Nestlé announces winning startups in Africa innovation challenge


Three startups from South Africa, Benin and Tanzania have been named winners of the Nestlé innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa, each being awarded a four-month residency in the new Nestlé R&D Accelerator.

Nestlé launched the R&D innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa in May as part of its efforts to stimulate innovative solutions across the areas of affordable nutrition, environmentally-friendly packing solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, and new routes to markets. 

It set a particular focus on universities and startups in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa, and has now named the three winners. They are South Africa’s Shopit, Benin’s Exportunity and Tanzania’s Wakulima, and they were picked from 174 applicants.

The three winning startups have been awarded a four-month residency in the new Nestlé R&D Accelerator for Sub-Saharan Africa, located at the Nestlé R&D Centre in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, giving them the opportunity to tap into Nestlé’ R&D’s expertise and access to state-of-the-art infrastructure such as hot desks, labs, kitchens and pilot testing equipment to further advance and potentially commercialise their ideas.

In addition, the Mafani initiative, led by two students from University Gaston Berger in Saint Louis, Senegal, were named winner of university category, receiving CHF10,000 (US$10,000) in prize money. 

“The Sub-Saharan African innovation ecosystem is filled with creative energy and strong entrepreneurial minds. However, there is not enough infrastructure to test and validate new ideas therefore limiting access to a wider market’,” said Joëlle Abega-Oyouomi, head of the Nestlé R&D Centre. 

“Nestlé’s R&D science and technology expertise will contribute by providing a platform to deliver innovations adapted to African consumers’ needs and preferences.”


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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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