Orange Social Venture Prize 2023 (OSVP)

THEME: Fostering Innovation for Sustainable Development and Gender Equality

 

INTRODUCTION:

The Orange Social Venture Prize Sierra Leone (OSVP) 2023, an annual flagship event of the Orange Telecommunication Company,  took place on August 4, 2023, at Limkokwing University, Hill Station. This event marked the 5th edition of OSVP in Sierra Leone and the 13th edition of Orange Middle East Africa. OSVP Sierra Leone is part of Orange’s innovation strategy and its corporate social responsibility policy, organised in partnership with Innovation SL through the Freetown Pitch Night. The Orange Social Venture Prize in Africa and the Middle East aims to promote Social Innovation for development by gratifying the best technological projects with a positive impact in Africa and the Middle East. Open to businesses under three years old, the competition focused on technological solutions in fields like healthcare, education, agriculture, mobile payments, and sustainable development. Women’s empowerment and gender equality were key themes. Dignitaries including the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, highlighted the transformative potential of technology in societal advancement. Innovation SL’s C.E.O., Mr. Francis Stevens George effectively highlighted the OSVP’s journey of growth, its role in fostering innovation, and its catalytic effect on business expansion. Orange Sierra Leone’s CEO reinforced the corporation’s commitment to nurturing young entrepreneurs, exemplified through initiatives such as the Orange Digital Centers and the Women Centre.

 

PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHT

The event commenced with individual prayers, respecting the diverse audience’s backgrounds. With a sense of anticipation and excitement, the hosts Mr Alimamy, graciously welcomed an esteemed lineup of attendees to the event. Among the honoured guests were the Ministers, Deputy Ministers, who represented the government’s engagement, and the European Union Ambassador to Sierra Leone, symbolising international collaboration. Notably, recognition was extended to the dedicated partners, particularly Innovation SL, who played a pivotal role in making the event a reality. The gathering also included the esteemed panel of judges, the innovative pitchers showcasing their groundbreaking ideas, the Orange Director, and members of the Orange mobile company staff.

Setting the stage for a dynamic competition, the hosts announced the much-anticipated prizes for the winners. Emphasising the event’s commitment to acknowledging and encouraging excellence, it was revealed that this year’s Orange Social Venture Prize national competition winner for the Grand Prize would be honoured with a substantial NLe 100,000 award. Reflecting the event’s dedication to fostering gender equality and empowering women, the announcement continued with the declaration that the women’s category (Tech Queen) winner would proudly receive a noteworthy NLe 50,000 prize. This announcement not only heightened the stakes but also underscored the event’s broader mission of recognizing and celebrating innovation, entrepreneurship, and inclusivity.

REMARKS AND MESSAGES:

Mr Kamal Omar Sheriff Abass, the Head of Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility, inaugurated the event. In his address, he welcomed dignitaries and the audience, emphasising Orange’s commitment to technology-driven projects, startups, and gender equality. He highlighted Orange’s role as a platform for Sierra Leonean startups and its dedication to empowering young female entrepreneurs. The address concluded with a glimpse of previous OSVP winners through a testimonial clip, inspiring the audience with the event’s impact on innovation and entrepreneurship. Mr Abass’ speech set the stage for an event focused on innovation, inclusivity, and the transformative power of technology.

 

Mr Francis Stevens-George, CEO/MD of Innovation SL, provided a comprehensive overview of the Orange Social Venture Prize (OSVP) journey. He highlighted how OSVP, which began as a startup venture in 2018, has grown exponentially and found a firm footing in the product market. As the reigning champion, he emphasised the firsthand understanding of the exhilaration that comes with victory. Mr Stevens-George proudly announced Sierra Leone’s remarkable achievement in 2022, securing the esteemed entrepreneur prize and gaining global recognition. He advocated for a shift in focus from monetary rewards to the broader perspective of nurturing business growth. This pivot has led Orange Telecommunications Company to take on the role of vigilant observers, actively monitoring and supporting the progress of winners. Expressing deep gratitude, Mr Stevens-George commended the relentless efforts of the entire Innovation team, with special recognition for Madam Hassanatu Jalloh. Her unwavering dedication in preparing pitchers, even working through the entirety of a week including Saturday, was noted. The CEO/MD also acknowledged Innovation SL’s pivotal role in cultivating a fertile ground for startups and novel projects to flourish. With optimism resonating, the MD voiced his conviction that Sierra Leone is poised for another triumphant victory, echoing his anticipation of claiming the grand prize once again. His words encapsulated not only the growth of OSVP but also the spirit of innovation, dedication, and the promising future that lies ahead for entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone.

 

Sekou Amadou Bah, CEO of Orange Sierra Leone, highlighted Orange’s instrumental role in fostering young entrepreneurs across Africa, with a distinct focus on Sierra Leone. The company’s commitment aimed at establishing a robust platform for emerging businesses, offering crucial elements such as funding and mentorship. A pivotal milestone was reached in February 2019 with the inauguration of the Orange Digital Centre in Sierra Leone, reflecting their dedication to democratizing digital access. Notably, this centre provided young women with the invaluable opportunity to access education and resources in the digital realm. Over the span of a year, an impressive 1600 individuals were trained, and it was revealed that more than half of them were women. Even more remarkable, 58% of these trained individuals successfully secured employment. Orange’s unwavering support for women’s empowerment was further manifested in the creation of the Women’s Centre in partnership with Nicom in 2021. This initiative aimed at empowering women with fundamental skills in commerce, digital technology, and financial management. Mr. Bah proudly noted that over 126 women have already graduated from this program. Mr. Bah also celebrated the accomplishments of previous years, highlighting the triumph of Osman as the 2022 national contest winner out of 17 countries. Additionally, Joseph Koroma’s groundbreaking achievement as the OSVP international grand prize winner for Sierra Leone underscored the nation’s potential on a global stage. Reaffirming their commitment, Mr. Bah reiterated Orange’s pledge to provide young individuals with ample opportunities to embrace the digital landscape. This stance encapsulates their dedication to nurturing innovation, entrepreneurship, and technological literacy among the youth, ultimately driving progress and transformation

Dr. Haja Ramatulai Wurry, the Minister of Technical and Higher Institutions, provided a comprehensive perspective on the Orange Social Venture Prize (OSVP) initiative. She highlighted its purpose to recognize and reward technological projects creating positive impacts in education, health, agriculture, e-commerce, and inclusively for individuals with disabilities, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Dr. Wurry emphasised the potential of e-learning to empower learners of all ages and the transformative role of technology in healthcare, agriculture, and entrepreneurship. She stressed the empowerment of women as a common thread across various developmental pillars, framing OSVP as a catalyst for gender equality and broader societal progress.

OSVP PITCHING COMPETITION

After Dr. Haja Ramatulai Wurie’s statement, the pitch session commenced immediately, with participants reminded of the pitch rules: each pitcher had five minutes to present their innovative project, followed by a two-minute window for addressing potential questions or contributions from the judges. The pitch session featured a diverse group of 8 entrepreneurs, each showcasing their innovative projects. Among them, the top 5 grand finalists of OSVP 2023 were contending for a significant prize of NLE 100,000, while the top 3 tech queen finalists were competing for a substantial sum of NLE 50,000.

The top 5 grand finalists presented their visionary ideas. Sia Chakanda pitched the KeneCare Virtual Hospital concept, Isha Abdulai introduced Crescent Salone, Andrew Dosumu showcased the innovative liquid air box, Mariama Mbayoh shared the Kam Rent Ya initiative, and James Samba unveiled the Electric Quadricycle proposal.

In the tech queen category, the top 3 finalists presented their groundbreaking ideas. IyeMary Brimah Sallu pitched Pin-up Healthcare, Hawanatu Sesay highlighted the IOT plant monitoring device, and Jenneh Bockarie Barnett introduced Sierrasister.

