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Orange rewards the continent’s innovators

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European telecoms giant Orange has announced the winners of the 2016 Orange Social Venture Prize for Africa and the Middle East at AfricaCom.
The prize, which aims to encourage start-ups in Africa to launch innovative projects that promote development, has been extended this year to the Middle East. A new award, the Special Prize for Cultural Content, has also been introduced.

For the sixth year in a row, the Orange Group is recognising four innovative projects that further development within the region. The objective is to stimulate entrepreneurs’ initiatives that use new technologies to meet the needs of people in Africa and the Middle East.

More than 750 candidates responded to the call for projects, which ran from May to September 2016, reflecting the potential of the telecommunications sector to support development in Africa and Middle East in fields as diverse as healthcare, agriculture, education and energy. Eleven projects were shortlisted and presented on Orange’s new pan-African Web portal for entrepreneurs in the region. The winners were then selected by a jury made up of experts from Orange, journalists, investors and institutions that promote development.

The three prize-winners received grants of 25,000, 15,000 and10,000 EUR, and the winner of the Special Prize for Cultural Content received 5,000 EUR. In addition, the shortlisted finalists and the winner of the Special Prize for Cultural Content will benefit from six months of support from Orange experts and the NGO Grow Movement. The first prize winner will also be offered a patent registration.

Bruno Mettling, CEO of Orange MEA, says: “With nearly 3 500 projects filed since 2011, the Orange Social Venture prize has grown into a huge success; the 750 candidate projects that were submitted in 2016 amply illustrate this. The start-up ecosystem now increasingly recognises Orange as an indispensable partner that is able to support their development: 95% of the winning start-ups since the award’s inception are still growing today. I thank them for their confidence.”

The winning projects were:
• The first prize was awarded to MedTrucks, Morocco
MedTrucks was created to support patients and healthcare professionals through the deployment of mobile care units in “medical deserts” in Morocco and other emerging countries. These hyper-connected trucks, that are fully equipped for all essential medical needs and can rely on tele-medicine tools if necessary, aim to fill a blank in these isolated areas by providing care at the right time and the right place. MedTrucks is developing a variety of services including realtime cartography and tracking that will help optimise care service delivery to patients, as well as a medical online training platform for professionals.
• The second prize was awarded to Nanoé, Madagascar
Nanoé’s ambition is to deploy a new kind of electrification system, known as “lateral electrification”, in order to meet the short-term needs of remote populations that do not have access to the main energy grid. Nanoé seeks to offer rapid, flexible and affordable access to electricity, while participating in the construction of a cutting-edge power infrastructure that is low carbon, decentralised, collaborative and smart. Nanoé’s project also includes a major training platform designed for future local-level operators.
• The third prize was awarded to Ma Tontine, Senegal
MaTontine seeks to solve the problem of how to provide financial services, including the provision of small loans, to the poor. It is based on a traditional, non-digital system, called the Tontine (in French), that enables the organisation of rotating savings and credit schemes across a small group of people (colleagues, friends, neighbours, etc.). The innovation is to build a digital platform that automates this whole process and incorporates a credit-scoring system in order to facilitate small loans and other financial services such as micro-insurance based on the credit score of the group members.
• The Special Prize for Cultural Content was awarded to Bulles Magazine, Côte d’Ivoire
Bulles Magazine is a monthly magazine for 6- to 10-year old children that promotes African culture. Available in digital and paper versions, Bulles Magazine will be accessible throughout the Francophone world and beyond. The originality of this project lies in the fact that Bulles Magazine will tell children the story of the kings and queens who ruled the African continent long ago. Each month, children will read about African heroes of the past but also contemporary heroes such as renowned inventors from Africa. Designed in a highly colourful and illustrated format, the paper and digital versions of the magazine will facilitate its distribution across Francophone countries.

Finally, a “favourite project” was also selected by web users on the Entrepreneur Club portal:
• Over 80 457 visitors out of a total of 390 000 voted for the Egyptian project FoodoGraphy, a food-waste management platform that facilitates cooperation between food providers – such as hotels, restaurants, conference malls, etc. – and charities. Foodography aims to allow charities to collect surplus food that is still in good condition from these organisations in order to redistribute it to poor people registered with the charity. FoodoGraphy’s website will provide a directory that acts as a reference for charities and enables them to connect with food providers and organise the logistics of redistributing the surplus food.