Orange announced the three winners of the African Social Venture Prize during the AfricaCom Awards ceremony held in Cape Town.
This is the second edition the Orange African Social Venture Prize has been awarded. The prize aims to support the development of entrepreneurs and start-ups offering solutions that use information and communication technologies (ICT) to meet the needs of people living in Africa. The three winners will receive financial assistance along with management and technical support from Orange specialists.
Almost 450 candidates responded to the call for projects, which ran from May to September 2012, clearly demonstrating the underlying entrepreneurial vitality that exists on the African continent. Proposed projects spanned a variety of fields such as healthcare, agriculture, education, energy, industry and commerce illustrating the high potential of telecommunications for development in Africa.
The panel of judges, consisting of Orange specialists, the media and institutions that promote development, chose three prizewinners from among 13 nominated projects that were presented on Orange's pan-African web portal, http://www.starafrica.com*.
The awards ceremony was held yesterday in Cape Town, South Africa, during the AfricaCom Awards, an annual event that recognizes the most significant innovations and achievements of the telecommunications industry in Africa.
The winning projects are:
The first prize was awarded to Vivus Limited, a start-up from Côte d'Ivoire that allows agricultural or farm produce traders to optimize their stocks by adjusting to supply and demand, thereby avoiding waste. A SMS-based system provides traders with real-time information on the latest deals enabling them to order the exact quantity of stocks required. This system will contribute to the development of a more efficient and profitable trade-cycle.
The Takachar project, which has already been launched in Kenya, was awarded second prize. This provides an innovative system to improve waste management by using telecoms technologies to track waste collection in real time. This enables cooperatives to operate more efficiently and increases the proportion of organic waste that can be transformed into charcoal.
The third prize was awarded to the e-commerce business Niokobok. This business enables Senegalese people living abroad to send basic necessities to their families back home avoiding the extra cost of transferring money and enabling them to better manage their finances. Twenty-three references are already available for basic foods as well as hygiene and cleaning products.
In addition to funding of up to 25,000 euros, Orange will provide support to the three projects for six months from its local subsidiaries as well as expert advice from business and telecoms professionals.
In addition, a "favourite project" was selected by visitors of the Group's web portal StarAfrica. Over 50,000 visitors voted for the Egyptian start-up "Innovative Electronic Employment Platform". This innovative recruitment service uses an interactive platform and SMS alerts to help people seeking short-term jobs or freelance work to complement their revenues. StarAfrica will support this recruitment service throughout the year, in particular by providing additional online visibility.
Orange operates in 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East and has a total of over 78 million customers. To contribute to the social and economic development of these countries, the Group has put together the "Orange for Development" programme, which is based on three central themes:
the development of its networks to maximize the number of people who are able to benefit from digital services;
innovation to meet the needs of populations through value-added services in essential fields such as healthcare, education, agriculture and banking services; and
contributing to the local development of ICT markets and innovation ecosystems.
It is to meet this last goal, which is aligned with both its innovation strategy as well as its Corporate Social Responsibility policy, that the Group decided to launch the Orange African Social Venture Prize in 2011