If you have an interest in African innovation and technology, the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) is probably an organisation you have come across in your reading. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, they are the Swiss based organisation, founded by Swiss-Angolan entrepreneur Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, that runs the Innovation Prize For Africa (IPA). The IPA has been awarding African innovation for 6 years, with the 7th edition set to take next year. Earlier this week they begun their search for the next African innovations to take centre stage and compete for the generous prize and network offered. If you want to read more about their most recent winners check out the following blogs:
The IPA may be the show piece of the AIF, but there isn’t just one string to their bow! Projects like the African Law Library, which is aimed at opening up legal information to anyone in Africa, have been pioneered by the AIF. Another project that will benefit potential African innovators is ZuaHub.
ZuaHub is an online platform that links African innovators or resources in order to help them develop their ideas and give them the best chance of becoming successful. Becoming a successful innovator, where ever you are in the world, is not just about having a great idea. It can be a long process from the initial idea, to successfully launching on the market. There needs to be feedback from potential users, access to business advice, access to funding, technical help for websites or app development, and a whole host of other needs that need to be fulfilled.
Tech hubs have been popping up across Africa to try and support with these gaps. Hubs like iSpace in Ghana, try and offer young entrepreneurs with inspiring ideas all the tools they need. ZuaHub is also offering this, but online. Through ZuaHub, innovators have access to a network of investors, mentors and enablers, as well as share their ideas online in order to get feedback. Another important aspect is finding innovative ecosystems in the same space, with which ideas, thoughts and experience can be shared and even partnerships created.
A strong network is vitally important for entrepreneurs to make the most of their ideas. Having engaged and skilled people around you to call on for advice or support can make the difference between success and failure. ZuaHub opens up this wide world of resources to innovators who may need more than jut a local tech hub to support them.
There are so many brilliant ideas across Africa that never get developed, or even heard. If you believe you have a good idea, you should be confident and at least discuss it with someone. There are many in the continent that do not have access to the internet, or big networks, that are not able to express their ideas. If you get a chance, the next time you are in rural Africa, speak to people about their ideas, and how they solve their local problems. These solutions are also significant and can inform innovation around the continent.
If you know of any innovations in Africa, an innovation that is changing lives, or you also want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @inventiveAfrica or via email. Please she the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.