Startups win AMPION fellowships, Orange support at AfDB event in Ivory Coast

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Four Ivory Coast startups will receive AMPION fellowships as well as incubation from mobile operator Orange after winning a hackathon at the inaugural Innovation Weekend organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan last week.

The goal was to find technology-led solutions from West Africa to better the lives of women and youth, with the event featuring a 72-hour contest aimed at motivating participants to transform their ideas into top workable technology innovations that will spur Africa’s growth.

Attendees were taken through a design thinking workshop by Dalberg Global Advisers, learning how to shape their ideas, and had access to mentors. Four startups emerged as winners, namely PayFree, a multiplex platform for payments; La Ruche, a marketplace for artisans to sell their wares; Coliba, a mobile platform for managing urban waste; and BioPRO, an intervention seeking to help rural people get access to energy and electricity.

Each startup will receive an AfDB fellowship with African ICT entrepreneurship initiative AMPION, while Orange will incubate them and help the innovators to find investors.

“The AfDB is committed to projects across the whole value chain of innovation: from ideas through acceleration, from incubation to final investment,” said Ralph Olaye, head of the jury.

A second and third group of innovations received subscriptions to Facebook Start, a package of startup advisory services, including mentoring with top Silicon Valley technology experts.

“We want big ideas to generate big wins, and that means taking big risks,” said AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina in his message to participants.

“However, ideas without money will eventually die. As the African Development Bank, we want to look at ways in which we can create accelerator funds to incubate these ideas.”

A second Tech Innovation Weekend has been planned for the spring, with the first event having gathered young entrepreneurs from technology and development communities, ranging from app developers to students and academia from Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Togo and Senegal.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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