Graphic of 2017 Finalists - Header
Graphic of 2017 Finalists - MapGraphic of 2017 Finalists - Statistics

Click on the links below to find out more about the finalists from each category:

Meet the 2017 Winners of the
$1M African Entrepreneurship Award

Environment for $100,000

Allen Kimambo
Allen Kimambo
Tanzania – Startup
Zaidi General Enterprises

Recycling paper to create jobs and save trees

Allen Kimambo cleans the environment, prevents deforestation, provides new sources of revenue for many, and will soon manufacture locally produced recycled products for the Tanzanian market. The founder of Zaidi General Enterprises says that his cardboard recycling business has already “stopped thousands of tons of waste paper from burning in landfills.” His goal is to “save trees, clean the environment, and provide incentives for the community.”

The Presidential Jury noted how Allen “demonstrated immense commitment to solve the issue of recycling. He collects discarded cardboard papers from various disposal sites, thus reducing the ecological impact of these abandoned materials. His recycled paper creates jobs and saves trees.” Allen poured his heart and resources into launching Zaidi General Enterprises. The company collects, bales, and recycles corrugated cardboard waste.

In Tanzania, less than 10% of waste paper is recycled, with the large majority being burned or dumped. The business spearheads job creation, drives up profits, and drives out the paper waste problem. With $100,000 of award money, what started as a manual baling operation will now scale up into automated machines for dramatically increased efficiency and impact. Allen plans to stop exporting recycled bales of cardboard waste and will locally manufacture and market a variety of products.

And, Allen’s business employs a network of collectors who Allen says, “go around to the markets, shops, municipal dump sites and box factories to collect, bail and truck paper to recycling factories.” Before winning the Award, Allen already involved more than 100 people in his business, and that number will soon increase.

Victor Amusa
Folashade Amusa (represented by Victor Amusa)
Nigeria – Startup
VicFold Recyclers

Innovative process to pelletize plastic products

Folashade Amusa co-founded VicFold Recyclers to clean the environment while “meeting the global demand for polythene, plastics and cans.” The entrepreneur from Nigeria collects recyclable plastics and converts them into pellets and other post-consumer products. In the meantime, households earn redeemable points for their recycled items, increasing their buying power and incentivizing them to keep their environment clean. VicFold Recyclers implement convenient collection services and an e-Recycle App to record and reward platform users.

About VicFold co-founder Victor Amusa, the Presidential Jury said, “This tenacious entrepreneur developed a model to collect discarded plastic by going to door to door and by building drop off centers. He leveraged years of experience in plastic conversion to build an efficient technology.”

In Nigeria, Folashade says that nearly 20% of garbage includes plastics. The small capital state alone generates 1000 tons, daily. Folashade says that this garbage contributes to disease, blocked drainage, and pollution. VicFold Recyclers tackles these problems on multiple levels. Folashade says, the VicFold “waste initiative provides a sustainable solution to the problem of sanitation and pollution related diseases, improper waste disposal methods, prevalent unemployment and socio-economic challenges amongst women and youths.”

With $100,000 from the African Entrepreneurship Award, Folashade and her co-founder Victor can scale up more quickly and create more employment and increased impact. VicFold will soon increase from 7 to 50 direct employees, and indirectly another 500, all across the value chain. Before winning the Award, VicFold was already close to maximum capacity, and, they have only just begun to penetrate the multi-million-dollar industry in Nigeria.

Adan Mohammed
Adan Mohammed
Kenya – Startup

Protein rich animal feed eradicating biomass and over-fishing

Adan Mohammed founded Ecodudu to eradicate biomass and prevent over-fishing in Kenya, while creating protein rich animal feeds and fertilizers. Ecodudu uses black solder flies to eat up organic material. The resulting insect larvae are used for Dudumeal, an insect-protein based animal feed. And, with the remaining biomass, Ecodudu creates Dudusoil, a 100% organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.

Ecodudu prevents the dumping of biomass into landfills and incentivizes more efficient collection. Adan says, “we recycle biomass before it finds its way to landfills, thus helping to reduce methane emissions.” And, in Kenya, fish are a major source of animal feed, leading to drastic over-fishing on Kenya’s lakes. Ecodudu provides a more sustainable solution for both problems.

The Presidential Jury said, “This entrepreneur demonstrated his wisdom to provide solutions that provide high quality protein for animal feeds, provides 100% organic fertilizers, and, to protect the environment by reducing landfill dumping. This entrepreneur partners with institutions to provide a stable and visible impact. Although using black soldier flies is not new, this entrepreneur’s approach to adapt this solution in Kenya, impressed me.”

Ecodudu collects biomass from universities and into sealed greenhouse containers where the black soldier flies feast. The ensuing larvae are ground up into protein-rich animal feeds for Kenya’s booming poultry sector. Besides the environmental benefits of Dudumeal, Adan’s company delivers a far superior and inexpensive feed alternative. The average protein content in expensive, important feeds is about 25%. Dudumeal’s protein content averages about 60% at a more affordable rate.

