So what an accelerator for start-ups has been launched in the Ivory Coast. I just shared this news with a friend and this was his response. So instead of release the news, I thought of looking at the context of accelerators in Africa.
But first what exactly is an accelerator for start-ups? Basically it is a programme where start-ups relinquish a small percentage of equity in exchange for a cash injection and mentorship. This varies from start-up to start-up or programme to programme per sector or industry.
Well subjectively, Africa’s economies are surging. On average, the continent’s GDP grew 5 percent annually between 2000 and 2008. But this may be irrelevant. Business incubators and start-up accelerators can stimulate innovation at both ends of this economic spectrum.
Cote d’Ivoire, the largest cocoa producer in the world boasts 30 percent of the world’s production and is big exporter of coffee and palm oil. Also she has significant offshore oil and natural gas reserves, which through exploration has boosted government revenues. From 1961 to 2014 the average annual growth was 4.17 percent. It peaked at an unbelievable 17 percent in 2014. Approximate half of the Ivory Coast’s population live in rural areas and more than half of the rural population live in extreme poverty. The country also has a large contingent of child labour in their cocoa fields – an area of concern and broadcast on the CNN show with Richard Quest – Cocoa-nomics. Proof, that a wealth of natural resources and growth proves nothing about economic wealth among the greater population.
This still has probably been the reason why ORANGE chose to invest in an Accelerator in this country – the prospects seem great. With “Orange Fab Ivory Coast”, part of Orange’s network of start-up accelerators on four continents, the programme, is a pillar of the Group’s open innovation approach, reflects the commitment of Orange to support new digital players and by accelerating their innovation.
At the point the 4 start-ups were chosen for the Orange Fab Ivory Coast. ICT4Dev.ci, a platform for managing agricultural cooperatives with an information web portal (Lôr Bouôr) with a distribution system for the agricultural prices via mobile (Djori Djori); it also has a vocal booth (Djassi); and a virtual market.
Samartsell, a management solution for points of sale with that offers remote management and automation of inventory, billing with mobile devices that is ideal for small to informal traders and selling of airtime from cash registers in order to solve the currency issues also made the cut. Sycelim, an insurance and healthcare programmes for asset management, billing management and pension payments. Sycelim also supports the patient’s follow-up: registration of benefits, conditions, prescriptions and medical dispensations pharmacies.
And Sportif 225, sports web agency transacts in the sale of web and mobile services for the sporting environment, production of sporting contents and management of sport events.
The aim of Orange Fab Ivory Coast is to facilitate and grow the development of start-ups in the Ivorian economic tech system.
Successful start-up applicants receive three months support to develop of their product and their business. Mentoring is a valuable tool for this process and from a pool of fifty coaches, including Orange mentors, entrepreneurs and local academics. A variety of six workshops will be offered to the business owners as well.
A crucial point for the business and the success of the accelerator is the opportunity to test their products in the customers’ testing center of Orange in Abidjan, with additional access to Orange’s APIs and receiving financial support to the tune of 15,000 euros.
It is hereafter that the process of business incubation will also take effect benefiting from workspaces and communication services from the Orange Ivory Coast and the Technocentre of Orange, based in Abidjan. The start-ups also get the platform to participate in two demo days (in Abidjan and Paris) and two investment forums.
The Orange Group has designed a range of measures to support innovative entrepreneurs through its accelerator Orange Fab, the Orange Partner program. This is dedicated to developers and funding, through Iris Capital, a venture capitalist of which Orange is a shareholder. Orange has also partnered with Deutsche Telekom and AppCampus in order to promote the creation of mobile applications.
All in all the reality of resources wealth has proved futile to many African countries and the impact of technology especially for small start-ups in Africa requires the opportunity to garner momentum and stimulate additional economic nodes for growth.