Three start-ups, Shopit, Exportunity and Wakulima from South Africa, Benin and Tanzania respectively, have emerged the winners of the Nestlé Research and Development (R&D) Sub-Saharan innovation challenge.
The challenge is a product of consumer goods manufacturer, Nestlé, which boasts the world’s largest private food and nutrition research organization.
Selected from among a competitive group of 174 submissions received from 27 different countries across Africa, these start-ups projects were judged by a panel of Nestlé executives as the most promising.
In addition, the initiative ‘Mafani’ led by two students from University Gaston Berger of Saint Louis, Senegal was selected as the winner of university category of the challenge and will receive CHF 10,000 in prize money.
The three start-ups winners have been awarded a 4-month residency in the new Nestlé R&D Accelerator for Sub-Saharan Africa, located at the Nestlé R&D Center in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
During their stay, the three selected start-ups will have the opportunity to tap into Nestlé’ R&D’s expertise, as well as have access to state-of-the-art infrastructure such as hot desks, labs, kitchens, and pilot testing equipment to further advance and potentially commercialize their ideas.
“The Sub-Saharan African innovation ecosystem is filled with creative energy and strong entrepreneurial minds. However, there is not enough infrastructure to test and validate new ideas, therefore, limiting access to a wider market,” commented Joëlle Abega-Oyouomi, Head of the Nestlé R&D Center in Abidjan.
“Nestlé’s R&D science and technology expertise will contribute by providing a platform to deliver innovations adapted to African consumers’ needs and preferences,” she added.
In May 2019, Nestlé launched the R&D innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of its efforts to stimulate innovative solutions across four areas: affordable nutrition, environmentally friendly packing solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, and new routes to markets. It has set a particular focus on universities and start-ups in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.
Bruno Olierhoek, Market Head for Nestlé East and Southern African Region was impressed by the dedication showed by students and start-ups to this initiative.
“We are thrilled that this innovation challenge resulted in such great interest from the East and Southern African Region,” he said.
“In the spirit of co-creation, we can now look forward to joint ideation between the winners and Nestlé for solutions that will contribute to a healthier future of the people of Africa,” Olierhoek concluded.