AFRICA Nestlé has announced the winners of the Sub-Saharan Africa innovation challenge that was launched in May 2019 as part of its efforts to contribute to the local innovation ecosystem.

Selected from among a highly competitive group of 174 submissions from 27 different countries across Africa, Shopit from South Africa, Exportunity from Benin and Wakulima from Tanzania were emerged as winners.

The goal of the challenge was to work collaboratively with start-ups and universities to identify sustainable and scalable science and technology solutions.

The innovation challenge focused on four areas: affordable nutrition, environmentally friendly packing solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, and new routes to markets.

The three winning start-ups will take up residency in the new Nestlé Research and Development Accelerator for Sub-Saharan Africa which is located at the Nestlé R&D Center in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

The start ups will have the opportunity to tap into Nestlé’s R&D’s expertise, as well as have access to state-of-the-art infrastructure including labs, kitchens and pilot testing equipment to further advance and potentially commercialize their ideas.

For the university category of the challenge, the initiative MAFANI led by 2 students from University Gaston Berger of Saint Louis (Senegal) was selected as the winner. They will receive CHf10,000 in prize money. 

Nestlé Central and West Africa market head Rémy Ejel, who chaired the challenge’s selection panel, said he was pleased with the high level of 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 Ivory Coast. The region is in an exceptional position to become an innovation hub for the African continent,” added Ejel.

Also chiming in, Nestlé East and Southern African market head market Bruno Olierhoek expressed his delight at the dedication showed by students and start-ups to this initiative.

“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 Olierhoek.

The R&D innovation challenge is part of Nestlé’s Global Youth Initiative, which has an ambition to help 10 million young people around the world have access to economic opportunities by 2030.