September 10, 2021
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Two young female innovators, on Wednesday, September 9, emerged as winners of Orange Telecom Sierra Leone’s Social Venture Prize innovators.
A total of eight young male and female innovators pitched different ideas to solving current societal problems across the country.
The event, which was held at Orange Head Office, Hill Station, was attended by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education and other government officials.
The grand prize of Le100m was won by one Haja Isatau Bah, Chief Executive Officer of Uman 4 Uman, who pitched on her locally made re-usable menstrual pads.
She said they produced quality re-used pads and that they targeted more of school girls with plans to go all over the country and to other countries.
Adama Kadija Toronka, Co-Founder of -Eco Mobile Clinic, emerged as the winner of women’s competition.
She said their aim was to provide medical access to rural communities with a mobile clinic.
Speaking as the mic controller, MC of the event, Emilie Bah, said innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sierra Leone was gradually developing, noting that startups face a number of challenges from ideation, testing prototypes, to launching their products or services to the market, and that one of the key identified challenge has been funding.
“In this regard, Orange, a leading brand that is much more than just gigabits, introduced the Orange Social Venture Prize to support responsible innovation. For short, it is an initiative that seeks to boost and encourage start-ups in Africa to develop innovative projects that promote and enhance development in the region,” she said.
She said the program is organized annually by Orange Group to showcase innovative young minds by providing financial support and putting expertise in the management of new business, using information communication technology, ICT through its implementing partners, Pitch Night Sierra Leone.
She stated that Pitch Night is a platform that hosts monthly networking events for entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and network with key stakeholders that are able to advise or fund their businesses.
“Tonight, we will be looking for key dynamics such as, social and or environmental impact, the degree of innovation embedded in the ICT usage, the financial viability of the project and the realistic or operational nature of the project,” she said.
She said women are rising above invisible ceilings that once tore our very existence apart and are moving to become invincible, stating that Orange Group recognizes the need for women empowerment and to show how interest they are in this fight.
“For the first time in Sierra Leone, we will be observing the International Women’s Prize.”
Orange Foundation Sierra Leone, Jestina Betts, said orange is a service provider and a responsible cooperate with emphasis on cooperate social investment, and that they believe in the philosophy of philanthropy, which was why they continue to impact directly the lives of people by giving back with the aim of changing lives.
Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurrie, thanked Orange Sierra Leone for organizing such event to empower young innovators in the country.
He said it was good now that young people were trying to solve problems affecting the society.