By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Orange Telecommunication Company has launched its 5th edition of their Orange Social Venture Prize (OSVP), 2023 competition. The OSVP competition allows and gives young Sierra Leoneans the opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas in deferent areas that will help solve societal problems.
The winner of this year’s Orange Social Venture Prize national competition would walk home with NLe 100,000 and the women’s category would also walk home with NLe50, 000.
The OSVP aims to reward project or start-ups that offer exceptional solutions that address the needs and improves the living conditions of the population in Africa and the Middle East.
Speaking at the launching ceremony at their Hill Station head Office in Freetown, Head of Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility, Kamal Omar Sheriff Abass, said as a telecom, they are positioned to be the lead digital partner for start-ups in Africa and the Middle East.
“This is why Orange Middle East & Africa (OMEA) initiated OSVP 13 years ago to reward the best technological projects with positive impact and solution to social challenges mainly in the fields of education, health, agriculture, mobile payments or sustainable development in Africa and the Middle East. The competition is organised annually in all 17 Orange affiliates in OMEA,” he said.
He said the three winners from each of the 17 countries get an opportunity to compete in a grand international contest were one out of the fifty-one contestants emerges as the winner.
He said the international winner will bag a whooping sum of 25 thousand Euros.
He said Orange Sierra Leone commenced the OSVP competition in Sierra Leone in 2019, three years after joining the OMEA family and that they have successfully held four national OSVP competitions in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively.
“Last year, we accelerated the OSVP competition through the support of our partner, Innovate Sierra Leone, to bring more meaning to the innovation axis and increase empowerment for young start-ups, innovators, entrepreneurs in the country. Out of a total of 128 applicants, Usman Yaah of Auto Smart Irrigation and Energy emerged as the Winner for the national contest in 2022 and won a grand prize of 100 million Leones, whilst Joseph Koroma emerged as the OSVP International Grand Prize winner for Sierra Leone out of 17 Orange affiliates and won the grand prize of 25 thousand Euros,” he said.
He stated further that in 2021, they introduced an additional prize to increase female participation and to promote projects offering a technological solution to improve the living conditions of women, which was won by Adeola Carew who took home a 50 million Leones grand prize to support the enhancement of her Safe Space project.
He encouraged youths from across the country to participate in this year’s 2023 OSVP competition and submit their innovative start-ups projects in the fields of education, healthcare, e-commerce, and agriculture that contributes to achieving sustainable development goals.
He said interested participants can use http://osvps12023.innosl.com to apply for the national competition and used https:/poesam.orange.com to apply for the International competition.
Also speaking, Founder of LifeBlood and winner of the OSVP Africa and Middle East International 2022 Grand Prize, Joseph David Koroma, said on June 5, 2022 he submitted his application for the International Competition and later received an email that his application has been approved.
He said for the National Competition, on June 20, 2022, he received an email informing him that out of 263 national applications received, LifeBlood, his innovate initiative, was amongst the 83 applicants that made it to the Round-one of the competition.
He further stated that he was also informed that he made it to the top 15 in Africa and that it was for the first time Sierra Leone to make it to the top 3 in Africa.
He also narrated that on 26th October, 2022 in Rwanda Kagali, he was presented the 1st position prize for the OSVP Africa and Middle East International Grand Prize 12th Edition.
He expressed gratitude to Orange Sierra Leone for their tremendous contribution to youth development and empowerment, for driving technology and innovation in Sierra Leone and Africa.
“As a child, I was saved through blood transfusion and as a medical student Sierra Leone, have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.And the leading cause is bleeding. This is because the number of voluntary blood donations in my country is only able to meet 15% of patients’ blood needs. 85% of the time, patient’s relatives have to buy blood and most of the times go through the struggle of finding a match,” he said.
He further stated that using technology at LifeBlood, they want to increase voluntary blood donation in the country thereby increasing the stock and supply of blood products.
He said through their partners, Concern Worldwide, Orange, NSBS, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, they have been able to implement LifeBlood in four facilities including Connaught Hospital , Rokupa Hospital , PCMH and 34 Military Hospital, noting that they have so far recorded over 500 donations with over 1000 on site registrations and the community app now has 200 users.