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Innovation Challenge for SMEs

Win R200 000 in Telkom’s innovation challenge.

Alison Job

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Telkom has announced the Open Innovation Mega Challenge to all South African innovators, calling on them to think innovatively about Telkom.

The company has invited all small and medium business, universities, research institutes, not-for-profit organisations, start-ups, individual inventors and innovators to collaborate with Telkom by responding to the challenge with innovative proposals for technologies and solutions.

Steve Lewis, Telkom’s managing executive of Product House, says, “As a facilitator of the innovative spirit, Telkom has always endeavoured to inculcate innovation into its business operations.”

The challenge set by Telkom is based on a theme of products for the future that will stimulate and drive broadband growth.

The focus areas include, but are not limited to, convergence; cloud solutions; vertical segment solutions; machine to machine solutions, smart buildings and smart cities.

Judging criteria

Entries are judged on:

  • Innovation
  • Feasibility
  • Commercial viability
  • Market appeal.

They also have to directly benefit economic growth and social development and also stimulate broadband penetration.

R200 000 worth of cash prizes and Telkom products and services will be awarded for the three best submissions.

Closing date for submissions is 30 November and winners will be announced at the end of March 2014. You can enter by clicking here.

 

Alison Job holds a BA English, Communications and has extensive experience in writing that spans news broadcasting, public relations and corporate and consumer publishing. Find her at Google+.

Entrepreneur Today

Africarena Forges Global Partnerships To Scale African Innovators

Eleven start-ups from across the African continent, identified as “entrepreneurs for humanity”, were awarded the opportunity to partner with the AfricArena challenge corporate sponsors at the end of the second AfricArena technology conference in Cape Town.

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Amongst others, Air France KLM selected DiscoverIkasi and Sea Monster, both from South Africa, to assist with improving the travel experience and sustainability of its subsidiary Joon. Vinci Energie, will work with Senegal’s Oniriq and South Africa’s DataProphet on innovative energy solutions in Africa.

During 2018, in the run up to AfricArena2018, 60 start-ups pitched their businesses in regional events in eight cities across Africa. Many of which were invited to take part in a series of challenges set by the AfricArena sponsors, all looking to solve uniquely African business problems.

Solutions For The African Market

The AfricArena 2018 conference was anchored and endorsed by major international sponsors La French Tech, Silicon Cape, Vinci Energies, AirFrance KLM, Engie, Saint-Gobain, Methys, Rogerwilco, City of Cape Town, Proparco, RCS, and Leroy Merlin. The following sponsors specifically came to South Africa and AfricArena to explore innovation opportunities within Africa and abroad: RCS, Saint-Gobain, AirFrance KLM, Vinci Energies, VivaTech, Leroy Merlin, Engie, Sanofi and FSAT Labs.

“We expect to have a different approach from these startups, a bright idea that could be easily implemented, and also to benefit from what is very high potential in terms of innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives. And to find solutions that are very well adapted to the African market,” said Jean-Michel Mathieu, CEO of Joon, a subsidiary of Air France.

“African entrepreneurs are very willing to find solutions, to take risks, they address vital expectations and needs, and they are looking at the challenges with a very frugal mindset. I think this is a lesson for us as well, we learn a lot working with them and collaborating with them to find the right solutions and we take this inspiration back to Europe with us,” said Lydia Babaci-Victor, Chief Innovation and Development Officer at Vinci Energies.

Vincent Viollain, co-Founder and Head of Partnerships and Startups at VivaTech, the biggest tech conference in Europe said: “The leapfrog ability of African technology has become a bit of a cliché. But when you get a chance to see it, you’ll see that it’s actually true. African technology is frugal, its smart and it can have an impact locally as well as globally. In our winner, Aerobotics’ case we believe the solution can move beyond physical borders, and also have application in different industry sectors.”

Related: Employees, Not Consultants Or Executives, Are Your Best Innovators

Africarena Winners

The startups who won the challenges, were grateful of the experience and excited to be moving forward with some of the largest corporations across the globe.

“Oniriq provides access to African rural populations through energy and the internet. It’s great to be here at AfricArena, it has been a journey. For two months we’ve been participating in this challenge since the selection two months ago in Dakar with Vinci Energies team and we’ve been in discussions since. For us the win is a great achievement and we’re looking forward to starting our collaboration in Senegal,” said Rodolphe Rosier, Founder of Oniriq.

“We’d like to thank AfricArena and VivaTech for the opportunity to present and we’re really happy to have won and we cannot wait to be in Paris in May. We’re already expanding around the world and this presence at VivaTech 2019 will give us a great opportunity to meet the European market,” said Nasreen Patel, Head of Product at Aerobotics.

