Executive Director, U.S.-Africa Business Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
December 08, 2022
Africa has the youngest population in the world, with 70% of sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 30. Africa’s vast numbers of young people hold the key to the continent’s development potential, so long as they are empowered to steer the future of Africa.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual Digital Innovation Competition aims to do just that, by awarding the best and brightest African innovators and entrepreneurs who are leveraging digital products and services that have a positive impact on African citizens and that advance digitally-based solutions to some of the continent’s most pressing challenges.
This past month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Africa Business Center, in partnership with U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), announced the 3 top finalists for this year’s 2022 Africa Digital Innovation Competition. The decision was not an easy one: we received thousands of inspiring entries from across the continent. The 3 finalists— Imodoye Abioro, CEO and co-founder of Healthbotics; Ore Alemede, cofounder of GrowAgric; and Frank Nana Addae, cofounder of Shopa— will all be coming to Washington, D.C. to be honored, and for the first-place winner to be announced, at a final pitch competition at the U.S. Department of State, in an event celebrating partnerships between U.S., African, and diaspora innovators and entrepreneurs.
Before our finalists take the stage on the evening of December 12th to make their final pitches, read more about these 3 ventures that are changing healthcare, farming, and commerce across the continent.
Healthbotics is saving lives in the Oyo State in South-West Nigeria.
This youth-focused holistic blood supply solution, founded in 2017 as Nigeria’s first smart blood bank, is tackling the persistent shortage of blood and blood products in Nigeria by addressing the problem head-on and focusing on the root causes. By leveraging AI, Internet of Things, and digital technology like drones and more, Healthbotics are ensuring that blood is safely supplied to patients in need in under 30 minutes.
This medical delivery service is powered by a mobile application and 24/7 call center which serves as a single access point connecting health facilities to suppliers and manufacturers of essential medical supplies—like blood, drugs, oxygen, medical devices, and consumables—at the push of a button, simplifying health facilities' procurement and allowing them to operate a cost-efficient, just-in-time method of inventory management.
Led by Dr. Imodoye Abioro—who is a medical doctor, as well as a software developer and a self described serial social entrepreneur—HealthBiotics is the perfect encapsulation of the ingenuity and creativity that African innovators are demonstrating every day by turning obstacles into a world-class health solution saving lives in Nigeria and beyond.
This year, the world’s population surpassed 8 billion and has increased by a third in just the last two decades. The populations of over half of Africa’s 54 nations will double or more by 2050. Amid such exponential growth, food systems need to be at peak efficiency to sustain healthy populations. In Kenya, GrowAgric is working with small- and medium-scale farmers everyday so they can earn more and farm better.
CEO and co-founder Ore Alemede is leveraging her years of experience leading digital transformation at KPMG UK into a platform putting “Farmers First” by providing key tools like access to finance, allowing them to scale and meet demand while delivering profitability to themselves and their dependents. On the GrowAgric platform, farmers can access finance, farm management tools, insurance, training, and connections to reach markets. By connecting farmers to markets and buyers at competitive prices, GrowAgric not only eliminates the food loss that often occurs when farmers wait to find the right buyer, but also ensures that farmers are paid efficiently and fairly, allowing for better investments, better yields, and more families fed.
The informal economy is the backbone of economic activity in many African countries. By some estimates, the informal economy accounts for 50 percent of economic output and 85 percent of employment in Africa. For a continent of roughly 1.4 billion, it is crucial that informal economies be included in the digital transformation.
Frank Nana Addae, co-founder of Shopa, is already well on his way to helping solve this problem, with the Shopa platform, designed to bridge the gap between informal retailers and suppliers, boasting over 43,000 transactions and 3,400 customers.
By digitally integrating Africa’s fragmented informal retail market, Shopa makes it easier for shops to source goods directly from suppliers and streamline delivery to their storefronts within 1 - 4 hours at no delivery cost. In addition to providing logistical support, Shopa also helps foster the growth of small shops by allowing them to pay later, essentially offering credit to unbanked business owners and allowing them to make larger investments in their businesses.
The U.S. Chamber is proud to empower African innovators and entrepreneurs whose digital initiatives are making a difference across the continent. Click here to watch video testimonials from all our talented finalists—we commend you all. Learn more about our judges here, who lent their expertise and insights to a selection process accredited by KPMG, of helping select our finalists from the over 1,700 entrepreneurs who applied. A big additional thank you to our competition sponsors and partners and their belief in our vision to help African innovators reach their fullest potential.
Africa’s digital future burns bright thanks to the tireless work of all entrants of the 2022 Digital Innovation Competition and inspiring founders like Imodoye, Ore, and Frank, to whom we extend our deepest congratulations.