Open Idea Pitch Night 2023

EVENT REPORT: Freetown Pitch Night 2023 (FPN)

DATE: September 11, 2023

VENUE: Limkokwing University, Hill Station

THEME: Open Idea

The Freetown Pitch Night Week is hosted by Innovation SL at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Hill Station, Freetown, on the 11th September 2023. Innovation SL is an entrepreneurship support led organisation which pivotal aim is to nurture the entrepreneurial ecosystem with high growth, disruptive and value creating start-ups by creating an effective and efficient ecosystem that would be viable for Sierra Leone innovators and business

The event commenced with a warm welcome speech delivered by our esteemed MD/CEO, Mr. Francis Stevens George, who set the stage for an exciting evening of innovation and creativity.

The managing director of Mercury International, Mr. Martin Michael explained that they had decided to partner with Innovation SL through the Freetown Pitch Night to provide a seed capital of $25,000 in total for five sessions of FPN and  two out of the five sessions would be exclusively for female entrepreneurs.

FPN PITCH COMPETITION

Following the inaugural oration, Ms. Lamarahna Bah, one of our Communications Lead, who also was the host for the night, honoured the panel of judges to introduce themselves. The judges included: Ajara Marie Bomah, Herman Chinery-Hesse, John Wearing and Papa Njai each are experts who are endowed with a wealth of experience. The pitchers were designated to utilise five minutes each to present their concepts, which ranged from ground-breaking innovations to revolutionise social initiatives followed by a three-minute Q&A session for addressing potential questions or contributions from the judges.

The 7 pitchers are as follows: Arnold Caulker, Shanu Vandi, Victor Ikoh, Andrew Dosumu, Alfred A. Kamara, Abdul Majid Bah and Oswald Dundas.

The first pitcher Shanu Vandi, an experienced and passionate entrepreneur who has a strong background in software development and project management, pitched on behalf of Connecticket SL Ltd. Connecticket SL Ltd is an organisation which has a vision to change the way people secure tickets to witness events by creating a simple and secured ticketing platform that would have a seamless access to the entertainment industry. The ticket is built with a temper-proof feature to inform if anything has been altered. It exerts economic sustainability by creating jobs that would generate revenue and promote sustainable practices.

The judges asked the pitcher what they will be doing at the gate; and the pitcher answered that they will be scanning the ticket before entering. Another Judge asked the pitcher how they will stop the man at the gate from allowing his relative from entering? Another judges commented that it would be difficult to prevent such to occur

The judges wanted what is/are the feature of the tamper code. Mr Vandi replied that it does have serial code that can be scanned once.

The second pitcher for the night was Abdul Majid Bah from Eco-waste.’ Abdul Majid Bah has the passion to see farmers have a good yield at the end of the year. As a result of this, the Eco-waste organisation has a dire need to solve the issue of lack of knowledge in arable land that is suitable for different kinds of crops planted across Sierra Leone. Eco-waste is an organisation that prides itself in providing an eco-friendly environment to farmers and help them understand the type of soil that is deemed fit to cultivate on.  …… device would significantly aid farmers to understand the moisture and nutritional content of the soil that they are using and the kind of crop to be cultivated.

The judges asked the pitcher what the cost of the product was and the pitcher answered that the product can be purchased for $110. Another judge asked how the farmers can use the product considering the literacy rate of farmers. Mr Abdul Majid replied that they will try training the farmers to use the product. Another judge asked the pitcher what will happen when the temperature is extreme. The pitcher assured them that the produce does has a regulatory system for it effective functioning

The third pitcher Victor Ikoh who happened to be the CEO and founder of ‘The Company’ intends to solve Environmental pollution caused by waste cooking oil through the conversion of waste cooking oil to soaps and Detergents. 

Following the session, the judges provided Victor with some valuable advice. They recommended that he establish partnerships once he has registered his business. Additionally, they advised him to conduct product testing on the soap to identify any potential side effects. Moreover, they suggested that Victor strive to reduce the utilisation of waste materials by 70% by exploring options for outsourcing customised oils to be used as raw materials in his production process.

The forth pitcher, Alfred A. Kamara pitched on behalf of the Bullom Innovation Hub. The Bullom Innovation Hub is a team made up of four members who are manufacturers of local multimedia projectors that are affordable and easy-to-operate in learning institutions, especially those with a huge number of students or pupils per classroom or lecture room. The multimedia projector ( which is their business idea) is a virtual environment designed to reduce the massive use of markers, foster interactive and effective learning environments in an efficient manner. As a result of this innovation there are job opportunities especially for young  people. 

