In a previous post, I mentioned the IdeaConnection. Here is a report from the Open Innovation Africa Summit (OIAS²) in which IdeaConnection has participated. The winning programs are a great example of collaboration, or connecting ideas for innovative projects with the sources of funding. It is also instructive to learn about new and exciting collaboration and innovation programs taking place around the world.
The second Open Innovation Africa Summit, held last May, was a platform for entrepreneurs and other stakeholders to discuss ways to support the emergence of Africa’s innovators and entrepreneurs.
The conversations happened on ground at the conference as well as on the Internet — another great example of a networked collaborative world. The conference opened with a global innovation contest. The challenge: Develop programs that make it easier for entrepreneurs to realize their ideas.
More than 100 proposals were received and evaluated, and there were three winning ideas according to the report filed by Paul Arnold at the IdeaConnection:
Paa — by Eugene Aroka from Kenya. A microfinance model to help Kenyan youth become successful entrepreneurs. This would address one of the biggest problems faced by Africa’s young innovators — the start-up capital required to get their ideas off the drawing board is typically beyond their means. Paa is a Swahili word which means ‘to fly’.
Yiiya — by Tonny Katongole from Uganda. This is a social network for innovators to share their ideas with the public, investors and peers. The platform can also be used to showcase success stories. Many ideas do not progress because of lack of motivation. Yiiya addresses that by providing monthly motivational events, based on the premise that people sometimes do not realize their full potential until somebody is talking about it.
LEC (Local Enterprise Circles) — by Joe Rice from the UK. This is a concept that provides a means for investors to finance new firms or to help the growth of existing companies, thereby creating jobs and opportunities for local people. LECs are local exchanges based on chambers of commerce where individual or corporate investors invest funds to stimulate growth of an enterprise.
The Global Innovation Index 2011 ranks 125 countries in terms of their innovation capabilities and results. The latest report included 24 countries from Africa. Not one was in the top 30, while 17 were ranked in the bottom 25. That is why the OIAS² is so important.
The contest winners received a trip to the OIAS² in Nairobi where they presented their ideas. It was a great opportunity for them to gain backing for their innovative thinking as well as show the world how collaboration and innovation can work to create successful businesses that can have a significant impact on Africa.