A distinguished panel of judges presided over the event, bringing diverse expertise to the evaluation process. This panel included Alfred Akibo-Betts, CEO of Betts Firm; Dr. Kadijatu G.A Kamara, Hon. Deputy Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs; Madam Estelle Van Eeckhout, Brussels Airlines General Manager; Mr. Edward Sesay, Orange Director of Wholesales and Roaming; and Madam Angella Leigh, a Software Engineer & Business Support Expert. Their collective insights ensured a comprehensive and well-informed assessment of the entrepreneurial ventures presented during the pitch session.

The First pitcher for the OSVP 2023 night was Sia Chakanda who serves as the executive director of the IMO Tech Solutions LTD. Her innovative project involves a tele-app platform designed to provide specialised medical care accessible to all Sierra Leoneans. Using secured video conferencing, patients can receive personalised medical attention, treatment plans, and digital prescriptions. Additionally, the platform offers secure storage for medical reports that can be exclusively shared with patients. One judge praised Sia for her idea, noting that it aligns with the event’s goal of providing convenient access to doctors for Sierra Leoneans. Another judge highlighted the potential of IMO Tech Solutions to benefit people in remote areas with digital medical care once the initiative is adopted by its intended audience. A female judge inquired about Sia’s backup plan if she didn’t win the competition. Sia shared her second plan, stating that she and her team would continue working on the project regardless of the competition outcome.

The second presenter, Andrew Dosumu, captivated the audience with his innovative idea called the “Liquid Airbox.” This groundbreaking technology aims to combat the rising issue of air pollution and its detrimental effects on the environment and human health. Andrew’s inspiration stems from the alarming increase in air pollution within the country. He highlighted the alarming statistic provided by the World Health Organization (WHO): 9 out of 10 people worldwide are exposed to polluted air. Shockingly, this dire situation contributes to 7 million deaths globally, surpassing even the combined fatalities caused by HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. Andrew’s solution, the “Liquid Airbox”, endeavors to tackle this crisis by significantly reducing CO2 emissions and improving air quality. Through his pitch, Andrew underscored the urgent need for innovative solutions to address air pollution and its severe impact on public health and the environment. His project serves as a beacon of hope in the fight against this pressing global challenge. On completion of his pitch, one of the judges noted that the liquid air box is an invention that would mitigate the excess of carbon dioxide emission. However, he noted that some people prefer planting trees to investing in the liquid air box.

Isha Abdulai, the third participant among the top 5 grand finalists, introduced her project called “Crescent Salone.” What drove Isha to launch “Crescent Salone” was her personal experience as a sickle-cell warrior. This prompted her to establish a community-driven initiative that focuses on educating individuals with sickle cell disease. “Crescent Salone’s” mission is multifaceted. It aims to educate sickle cell warriors about effective pain and crisis management strategies, offers practical tips for living with the condition, and extends care packages to both sickle cell warriors and marginalized children. Isha shed light on the alarming prevalence of sickle cell anaemia in Sierra Leone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), when the prevalence of this condition reaches 40% or higher, it is categorized as a severe public health issue. Sierra Leone falls within this category, highlighting the urgent need to address the challenges posed by sickle cell anaemia. Through “Crescent Salone”, Isha is working to make a positive impact on the lives of sickle cell warriors and marginalised children in Sierra Leone, raising awareness, and providing essential support for those affected by this condition.

One of the judges expressed appreciation for Isha’s concept, which focuses on educating individuals with sickle cell disease. The judge further emphasized the value of considering the establishment of a diagnosis centre to cater to a wider population. Another judge raised a question about the geographical scope of the initiative, asking if it was confined to Freetown. Isha responded by sharing her team’s ambition to expand the initiative’s reach beyond Freetown, indicating a desire to impact a broader region.

 

 

Mariama Mbayoh, the fourth finalist among the top grand finalists, addressed the considerable housing challenges faced by Sierra Leoneans, particularly in finding suitable homes in Freetown. She introduced her innovative project “Kam Rent Ya” as a solution to empower housing solutions in Sierra Leone and initiate much-needed change for individuals and families struggling to secure housing. Recognizing the pressing issue of housing scarcity, high costs, and unreliable information by the agents, Mariama launched “Kam Rent Ya” to leverage technology and entrepreneurship in streamlining the housing search process. The platform serves as a bridge between potential renters and reliable housing options by collecting comprehensive data on available properties and their surroundings. One of the core features of “Kam Rent Ya” is its advanced location scouting and data collection methods, allowing personalized housing options for each user.

Moreover, Mariama emphasised that “Kam Rent Ya” facilitates transparent communication between house owners and renters, enabling effective negotiations and fostering informed decisions. The project is poised to empower individuals by offering them the tools to make well-informed choices in locating their ideal homes. Through innovative technology and an entrepreneurial approach, “Kam Rent Ya” strives to alleviate the challenges associated with housing in Sierra Leone and provide a meaningful solution for both renters and property owners.

After Mariama’s pitch, one of the judges asked her if she was going to identify a specialised agent for the Kam Rent Ya platform since she mentioned that she would be dealing with a specialised agent. He also asked the pitcher how she was going to measure the survey to know whether the clients loved what they saw or not. To address this, the judge advised her to conduct a proper survey to know the people who are in need and house owners. Also to be keen in dealing with agents so as to avoid being fraud.

The Fifth and final pitcher of the top 5 Grand Prize finalists happen to be the winner of the 5th edition of the OSVP competition in Sierra Leone with a sum of  NLE 100,000, James Samba, the co-founder and CEO of Sierra Electric. “Sierra Electric” is his project idea to tackle the high rate of people in Sierra Leone losing their lives because of the pollution caused by the cars they drive. He mentioned that the problem does not only end there, it is also interesting to do that to every petrol or diesel vehicle. According to James, they are contributing towards the worsening climate affecting our environment by causing more people to suffer from illnesses such as cancer and other respiratory diseases and this also affects the country’s economy. But he said the most exciting part is that they have a solution introducing BYKA. BYKA is a 100% electric quadricycle that does not rely on fossil fuel, and it does not use either petrol or diesel for its operation.

BYKA innovation is very safe  for parents who can not afford a vehicle to take their child to school because of all its conventional features of safety. In  a situation where there is no light, it ought to believe that the vehicle can power itself so that it can compete with others in the future.

 

In the “Tech Queen” category, the top 3 finalists began with IyeMary Brimah-Sallu, the founder of the “Pin-Up Healthcare Mobile Application.” IyeMary introduced an innovative concept that aims to connect patients with professional doctors or specialised consultants, ensuring they receive the appropriate care. She highlighted a concerning statistic: out of every 10 hospitals, around 600 patients struggle to identify the right specialised doctors for their specific illnesses.

To address this challenge, “Pin-Up Healthcare Mobile Application” is designed to provide a comprehensive list of specialised doctors who can offer accurate diagnoses for specific diseases. This effort is supported by the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association (SLEMDA). Beyond being a mobile application, the project extends its reach to patients without smartphones, offering local short texting and requesting codes as well as a toll-free call system. This multi-faceted approach ensures that individuals of varying technological capabilities can access and benefit from the medical care service.

IyeMary Brimah-Sallu’s “Pin-Up Healthcare Mobile Application” showcases her commitment to bridging the gap between patients and specialised medical expertise, ultimately improving healthcare accessibility and quality for the people of Sierra Leone.

The judges recommended the pitcher for taking such an initiative to build an app and linking patients to specialized doctors. However, she was  advised that there should be proper care  regarding the profit margin as it should be realistic because there is no company in the world that can make 99% of the profit in such a short time.