With $100,000 from the African Entrepreneurship Award, hopes to scale his collection of biomass and increase his larvae production, all while employing more people along the value chain.

Sylvester Mujakperuo
Sylvester Mujakperuo
Nigeria – Startup
Saint Michelles and Joey Ltd

Creating new paper products and reducing impact on landfills

Sylvester Mujakperuo’s paper recycling company, Saint Michelles and Joey Limited centers around four key areas: protecting the environment, innovation, quality, and drive. Sylvester says his company has already “helped reduce the over-reliance on virgin pulp from trees, has helped reduce the amount of used paper in landfills,” and, “has encouraged the use of recycled items across Nigeria.”

Saint Michelles and Joey Limited manufactures jumbo rolls of recycled waste paper, which he then sells to toilet paper and napkin companies in Nigeria. For Sylvester, the market opportunities are nearly limitless. Recent government bans on certain paper imports help. The current demand for paper stands at 950 million tons per year, with only 150 million tons of that demand being met.

When introducing Sylvester, the Presidential Jury said, “This very successful entrepreneur in a superb economy recycles paper to produce toilet rolls and other paper materials. His company fights deforestation in Africa. The demand is astounding to the point that today he is unable to meet this demand.”

With the largest population in all of Africa, Nigerians produce enormous amounts of recyclable paper waste, and, they require enormous amounts to meet their paper needs. Sylvester’s startup capitalizes on this. Instead of letting paper rot and cutting new trees, Sylvester buys recycled paper from numerous paper collectors across Nigeria.

The company has created direct employment already for several individuals. With the injection of $100,000 of Award funding, Sylvester hopes to dramatically increase his capacities by adding machines for processing and pulping recycled paper. And, he will soon employ hundreds for collection, processing, and marketing.

Kwame Ababio
Kwame Ababio
Ghana – Startup
Green Afro Palms

Inventing efficient palm oil cultivation methods for farmers

Kwame Ababio’s business, Green Afro Palms, puts more money in the pockets of smallholder palm farmers by introducing best practices to the sector. Kwame’s technology increases crop yields, and steers farmers away from non-sustainable practices. In Ghana, 80% of palm oil cultivation is low output and archaic. With Green Afro Palms, smallholders process nearly 3 times as much from their crops, and earn 3 times more.

Green Afro Palms “uses mechanization in the processing of yields,” and, Kwame says that partnership with smallholder farmers in Ghana “discourages farmers from allowing their farms to be felled and used in activities like illegal mining, which destroys to land.” The win-win process is good for smallholder farmers and the environment.

The Presidential Jury says Kwame, “saw a problem of lack of incentives for smallholder palm farmers to continue cultivating and producing palm oil. Many farmers, in their processes, produce harmful smoke for the environment. This entrepreneur uses his own designed, portable processing plants to help small oil farms.”

Due to hardship, Kwame says that over 70% of farmers have abandoned their farms. Green Afro Palms offers solutions. Kwame’s business uses machinery to process palm oil. Farmers loan the technology and increase production. And, Kwame has developed sales channels for farmers to access.

The demand for palm oil is high. Kwame estimates the global market is in the tens of billions of dollars annually. Throughout West Africa, Kwame believes smallholder palm farmers can dramatically improve their methods, thus improving their livelihoods. With $100,000 from the African Entrepreneurship Award, Green Afro Palms can soon scale and contribute to that improvement.

Education for $100,000

Louise Williamson
Louise Williamson
South Africa – Startup
Sustainability Professionals

Safe and efficient cook stoves for schools

Louise Williamson’s mashesha cook stove directly improves the lives of thousands of women and children in rural schools and drastically reduces lung disease among women cooks. The mashesha (“fast cooking”) stove is the signature product of Sustainability Professionals. The company, founded by the South African entrepreneur hopes to reach all 11,500 rural schools in South Africa, and an additional 9 million households still cooking on traditional stoves.

The Presidential Jury marveled that Louise, “Demonstrated a passion for helping schools prepare hot meals and help women who prepare these meals. Many women face health challenges because of year-long exposure to open fire. This entrepreneur invented an affordable, safe and environmentally friendly solution which consumes half of the fuel.” Louise is passionate about community health and sustainability and “aims to improve the quality of life for impoverished communities” with affordable cook stoves and reliable fuel. She developed the mashesha to “solve cooking needs for rural schools and communities.”

In South Africa, schools are tasked with the challenge of feeding every student. Provided with food, schools are not provided with stoves or fuel. Schools, and their female cooks bear the burden of cooking on inefficient and unhealthy stoves. The mashesha reduces wood consumption by over 50%. And, the smokeless stoves prevent women and students from breathing in toxic smoke.

