From June until December of this year, HiiL Innovating Justice, an advisory and research institute within the justice sector, based in The Hague, Netherlands is hosting a challenge aimed at finding the best innovations, those that help start-ups and small/medium enterprises (SMEs) in East and West Africa.
The challenge has been developed in response to Sub-Saharan Africa’s ranking, as the world’s worst region to do business. This is a significant dilemma for the continent, given that a well-functioning business climate is fundamental for economic growth and African prosperity.
Despite their notable potential, startups and SMEs in Africa continue to encounter a wide range of interconnected injustices and challenges. Harsh regulations, high levels of taxation, corruption, a lack of transparency and a general lack of information are among the variety of hurdles preventing their success. This is additionally aggravated by lengthy and expensive procedures that are needed to obtain the necessary licenses and establish a business.
Commenting on the ongoing challenge in East and West Africa, HiiL’s Head of Innovating Justice Accelerator and Investment program, Wilfried De Wever emphasised the necessity to address regulatory obstacles. Specifically, bureaucratic red tape that is prevalent in obstructing youth led startups and SMEs in the regions. “We have witnessed poor business environments and crumbling economies. It’s upon to us to utilise the best tools to assist Africa in its fight to overcome the economic struggle. I am confident that the Empowerment Innovation Challenge will lead to the discovery of these much needed solutions.
The empowerment innovation challenge aims to contribute to a structural impulse in the development of East and West Africa by providing professional guidance and investments to the best innovations for startups and SMEs. By investing in improving the business climate from the bottom-up, African citizens will be directly reached and helped. The kick- off event will be held at the Strathmore Business School where industry players in the field of law and business will discuss the issues surrounding the African business environment.
The SME empowerment innovation challenge aims to contribute to a structural impulse in the development of East and West Africa. The best innovations from this challenge stand to receive up to $70,000 in seed Investment. Hill believes that providing professional guidance and investments to the best innovations for startups and SMEs, further progress this can be achieved. Investing in and improving the business climate from the bottom-up, ensures that African citizens will be directly reached and assisted in establishing themselves.
The application platform in now open for submissions and the official kickoff of events for this challenge will be held in Nairobi and Lagos later in the month.
The deadline for submitting innovations is the 1st of August 2015. Online campaigning to attract votes for these projects will be from the 1st of September 2015 until the 17th. Following this date, the three most popular innovations will proceed to the finale. Nevertheless, three additional innovations may receive a wildcard from a professional jury, inviting them to the finale. These six contestants will be summoned to the ‘Innovation Boot Camp’ where they will be able to work perfect their innovation. The three best innovations will then be selected by a jury. These chosen winners will be allowed to participate at the 2015 Innovating Justice Forum. This will be held on the 3rd and 4th of December at the Peace Palace in The Hague, The Netherlands.
To accompany the challenge’s launch, on the 9th of July, two information sessions will be held at Strathmore University. This will be presented by HiiL’s Head of Innovating Justice Accelerator and Investment program, Wilfried De Wever, accompanied by HiiL’s Innovating Justice agent, Henk Jan Scholten. Both discussions will explore the SME Empowerment Challenge, with the noon session from 11.15am until 12.15pm, addressing Strathmore’s law faculty. The afternoon session from 14:15pm until 15:15pm will follow a similar format, however it will be delivered to innovators and alumni from @iLab and @iBiz.
On the 8th of July, from 17:00pm to 18:30pm, HiiL will host the SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge’s kick-off event.
Set in the midst of the ever-bustling and vibrant city of Nairobi, the event will mark the official start of the challenge. This launch will provide a great opportunity for the innovators and pioneers in the field of business, law, government, civil society and technology to interact, socialise and share ideas on supporting contemporary African initiatives.