 

Jenneh Bockarie-Bernett, the second pitcher among the top 3 finalists in the “Tech Queen” category, introduced her project named “Sierra Sisters.” Her innovative concept centres around creating opportunities for single mothers, especially teenage mothers, and widows, through an online platform. “Sierra Sisters” is an organisation that leverages an online application to generate employment for unemployed women who possess domestic skills but lack corporate expertise. The project aims to empower these women by offering well-structured services and providing a platform for them to enhance their skills in a professional manner. Notably, the organisation ensures that the terms and conditions are well-defined, offering legal protection to the women against any form of mistreatment from clients.

Jenneh’s initiative not only provides a means of income for marginalised women but also fosters skill development and empowerment. The platform allows clients to evaluate women’s performance and offer recommendations, thus promoting transparency and accountability. “Sierra Sisters” aligns with the broader objectives of the OSVP competition, showcasing the potential of technology to address societal challenges and create meaningful opportunities for underrepresented groups.

After her pitch, one of the judges advised that it would be nice for her to pay NASSIT and the PAYE for these women to help secure their future and that of their children when they might have retired. She was also encouraged to collaborate with BIKA.

 

Ms. Hawanatu Sesay, the third pitcher and co-founder of the Wi-AgricTech business, emerged as the Tech Queen Winner of the NLE 50,000 prize in the 5th edition of the OSVP competition in Sierra Leone. She addressed the prevailing gender disparity in the technology sector, where males tend to dominate, and her project serves as a bridge to empower more women in the tech world. Hawanatu’s project centres on Wi-AgricTech, a venture dedicated to designing Green and Smart farming technologies to enhance and elevate the quality of food production nationwide. She emphasised the significance of agricultural technologies in boosting crop yields and quality. The project aims to train over 500 farmers by 2025, focusing on cultivating vegetables that amount to produce 1 ton annually.

A pivotal aspect of Hawanatu’s initiative is the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) Smart Plant Monitoring device. This device employs cloud-based technology accessible via a smartphone. It is capable of detecting crucial parameters such as soil fertility, plant growth, and moisture levels. Remarkably, the device can autonomously make decisions on watering, light exposure, and nutrient levels, thereby ensuring optimal plant care.

The technology’s robust security measures, efficiency, and reliability contribute to its success in improving agricultural practices. Hawanatu’s Wi-AgricTech business aligns with the overarching mission of the OSVP competition, showcasing the potential of innovative solutions to address real-world challenges and create positive change.

At the end of her pitch, the judges commended the idea of smart agriculture as very timely as the government of Sierra Leone is committed to using technology to boost the production of agriculture. Another Judge encouraged her to do more and work on her conceived idea as she has won herself half of the money as a boost to implementing her project.  

OSVP IMPACT AND SIGNIFICANCE

       The event emphasised gender equality by promoting women’s participation in technology and entrepreneurship.

       Innovations presented aligned with SDGs, highlighting the potential of technology in education, healthcare, agriculture, and economic empowerment.

       Collaboration between the government, industry experts, and entrepreneurs was facilitated, fostering networking and potential partnerships.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the Orange Social Venture Prize (OSVP) 2023 in Sierra Leone stands as a testament to the power of innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration in driving positive change within Sierra Leone. With a strong emphasis on social innovation, technology-driven solutions, and gender equality, the event brought together a diverse array of entrepreneurs, experts, and dignitaries. In a broader context, the Orange Social Venture Prize Sierra Leone 2023 event underscored the potential of technology to drive social and economic progress. It exemplified how innovative solutions can tackle complex challenges, improve quality of life, and contribute to sustainable development. The event’s focus on inclusivity and gender equality further emphasised the importance of leveraging technology for social impact and empowerment. Ultimately, the OSVP 2023 event in Sierra Leone showcased the transformative journey of entrepreneurship, innovation, and collaboration. It provided a platform for visionary minds to present their solutions, celebrate their contributions, and inspire a brighter future for the country through technology-driven initiatives. The event encapsulated the spirit of progress and transformation, reflecting the potential of technology to drive positive change in Sierra Leone and beyond.

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Crazy/Wicked Idea

The much-anticipated Pitch Night with the theme "Crazy/Wicked Ideas" was held at Limkokwing University on 26/07/23. 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.

Following the welcome speech, Ms Lamarahna Bah, one of our Communications Leads, who also was the host for the night, introduced the panel of distinguished judges who would evaluate the pitches. The judges included Ms Haja Isatu Bah the CEO of Uman4Uman, Madam Naasu Fofanah CEO of Susu Consultancy, Mr Mohamed Barrie CEO of Fashion One and Mr Joannes Hotagua CEO of Authentic African, each bringing a wealth of expertise and experience to the table.

The highlight of the evening was the captivating pitches delivered by four exceptional individuals, each showcasing their unique and ambitious ideas. The pitchers were given their designated time of five minutes each to present their concepts, which ranged from groundbreaking technological innovations to revolutionary social initiatives. The audience was captivated by the passion and enthusiasm displayed by the pitchers throughout their presentations.

The first pitcher Gifty Renner from “Not Just An Art”, whose vision is to awaken the young generation to a new perspective of ideas and values to secure the future and the next generation's future through Art. Thereby solving problems surrounding Climate change, Education, Emotional expression and health, Cultural preservation and identity and also boosting Gender empowerment. Following her pitch, the judges were provided with an opportunity to offer feedback and ask potential questions. Ms Haja Isatu Bah expressed her perspective on Gifty's business, perceiving it primarily as a waste management initiative rather than an art preservation endeavour due to the predominant use of waste materials. Additionally, Ms Bah highlighted that the business covers a wide range of sustainable goals, suggesting that Gifty should concentrate on the one that resonates with her the most.

The second pitcher, Samuel Koroma, has the vision to be the leading provider of electric cars that are stylish, efficient and environmentally friendly. The problems they aim to combat are Climate Change and Air Pollution, through Manufacturing Electric Cars and making them accessible for an affordable cost.

The penultimate pitcher Victor Ikoh from ‘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 utilization of waste materials by 70% by exploring options for outsourcing customized oils to be used as raw materials in his production process.

Oswald Dundas, the ultimate 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 ionizing an electrolyte made up of saltwater. This transforms the magnesium on the inside into electrical energy. Oswald was advised by the judges to firstly launch and register his business, having patent rights because the idea of water being used to produce light is unique. Let it be visible and affordable nationally and regionally.

After each pitch, the judges provided valuable feedback, offering constructive criticism and commendations. Their insightful comments not only motivated the pitchers but also provided guidance for further development and refinement of their ideas. The interactive feedback sessions fostered an environment of growth and learning as the judges showed interest in collaborating with some of the pitchers after the event.

Adding an extra layer of knowledge and inspiration, the guest speaker, Dr Ye Tao, the CEO/founder of MEER Foundation, delivered a thought-provoking presentation on the reduction of heat. His expertise and insights shed light on the importance of sustainable practices and offered valuable strategies for combating climate change.

As the evening progressed, the judges deliberated and made the difficult decision of selecting the two winners who would advance to the finals in September. These two outstanding pitches demonstrated exceptional potential and innovation. The winners, Mr. Victor Ikoh and Mr. Oswald Dundas of Dundas Tech Company will have the opportunity to compete for a seed capital of $5000 to further develop their ideas.

The Crazy/Wicked Ideas Pitch Night was an exhilarating event that showcased the power of imagination and innovation. The pitches, the invaluable feedback from the judges, and the enlightening guest speaker presentation all contributed to an evening that inspired and motivated all attendees. We eagerly anticipate the upcoming finals in September, where these two finalists will have the chance to join other pitchers to compete and turn their dreams into reality.

Innovation SL remains committed to nurturing creativity and supporting entrepreneurial endeavours, and we look forward to hosting more exciting events in the future.

Reported by Francess Beresford-Renner,

Comms Lead,

Innovation SL.

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Fempreneur Pitch Night

 In a bid to select participants, Innovation SL posted a  CALL for applicants for the Freetown Pitch Night-fempreneur edition; with a star prize of $5,000, seven women were selected for the competition. Two-week prepping sessions were held in order to prepare them. During this time, they were given instructions on how they should showcase their ideas, to aid them with their pitch deck.