“This is not just a win for DiscoverIkasi, it’s a win for the communities we work with across South Africa. It’s going to give them a lot more exposure. This is what we’ve been working towards since starting the business, to get to a platform where I can market DiscoverIkasi, our market, our experiences and the townships on an international stage. Now we need to go back home and form a strategy to scale the business across South Africa,” said Ntsebenziswano (Benzi) November, Founder of DiscoverIkasi.

The startups attending the conference will also each be receiving credit from AWS as part of their prizes. Each startup in attendance, winner or not, will receive $2000 in AWS credit.

A Word From The Eco-System

Kerry Petrie, General Manager of Silicon Cape, host ecosystem of AfricArena, states: “It’s such an amazing opportunity for entrepreneurs from all across the continent to connect and share, building bridges that may hold future partnership, export and market opportunities. It builds the visibility of the pan-African community for a local, regional and global stakeholder audience. We have to work together to increase investment in African ventures from 1%. And AfricArena is playing a pivotal role in making that a reality.”

Reflecting on the event, Christophe Viarnaud, CEO of AfricArena, expanded on the philosophy behind the conference.

“AfricArena’s open collaborative Pan-African model, highly inclusive and embarking all categories of investors, ecosystem contributors, and corporates focused on innovation in Africa, has demonstrated very high impact throughout 2018 with 16 events on 3 continents. The grand finale at AfricArena2018 has shown the energy and excitement from 15 corporates, over 150 investors and 70 startups, with over $2m deals being done, startup-corporate partnerships being struck and a wave of energy and innovation from African entrepreneurs. We could not be more excited about the future, comments Viarnaud.

Related: Developing Partnerships With Fintech Innovators

The Winners:

  • Air France KLM Challenge 1 – DiscoverIkasi
  • Air France KLM Challenge 2 – Sea Monster
  • Engie Challenge – Arnegy
  • Leroy Merlin Challenge – BizAR Reality
  • Saint-Gobain Challenge 1 – Swift GeoSpatial
  • Saint-Gobain Challenge 2 – The Student Hub
  • Sanofi South Africa Challenge – Iyeza Health
  • The RCS Group Challenge – ThisIsMe
  • Vinci Energies Challenge 1 – Oniriq
  • Vinci Energies Challenge 2 – DataProphet
  • Vivatech 2019 Challenge – Aerobotics 

Sponsors And Their Challenges:

  • Air France KLM Challenge 1 – optimising the airline’s travel experience while reducing its environmental footprint
  • Air France KLM Challenge 2 – using technology to enrich subsidiary Joon’s travel experience for its passengers
  • Engie Challenge – ensuing a reliable energy supply in urban areas
  • Leroy Merlin Challenge – immersive showroom experience that shows off a large variety of products
  • Saint-Gobain Challenge 1 – using satellite trend analysis to predict urban and climate challenges
  • Saint-Gobain Challenge 2 — a solution to upgrade professionals’ skills across Africa, especially in remote areas.
  • Sanofi South Africa Challenge – optimising patient treatment adherence and completion rates
  • The RCS Group Challenge – storing and securing customer identity and authentication credentials
  • Vinci Energies Challenge 1 – using digitalisation to optimise industry and energy performance
  • Vinci Energies Challenge 2 – How to make energy more accessible in Africa using technology such as energy efficiency flow solutions, energy flow optimisation, blockchain and artificial intelligence
  • Vivatech 2019 Challenge – using artificial intelligence (AI) to generate growth and sustainability in the agriculture sector

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Entrepreneur Today

Tapping Into The Expert Economy

Companies to harness wealth of knowledge offered by retirees.

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The Harvard Business Review previously reported that a wave of around 700 retirements would mean the loss of over 27,000 years of experience. With this much talent leaving the workforce, it would most certainly have a serious effect on the economy. The wealth of knowledge and experience held by retirees is so valuable that it has given rise to the term, the Expert Economy.

The term refers to a sector of retired experts in their respective industries who generally hire out their skills and knowledge on a consultancy or interim management basis during their retirement days.  With the ongoing struggle among employers to identify, hire, and retain top talent, the thought of tapping into the “expert economy” and bringing experts back to the workplace but on a consultancy or ‘associate’ basis is now a popular option.

One such company taking advantage of this hiring trend is EXEO Capital, an Africa-focused private equity firm, who is working with retired and semi-retired senior executives with successful track records from across Africa to assist as ‘associate executives’ on their investee company’s growth strategies. Herman Marais, Managing Partner at EXEO Capital, says that because of these associates’ many years of experience, they are well placed to mentor and support younger management teams in driving operational performance improvement.

