Mobile operator Orange has announced the winner of its sixth annual Social Venture Prize for Africa and the Middle East, giving away a total of EUR55,000 (US$59,000) in grant funding.
The prize aims to encourage startups in Africa to launch innovative projects that promote development, and was this year extended to the Middle East for the first time.
More than 750 candidates responded to the call for projects, which ran from May to September, in fields as diverse as healthcare, agriculture, education and energy. Eleven projects were shortlisted and presented on Orange’s pan-African web portal for entrepreneurs – Entrepreneur Club.
First prize, and EUR25,000 (US$27,000) was awarded to Morocco’s MedTrucks, which was created to support patients and healthcare professionals through the deployment of mobile care units in “medical deserts” in Morocco and other emerging countries.
Second prize went to Madagascar initiative Nanoé’s, which walked away with EUR15,000 (US$16,000). Nanoé’s aims to deploy a new kind of electrification system, known as “lateral electrification”, in order to meet the short-term needs of remote populations that do not have access to the main energy grid.
In third, and winning EUR10,000 (US$11,000), was MaTontine from Senegal, which provides financial services, including small loans, to the poor. The Special Prize for Cultural Content was awarded to Bulles Magazine of Ivory Coast, which promotes African culture. It won EUR5,000 (US$5,200).
“With nearly 3,500 projects filed since 2011, the Orange Social Venture prize has grown into a huge success; the 750 candidate projects that were submitted in 2016 amply illustrate this. The startup ecosystem now increasingly recognizes Orange as an indispensable partner that is able to support their development: 95 per cent of the winning start-ups since the award’s inception are still growing today. I thank them for their confidence,” said Bruno Mettling, chief executive officer (CEO) of Orange MEA.