The first AMPION Venture Bus has departed Lagos, Nigeria, headed for Abidjan, Ivory Coast, aiming to visit a number of hubs and incubators along the way while founding a number of startups.
The Venture Bus West Africa will visit the iDEA accelerator in Lagos, the American Cultural Center and Etrilabs in Cotonou, Benin, Woelab in Lomé, Togo, iSpace and Hub Accra in Accra, Ghana, and the Cape Coast University and Akendewa in Abidjan, with the finale of the trip the My African startup event organused by AMPION and business school HEC.
Non-profit AMPION was born from last year’s Startup Bus, which saw 30 Africans and Europeans travel by bus from Harare, Zimbabwe to Cape Town, South Africa, building startup prototypes in five days and notably spawning Sterio.me.
This year, the newly independent AMPION will feature four buses travelling around 16 countries in different regions of the continent, with a pre-acceleration programme and a focus on developing e-healthcare solutions to tackle West Africa’s Ebola crisis.
“On this years four Venture Buses AMPION will encourage all its 180 international and African Ampioneers to develop mobile applications either tackling Ebola directly or facilitating the work of international humanitarian and health institutions,” AMPION said.
“Supported by leading ICT companies and joined by Africas most promising entrepreneurial talent, the AMPION Venture Buses should bring an invaluable boost to healthcare development on the African continent and yield e-health solutions that will additionally help in dealing with similar health crises in the future.”
AMPION founder and managing director (MD) Fabian-Carlos Guhl told Disrupt Africa the team was very excited to be running the so may buses.
“We are now in Lagos and the energy level is very high,” he said. “We will have teams work on healthcare with a focus on Ebola and citizen engagement/governance. Overall a great opportunity to build impactful startups in Africa in collaboration with our great partners.”
MTN, SAP and Microsoft are major sponsors of AMPION, while Inmarsat will provide free hardware and bandwidth and global healthcare firm Merck is the prime sponsor for the East African Venture Bus. A crowdfunding campaign has also been launched on Indiegogo with a funding target of EUR$35,000, though at the time of writing only EUR13,246 had been raised. Backers of the campaign can adopt one of the startups or entrepreneurs on a Venture Bus.
Winning startups will be provided with free software and training by Microsoft, while also receiving an extensive Fellowship Program including funding, mentorship and free office spaces courtesy of AMPION partners Afrilabs, VC4 Africa and Mara Foundation.