12. Kondwani Banda, 21, Zambia: Kondwani is the founder of The Mainstream, a digital magazine that aims to tell authentic African stories.
  13. Lourena Bundi, 21, Angola: Lourena is the founder of L&C Buffett, a company that makes decorations and party snacks for children in Luanda.
  14. Melissa Bime, 21, Cameroon: Melissa is the founder of INFIUSS, an online blood bank and digital supply chain platform that delivers lifesaving blood in Cameroon.
  15. Mohamed Sherif, 18, Libya: Mohamed is the founder of Sherif Ice Flakes where he creates and sells ice flakes in boxes that fisherman can use to refrigerate their catch while out at sea.
  16. Mohamed El Idrysy, 22, Morocco: Mohamed is the founder of Health Solutions INC, a company that provides soft skills training for health professionals in areas such as communication, leadership, and critical thinking.
  17. Nomena Andrianantoandro, 21, Madagascar: Nomena is the founder of Boissa Sarl, a healthy beverage company that produces an assortment of healthy fruit juices.
  18. Richard Turere, 18, Kenya: Richard is the founder of Lion Lights, a company that distributes LED lights that flash in a sequence and repels lions from coming close to livestock.
  19. Thando Hlongwane, 20, South Africa: Thando is the founder of Kazi, a platform that connects young software developers seeking job experience with start-ups in need of affordable product development services.
  20. Vanessa Ishimwe, 22, Rwanda: Vanessa is the founder of Youth Initiative for Development in Africa (YIDA), which provides free early childhood education to refugee children through special learning centres and schools.

Want to Build an App Business? Learn the 7 Steps to App Success

It is a common misconception that you need to be able to code and/or need funding to become a successful app entrepreneur. In fact, you probably know at least one person who is holding themselves back from their dream of building an app business because they do not know how.

Mobile game developer and techpreneur, Muoyo Okome earned a computer science degree from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania. Founder of the AWP Network, Mary Olushoga, first met Okome in 2004 while serving as members of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Several years later, we are happy to reconnect to learn about what inspired him to start his business and to gain more insight into his company.

In his new book, The 7 Steps to App Success, you will learn how to:  

  • Build your first app without coding experience or funding.
  • Create an app business that generates revenue, rather than just an app idea.
  • Learn the common mistakes to avoid that will stop your app business dead in its tracks. 

Download a FREE copy of the book here: The 7 Steps to App Success 

Mary Olushoga, Founder of AWP Network to Speak about African Women Entrepreneurs During UN General Assembly Week

Mary Olushoga, Founder of AWP Network is set to speak about African Women Entrepreneurs during UN General Assembly Week. She will join the discussion on the challenges and successes facing African women entrepreneurs.

You may register for the event here: UN Africa

11 Africans Selected for the Facebook Community Leadership Program

Facebook has announced the names of 116 people worldwide who have been selected to join the Facebook Community Leadership Program. Around a dozen African community leaders have been selected to become program residents and fellows.  The five (5) participants selected  as community leaders in residence, each will be awarded up to $1,000,000 to fund their community initiative. The final amount received will be determined based on final budget proposal created and submitted by each resident as part of their program training.

Fellows from Africa include:

  • Felista Wangari, 52-Week Savings Challenge (Kenya)
  • Pamellah Oduor, Let’s Cook Kenyan Meals (Kenya)
  • Asha Mweru, #WomenWorkKE (Kenya)
  • Caroline Kihusa, Still A Mum (Kenya)
  • Truphosah Monah, Women And Realities of Disability Society (Kenya)
  • Anike Lawal, Mamalette (Nigeria)
  • Mamadou Sy, Docteur Nakamou (Senegal)
  • Gabriel Hoosain Khan, LGBTI community, Human Rights (South Africa)
  • Lusanda Magwape, Dream Factory Foundation (South Africa)
  • Nadine Maselle. Salt River High Tutoring (South Africa)
  • Savio Lule Mark, The Youth Hub Uganda (Uganda)

Government of Japan and the Austrian Government to Fund Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lab (eLab) Programs

FAPA, of which the Government of Japan is a major donor, along with the Austrian Government and the African Development Bank, will contribute $923,570 and $988,202 to finance the Bank’s Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lab (eLab) programs, respectively. Both programs form key components of the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, which invests in high-growth sectors with potential to promote youth and women’s empowerment, as well as create 25 million jobs over the next decade. 

The Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lab (eLab) programs align with FAPA’s vison to create an investment-friendly climate for micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) on the continent. They will also provide platforms for strengthening and promoting entrepreneurship that target women and youth-led businesses.

This initiative will enable the development of the digital platform and application designed to increase and facilitate access to markets and finance; provide access to relevant information, mentorship and networking opportunities as well as develop the skills, competencies and qualifications ofAfrican designers and fashion entrepreneurs

Learn more about FAPA

Research Project at Stanford Becomes Thriving Startup – Adia Sowho, Managing Director of Mines Nigeria Speaks to The AWP Network

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Ekechi Nwokah and Kunle Olukotun founded Mines in 2014. At the time, they were living in Palo Alto where they met for the first time at a mutual friend’s house. Nwokah and Olukotun share similar backgrounds. They grew up in Nigeria and studied computer science while at university. Naturally they clicked and began to discuss ideas around Olukotun’s research on artificial intelligence at Stanford.

Not long after meeting, they started their company where they focused on applying Olukotun’s research to solving real-world problems. After some thoughtful consideration and exploration, they decided that financial access was the problem they wanted to focus on and solve. They felt that this is where they would have the biggest impact. They enlisted some of Olukotun’s graduate students to build the platform and hired an experienced executive to help guide the ship. During this process, the team raised some capital and as they say, the rest is history! The Mines executive team currently consists of myself as Managing Director for Nigeria, along with Nwokah and Olukotun.

What do women entrepreneurs and executives need to know about finding investors and securing investment deals?

As a woman in Nigeria, you will be underestimated. You will be asked questions others do not get asked, but it is fine. Just be as prepared as you can. Be with a great value proposition and find investors you believe will give you a chance.  You only need one “yes,” so any “no” you hear before that only prepares you for your eventual “yes.”

What made you join Mines?

Having spent eight (8) years of my career with EMTS (9 Mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria), I wanted to make a difference not only in Nigeria, but across Africa and eventually, globally. I was in search of a challenging experience that incorporated the extensive use of technology so when I found out about Mines – a company addressing the challenge of providing consumer credit to potentially 3 billion people currently without access everything came together.

Who is your target market?

Nigeria is our primary market as this is where we have done the majority of our business. We are the leading provider of consumer credit in the country, counting mobile operators 9mobile and Airtel, payment processors Interswitch and NIBSS, along with several banks. Seeing the success of our product in Nigeria, we are focused on expanding into new markets. We are exploring expansion into other African countries as well as into South East Asia and Latin America.

How have you financed the idea?

The research upon which the driving technology for Mines was founded, was funded by a combination of funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States and the Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) combined with industrial funding from a number of large companies. This is typical for computer science research projects in the United States.

We continue to be funded by a host of institutional investors both locally and internationally. We recently completed our Series A funding of $13M led by The Rise Fund, a global fund managed by TPG Growth. We have a number of US, European, and African investors to include Velocity Capital, Western Technology Investments, First Ally Capital, X/Seed Capital, NYCA Partners, Persistent Capital, Singularity Investments, Trans Sahara Investments, and the Bank of Industry.

What is your competitive edge?

We are often mistaken for a lender, but we are not one.  Mines is a technology platform that enables lending. Very few companies have approached lending the way that we have.  We partner with existing institutions to provide financing to customers that they are not able to serve.  We make this possible in a profitable manner.

What is the long-term plan for the company?

The long-term goal is to expand into other countries beyond our current footprint in Nigeria and enter into new markets like South America and Asia.

What challenges do you face?

Mines is tailored specifically to the market we operate in. We have worked very hard to achieve product-market fit. Mines uses advanced technology (AI and Machine Learning) and developing this is difficult. Even more so is understanding how to apply this technology to real challenges that consumers face in emerging markets. We are scientists and technologists at heart, so learning to adapt our thinking to the subtle differences that local businesses have as well as understanding the consumer landscape to ensure the product works well, is our focus.

What key things have you learned since the company started?

Startup life offers lessons every day. I will say that the dynamics of a startup are quite different from a big, established organization in terms of available resources, the time needed to make decisions, and the dynamic nature of one’s job scope.  One has to understand all these dynamics, how they come together and how they play out in a startup environment like the one we are in; and be ready to make the necessary adjustments.

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

More than anything else, I will say one needs to be extremely clear on their product or service value proposition.  Many underestimate how much work this requires because it can be communicated in one or two short sentences.  However, a winning value proposition will show an intrinsic understanding of the customers who feel the pain of the problem you are trying to solve, and if they get it, they will call you. It is imperative to keep asking ‘why’ someone should buy your product.  Many ask this only once, by the time you have asked it a few more times, you start to create something meaningful.

