Yesterday, 12th April 2018, I sat in the audience of the Seedstars Summit filled with pride. After a few days of activities, the grande finale showcased Seedstars’ best innovations of the year. Over the course of the year, the Seedstars team, who are positioned in emerging markets around the world, search for the best innovations and start-ups. With over a 1000 applicants, they take the time to whittle them down to 65 finalists, of whom 12 would compete on the final day in a live pitching competition on the main stage.
Of the 12 live pitchers, 4 were from Africa, the highest proportion from any region. The African innovators to take to the stage were the Nigerian medication marketplace Medsaf, GiftedMom, a health information platform from Cameroon (Who we have featured on the blog previously), EMGuidance a South African medical content aggregator, and Ghanaian agricultural platform, Agrocenta. With a huge number of African innovators, and participants at the Seedstars Summit, each African speaker got a huge cheer welcoming them onto stage.
The eventual winner of the overall prize, was AgroCenta, who were represented by co-founders Francis Obirikorang and Michael K. Ocansey. Francis was one of the last up on stage to explain their platform, which had already gained $250K in funding previously. This time, they received capital of $500k to support them in their goal of expanding their service to further regions in Ghana and to other countries in the region. After receiving the award Francis said “This prize is not only for us, but for all the small holder farmers in Ghana who have been benefitting from using the platform”.
Innovations from the African continent had excellent success during the award ceremony. The Enel Africa Energy prize went to SolarFreeze from Kenya, who have renewable energy powered cold storage unit, which combats the challenge that farmers face with post harvest losses. The transforming education prize went to Edves of Nigeria, who enable information from schools be easily shared and parents to keep up to date with their children as well as make school fee payments. and finally the Merck health tech prize went to EMGuidance, from South Africa, an app for medical professionals, which enables them to access local clinical facilitation and medicine information around the world.
These were the big African winners of the day, but a short walk around the “Start-up Garden” meant bumping into a plethora of interesting, useful and varied innovations from around the continent. Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Angola and many other countries from around the continent were represented, alongside start-ups from other emerging markets and Switzerland.
The event’s atmosphere was rather like that of an Apple product launch show. With whoops and cheers going up in the auditorium for every speaker and pitcher, and a vibrant networking atmosphere, with people eager to share their ideas with others, learning from the experiences of all the other participants from all over the world.
Each continent was represented on stage by a keynote speaker, and Africa was represented by Rebecca Enonchong, the CEO of App a great proponent of African technology, and African women in technology. The always inspirational tech leader spoke of the challenges of being a young, black foreigner in America in the tech world, and how she used those challenges to succeed when going back to Cameroon to start operations there. The full speech is below.
Throughout the course of the day we interviewed and spoke with many innovators from the Seedstar event, and over the coming weeks we will feature them all on Inventive Africa!
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 share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.