On the 26th of  April, 2023 the Freetown Pitch Night was held at the Limkokwing University, Hill Station, Freetown with the theme “FEMPRENEUR” (a platform where female entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to pitch their ideas and access seed funding). The event was hosted by  Ms. Margret Cassel and Ms.Francess Beresford- Renner. 

A keynote address was given by the company’s CEO/MD Mr. Francis Stevens-George who created a sense of purpose; in his speech, he stated the reason why Innovation SL partnered with Mercury International. Relatively, “for entrepreneurs to work we need a pipeline of ideas. To have new ideas to work we should have INVESTORS.” He further added that entrepreneurship has been the bedrock of development in Sierra Leone, for an entrepreneur to work there should be an ecosystem, for an ecosystem to work there should be a pipeline where new ideas as well as older ones strived. He emphasized that for both old and new ideas to strive there is a need for Investors, for that reason, there was a sense to appreciate Mr Martin  Michael, the MD of Mercury International, for deciding to collaborate with the Freetown pitch night by providing seed capital, especially for female entrepreneurs. Statistically, Sierra Leone has an estimate of 1.5 million women in the micro or small business sector and this sector accounts for 90% of the country’s economy. However these women have been struggling over the years to up-scale their businesses  because they lack funds and this is exactly why the fempreneur edition of Freetown Pitch night is a stitch in time.

Mr. Martin Michael explained that, since 2007 Mercury International has been involved in a wide variety of corporate social responsibilities by awarding scholarships to approximately 2000 students, providing abroad treatment for people with severe ailments and having built two schools.

Conversely, they were never introduced to such a platform wherein they could have the opportunity to aid entrepreneurs, which is why 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. This is so because female entrepreneurs face the most challenges in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The emerging winner would help to alleviate poverty by creating job opportunities and payment of tax as that is what they are looking forward to. He left the stage thanking Mr. Stevens-George for the shared platform.

One of the hosts Ms. Francess Beresford-Renner ushered the panel of judges to introduce themselves and they were predominantly women, namely: Fatmata Sesay, John Wearing, Tafadzwa Chiganga, Waheed Awonuga and Mavis Madaure.

The pitch proper started immediately after the judges had introduced themselves and pitchers were reminded of the pitch’s rules which include the utilization of five minutes for presentation and two minutes for questions and answers, all summing up to seven minutes per pitcher.

The first pitcher for the night, Panashe Chikhata from Recycle2Skill, is a young hardworking and innovative female entrepreneur who has strong culinary and computer skills. She has been working with a team of four members; 3 female and 1 male that has the Practera programme, a programme that has been working with Seed Stars (an incubation company) in Switzerland. As a young female entrepreneur, she has a vision of empowering unskilled youths by providing them with skills at the cost of plastic waste. The business would have a positive impact: socially, economically and environmentally. This will help curb the problem of waste management and mitigate the issue of climate change.

The second pitcher Emily Kumba Fanday from ‘The Community’ has a peer-to-peer lending platform that has been allowing individuals or institutions to lend directly to borrowers in both formal and informal businesses. The community project was launched in 2022 having a population of 70 people; 30 female and 40 men. It has been seen as a viable market that provides loan services among institutions, businesses and individuals who are interested. Due to the huge market size, they have decided to have a low operation cost, minimal regulation, big data and technologies to streamline models. This is because they wanted to disrupt the system of how loans are given. To ensure the lender’s trust, the Community has a license of operations from the Bank of Sierra Leone which makes it reliable and secure. They had a business treat and control unit structure that would help lenders have better ROI.

The third pitcher was Mariama Bah from Rise Radio 96.3 FM who started by asserting that Climate change has been a global phenomenon caused by human activities primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. Burning fossil fuel generates greenhouse gas emissions that act like a blanket wrapped around the earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising the temperature. Looking at the topography of Sierra Leone, there is a dire need to discuss the

causes, impacts and solutions of climate change. Due to the lack of awareness (no specified programme on climate change by radio station) there was a sense of massive deforestation in both rural and urban areas causing flooding and soil erosion nationwide. This has impeded the production of agricultural goods.  Rise radio has a dedicated 4 hours radio program that would be providing radio content and radio drama that would be deemed fit for climate change discourse.

The fourth pitcher was Lydia Bernard-Jones from ‘The Bridge’ who has proved to be a link between young Sierra Leoneans and the opportunities to get resources in order to maximize their potential.  There are many students in Sierra Leone who lacked the opportunities of having scholarships and they needed someone to cross the bridge, by creating a platform for scholarship opportunities ranging from secondary school to university and sharing links with peers and mentors in their field internationally. The bridge would provide prestigious and productive young people equipped with experience to be competitive in their careers. This would build a strong cohort of youths that would be equipped with the skills.

 The fifth pitcher Nippy Bah is the leader of ‘Mamie Coker. Mamie Coker’ has a project that ensures young people employment in Sierra Leone. It’s a team made up of 5 members; 3 females and 2 males experienced in code and web development. The project stemmed from the fact that a girl was in desperation to secure a job. Relatively, a platform called Mamie-Coker was created to connect clients with skilled and reliable workers. From the research that was conducted, approximately 100 people were asked about their pressing needs and what they were willing to pay for. 70% said they are willing to pay for skilled workers.  Such could be applicable by creating profiles for both businesses and prospective workers, connecting clients to workers or hiring workers on behalf of the client and monitoring until the job is done and encouraging feedback from both workers and clients. Using technological tools, it would improve access to service in various skilled service fields and also promote digital literacy in an efficient manner.

Fatmata Kargbo, the penultimate pitcher from Tamara Millennium company, expressed that their business vision is to empower underprivileged women by providing them with essential training to help them sustainably earn their daily income. She explained that their financial struggles are often caused by the lack of seed capital and knowledge on how to utilize it.

Therefore, there was a need to create Agro-forestry cooperation for these women to get training on crop practice which would increase production. They would be providing basic business management skills as well as bookkeeping while making sure that they would be weeding the seed bed and proper farm check-ups. Participatory field research was conducted; the research informed that, if they had been working with them it would have been better.

Ms Hawanatu Sesay, the final pitcher, co-founder of the Wi-AgricTech business which focused on designing Green and Smart farming technologies to improve and increase the quality of food products nationwide. In Sierra Leone, the males have outshone females when it comes to technology which is why she served as a bridge to connect more females in the tech world. That is why she focused on farming technologies to increase the production of crops. With these technologies, they would train over 500 farmers by 2025 for the cultivation of vegetables worth 1 ton annually. The io T plant monitoring device through a cloud-based technology via phone could detect soil fertility, plant growth and moisture level of the plant, it could take an automatic decision on behalf of an individual regarding water, light penetration and nutrient level. The technology has been highly secure, efficient and reliable.

Madam Isatu Harrison the CEO/founder of creative hub Africa and Izelia Fashion who was the guest speaker for the night, started her speech by explaining that she obviously did not wake up one day and got to where she is currently as she had to go through some rough patch and challenging times. Cleaning was her first business; she started with a mop and a bucket where she employed 10 people and had some others as part-timers. The cleaning business was successful as she had a Ghanaian woman who worked so hard to own part of the company. She later sold the business and pursued a hairdressing venture which she fancied; ended up selling the cleaning business and failed in the hairdressing saloon. She relentlessly moved over to being a seamstress as all she had left was a singer machine and some Ankara pieces, being a business person who has always had a knack for fashion she then ventured into the fashion industry with just a sewing machine and eventually developed the brand called Izelia, which is well known today for its signature gara tye fashion prints all over the entrepreneurial ecosystem. She finally encouraged young female entrepreneurs to use what they have until they can get what they need.