How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?

We need to embrace technology in every sector, I do not see enough of this within the continent. Technology allows us to surpass the limits of our infrastructure deficits and catch up with the rest of the world. Our specific challenge is not just embracing what we have seen work elsewhere, but using technology within our specific context, “cutting and pasting” does not work.

Introducing the 15 Companies Accepted into Facebook’s Accelerator Program in Lagos

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The teams went through an intensive 1-week bootcamp between the 27th and 31st of August 2018 and have now kicked off their six-month journey to build, modify and optimize their value-driven products.

The selected teams will receive up to $20K in equity free-funding, partner credits, mentorship, technical and business support from Facebook and CcHUB

RoadPreppers: Lara.ng is a chatbot for public transit directions in Nigeria and other developing countries.

Quadron Studios: QVES is a virtual reality safety training solution that prepares enterprise workers for emergency situations by use of immersive virtual training experiences.

Gricd Agroservices: GRICD Frij is an affordable and efficient IoT-powered storage device that complements existing storage medium to extend the shelf life of tomatoes.

Vetsark: Vetsark is a web-based platform that uses disease report data to predict, prevent and manage disease outbreaks, for the benefit of livestock farmers, veterinarians and public health.

AI Commons: DeepStack is a suite of Dockerized AI server software that enables developers to easily build, deploy and manage AI powered applications on their private servers and edge IoT gateways.

Project Move: Project Move is a virtual reality accessory which significantly improvises immersion and interaction in mobile driven VR systems.

Up NEPA: Upnepa.ng is an IoT-powered analytic platform that monitors, records and predicts electricity supply.

Treplabs: REALDRIP prevents back flow of blood during drip treatment by monitoring flow rate, volume administered and automating the process.

Team Kanji: Kanji Drive is an immersive driving simulator based in Lagos that teaches users how to drive and be road aware using a GT racing rig set up.

Cycles: Cycles is a bike-sharing services for short and medium commutes within Nigerian communities.

Insyt: Insyt is a sentiment analysis software that provides businesses with a means to improve customer satisfaction via opinion mining in local languages.

SayPeace: SayPeace is an AI-powered tool for monitoring hate speech on social media in real-time to predict possible occurrences of violence.

Chiniki Guard: Chiniki Guard is a monitoring, analysis and reporting software for security cameras. Chiniki uses AI to estimate human poses and detects suspicions like shoplifting and theft in retail stores.

Smart Electricity: Smart Electricity is researching the use of wireless electricity to power applicances in homes and offices.

Plant Doctor: PlantDoctor is an application that uses AI to diagnose plant diseases and suggests solutions to farmers and Agric extension workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

African Innovation Foundation (AIF) Announces the 10 Finalists for the Innovation Prize for Africa

The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) has announced the top 10 finalists for its prestigious 2018 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA). This year’s call for applications with its theme “African innovation: Investing in Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems” attracted more than 3 000 applications from 52 African countries. Building on the AIF mandate, submissions this year demonstrate significant breakthroughs in ICT, agri-business, public health and the environment/ energy sectors to improve the lives and economic prospects of Africans. 

The IPA initiative has grown from strengthen to strength mobilizing, rewarding and honoring top African innovators whilst also building strategic partnerships with innovation enablers to strengthen innovation ecosystems in Africa. To date, AIF has supported 55 IPA winners/nominees with US$ 1 million+ and mobilized 9 400+ innovators from all 55 African countries. AIF endorsement and exposure generated through IPA have seen past winners securing over US$135 million worth of investments to grow and scale their businesses. IPA past winners and nominee company valuations amount to US$200 million+. 

Meet the top 10 IPA finalists whose innovations are in the sectors of agri-business, public health and well-being, ICT, energy, environment and water as follows:

Biodegradable seed tray for rice farming (Madagascar) – Juslain Nomenjanahary Raharinaivo: Rice is a staple food in many African countries, constituting a major part of the diet. With an ongoing demand for increased rice production, some African countries are not self-sufficient. In Madagascar, seeds are therefore sowed in innovative pots made of paper, called BG or biodegradable germinators. Growers transplant seedlings into easy-to-transplant clumps with very high tilling capacity which also increases rice yields and allow possibilities to expand the area under cultivation.