According to the panel of judges, the product should be a Sierra Leone eccentric one. That is the raw material should derive from Sierra Leone unto the finished product.

The fifth pitcher Arnold Caulker of Arnold’s Renewable Energy is a talented innovator with eight (8) years of experience in solar installation. As an electrical installer, he has made a tremendous impact in green energy by creating the low frequency inverter generator to produce constant and clean electricity. It encompassed an auto renewable charging porter suitable for both wind turbine and solar panels, and a thunder-strike protector. These features of low frequency inverter generators help to mitigate global warming. 

In his pitch, he stated that, according to the World Bank report in 2021, 27.49% of Sierra Leoneans are without electricity supply. This has led to the increase in the use of gasoline generators that has a devastating impact on climate change. With the advent of the low frequency inverter generator customers are assured of having a carbon free and noise free environment where they can have access to clean and quality air.

from the judges’ panel a concern was raised regarding  safety measures. Mr. Caulker responded that it has an inbuilt safety component that can protect from high voltage and even thunder strikes, and the charging can last for 20 hrs 

Judges asked about the cost of the product, in response, the price is being determined by the amount of voltage. For instance, 500wt goes for $70 while 1000 wt goes for $140.

Oswald Dundas, the final pitcher, aspires to transform waste recycling and tackle community issues. He has a vision of converting trash into valuable resources, fostering a cleaner environment, and simultaneously generating employment opportunities. Additionally, he has made a remarkable breakthrough in renewable energy, which he affectionately calls “Crazy.” This innovation aims to supply clean and affordable electricity to communities, thereby reducing their carbon footprints. By addressing the challenges of limited access to reliable and affordable electricity and improving waste recycling, Oswald Dundas introduces the Water Light Technology V1 Battery and Water Light Technology V2 Battery, Which work by ionising an electrolyte made up of saltwater. This transforms the magnesium on the inside into electrical energy.

The judges probed the pitcher on the durability of the kinetic energy, bulb warranty, and the cost of his innovation. The pioneer answered that the kinetic energy can last for 120 hrs, and the bulb warranty is 1 yr and can be sold at $11.

Furthermore, he was asked how poultry farmers could benefit from his groundbreaking idea. He answered that the kinetic energy produced from the battery can power up their incubators. 

Additionally, Oswald was advised by the panel of judges to search for possible ways wherein wasted water can be utilised. 

Guest speakers’ remarks

Emily Kumba Fanday from ‘The community’ a peer-to-peer lending platform, who is the CEO and founder explained how the $5000 they won has helped their lending platform to create an avenue for individuals and institutions to lend directly to borrowers in both formal and informal businesses. She explained that the community project was launched in 2022 having a population of 70 people; 30 female and 40 men. She maintained that the community project is an alternative financial  marketplace where micro and small businesses can access quick and easy short-term loans with no collateral or credit history.She added that the grant has helped to increase their operational cost and also they have rented an office space. 

Franklyn Momoh, the CEO of BeenFrantk Ltd., who is passionate about creating unique clothing from old, oversized thrift garments. The desire to make unique and sustainable clothing made him start BeenFrank. BeenFrank is a company that has been offering Sierra Leoneans distinctive and sustainable clothing options that resonate with their values and help mitigate climate issuesHe demonstrated a clip that depicts his successes on the grant received. Franklyn Momoh, passionately expressed his appreciation to Mercury International and Innovation SL. He encouraged Innovation SL to be organising training for young people. The brand is committed to creating awareness about climate change. Through the money they won, they were able to expand the distribution of their products. 

Judges Feedbacks/comments

In her concluding courtesy, madam Ajara Marie Bomah encouraged pitchers to employ a captive motion to create a sense of appeal to their audience when they are pitching out their innovative ideas, they should also be considerate about time when once they have occupied the podium. She added that when presenting their idea they should not elaborate on the aspect of their financial traction as it will make it more complex for them. She advised that it should   be a snippet one in order to avoid complexity

further, she maintained that the pitchers should learn on how to brand their innovation in order to attract investors and consumers. Finally, pitchers should know their direct competitors as it will help them to know the strength and weakness of their competitors as well as their targeted audiences.

Conclusively, certificates were presented to all the pitchers respectively, starting from the rear. The judges unanimously declared Oswald Dundas as the winner of the 2023 Freetown Pitch Night. The MD of Mercury International, Mr. Martin Michaels presented the cheque of $5000 with an equivalent of 110,000 million in Leones as seed capital to the winner and the event concluded with an atmosphere of excitement.    

Pamella Haruna