Kenyan mobile medicine verification service Sproxil and Ugandan renewable energy startup SolarNow were among the East African startups that travelled to Silicon Valley recently as part of the SAP Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship programme.
The 100-day programme for social entrepreneurs in East Africa was launched in April by global software and tech solutions firm SAP in collaboration with non-profit venture capital firm Acumen, designed to help the companies grow and scale.
As part of the fellowship, startup entrepreneurs travelled to Silicon Valley to take part in a leadership development programme before returning to execute their plans for growth in their respective countries.
The selected enterprises, which represent a variety of sectors including energy, agriculture and education, all take innovative approaches to addressing the problems of poverty, and have proven business models with the potential to scale and replicate across multiple markets.
However, they face a number of challenges, ranging from marketing to talent recruitment, with the SAP fellowship designed to address these challenges and build social enterprises to create jobs and promote economic growth throughout these emerging markets.
“Social enterprises can accelerate innovation, create jobs, and spur economic growth,” said Andrew Waititu, managing director at SAP East Africa.
“That’s especially true in Kenya, which needs to create more 3.9 million jobs by 2020, according to a new Endeavor Insight Report. The SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship gives these CEOs the opportunity to learn from business and technology experts, so they can take their business to the next level while driving sustainable growth in their countries.”
Ashifi Gogo, CEO of Sproxil, said his team had taken the learnings from the fellowship to create a common language and synthesize our ideas.
“It can be lonely as a entrepreneur when you’re discovering these new growth frontiers, so it’s important to find like-minded people to reinforce our beliefs and trigger collective success. The fellowship was a tremendous platform to bring CEOs like myself together,” he said.
“The Acumen CEOs who participated in the fellowship together represent a new vision for a future where all people will have choice and opportunity,” said Duncan Onyango, Acumen’s East Africa director.