DEMO AFRICA 2014: INNOVATION PUT TO THE TEST


In 2012 an initiative by LIONS@frica was born. It aimed to connect African start-ups to the global system. DEMO Africa is the place where African real-world solutions go to find investment which consequently leads to positive global attention for the continent, which can never be an awful thing. More than anything, it provides a platform for these African start-ups to launch their products when everyone is watching. What adds to the prestige of the whole affair is the sponsor’s namely: Microsoft, USAID, Evernote, The US Department of State, the Tony Elumelu Foundation and that’s only scratching the surface. The fact that the initiative has attracted such worldly partners is a clear demonstration that the international community has recognized Africa’s economic emergence.

The way the event is structured is all about entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity. The 40 start-ups underwent intensive and high-skilled training and mentor-ship for two days before finally pitching to large and powerful investors from all over the world. Luis Amat COO of Venture Hive and one of the key trainers stressed the need for the start-ups not to neglect networking; he said “the most important part in all this is the networking because you never know who’s going to introduce you to the right partners.” He also admitted that the start-ups are human and were facing challenges including not vocalizing properly, lacking crowd engagement, and lack of clarity when making their presentations. The fact that he acknowledges these challenges to the public observably means that he did during training sessions, which probably made the entrepreneurs that much better during the final pitch.

The final pitch was packed with nothing but excitement and excellence.Saisai from Zimbabwe grabbed the top honors a SWELL Innovation award while Irofit and VOTO took the first and second runners up positions. Saisai is a wireless mesh network distributing free access to wireless hotspots in public areas and public transportation while, Irofit is the only mobile card payment system that allows merchants to accept card payments without an internet connection. VOTO is a mobile phone notification and survey platform. The winner walks away with an all-expenses paid trip to Silicon Valley which will certainly help flame the innovation that is already burning within them.

Photo Credits: Google Images

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