September 12, 2018

Ghanaian Entrepreneur wins Young Social Entrepreneurs pitching competition at World Export Development Forum

Charles Ofori of Dext Technology, Ghana, has won the Young Social Entrepreneurs pitching competition at the World Export Development Forum taking place in Lusaka, Zambia, beating off competition from enterprises from the Gambia, Morocco, Rwanda and Zambia to take the grand prize of $5,000 provided by Huawei. The 2018 World Export Development Forum (WEDF) is organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Zambia’s Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry on 11 and 12 September.

Ofori, won the panel of judges over with his pitch for his company’s ‘Science Set’, a user-friendly and affordable miniaturized science laboratory: portable box with materials enable kids to perform science experiments at school. Dext Technology, a beneficiary of Impact Hub’s Accelerate 2030 Programme, is a social business that develops practical and experiential tools to scale up young people’s skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. With 2,000 copies already sold of the ‘Science Set’, Dext Technology’s aims to scale up its operations to enable more teachers to more easily spark kids’ interest in science through demonstration and practice.

Receiving the award on behalf of Dext Technology, Ofori, said: ‘I am really honoured to have been selected the winner of the WEDF Young Social Entrepreneurs pitching contest. When we at Dext Technology were told to come to this event in Lusaka, we knew it was going to be the beginning of something big, even just participating in the pitching. Now it just got much bigger.’

During a session at WEDF, finalists in the Young Social Entrepreneurs pitching competition – all aiming to demonstrate real contributions to Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 8 (quality education and decent work and economic growth) – presented their pitches to a jury of business and trade expert. In addition to Ofori, the competing entrepreneurs were Hanane Belakhdar of Unlimited Health Company, Morocco Alan Chanda of Dytech, Zambia; Chisepo Chirwa of Out Source, Zambia; and; Diego Dieudonné Twahirwa of Gashora Farm Ltd, Rwanda; Omar Jallow of Green Hectares Farm, the Gambia; and Hamadoum Niangado of KoolFarmer, Mali; and Charles Ofori of Dext Technology Ghana.

The jury – composed of Parminder Vir, Chief Executive Officer of the Tony Elemelu Foundation, Colette van der Ven, Director, Trade and Development, Sidley Austin, Oumar Yam, Co-founder, OuiCarry, Senegal, and Michael Ocansey, founder of AgroCenta, a Ghanaian start-up that won the 2017 Young Social Entrepreneurs Competition – assessed the four companies based on their value proposition, social impact, market potential, team strength, and financial model.

The pitching competition was organized by International Trade Centre’s Youth and Trade Programme in collaboration with Impact Hub’s Accelerate 2030 Programme and Nyamuka Zambia.

All finalists will benefit from a consultation provided by Sidley Austin to determine their eligibility for free legal services under the Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Programme. In addition, ITC will provide free mentorships to the entrepreneurs to improve their products, services, and business models.

The runners-up

Hanane Belakdhar of UHC – Unlimited Health Company, provides direct access to international markets to poor Moroccan farmers, including training in good agricultural practices. In addition, it buys, processes and add value to producers of argan oil, a top product in the international cosmetic industry. UHC has developed an innovative formula and packaging solution that helps its international expansion into high demanding western markets.

Alan Chanda of Dytech, a Zambian agribusiness that produces, processes and packages honey, as well as other honey-based products such as bee wax and propolis. The products are sold in 150 selected shops and three major chain stores in Zambia, and to international buyers. The company uses an innovative honey-extracting methodology and equipment and secures its continuous supply from 2,500 rural out growers across of Zambia.

Chisepo Chirwa of Outsource Now, a Zambian start-up offering technology solutions to empower MSMEs and help them operate efficiently and profitably. Business owners can keep track of their records such as sales, profit, and inventory levels using Z’POS, a mobile app developed by the company. This information is valuable for business owners when making decisions to expand their activities and approaching financial service providers.

Diego Dieudonné Twahirwa of Gashora Farm Ltd, a Rwandan export-oriented company dedicated to the production and processing of chilli with key markets in India, Kenya, Hungary Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The company has contracts with more than 1,000 farmers. Gashora Farm tackles the issue of postharvest losses by producing chilli oil (Didi’s Chilli Oil) and is looking into further expanding its range of value-added products with chilli paste and chilli powder.

Omar Jallow of Green Hectares Farm, a Gambian company that produces fresh fruits and vegetables and supports smallholders with training, market linkages and loans to access inputs such as fertilizers and seeds. Growing up in Basori, a small farming village, Omar is committed to helping farmers earn a decent income. Green Hectares Farm aims to increase the yield and income of 200 smallholders and utilize a mobile platform to match their needs.

Hamadoum Niangado of KoolFarmer, a Malian company that specializes in the ecological production of fruits and vegetables with an e-commerce service. The products provided by KoolFarmer are certified under ‘Green Bucket’, a standard label respecting the phytosanitary and environmental quality standards. KoolFarmer provides training and technology support to local farmers and employs local youth for product delivery.



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