TechInAfrica – Nestlé announced yesterday, September 4th, 2019, three startups including Shopit, Exportunity, and Wakulima from South Africa, Benin, and Tanzania were selected to be the winners of the Nestlé Research and Development (R&D) Sub-Saharan Africa innovation challenge. They got selected from more than 174 entries across 27 different African countries.
In addition to the challenge, MAFANI, who consists of 2 students from the University Gaston Berger of Saint Louis from Senegal was awarded as the winner of the university category of the challenge. As the prize, MAFANI will receive CHF 10,000.
Emerging as the winners of the challenge, the startups are given the 4-month residency in the new Nestlé R&D Accelerator for Sub-Saharan Africa, located in the Nestlé R&D Center in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Furthermore, they are also given the chance to experience the Nestlé R&D’s expertise and access to state-of-the-art infrastructure like hot desks, labs, kitchen, as well as pilot testing equipment in order to help them enhance their ideas and commercialize them.
Joëlle Abega-Oyouomi, Head of the Nestlé R&D Center in Abidjan explained, “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.’’
Abega-Oyouomi emphasized, “Nestlé’s R&D science and technology expertise will contribute by providing a platform to deliver innovations adapted to African consumers’ needs and preferences.”
The Nestlé R&D Innovation Challenge Sub-Saharan Africa was launched in May 2019, aiming at driving innovative solutions across four different areas, including affordable nutrition, environmentally friendly packing solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, and new routes to markets. The main focus of the challenge is on universities and startups in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.
Rémy Ejel, Market Head for Nestlé in Central and West Africa as well as the chair of the challenge selection panel said that he was excited to see the great participation from the region. “I am impressed by the original ideas pitched to us today. With a majority of the submissions coming from Ghana and Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire, the region is in an exceptional position to become an innovation hub for the African continent.”
“We are thrilled that this innovation challenge resulted in such great interest from the East and Southern African Region. 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,” said Bruno Olierhoek, Market Head for Nestlé East and Southern African Region, commenting on the great interest they received from participants.
About Nestlé R&D:
Nestlé has the world’s largest private food and nutrition research organization, involving about 4,200 people in around 23 R&D centers worldwide, including the R&D Center in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, which opened in 2008. With nutrition at its core, Nestlé R&D is committed to making the Nestlé portfolio even tastier and healthier, to fulfill its purpose of enhancing the quality of life of people and contributing to a healthier future. In 2018, Nestlé invested about CHF 1.7 billion in R&D