With $100,000 to boost production, Louise hopes to scale throughout the region. She says “70% of Sub-Saharan Africa relies on wood fuel to meet their daily energy requirements.” And, most of these are cooking on inefficient stoves, causing hours of wasted time and even premature death. With mashesha, this bleak reality will soon change.

Uncharted for $100,000

Flavien Simo
Flavien Simo
Cameroon – Startup
Save Our Agriculture

Urban aquaponics system feeds cities and eliminates food transport

Flavien Simo founded Save Our Agriculture to provide food solutions to increasingly urbanized populations. He says that, “In Africa, while more than 80% of agricultural production is still highly rural, an increasing rural exodus causes more than half of the population to settle in major metropolises.” The answer, aquaponics. The entrepreneur from Cameroon uses innovative, and efficient means of food production solves the logistics problems created by this urbanization.

Save Our Agriculture produces high-volume food directly at the point of sale. This means produce does not need to be transported in from rural farms, decreasing the carbon footprint of food transport logistics, as well as the percentage of food that spoils in route. And, for customers buying their own aquaponics units, Save Our Agriculture developed an app that tracks production and provides assistance, empowering more urban farmers.

Flavien’s urban farms combine fish farming and conventional agriculture. These aquaponics systems save as much as 90% of the water of traditional farming. And, Flavien says that his company “increases overall crop yields by more than 70%.” The consumer also benefits. Local, fresh food is easily accessible and more affordable as transport costs are completely eliminated.

In Flavien, the Presidential Jury saw an Uncharted winner. They said, “This entrepreneur is a true pioneer in the agricultural world of his country. He is resolutely committed to providing solutions to food supply in the urban environment. He provides a solution to the availability and proximity of fresh and organic products to the hearts of major cities.”

With $100,000 from the African Entrepreneurship Award, the entrepreneur from Cameroon hopes to scale his sales of fresh aquaponics fish and produce. And, in the future build and sell more urban farm units.

Paul Bartels
Paul Bartels
South Africa – Prototype

Community firefighting carts to save rural farms and peri-urban homes

Paul Bartels invented the WaterBok to save lives and livelihoods in rural and semi-urban environments. The entrepreneur built and prototyped Waterbok firefighting cart to provide an immediate response to small fires and prevent their rapid spread. In South Africa, many farms and communities lack access to water and fire engines. The WaterBok empowers communities to respond immediately.

The WaterBok is a proprietary, computer-designed cart made of durable plastic, wheels, and a harness for pulling the cart. It is also fitted with a roof rack for hauling wood and supplies. Many communities and farmlands in South Africa consist of bumpy or narrow roadways where access is difficult. The Waterbok is small enough to navigate hurdles quickly, and yet the water tank is large enough to provide substantial response to small fires, stopping them before they spread.

The Presidential Jury says that Paul “provides an answer to rural farms where water is scarce and communities can be destroyed by devastating fires. His carts carry enough water to provide immediate response to a fire. The potential for saving land and people is huge, not only in Africa, but throughout the world.”

Paul says that “Commercial farmers and rural community farmers require water to be readily available for prevention of devastating wildfire.” He plans to educate communities on how best to use the WaterBok. First and foremost, keep the cart filled and on hand. He says that, “The responsibility of fire-protection and suppression must also go to the people it most effects.” With the WaterBok, this responsibility becomes dramatically more practical.

With a $100,000 prize in the African Entrepreneurship Award, Paul will move forward with production and take the Waterbok to the market.

Innovation Awards – $50,000

Meryam El Ouafi
Meryam El Ouafi
Morocco – Seed
Green Engineering Mission

Moist tube irrigation technology solves irrigation problems and eliminates water waste

Meryam El Ouafi’s profound mandate is to “solve the problem of water shortage that affects the whole region of Africa, especially the agriculture sector.” The entrepreneur and engineer from Morocco founded Green Engineering Mission to import and implement Moistube Irrigation technology. Moistube irrigation saves 50-80% of the water required of traditional irrigation systems. The impact of this technology in Morocco and all over Africa has enormous benefits, especially in lands suffering from drought.

Moistube Irrigation consists of tubing, buried in the ground and punctured with thousands of nano meter holes. Timed and specific release of water through the tubing into the soil ensures that very little water is wasted and plants are only watered when thirsty.

This basic technology has the potential to bring complete innovation to the agriculture sector in Morocco. And, Meryam says that “the Moistube factory in Morocco will have laboratory testing, manufacturing machines, quality control areas, and warehouse storage and delivery.”

When selecting Meryam as a $50,000 African Entrepreneurship Award Innovation prize winner, the Presidential Jury said Meryam, “understands the challenges that many farmers are facing in the region. She’s going to bring in a new technology, called Moistube Irrigation, which has been tested in Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. This technology will save 50-80% of the water used for irrigation. It will increase production by 20-30%.”