At the final phase of the event, the judges have presented gifts of appreciation on behalf of Innovation SL before declaring the winner. Certificates were presented to all the pitchers

respectively, starting from the rear. The judges unanimously declared “the Community ” led by Emily Kumba Fanday as the winner of the 2023 Freetown Pitch Night, fempreneur edition. The MD of mercury international, Mr. Martin Michaels presented the cheque of $500 as seed capital to the winner and the event was concluded with an atmosphere of excitement and high anticipation for the next edition of the Freetown Pitch Night slated for the 13th of  May 2023.    

 REPORTED BY- George Garber

EDITED BY- Francess Beresford-Renner

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Turtle Pitch Night

Theme: Climate Change Adaptation Technologies-08.02.2023

The Turtle team is made up of Geraldine Dohogne and Estelle van Eeckhout, two female friends who have been close for 34 years and chose to go on an adventure that will influence and improve lives, particularly in Sierra Leone’s business ecosystem. 

In order to spread awareness and generate money for their endeavor, the turtle team participated in the BUDAPEST-BAMAKO rally 2022, the final big adventure in the world. The two buddies chose the moniker “TURTLE” for their team mostly in honor of the turtles in Sierra Leone and the turtles’ overall propensity for “slow but sure” racing. Every two years, people from all around the world can participate in the Budapest-Bamako rally and raise money for whatever they might wish to engage in.

The Budapest-Bamako Rally is an automobile event that spans eight (8) nations. The 2022 edition of the rally began in Labe, Guinea, and concluded with a welcome ceremony at Gigibonta Lumley in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on November 8, 2022. The Budapest-Bamako Rally provides all of its participants with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in addition to being a means of raising money. The turtle team traveled with such fortitude and concentration. Due to their punctuality, versatility, and liberality, the turtle squad went, saw, conquered, and won the hero of the bush honors after spending 11 nights camping and sleeping in tents around the eight countries in Africa. They decided it would be appropriate to help the entrepreneurial ecosystem by providing money for incubating and assisting budding entrepreneurs through innovation SL.

Following the selection process, Innovation SL posted a CALL for applicants to apply for this unique pitch night and began preparing. The preparation sessions lasted for two weeks, during which time the chosen pitchers received instruction on how to present their ideas as well as aid with the right organization of their pitch decks. 

On February 8, 2023, the Turtle Team pitch night was held after several days of planning and preparation.

The pitch night, which had the theme “CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION TECHNOLOGIES(CCAT),” was held at the Toma restaurant and was hosted by madam Emily Bah. The event began with an introduction and welcome speech from the company’s CEO/MD Mr. Francis Stevens George, who noted that while there are many successful entrepreneurs in the nation, the narratives have changed due to the influx of young people, primarily recent graduates, into the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Many of these young people view entrepreneurship as fulfilling because it allows them to be content with what they are doing and be creative while doing it. He then quickly clarified that the turtles are aware of this, but more importantly, they are also aware that there are other ecosystem actors who offer support and training to these aspiring business owners in order to shape the ecosystem and bring it to its full potential. For this reason, the team used sponsorship funds to support these entrepreneurs through Innovation SL.

He also explained to everyone in attendance that the pitch night was originally intended only for women, but due to the dearth of female participants, the team and the organization were forced to open the opportunity to both men and women. As a result, we have pitchers from both genders. Following that, Mr. Francis Stevens George called for Miss. Estelle Van Eeckhout, a member of the turtle team, gave a speech about the significance of the evening.

Miss Estelle explained to everyone in attendance that she and her teammate Geraldine came from entrepreneurial families and have always been interested in supporting young female entrepreneurs because they are the ones most impacted by global climate change. She continued by saying that being able to support these entrepreneurs at this time has been a dream come true and is incredibly satisfying.

Ms. Estelle then handed us off to her teammate and friend Miss Geraldine Dohogne, who was joining us virtually because she couldn’t make it to the event. She and her teammate, Ms. Estelle, had so much faith in Innovation SL that they begged the company to be their service provider. They believe that the company is a driving force of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. As an entrepreneur herself, Miss Dohonge expressed her enthusiasm and satisfaction at finding funding and supporting young businesspeople. She stayed with us practically for the remainder of the evening, thanking everyone for coming and wishing us all a nice evening.

The host, madam Emily Bah, then presented the judges, who are as follows: Her Excellency The Ambassador of Ireland to Sierra Leone, Claire Buckley, Estelle Van Eeckhout, Geraldine Dohogne Turtle teammate and entrepreneur, Natalia Abboud, CEO of the transnational DSTV Sierra Leone and Capital radio, and Madam Haja Mariama Myers, a business consultant, and entrepreneur.

The first speaker for the evening was Margret sia Gbamanja from the Salone Association of Innovation and Management, a company that offers auto mini-irrigation systems for small-scale farmers looking to provide an alternative watering system for farm-growing crops. The host went directly to the main event for the day, the pitch proper, by reminding the pitchers that they are only given five minutes to make their ideas known. The main issue they noticed was how climate change has affected everyone, including Sierra Leone, and as a result, farmers have resorted to just farming during the rainy season, contributing to a food deficit in the nation. Additionally, they try to find a solution for the manual effort that goes into watering crops because most farmers complain of pain, particularly waist problems, while they are conducting surveys. They also understand the difficulties that local farmers have using auto-smart irrigation because the majority of them are not lettered; as a result, their products are easy to use and reasonably priced for everyone.

She added that they are nearly finished with their prototype and are working on it right now. When she was through, she made sure to mention that the product’s secret is that it is superior to its rivals in that it is effective, straightforward, affordable, and supports local farmers.

The first of the two questions Margret received from the judges came from Miss Estelle, who inquired about the source of the water they planned to use for the irrigation system. Margret responded by stating that most farms are located close to wells, so that is where they intended to get their water.

The next query came from Miss Natalia, who was worried about the price of their kit because it wasn’t mentioned during the presentation. Margaret responded that she couldn’t give a specific figure because they were still in the planning stages and couldn’t ascertain the price at this time. As she left the pitch stage, the judges praised her for her poise and presentation abilities.

Every two minutes a child dies from malaria, yet mankind has joined together to find a solution, said Stephan Courtney Peterson, according to Mariama Saccoh, the second pitcher from the Global Malaria App. As a medical student, she always finds it upsetting when people wait in line for a malaria test at a hospital and are not attended to in a timely manner. With this background in mind, she and her team decided to create an application that would allow people all over the world to take a malaria test and receive their results in a flash.

The malaria app will be created for owners of Android and iOS smartphones with sensors because that’s how the app can scan and detect their blood cells in order for the findings to be shown. The app also aims to reduce the number of deaths caused by malaria since prompt diagnosis and treatment can avoid fatalities and because it links patients with healthcare providers and pharmacies.

Given that all malaria test kits are made of plastic, the invention also helps to prevent plastic pollution. Mariama explained that they will be employing an optical biochemical parameter sensor, which is dependable and capable of detecting the presence of plasmodium in cells, in response to the judges’ question on how the application can be trusted.

​​Mr. Tommy Sowa, the third pitcher, is the CEO and co-founder of Zest MK Investment, which focuses on creating an e-commerce application that would facilitate the delivery of medications to patients who have access to the application. Additionally, they offer medical care as well as a venue for pharmacists to market their goods and offer services to these patients.

Since they plan to use a few motorbikes to reach hundreds of people, they hope that by leveraging this E-commerce platform, both the death rate and ozone layer pollution will be reduced. The covid pandemic, Mr. Tommy Sowa further explained to the audience, was the inspiration for this idea. He discovered that many people died from a lack of prompt medical attention, but with e-commerce, no one will even need to risk traveling long distances with a sick person because all the facilities will be there to meet them in time at their doorsteps.

This will promote pharmacies around the neighborhood and give young people jobs. After that, the judges questioned Mr. Tommy Sowa about the anticipated payment plan for clients who would use their services. Mr. Sowa said that they would be going digital and using a local mobile money app.

