Young people with innovative ideas need access to investors, they need employees with technical expertise and they highly benefit from capacity building and mentorship opportunities. In Africa, in particular, it is also crucial to overcome infrastructural barriers. This is why our NGO AMPION is collaborating with startups, public institutions, partner NGOs, investors, incubators and innovation hubs (tech and co-working centers). We understand information and communications technology (ICT) not as an end in itself but as a crucial enabler reducing barriers to entry, lowering cost, speeding up growth, extending reach and thereby enhancing the potential impact of business ideas. That is why we target entrepreneurial talents across all industries, while placing special emphasis on enabling ICT experts to work with and for them.
In the Middle East and North Africa telecoms market a 2014 report by Analysys Mason shows that the mobile telecoms market is displaying signs of continued growth. While research by Deloitte and GSMA (Groupe Special Mobile Association) highlights that sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world (sporting a growth rate of 44% per year since 2000), Northern Africa and the Middle East are also benefitting from the progress of mobile penetration on the continent. Driven by strong mobile handset data growth, telecoms service revenue in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will grow at a CAGR of 2.9% during 2013–2018 (mobile at 3.3% and fixed at 2.8%), to reach USD96 billion in 2018.
AMPION Venture Buses operate all across the African continent and connect coders, web designers and business experts to investors and mentors. On five-day ‘hackathons’ they create startups from scratch. The buses are equipped with electricity and Internet. Every day the Venture Bus visits innovation HUBs to get the participants in touch with the local communities for feedback and an exchange of experiences.
A key objective for AMPION is to make startups created on the Venture Buses sustainable. For this purpose we will offer a six month fellowship program for the 10 best startups created on the AMPION Venture Buses. It will include free offices in over 30 countries, a grant and the connection to our global network of mentors. In addition, it will feature trips to the centers of the global tech and startup scene such as the Silicon Valley and Berlin.
2014 four AMPION Venture Buses will travel a total of 16 African countries. Along their journey our participants (200 overall) get in touch with more than 5000 young Africans interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. We also cooperate with international journalists and African media channels such as the BBC, Bloomberg, A24Media and many African tech blogs. Due to this extensive media coverage and our own active social media campaigns the spirit of our Venture Buses can potentially inspire more than 25 million young people in Africa and worldwide.
Advancements through the power of digital and innovation can help to improve the day-to-day life of many people across Africa and the Middle East and may help building a foundation for the tech markets of tomorrow.
In 2013 eight startups where created on our bus driving from Zimbabwe to South Africa. One of them, the App "sterio.me" is an e-learning app via SMS. It takes into account the challenges of the African market: Inadequate infrastructure and a lack of internet connectivity highly affect the access to education in Africa. Sterio.me helps to overcome these obstacles as the app requires neither mobility nor internet access: The user sends an SMS to the free service and then receives a call that is sent to him by his teacher tasks and queries learning content.
The app "Bribed", also developed in 2013 in the bus, provides access to a network that tracks exposure to bribery. They now cooperate with Transparency Germany to help them improve their Global Corruption Index.
We are looking forward to many great new ideas on our four AMPION Venture Buses in 2014!
Check out the Entrepreneurs Incubator Hub which will take place on Day Three of AfricaCom 2014 – Secure your conference pass or FREE exhibition ticket here: http://bit.ly/AfricaCom2014