NAIROBI, Kenya — A group of high growth innovators from East Africa will be joining the SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship in Silicon Valley starting this week. SAP, in collaboration with Acumen, a non-profit global venture fund that invests in companies, leaders and ideas to change the way the world tackles poverty, launched the programme in April this year. Its goal is to accelerate the growth and impact of social enterprises that are in the critical stage of shifting from start-up to early growth phase.
The participating entrepreneurs from East Africa come from diverse industries representing social enterprises in agriculture, energy, healthcare, and water and sanitation. Their businesses have proven business models with the potential to scale and replicate across multiple markets, while the entrepreneurs themselves have demonstrated a strong commitment to leadership across the sector. The selected African CEOs in the programme, all Acumen investees, are:
- David Auerbach, Sanergy, Kenya
- Mark Davies, Esoko, Ghana
- Ashifi Gogo, Sproxil , Kenya
- Willem Nolens, SolarNow,Uganda
- John Waibochi, Sproxil,Kenya
- Peter Scott, Burn Manufacturing, Kenya
This effort is aligned with SAP’s ‘Skills for Africa’ initiative whereby SAP Africa, partners and customers are training up to 10 000 qualified SAP consultants by 2020 focused on Africa’s growth industries. The initiative is reflective of intense collaboration between SAP Africa and its partners, many of whom are also united by a mission to drive socio-economic growth and stimulate job creation.
A recent research study carried out by UK-based business networking group, Approved Index, ranks Africa as the best field for entrepreneurs globally, with the highest level of entrepreneurship in Uganda.
“Social enterprises are a significant driving force for economic growth and job creation in East Africa. Having successfully mastered the challenges of establishing a start-up company with a proven business model, the next challenge for these social entrepreneurs is to set their companies up for sustainable success. Typical questions address the evolution of the business model, go-to-market approach, recruiting and people development, self-management & leadership skills, process implementation, use of IT, investor relations and cash burn management,” said Andrew Waititu, Managing Director, SAP East Africa.
This SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship will serve to enable emerging entrepreneurs to achieve a strategic view of growth and scale for their businesses, and to find faster solutions to poverty in East Africa. The 100-day fellowship programme consists of two parts: a 10-day leadership bootcamp in Silicon Valley starting this week, followed by on-site mentorship, assistance and on-going support upon the entrepreneurs’ return.
“The CEOs will address their primary challenges associated with growth. They will learn how to build a strategy for scale from experienced tech entrepreneurs, business experts and impact investors and leave the fellowship with a clear plan of execution,” Waititu added.
Acumen will provide its suite of post-investment resources including technical assistance and mentorship to the CEOs during implementation. SAP will provide functional expertise to ensure that the CEOs have access to high-quality information and technology insights. Addressing the major challenges to scale will allow these emerging entrepreneurs to attract follow-on capital and grow to deliver sustained value to the poor.
About the Entrepreneurs
David Auerbach worked at Ignia Fund in Mexico, Endeavor and the Clinton Global Initiative before becoming CEO of Sanergy, a company providing low-cost, high-quality toilets to Kenyans to make hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible throughout the country.
Mark Davies started his first internet business, Metrobeat, in 1995 and merged with CitySearch a year later to develop digital guides for 70 cities. In 2006, he turned his focus to emerging entrepreneurs to create Esoko, a mobile platform that’s changing how information is shared within rural farming communities.
Ashifi Gogo, an expert in mobile authentication technologies, created Sproxil to protect consumers from counterfeit medicine. The company works directly with manufacturers to integrate Sproxil’s product authentication service, so consumers have the tools to make smarter choices.
Willem Nolens has over 15 years’ experience leading companies in the fields of microfinance and solar energy in Africa. Since 2008, he has led SolarNow, which is increasing energy access in rural Uganda through its innovative distribution and financing model.
John Waibochi has over 18 years’ experience in Kenya’s technology sector. Since 2000, he has led Virtual City, a leading mobile software firm that develops and delivers streamlined, cost-effective solutions to the supply chain and agri-business industry in Africa.
Peter Scott has focused on cookstove design and innovation for nearly 20 years, first with GIZ and now as CEO of Burn Manufacturing. Burn manufactures and sells high-efficiency, clean cookstoves for the Kenyan market, proving the business case for high quality, locally manufactured and unsubsidized charcoal cookstoves.
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