Marais explains that nowadays it’s becoming common for businesses to choose to bring in semi-retired executives whose years of industry experience help them advise on specialised short-term projects or problems instead of hiring someone in on a permanent basis.

“It’s not always feasible to hire a full-time specialist especially from a cost perspective, which is why companies are deciding to rather hire in experienced talent from a select network on an ad hoc basis. Often these associates are also able to bring in a fresh perspective and offer valuable lessons for internal company management.”

Related: Alan Knott-Craig Answers Your Burning Start-up Questions On Ideas And Partnerships

Marais says that EXEO also chose to make use of the expert economy to strengthen the execution capacity within the firm’s portfolio companies.  “We have seen that our associate executives can evaluate and guide, in a matter of days, a practical resolution to a problem situation that might take a young manager or analyst weeks to do before any action starts. The feedback from our associate executives is that they derive great fulfilment from the opportunity to plough back their experience into the growth and success of younger companies and managers. Our positive experience in working with associate executives leads us to encourage other retired or semi-retired executives to consider doing the same.”

One such associate executive currently working with EXEO Capital is Willard Zvitya, a retired Zimbabwean executive who is now extending his industry experience to companies in the rest of the East Africa region. Zvitya says “Working as an associate executive has given me a golden opportunity to share my experience with younger executives, however, I am not doing their work for them. I am able to help younger executives to learn and complete tasks faster because I have in the past seen and dealt with most of the problem situations they are encountering”.

Mr Terence Davidson, a retired banking executive from Kenya, founds himself very busy in serving as non-executive and independent director at small and medium-sized growth companies in East Africa. Davidson says “I derive great satisfaction and excitement from working with these younger entrepreneurs and their growth companies. It seems that they value what I can bring to the table. It is a win-win situation.”

Marais concludes by saying that it is counter-productive for businesses and the economy not to capitalise on the valuable experience and expertise of senior executives with successful track records.  “South Africa is one of the focus countries in EXEO Capital’s operations. We find it paradoxical that, while South Africa has the strongest base of managerial and technical experience in the region, this resource is not well utilised in the economy at large”.

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Entrepreneur Today

EY Honours Southern African Entrepreneurs Who Redefine Convention And Inspire Change

This year EY marks 21 years of recognising and celebrating entrepreneurs who have consistently demonstrated excellence in their businesses.

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Since the first award in 1998, when Adrian Gore of Discovery was the inaugural winner, EY continues to see trailblazing entrepreneurs whose vision is shaping industries, creating new markets and generating employment opportunities while contributing to economic growth and development.

We are excited to announce, in alphabetical order by company name, the 2018 finalists:

  • Camelot Group: Deborah Merdjan
  • Cash Flow Capital: Xan Myburgh
  • Davipel Trading (Private) Limited: Davison Norupiri
  • Growthpoint Properties Limited: Norbert Sasse
  • In2IT Technologies (Pty) Ltd: Saurabh Kumar
  • Tiletoria (Pty) Ltd: Patrick Thonissen
  • M&M Brands: Zibusiso Mkhwanazi
  • Mobicel Communications: Ridhwan Khan
  • We Buy Cars (Pty) Ltd: Dirk van der Walk & Faan van der Walt
  • Valemount Trading (Pty) Ltd: Damien Westerman

Roderick Wolfenden, EY Africa Markets Leader, says: “We are delighted to celebrate and recognise these game-changing entrepreneurs from Southern Africa, and acknowledge their incredible achievements.”

“These entrepreneurs demonstrate extraordinary business acumen, financial performance excellence and inspired strategic direction. It is encouraging to see the tenacity and strong entrepreneurial spirit these business leaders have shown in their environments, which are often characterised by uncertainty and disruption. These and most entrepreneurs embrace bold thinking that often sees opportunity in adversity; a relentless drive to build a better working world; and an unwavering commitment to solving their clients’ issues,” he adds.

Related: Blood, Sweat And Tears – The Journey To Becoming Emerging Entrepreneur Of The Year®

About the programme – locally and globally

The awards programme provides the finalists with an opportunity to connect with local and international businesses, and join a global network of entrepreneurs who share their experiences and perspectives. The Southern Africa awards covers: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Mauritius, Madagascar, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia

This year’s award event will be hosted on 29 November 2018 in Johannesburg – South Africa and following that the overall winner will go on to compete for the prestigious title of World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ in June 2019.

Website – EY Awards

The EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Awards programme culminates in an annual gala banquet in Monte Carlo in June each year, where entrepreneurs from over 50 countries around the world compete for one of the most coveted global business awards.

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