The fourth pitcher, Christiana Lebbie, whose business idea is briquette coal, recalled a time when her mother had to make soup for her sick grandfather. However, because she was using charcoal, the process took three hours and was both time-consuming and unhealthy. This served as her inspiration to create briquette coal from farm waste.

As opposed to charcoal and firewood, briquette coal burns for a very long period before burning out, making cooking easier, simpler, and more inexpensive. Cooking with briquette coal is healthful since it doesn’t emit smoke, protecting women’s lungs, eyes, and other organs from sickness. The briquette coal also contributes significantly to climate change adaptation because, unlike other cooking techniques, it doesn’t release gasses into the atmosphere and also includes free fire starters. In order to reach as many clients as possible who will be able to use the briquette coal and live a better and healthier life, the briquette coal will target neighborhood merchants who offer “kol pot.” Since briquette coal can be produced without using trees, it will also encourage reforestation. 

Although the judges said they were in love with her idea, they also suggested that she go back to the drawing board and reduce the cost of her product by working with and partnering with other companies in the same field.

Fatmata Conteh from Sierra Plastbricks, whose company focuses on reducing plastic pollution and flood damage, was the fifth pitcher. Since 15000 people die yearly from flooding, most of whom live in slum areas, Sierra plastbricks produces plastic bricks that may be used as retaining walls and flood fences to help secure water-prone areas. This is done in an effort to lessen the impact of floods.

The Sierra Plastic Bricks also observed that during rainy seasons, the city becomes clogged and polluted with plastics and rubber; as a result, they are recycling these materials into bricks in order to protect the ozone layer. Additionally, in order to fully mitigate flooding, the Sierra Plasti Bricks also come with a sensor that will be installed in the flood walls which will indicate when the floodwaters are rising to fully get the job done.

She said that the secret to their success is that, unlike their rivals, their flood walls have sensors that can detect floods. The judges questioned how the sensor will be developed since they were worried about its development. The team informed the judges that they will unquestionably be the ones to construct the sensors but also acknowledged that they are still in the perfect stage and are trying to select which type of sensor they will use. They provided information on the many types of sensors. The judges then recommended the team conduct a thorough investigation into their concept because it has numerous technological and intellectual ramifications.

The problem they saw was how different dumpsites are polluting the surroundings as most of these dump sites burn down the waste transported to their sites. They also noticed that this waste can be raw materials for people who are in the circular industry, so they decided to find a solution. The sixth pitcher was Mr. Fallah Mackay Lengor, who represented the Action for Safer environment non-government organization (Clean city waste).

Sorting waste and distributing it to various recycling businesses would assist them to obtain the raw materials they need to make additional products for the country’s consumption. Additionally, this will lessen the environmental damage that burning waste has on the environment. Since there are no official organizations dedicated to the said enterprise, their best option is to supply refuge, sort waste, and distribute waste to their required recycling companies.

According to the OCHA 2015b report, 80% of Sierra Leone’s waste can be recycled, therefore with their notion of sorting and distributing waste, Sierra Leone can make the most of every waste rather than allowing waste to create flooding and other problems. Their plan will work by collecting rubbish from dumps, classifying it into distinct categories including plastic, metal, and coconut shells, among others, and then selling it to recycling businesses for a small price.

They will keep a cost-effective supply chain. Because they will sort before distribution, recycling companies can acquire the exact amount of material they require without having to go through any additional sorting procedures. After his presentation, the judges questioned the team about how they intended to maintain their waste management strategy so that they could not be easily imitated by upcoming rivals. In other words, the judges were trying to find out what might prevent other businesses from doing what the team was planning to do.

Mr. Fallah responded that they are not afraid of competition because it will motivate them to work harder and that they do not believe that they will be matched by rivals in the future because they were the first to start a waste sorting and distribution business, giving them an advantage over rivals in the future because they will become more inventive over time.

Hawah Siaffa-Siakka from Climate action for women and youth development was the penultimate pitcher. She made the decision to pursue green farming practices after watching her father lose a lot of money in agriculture because he lacked the necessary knowledge. She conducted a survey after that and discovered that most farmers lack training, particularly in the application of fertilizers, which prevents them from producing many crops. By using open data kits (ODK) to send information on the ground and data back and forth, such as weather patterns, fertilizer use, climate adaption, and general farming information, her approach is to provide smart knowledge in agriculture. Ms. Hawah provided the essential information to the interviewer after being questioned about her customer base and the channels she utilizes to inform her go-to-market about her designs to the judges.

The final hurler of the evening According to Christiana Martha Lappia of Chris and Co Tech Ltd, the main issue they saw was the high rate of CO2 emission in the atmosphere, which is mostly brought on by industry manufacturing plants and leads to ill health and water contamination as well as global warming. Their approach is to provide a catalytic converter that transforms smoke from chimneys into steam or water vaporizer, which helps to prevent global warming. Their device adds value by converting waste carbon monoxide into steam and absorbing it, which helps to mitigate global warming and protects workers from respiratory illnesses.

Miss Christian went on to say that their plan will create a safe working environment, make a significant contribution to environmental protection, and promote high standards of health. 

Miss Christian responded that she and her team would first obtain Clarence from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and partner with factories and other companies that would be using their products in response to the judges’ initial question about how she and her team intended to acquire customers since their market target was large factories and construction companies.

The event continued with a Q&A session that was expertly moderated by the host after the judges had dismissed the audience for making their final choice. The audience had the chance to interrogate the pitchers during this session about their companies and their goods. The fact that the pitchers had the chance to pitch their products to the audience and explain their presentations made this session extremely interactive.

The top five pitchers who were able to persuade the judges of the significance and influence of their products were announced after a brief break by the judges. The winners were Christiana Lebbie, Fatmata.F. Conteh, Mr. Tommy Sowa, Fallah Mackay Lengor, and Christiana Martha Lappia, in that order. 

In recognition of their dedication and support, the judges received presents in addition to diplomas for the winners. 

The CEO/MD Mr. Francis George Williams gave a very brief closing courtesy to everyone in attendance, especially the judges and Turtle Team, to express his gratitude for helping the event to be a huge success because it was held in a welcoming and educational environment.

 INNOVATION SL COMMS

Reported by: Francess Beresford Renner

 Edited by: Lamarana Bah 

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Exponential Technology, Digital/Industrial Disruptor/Fintech

This month’s Pitch Night Theme “Exponential Technology, Digital/Industrial Disruptor/Fintech” was held at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology on the 28th of September 2022. This is a night where different innovators come to pitch their ideas on technologies that have the potential to cause broader societal transformation by changing the existing economic sectors, and tenets of work, production, and consumption. Mrs. Emily Bah chaired the event by starting with individual prayers and welcoming the guests and thereafter she explained the significance of the event as an opportunity for startups/entrepreneurs to not just market their products/businesses but also to solicit feedback to help their businesses grow.  After the three judges of the event namely Mr. Ibrahim Barry, Madam Tafadzwa Chiganga, Madam Priscilla Oke-Chukwu, and Mr. Aiah James, have introduced themselves, Mrs. Emily called on the Managing Director of Innovation SL, Mr. Francis Stevens George to give a short statement. 

Mr. Francis talked about the difference between Exponential technologies and exponential innovation. He stated that it is not easy to know that a particular technology is exponential. He further defined exponential innovation as a technology that can cross into another industry background.

After the statement from the MD, the host called on the first pitcher Mr. Chernoh Jagitay, a member of CJ Bem. Mr. Jagitay highlighted in his pitch that as a company their aim is to solve the problem of lack of proper inventory management, lack of billing and sales structure, crude, manual or complex bookkeeping, and no simple but advanced mobile solution (POS) to operate customer’s physical or online stores. They are proposing to develop a mobile point of sale (android) for shop operations, a storefront (e-commerce) function to accept and process online orders, simple but advanced reports for decision making, and also low operational costs.

