The Dunin Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre Strathmore Chapter Program Launch recently marked a significant milestone in Africa's entrepreneurial landscape. The launch brought together key stakeholders, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts to celebrate innovation, collaboration, and the entrepreneurial spirit. This initiative, in partnership with iBizAfrica, Strathmore University, and Dunin Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC), exemplified the power of universities and industries working hand in hand to foster entrepreneurship.

The event served as a platform for attendees to gain invaluable insights and inspiration from those involved, as well as past program participants. Notable speakers included Oliver Omondi, the founder of ZuriPacks and a former program participant, who shared his journey and experiences in entrepreneurship. Dr Joseph Sevilla, the Director of @iLabAfrica, passionately emphasized the urgency of empowering Africa's youth, stating, "Empowering the next generation of African youth is not just a necessity but a responsibility. With only 3 million formal job positions available for 10-12 million entrants annually, fostering university-industry partnerships becomes imperative."

Additionally, Mrs. Ludovica Ochieng, Manager of @iBizAfrica Incubation Centre, underscored the pivotal role of fostering innovation ecosystems in driving sustainable growth and development. As Prof. Greg Bavington, the Executive Director of the Dunin Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre, put it, "Collaboration is the cornerstone of innovation; together, we can achieve remarkable advancements."

Key takeaways from the speakers at the event:

  • Urgency of Empowering Youth: There is an urgent need to empower Africa's youth through collaborative efforts between universities and industries to create opportunities for entrepreneurship and address pressing challenges.
  • Role of Innovation Ecosystems: Innovation ecosystems play a pivotal role in driving sustainable growth and development by fostering creativity, collaboration, and experimentation.

The event demonstrated the grit and teamwork vital for entrepreneurship, underlining the importance of facing obstacles directly and working together to overcome them. One of the highlights was the exciting reveal of the Top 20 startups chosen to join the program. These included: Agritrack Africa, Dial A Help, Amek Manufacturing, and Bomatek Electric Ltd, among others. These startups cover a wide range of sectors, including ed-tech, fin-tech, agri-tech, and retail tech. This diverse mix of startups brings forth a variety of fresh ideas and solutions, each poised to make meaningful progress in their respective fields.

These startups are poised to kickstart their ventures with the support of the program and the OnQ platform (a Queen's University      Learning Management System), which will provide them with networking opportunities and continued learning resources. This support system aims to empower the startups to navigate challenges, refine their business models, and accelerate their growth trajectories.

Alongside our Strathmore Top 20, 1000 international student startups will also participate, providing them with the opportunity to compete for entry to the pitch competition at the program's culmination for seed funding. Winners of this competition, supported by the MasterCard Foundation, will receive a prize from a pool of CAD 20,000. Moreover, they will gain access to invaluable mentorship from dedicated coaches and mentors within DDQIC’s Global Network, composed of industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs.

As we reflect on the success of the program launch, let us continue to support and nurture the next generation of African entrepreneurs. Together, we can harness the power of innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship to drive positive change and create a brighter future for all.