The winners of the 2016 Orange Social Venture Prize for Africa and the Middle East were announced during the AfricaCom Awards ceremony held in Cape Town, South Africa, last night. The prize, which aims to encourage start-ups in Africa to launch innovative projects that promote development, has been extended to the Middle East, and a new award, the Special Prize for Cultural Content, has also been introduced this year.
Now in its sixth year, the Prize recognizes four innovative projects that focus on driving development within the region, particularly initiatives that use new technologies to meet the needs of people in Africa and the Middle East.
More than 750 candidates responded to the call for projects, which ran from May to September 2016, and eleven projects were shortlisted and presented on Entrepreneur Club, Orange's pan-African web portal for entrepreneurs in the region.
The winners were then selected by a jury made up of experts from Orange, journalists, investors and institutions that promote development.
The three prize-winners received grants of €25,000, €15,000 and €10,000, and the winner of the Special Prize for Cultural Content received €5,000. In addition, the first prize winner will receive a patent registration, and all the shortlisted finalists will benefit from six months of support from Orange experts and Grow Movement, an organization that connects African entrepreneurs with volunteer consultants from around the world.
The first prize was awarded to MedTrucks, from Morocco, an initiative to support patients and healthcare professionals through the deployment of mobile care units in “medical deserts” in Morocco and other emerging countries.
MedTrucks aims to provide care at the right time and the right place, using hyper-connected trucks equipped with essential medical equipment and telemedicine tools. The project also uses real-time cartography and tracking that will help optimize care service delivery to patients, as well as a medical online training platform for professionals.
The second prize was awarded to Nanoé of, Madagascar, an organization deploying “lateral electrification”, in order to meet the short-term needs of remote populations that do not have access to the main energy grid.
Nanoé offers rapid, flexible and affordable access to electricity delivered through a cutting-edge power infrastructure that is low carbon, decentralized, collaborative and smart. The project also includes a major training platform designed for future local-level operators.
The third prize was awarded to MaTontine from Senegal which provides financial services such as small loans to low-income households. It is based on a traditional, non-digital system, called the Tontine, where small groups of people – colleagues, friends, neighbours, etc. – collect their savings and lend to reach other on a rotating savings and credit scheme.
MaTontine's digital platform automates this whole process, incorporating a credit-scoring system in order to facilitate small loans and other financial services such as micro-insurance based on the credit score of the group members.
The Special Prize for Cultural Content was awarded to Bulles Magazine, a monthly magazine for 6-10-year old children in Côte d’Ivoire that promotes African culture.
Available in highly colorful and illustrated digital and paper versions, Bulles Magazine is aimed at children in Francophone countries, and it tells the stories of African heroes of the past, and contemporary heroes such as renowned inventors from Africa as well. Designed in .
One “favourite project” was also selected by web users on the Entrepreneur Club portal. The winner was the Egyptian FoodoGraphy Project, which facilitates cooperation between food providers and charities in order to reduce food waste.
Through Foodography, charities can collect surplus food that is still in good condition from hotels and restaurants, and redistribute it to poor people registered with the charity. FoodoGraphy’s website provides a directory that acts as a reference for charities and enables them to connect with food providers and organize the logistics of redistributing the surplus food.
"With 750 candidate projects that were submitted in 2016, the Orange Social Venture prize has grown into a huge success", Bruno Mettling, CEO of Orange MEA, said during the awards ceremony. "The start-up ecosystem now increasingly recognizes Orange as an indispensable partner that is able to support their development: 95% of the winning start-ups since the award’s inception are still growing today. I thank them for their confidence."