The judges congratulated the pitcher but commented that he did not mention his team members. Madam Priscilla recommended that he improve his pitch deck and his presentation. Mr. Ibrahim Barrie asked who is managing the app, especially the backend, and how they manage the app. He also asked how they collect and manage the data that comes from the backend. Madam Tafadzwa asked what his biggest challenges in getting people to sign-up are. Mr. Aiah James asked if the application could work offline.

The second pitcher Mr. Sal Kuyateh explained that he has developed his project called “Bintumani'' which is a cryptocurrency system because he wants to solve the problem of endless fees, too many middlemen activities, and also the problem of the West African monetary system losing its valuation and at risk of being obsolete. His system which he called “Bintumani.io” will be creating a Defi problem alongside cryptocurrencies which will be available 24/7 with very few limitations compared to mobile money services. 

Madam Tafadzwa thanked Mr. Sal Kuyateh and asked him what challenges he has seen to encourage him on the cryptocurrency in Sierra Leone. Madam Priscilla asked about features he has put in place that are different from the other platforms and what will motivate her to use his platform instead of the other platforms. Mr. Aiah James asked Mr. Sal if he thinks Sierra Leone is ready for cryptocurrency right and if he did any research on that. Mr. Francis asks if Mr. Kuyateh has been to the regulatory environment. 

The third and final pitcher for the event, Mr. Emmanuel S. Kamara said that they intend to develop the Freetown Markit System because of the problem of the lack of ease and comfort of purchasing products offline from B2B and B2C added with the issue with the payment system and the lack of trust in vendors in e-commerce platforms. The system will provide an E-commerce (App & website) platform for online vendors that have a payment system to their account by providing a payment system to educate vendors and consumers about scams and also help small businesses reach their full potential in the market.

The Judges thanked Mr. Bangura for such a brilliant presentation. Mr. Aiah James asked how he will manage such huge data on his platform. Also, he was asked if he is going to develop a new payment system or if he is going to work on an existing system. Mr. Barry asks how he is going to protect customers from scammers. Madam Priscilla encourages him to move on with his dreams and make sure that he brings them to reality.

Madam Emily then called on the guest speaker Mr. John Wearing who is the advisor at Invest Salone, and a former World Bank and UK Government economist. Mr. Wearing said he is a big fan of the pitch night. He spoke on disruptive technology and said in society there are a very small number of people trying to solve problems in disruptive ways. He told them that they can be the ones to solve huge problems in the business world with their unique ideas that will make people love them. He encouraged them to ask questions and try to define if they liked what they were doing, which will help their business to be valued. Lastly, he told them that pitching is not all about money but what they can achieve and learn from it.

As the theme of this month states, the platform was lively with brilliant ideas from the pitchers and tremendous advice, comments, and questions from the judges. The Pitch Night was interactive as Mrs. Emily calls on Mr. Ibrahim from Built Accounting to give a short talk on their business. Mr. Ibrahim stated that they are currently working on their platform which will assist businesses and employees as they currently have incorporated payroll in their system to keep their monthly records in it. It will also help employees to see historical payments in their system. She also engaged the audience to keep their questions for the pitchers after the event as there is no time for that now. She then encourages the audience to play a short game called speed networking where every guest will interact with each other and build a network for five minutes.

The event was brought to an end when the judges announced the winners of the pitch event. Madam Priscilla announced that Mr. Sal Kuyateh came third followed by Mr. Emmanuel Kamara who came second while Mr. Chernor Jagitay was the winner. Emily then presented the gifts to the judges and called on Mr. Fraizer to present the gift to the guest speaker. Mrs. Emily ended the event by thanking everyone before she gave the closing remark and vote of thanks. 

Compiled by,

Julliet Josiah.

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EdTech Pitch Night- August Edition

“Edtech” is the theme for this month’s Pitch Night, which was held at Limkokwing University on the 31st of August, 2022. It is a night where different innovators come with their ideas on how to help improve the educational system in Sierra Leone through the use of technology (either online or offline). Mrs. Emily Bah chaired the event by starting with individual prayers and welcoming the guests and thereafter she explained the significance of the event as an opportunity for startups or entrepreneurs to not just market their products/businesses but also to solicit feedback to help their businesses grow.  After the four judges of the event namely Dr. Brian E. Conton, Madam Sunnah Keili, Mr. Simon E. Tsike-Sossah and Mr. Abdulsalam Kamara have introduced themselves, Mrs. Emily called on the first pitcher.

Mr. Mohamed Bangura, a member of King Medo Tech, who highlighted in his pitch that as a company their idea aims to solve the increasing problem of potential errors or miscalculations, lack of proper database for keeping track of grades, inconsistencies in student records, report generation which takes a long time and unauthorized access in schools and colleges by providing a SierraGrade School Result Manager (SierraGrade). This is a system that is an automated, secured and error free result manager that produces report cards in less time and keeps track of all grades for future reference with three months of free usage, free training & technical support and also free video tutorials for their users.

Mr Abdulsalam Kamara, one of the judges commended Mr. Bangura for his brilliant idea and asked him how sustainable the business is and if it has easy access. He also asked about the structures he has put in place for security purposes.

 Dr. Brian Conton congratulated him for identifying one of the key areas affecting the schools and colleges. He asked the pitcher where the data is  saved since it is an offline system and his competitive advantage. 

Mr. Simon E. Tsike-Sossah asked if he could input data into the system as a client. Madam Sunnah Keili asked how different the system is from the general automated system.

The second pitcher Mr. Alusine Barrie explained that through his Fore-Front company, there is High Quality private tutoring, e-learning and education consultancy. This actually works to produce a guaranteed exam success and skills mastery, leverage technology and innovative teaching & learning to ‘multiply’ great teaching through their E-Learning packages, provide evidence based approach through his baseline and monthly progress tracking & reporting to clients & benefactors. 

The Judges asked Mr. Alusine Barrie what is unique about his business since there is YouTube to watch video tutorials from. Mr. Simon E. Tsike-Sossah recommended Mr. Barrie for the energy he used in conducting this current teaching. 

Dr.Brian E. Conton asked Mr. Alusine Barrie about the methodology he is using and how he can use it to combine it with E-Learning. 

Mr. Peter Tom Nyamah was the third pitcher. He stated that his idea is to start a Preschool Learning Aids that would solve the problem of the methods of teaching in preschool because of the unavailability of appropriate teaching materials in preschool by providing teaching aids for 2-3 years old pupils.

Mr. Nyamah was asked why he did not bring the box (calculator) and how he knew that the product lasts for ten years since they just started in2018. Dr. Brian E. Conton asked why he started by giving the figures for WASSCE and then went back to talking about Pre-Schools.

Eventually, Mr Emmanuel Kamanda, innovator of an offline Stem Server called LOREM, was the fourth and final pitcher. Mr. Kamanda’s idea is geared towards solving the problem of students not having affordable & reliable access to organized quality stem content by creating the above named server for schools and colleges.

The judges asked Mr. Kamanda how the App would generate revenue.  Mr. Abdulsalam commended Mr. Kamanda by saying he liked his project. He also asked that he work with Mr. Barrie since they have similar ideas. Madam Sunnah asked how he decides which contents to show the customer/students. 

As the theme of this month states, the platform was lively with brilliant ideas from the pitchers and tremendous advice, comments and questions from the judges. The Pitch Night was interactive as Mrs. Emily asked some entrepreneurs to come and market their product to the audience. Madam Nyallay Sheriff talked about her product Metro Cables, Mr. Emmanuel from CARE Sierra Leone  talked about new product they are offering to the public wit a generous profit margin. which is and Mr. Victor Pratt from dot.Bleu talked on the different packages they are offering. She also engaged the audience to keep their questions for the pitchers for after the event as there is no time for that now. 

