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News Article — November 18, 2022 — Gerold Dreyer

Southern Africa: Hacking innovation ecosystems through collaboration

BongoHive, in partnership with the Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV), Garage48 and us hosted the second edition of the 'Empowering the Startup Community Hackathon (ESC)' in Lusaka, Zambia, from the 15th-17th November 2022.

The first instalment of the series took place in the picturesque coastal city of Swakopmund, Namibia in November 2021. It primarily focused on understanding the startup lifecycle in the region, the common problems they stumble upon, and the areas where the entrepreneurship support organizations (ESOs) face challenges. For more information read the blog article here or for a video recap please click here.

This time around, the focus was on on further developing existing and new solutions that were proposed by participants and turning them into working prototypes. The goal was to create prototypes that will strengthen synergies and ecosystem-driven cross-border collaboration between the ESOs in Southern Africa.

Honorable Felix Mutati, Zambia's Minister of Technology and Science officially opened the proceedings with these sentiments: “African problems require African solutions. It is important that we work on a regional basis and not in silos.” This was further highlighted by the incredible team spirit that all teams showcased throughout the week.

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More than 30 vibrant and dynamic ESOs from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, Botswana, Tanzania, South Africa and Namibia hacked solutions to some of the most pressing challenges experienced by the startup ecosystem in Southern Africa.

The five solutions developed include:

  • SADC Startup Manifesto – a concrete action plan on how public and private sector can better support startups and ESOs (i.e. through access to capital, talent, favorable regulations and fostering innovation).
  • Regional Mentorship Platform – a digital solution that brings together ESO's, vetted mentors and African startups on one platform.
  • Evidence-based Economic Empowerment for in-school youth – a 12-week innovation programme that aims to ignite a sense of innovation and entrepreneurship in young people (16-18 years).
  • Impact Assessment Tool – an online platform which provides Governments and Development Partners access to key statistical insights into the startup ecosystem in Southern Africa.
  • Hub Financial Viability – a regional framework that guides ESOs on how to approach corporates/investors and diversify their revenue models.

Stay tuned as the community continues building, validating and implementing its solutions.

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About the author: Gerold Dreyer is a member of our Make-IT in Africa team, based in Namibia.

Gerold Dreyer
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