The Ghana Digital Innovation Week (GDIW) is a nationwide event series dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the significant achievements within Ghana's Digital Innovation Ecosystem. GDIW serves as a platform for diverse stakeholders to engage, exchange ideas, and establish connections, thereby contributing to the advancement of the overall landscape. Our aim was to provide a regional perspective, facilitating the participation of a West Africa delegation in learning and idea exchange with key players from the Ghanaian tech ecosystem. This initiative also aimed to cultivate opportunities for future collaborations.
In collaboration with Impact Hub Accra and Viridian, Make-IT in Africa hosted a delegation comprising three hubs and three startups from Francophone West African countries. This delegation actively participated in the Mainstreaming Climate Change Action series during GDIW 2023. The event unfolded at the Accra International Conference Centre from November 6th to 8th, 2023.
The West Africa delegation included Yaovi Francis Akotia from Incub’Ivior (Cote d’Ivoire), Odjouman Allagbe from Energy Generation (Togo), and Amevi Agblevi Midekor from Seme City (Benin), Tiazan Daniel Bah Baye from Saka Group (Cote d’Ivoire), Koumiba Nadine Christelle Coua-Zotti from VALEUR - Dua Neko (Togo), and Priscille Bijou Dossou from Houefa Green Energy (Benin). The focus was on advancing green business models and concepts through Climate Mainstreaming Sessions held in the initial two days, covering topics like a Gamification Toolkit Testing and Circular Economy. Participants also had the chance to explore a Hub Specialization Playbook.
On the concluding day, an ecosystem tour took place, involving visits to selected hubs and startups in Accra to observe their operations and the positive impact on supporting or operating Green Businesses. The locations included Ghana Climate Innovation Centre, Impact Hub Accra, Environment 360, and Trashy Bags Africa.
Led by Impact Hub Accra, the Gamification Workshop, organized participants into two groups. Each group engaging in the game by responding to questions presented in the toolkit and contemplating ways to enhance the environmental friendliness of each hub/startup's model and activities. The startup served as the end consumer in this interactive session.
The primary objective of the toolkit is to provide practical guidelines aimed at transforming the impact of innovative solutions into a positive force. One significant outcome of this session was the recognition that networking and collaboration among key stakeholders are crucial elements in promoting a circular economy. Additionally, the need for education on emerging circular design guidelines became evident.
Led by sustainability specialist Ohemaa Acheampong, participants embarked on a comprehensive exploration of the circular economy, guided by five pivotal frameworks. The session empowered individuals to introspectively assess their hubs and startups within the context of these frameworks, which included the 10Rs model (Refuse, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Refurbish, Remanufacture, Repurpose, Recycle, and Recover), Disrupt model, EMF (Ellen MacArthur Foundation) Butterfly model, Doughnut Economics model, and Value Hill model.
To foster a practical understanding, participating startups and hubs were grouped to conduct audits, evaluating the alignment of their activities with the identified frameworks. Subsequently, each group crafted a mock pitch deck, strategically designed to attract potential investors and secure funding.
In concluding the capacity-building session, Ohemaa Acheampong emphasized the importance of integrating sustainable initiatives into existing business models. She encouraged businesses to embrace these practices not only as a means of contributing to environmental sustainability but also as a strategic approach to attract green funds and investors. Acheampong highlighted, "The closer a business model aligns with such opportunities, the greater the likelihood of receiving funding."
Specializing hubs within the African innovation ecosystem is imperative. This strategic approach not only enables hubs to foster the growth of green startups but also alleviates confusion in the target market by developing distinct niches.
Acknowledging the deficiency in playbooks tailored to Africa's entrepreneurship landscape, Alexandra Fraser, CEO of Viridian, spearheaded an initiative. Hubs and startups, in her session, evaluated a playbook designed to realign African hubs for enhanced support of Greentech startups. Francis Akotia from Incub’Ivior expressed optimism, stating, "The playbook is poised to significantly empower African startups to unlock their full potential in the market."