The event was brought to an end when the judges announced the winners of the pitch event as Mr Mohamed Bangura, followed by Mr Emmanuel Kamanda who took the second position. Mr Alusine Barrie and Mr Peter Tom Nyamah came in closer with a tie for the third position. Miss Nyallay Sheriff presented the gift to Madam Sunnah Keili, Dr Modupeh Taylor Pierce presented the gift to Dr Brian E. Conton, Mr Emmanuel Boima presented to Mr Simon E. Tsike-Sossah and Mr. David Manley presented to Mr Abdulsalam Kamara on behalf of Freetown Pitch Night.  Mrs. Emily’s then gave the closing remark and vote of thanks 

Compiled By,

Julliet Josiah.

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Crazy Night 

“Crazy Night” as the theme for this month’s Pitch edition held at Limkokwing University on the 27th of July, 2022 refers to a night where crazy but creative ideas were displayed. The event was chaired by Mrs. Emily Bah, who welcomed the guests and thereafter explained the significance of the event as an opportunity for startups or entrepreneurs with crazy but innovative ideas in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Mrs Emily later introduced Mr. Francis Stevens George , MD of Innovation SL who later emphasized the significance of Crazy Pitch Night, and welcomed all who were in attendance to witness the Pitch Night.                        

After the introduction of the four judges of the event namely in the persons of Mr. Nick Asigil, Madam Naasu Fofanah, Dr. Wahid Awonuga and Madam Fatima Sesay, Mrs. Emily called on the first pitcher Mr. Adonis Assaf, a member of Stratton Electric, who highlighted in his pitch that as a company their crazy idea aims to solve the fluctuating problem of rising cost of gasoline in the country by providing an Electric Auto RickShaw(keh keh) as a means of transport at a cheaper and affordable cost for the working class people in Freetown.

The judges commended Mr. Assaf for his brilliant idea and advised him to redefine his target market. However, the Judges enquired how Stratton would ensure safety for passengers, warranty of the Auto-RickShaw(keh keh), battery duration, their target market and transactions and financials. 

The second pitcher Mr. John Abdul Turay explained that through his Fintech Digital Osusu Platform, Osusu transactions will go cashless which will enforce accountability, transparency between the Osusu masters and members. 

The Judges asked whether research was done to determine the number of illiterate and literate people that are in the Osusu Business, they also questioned his current market size, transactions and financials, the cost of building the App, the security measures he has in place if the App is hacked and how he intends to generate income from the App. The Judges recommended that he finetune his innovation and seek advice from people that have been championing the traditional way of Osusu collection.

Sir Prince Malcolm Nuni was the third pitcher. He stated that his crazy idea is to start an Airline Services that would solve the problem that Business Persons, Domestic Tourists, International Organizations, Government Officials and NGOs face when using roads to travel by providing fast, safe and comfortable Air Transportation that offers both Business and Economy class

Mr. Nuni was applauded by the judges for his initiative and subsequently questioned his target market, flight experience, the place that would serve as the landing site, the type of aircrafts he intends to use and the personnels that would manage the Airline.

Eventually, Kelly Kamara, innovator of  an online football App called MiddleMan, was the fourth and final pitcher. Mr. Kamara’s crazy idea is geared towards solving the problem of lack of international exposure of Sierra Leonean Players  by creating the above named App to expose Sierra Leonean players to both International and Local  Football Agents, Football Managers and Football Scouts.

Mr. Kelly Kamara was asked by the judges how the App would generate revenue, what would and advised that  

In line with its theme, this month’s Pitch Night was interactive and hilarious. The host Mrs. Emily bah engaged the audience allowed them to pose questions to the pitchers and organizers of the Crazy Pitch Night and displayed hilarious images to entertain the guests 

The event climaxed with the announcement of the pitch winners the Electric Keh-Keh and Osusu Master App as winners of the Crazy Pitch Night. Granta Kanda Airways came in 2nd and Football App took 3rd place. Ms. Hickmatu, Mr. Bashir, Mr. Raphael and Mr.  Manato Presented gifts to the judges on behalf of Freetown Pitch Night and  Ms. Emily’s closing remark and vote of thanks 

Compiled By,

Fanta Lomax.

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Sustainable Fashion June 2022
Judges & Pitchers

In collaboration with BlueCrest College, Freetown Pitch Night held its monthly June edition of Pitch Night at Limkokwing University at Hill Station, Freetown on Wednesday, 29th of June, 2022.

The theme of this month’s edition is Sustainable Fashion which is geared towards raising the awareness of the effect of fast fashion and the involvement of all other practices in the fashion industry that may cause harm to the environment.

The event was chaired by Mrs.Emily Bah, who welcomed the guests and thereafter gave a brief history of Fashion and later introduced Mr.Francis, MD of Innovation SL who later emphasized the importance of Sustainable Fashion and subsequently recognise very important guests and all who were in attendance to witness the Pitch Night.                               

After the introduction of Judges, Mrs.Emily called on the first pitcher,  Ms . Fatima Sesay CEO of  Sew Lovely Online Boutique aims to solve environmental issue, global warming by recycling old clothes and fabrics into new products that are comfortable and unique, while contributing to saving the environment.

Fatima Sesay

The judges questioned Ms.Fatimas financial tractions, what sets her apart from other fashion designers, her marketing strategy and recommended that she gets a clear understanding of what she intends to do with the funds required.

Ms.Jalikatu Jalloh, owner of NA IKA ( laba-chonchi) was the second pitcher. Ms.Jalloh highlighted that her business is an inclusive brand aimed at promoting  sustainable fashion by  using organic materials to dye garments and make unique patterns While protecting the planet and contributing to reducing the use of toxic chemicals by 95% and water wastage by 90%.

Jalikatu Jalloh

The Judges commended her initiative and asked Ms.Jalikatu to define her customer base, the type of leaves or plants she uses to dye.After being queried about  her dyeing process, she quickly explained to everyone how she obtains the raw products used to dye her fabrics.

The third pitcher was Ms.Cecilia Fofanah who stated that she wants to solve the problem of fast fashion by using end of life(old or used) materials to produce new designs with excellent customer service.

Cecelia Fofanah

After being questioned about her customer base and the channels she uses to notify her go-to-market about her designs; Ms.Cecilia gave the necessary information required to the judges.

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Mrs. Haja Dalanda Masally, Co Founder of Waste Way, stated that her business produces  durable backpacks, clothes and  other designs. They also co-create with customers. Mrs. Haja highlighted that their  products are eco-friendly, made out of waste and it is  90% plastic and 10% cotton. And that any product purchased from them helps save at least 450 single-use plastic from ending up in the ocean.

Haja Dalanda Masally

One of the Judges questioned the veracity of the statistics she provided. The others asked how intends to pioneer the idea, her marketing strategy and advised that she draws up a realistic approach with a detailed plan of where she wants her business in the next three to six months

This month’s pitch night was different  and spectacular, the function also had a runway show. There were models who did a swift runway for the audience showcasing fabulous and beautiful  designs made by brilliant fashion designers from BlueCrest College.

Lilian
Sasha
Hassianatu

Mr.Rajiv and Ms. Daniella Coker from Blue Crest College was called upon to say a few words. Mr. Rajiv briefly enlightened  the audience about their fashion department in BlueCrest and expressed his gratitude to his students who were the fashion designers and to the audience for their undivided attention.

Head of Fashion School- Mr Rajiv
Judges

The event ended with the announcement of all the five Pitchers as winners because they all had exceptional and brilliant ideas and the presentation of gifts by distinguished guests to the Judges. 

The best  3 dresses made by the students of bueCrest were awarded cash Prizes; SLL 1,500,000, SLL 1,000,00, SLL 750,000 respectively.

Hassianatu
Valerie
Salima

Written By,

Fanta Lomax.

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