African start-ups in honor of the first African Rethink Awards

Boubacar Diallo

The African Rethink Awards (ARA) aim to highlight innovative start-ups in the economic, social or environmental fields, with an activity focused on Africa. Review of the winners of the first edition, which ended in Paris on December 11.

480 start-ups responded to the call for projects launched by the Parisian think-tank Ateliers de la Terre in partnership with, in particular, Sciences Po Paris, the African Leadership Academy, the Canal + channel, the Institut national de la industrial property and My African Start-up.

After selection, around sixty start-ups participated in the African Rethink Awards (ARA), on the occasion of the LAB – Land of African Business – an event organized by the Ateliers de la Terre on the sidelines of the COP 21 at the hotel of industry in Paris.

The ceremony organized on December 11 saw the presentation of three main awards: grand prize (10,000 euros), diaspora award (5,000 euros), female entrepreneurship award (5,000 euros).

Award-winning online shopping for solar lights

Derrick Hosea Opio won the grand prize the most. His company, Onelamp, launched in 2014 in Uganda, offers solar lamps that can be ordered and paid for on a mobile platform that he has created. In one year of existence, it has sold more than 4,000 lamps. Solar lights that replace kerosene lamps used by families in remote areas that have no access to electricity.

In addition to being a clean solution, solar lamps save poor families less money because they no longer have to go out and buy kerosene every day. According to estimates by its promoters, Onelamp would have saved $ 750,000 for families who adopted the solar lights.

For Derrick Hosea Opio, ARAs are a very enriching experience. “Coming here made me feel really African. I have met Cameroonians, Kenyans, Ivorians whom I will be able to contact again. There are a lot of ambitious entrepreneurs and I learn from what they do. ”

Clay hearth

Some of the entrepreneurs have sometimes been surprised to see their business rewarded. This is the case of Rinah Zo Rakotonarivo who came second in the category of female entrepreneurship award – returned to KickLoans, a microcredit company launched in Toronto by the young Cameroonian Stéphanie Mbida and active in Tanzania. His company, Tandavanala, has developed an improved stove built in clay to allow Malagasy people to consume less wood when they cook.

Even though he won no prize, Majdi Jeljeli, creator of an eco-label for the textile industry in Tunisia, also greatly appreciated the event. “I wanted to go into immersion, meet other Africans like me and it was successful. I had brought about fifty business cards and I have none left. ”


ARAs are also an opportunity for these young entrepreneurs to present their business model to an audience made up of other business creators, but also leaders of large groups or private equity investors.

Thus Elum, a Parisian start-up winner of the Diaspora Prize, which offers management software to optimize the use of solar energy. The ARA allowed its leaders to chat with many people from the continent and to start meeting companies interested in their project. “We met people from Senelec [the national electricity company in Senegal, editor’s note]. We hope to continue the dialogue with them and meet them afterwards, “said Karim El Alami, one of the founders of the company.

Specific solutions to a specific problem

“The selected projects offer specific solutions to a specific problem, which may concern several African countries” specifies Raphaël-Ange Prebay, manager of the ARA project for the Ateliers de la Terre. “And the projects that most appealed to the jury are those that allow us to prioritize immediate needs. ”

The ARA will be continued next year, the Ateliers de la Terre wanting to perpetuate this meeting. In 2016, the French think-tank hopes to be able to bring 150 entrepreneurs to Marrakech where COP22 will take place.

source: young africa

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