Buried Diffuser (Tunisia) – Mr. Wassim Chahbani: Irrigated systems play a major role in sustaining livelihoods in Africa and the world over. Water in agricultural use is critical for crop yields, and reducing consumption is necessary to increase the amount of available water for other uses. The Buried Diffuser saves irrigation water, energy, and use of fertilizers, reducing zero water waste through evaporation. Water is injected directly to the roots, radically reducing water consumption levels used for irrigation.

Efficient detection of TB and Hepatitis C (Morocco) – Professor Abdeladim Moumen and Dr. Hassan Ait Benhassou: Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis (TB) are critical health burdens in Africa. Besides lack of available treatment, access to accurate and cost-effective diagnostic tests remain a challenge across the continent. This innovation comprises two molecular tests for the rapid, accurate and effective detection and load quantification of both diseases. The technology allows specific detection of the hepatitis C or TB genome in blood or sputum samples; tests are clinically validated, simple, accurate and low cost.

eNose sensor for tea processing (Uganda) – Abraham Natukunda: This innovation applies an “eNose” and analytics platform to supplement current tea processing procedures using low power sensor devices to determine optimum levels of tea fermentation. An analytics platform receives and analyses the sensor data, providing real-time monitoring of key reactive elements and compounds during the tea-processing period, ensuring efficient traceability, prediction, and motion. This innovation will lead to improved control results in better tea quality, boosting marketability and increased revenue for tea processors from each bushel of tea harvested.

Incas Vaginal Discharge Kit (Ghana) – Dr. Laud Anthony Basing: Incas Vagkit is a 3-in-1 urine-based test kit that examines vaginal infections. Linked to a mobile application, it offers a convenient and fast solution for women experiencing vaginal infections. The Vagkit simply requires a urine sample and can be used at home; results are available within 10 minutes. This innovation drastically reduces testing time for vaginal infections in Africa, leading to the efficient and quick detection and management of vaginitis.

“iThrone” portable toilet (Egypt) – Dr. Diana Yousef: “We shrink it” is a revolutionary approach to removing un-piped sewage. This technology innovation is a disruptive yet low-cost composite polymer membrane that essentially “shrink-wraps crap” aggressively evaporating or “flushing” away the full water content of daily sewage output without need for added heat, energy or flush water. This innovation responds to the problem of poor sanitation and health conditions, as well as pollution caused by sewerage. iThrone cuts off a significant amount of methane emissions that are generated by unmanaged/uncollected sewage.

Mobile Shiriki Network (Rwanda) – Henri Nyakarundi: The Shiriki Hub is a Smart Solar Kiosk, powered by strong solar panels and equipped with large capacity batteries, Internet of things (IoT) sensors, and a custom designed router, offering device charging, virtual top-ups, and low-cost connectivity. Designed as a business-in-a-box and distributed on a micro-franchise basis, this is an ideal solution for digital connectivity to rural populations and temporal settlements such as refugee camps.

Natural solutions for skeletal regeneration and repair (South Africa) – Prof. Keolebogile Shirley Motaung: A multi-method approach using natural products for skeletal regeneration and repair. La-Africa Soother (LAS) is a topical paste ointment for sportspeople as a natural anti-inflammatory cream to treat pain and inflammation. The second product which is Plant-Based Morphogenetic Factor Implant (PBMF) induces bone and cartilage formation. Treatment of fractures has been a continuous challenge for orthopaedic surgeons. The latter product differs from knee replacement, autografts and allografts, offering quick results with no waiting period and no harvesting of tissue, with relief and safety for patients.

Reducing pollution in an eco-friendly way using GKSORB! (Benin) – Dr Fohla Mouftaou: Water hyacinth is an environmental threat in many African countries, invading lakes, rivers, and agricultural fields. The threat affects agriculture, the fishing industry, health and livelihoods. GKSORB is 100% organic and biodegradable fiber with the potential to absorb up to 17 times its weight. Made from water hyacinth, it can be used as a separator for hydrocarbons or as a cleaning agent for surfaces contaminated by various pollutants such as hydrocarbons, acids and paints.

Waxy II Technology (Tanzania) – Christian Mwijage: His company recycles and transforms post-consumer waste plastic into durable and environmentally friendly plastic lumber using a chemical-free and energy conserving technology called “Waxy ӀӀ technology” for building, construction and furniture production. Every year, more than nine million tonnes of plastic garbage ends up in the ocean causing a major threat to marine life and people. Plastic timber is an affordable alternative to wood timber and reduces the need for building material manufactured from wood, preserving forests, cutting down on deforestation and mitigating the effects of climate change.

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