Meryam is optimistic that the implementation of Moistube technology “will impact the lives of hundreds of millions of people living in Africa.”

Geoffrey Ssekatawa
Geoffrey Ssekatawa
Uganda – Startup
Brent Technologies

Recycling motor oil as an alternative to expensive oil using new technology

Geoffrey Ssekatawa founded Brent Technologies to stop the harmful dumping and burning of used motor oils, and instead create recycled oil products for sale in Uganda. Geoffrey says, “we recycle waste motor oil, which would end up in landfills, water sources, or burnt into the atmosphere.” And, besides helping the environment, Brent Technologies meets a big need for affordable oils.

In Uganda, imported lubricating engine oils are expensive. And, when their effectiveness is depleted, they are dumped. Just one liter of oil can contaminate up to a million liters of water. And when dumped on soil, Geoffrey says it “leads to a loss of up to 90% in agricultural yields.”

Geoffrey is on his way to well-oiled solutions. The entrepreneur developed in house Surfactant Technology as well as a yet to be patented technology for recycling used motor oil. This technology meets an urgent need in Uganda, where Geoffrey says, “We have only two recycling facilities and their turnover is very low.”

For his efforts, the Presidential Jury award a $50,000 Innovation prize to the entrepreneur. They stated, “This entrepreneur demonstrated a passion for transformation of used products into new products. He invented a technology that transforms used motor oil into reusable oils, thus also reducing pollution by way of used oil spillage into landfills.”

Winning the $50,000 prize, Geoffrey says, will increase his “ability to scale up the amount of waste oil extracted from society thereby increasing our impact in the community.” In the near future, he hopes to take Brent Technologies up to 50,000-100,000 liters a day of production.

Christelle Kwizera
Christelle Kwizera
Rwanda – Startup
VOMA Groundwater Solar Kiosks

Purifying water for rural communities using innovative water collection and alternative income models

Christelle Kwizera provides water and income for rural communities. She says that her company, VOMA Groundwater Solar Kiosks, “will provide an environmentally-friendly, financially viable and scalable way for families and businesses to obtain purified water in Rwanda.” VOMA uses simple solar powered kiosks, powering a pump and purification system. The units instantly provide ready to drink water, without further treatment.

VOMA kiosks earn revenue through the sale of the chlorinated drinking water pumped out by solar power. Christelle estimates that each unit will pay for itself and turn over a profit after a year of implementation in a community. And, communities eliminate time spent going out to collect water. Christelle says, “Our customers are likely to be on the bottom of the pyramid but not necessarily in extreme poverty. They make between $1-$10 daily. Those who are cattle herders often have more than 10 cows and are in cooperatives.”

As paying customers, the price is affordable, and as communities, time is saved and water is safe for drinking. In East African countries “where time is a valuable currency,” Christelle believes VOMA kiosks can reduce time spent obtaining water.

Christelle was a winner of the $50,000 Innovation award. The Presidential Jury said, “This entrepreneur displayed incredible passion and commitment to solving water supply issues by developing a simple technology and engaging with and involving communities. She succeeded in providing purified water. She’s thus developed time saving methods for water collection, all the while providing alternative income for communities.”

Badr Idrissi
Badr Idrissi
Morocco – Seed
Atlan Space®

Inventing an artificial intelligence capability embedded in drones to monitor shipping lanes and protect marine ecosystems

Badr Idrissi brings drone technology and artificial intelligence to Morocco to solve the problem of illegal fishing and to monitor coastlines. Atlan Space® uses a network of drones, piloted by the company’s patented artificial intelligence to crack down on illegal fishing, providing a boost to the fishing sector.

Atlan Space®, Badr says, allows users “to monitor very large ocean areas, analyze shipping traffic and take steps to protect marine ecosystems.” In Morocco, 65% of the population lives along the coast, and many are employed in the fishing sector. The industry generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. However, Badr says that “illegal fishing still accounts for 15% of catches in Morocco, destroying thousands of jobs and resulting in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The Presidential Jury awarded Badr a $50,000 Innovation prize for his startup. About Badr and Atlan Space® they said, “This brilliant entrepreneur wants to fight crimes that affect our environment on a massive scale. Illegal fishing, poachers, and polluters. The basis of this company is a system of monitoring and geo positioning that is placed on drones, a technology that has so far been mainly used for military purposes.”

With the support of government initiatives to protect the fishing industry along Morocco’s Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, Atlan Space® provides solutions for both public and private groups to protect vulnerable areas of the coast. The potential to scale Atlan Space® is limitless. In the future, Badr plans to move into other markets and sectors, creating more employment opportunities and cracking down on illegal activity.

2017 Finalist Stories

Read about the entrepreneurs who made it to the Presidential Round in Casablanca