First Orange Social Venture Prize

Freetown Pitch Night organised the first Orange Social Prize event in Sierra Leone.

The contest aims to reward the best innovative and socially responsible business projects in Africa and the Middle East. Three entrants will compete to pitch to an international jury in Cape Town. More

GEW , News

Report Dare 2 Aspire: Women in Entrepreneurship- Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019- November 20th

Dare 2 Aspire: Women in Entrepreneurship

Dare 2 Aspire was the flagship event of the GEW celebration. It was held on the 20th November 2019, at the Hotel Cabenda, Freetown. It was dedicated to women; women who are actively involved in entrepreneurship or dare to aspire into entrepreneurial endeavors.

The event was officially opened by Ambassador Tom Vens, the European Union Ambassador to Sierra Leone. He stepped for the Mayor of Freetown was could make the opening, but came later. (See rest of this report).

In Sierra Leone, women represent a large untapped market as emerging business leaders. 52.8% of our youth population are women.  Approximately 84% of rural women and 63% of urban women operate micro-enterprises such as small-scale farming, table-top trading, artisanal mining, and small-scale fishing.

Women’s participation in entrepreneurship is crucial as it can enhance the expansion of economic goods whilst leading to less inequality, simultaneously. Investment in entrepreneurship targeting female as well as male youth is critical to ensure Sierra Leone can harness its demographic dividend.

Consequently, Dare2Aspire celebrated women in Entrepreneurship. This year, it  consisted of:

  1. A mini expo of women owned businesses
  2. Financial inclusion clinic for women entrepreneurs
  3. A series of discussions and debates by women entrepreneurs
  4. A pitch night consisting of a panel of women entrepreneurs and women pitchers.
  5. Panel discussion on fashion as an alternative career path
  6. A Fashion show

Rep_Dare2Aspire_GEW2019_draftreport V1_NoPictures

Innovations Axis-Incubator, Accelerator and Coworking

Enabling the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

An impact focused Incubator and Accelerator combined with a Co-Working space and Networking Hub, Innovations Axis’ mission is to enable and empower entrepreneurs to solve problems with potential for disruption, impact and scale.

With sister organisations GEN SL and Innovation SL, Innovations Axis forms a community harnessing the creativity, talents and resources of diverse stakeholders to birth, incubate and scale up unlikely technological solutions to development issues with high IMPACT.

Our vision is of an entrepreneurial ecosystem where Sierra Leone’s largest companies interact with ambitious entrepreneurs hungry for success; with talented individuals, graduates and alumni of entrepreneurial organisations providing a strong source of ‘cultural and intellectual capital’. All fueled by highly-networked and experienced mentoring and capital supported by our incubator and accelerator.

What How
We FIND entrepreneurs disrupting and  solving important problems while creating impact in society.   Through Freetown Pitch Night, Sierra Leone’s premier event for startups and scale ups wanting to be discovered.   We also run several world-renowned competitions on the theme of solving global challenges.  
We COACH entrepreneurs in developing and delivering their value proposition.   By providing an incubation and scale-up program that is: (a) contextual; (b) focused on design driven principles; and (c) promotes peer to peer review and learning.   By enabling an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem that minimize the risks to start-ups and accelerate scale-ups.  
We SOURCE funds to invest in a selected few.   Through our Business Angel Network and network of investment partners.

Innovations Axis is a part of Innovation SL which, together with GEN SL,  form a community harnessing the creativity, talents and resources of stakeholders to birth, incubate and scale-up unlikely and exponential technologies with high IMPACT solutions to development challenges. Our focus is on Agribusiness (e.g. Hydroponics, Greenhouse Agri, Value chains), the Circular Economy (waste to wealth), Digital Disruptive technologies (Edtech, Fintech, Agtech, Digital Agri) and Social Entrepreneurship.

Building on Success

Innovation SL, Global Entrepreneurship Network’s Sierra Leone affiliate, has been hosting programs and initiatives since January 2017, including the Freetown Pitch Night (FPN). In 2018 FPN established itself as the country’s most successful gathering of entrepreneurs, with more than 60 entrepreneurs pitching ideas or post revenue businesses to more than 1000; including the special FPN event for the Mayor of Freetown, the largest single attended event with an audience of nearly 200.

In 2017 Innovation SL organised Sierra Leone’s first official Global Entrepreneurship Week, GEW Sierra Leone 2017. During one week in November, thousands of events and competitions in 170 countries inspire millions to engage in entrepreneurial activity while connecting them to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors. Powered by the Kauffman Foundation, the initiative is supported by dozens of world leaders and a network of more than 15,000 partner organizations. GEW Sierra Leone 2018 was supported by the IFC, Heineken, Orange Sonatel, The British Council, the Shankerdas Group, Brussels Airlines and Africell.

With the success of the FPN, GEW Sierra Leone and other programs, Innovations Axis is a critical component of Sierra Leone’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.

Incubator Accelerator

Innovations Axis is Sierra Leone’s first fully functioning incubator, with programs (Incubation and Acceleration) framed on 5 Containers/Stages:

  1. Formation;
  2. Validation;
  3. Scaling;
  4. Growth; and
  5. Exit.

Innovation Axis use a combination of tools and methodologies to move entrepreneurs from Ideation to Growth, using the Startup Commons Framework (shown below).

The Formation container uses Design-driven entrepreneurship principles (Business Model Canvas, Customer Discovery) to develop an idea to a concept and MVP, while the  Validation container offers Lean Start-up tools with a focus on validating a Minimum Viable Product through iterating and/or pivoting.  

Beyond Validation we employ Vilcap methodology for scaling up, offering an effective investment readiness program using the [1]Vilcap Viral Tool, the framework through which VilCap programs are run. All curriculum and peer ranks are informed by this simple chart. VIRAL gets investors and entrepreneurs speaking the same language and developing a shared understanding of what entrepreneurs need to get to their next level of funding.

We also provide Entrepreneurial Development Training, focusing on developing business skills, presentation skills and managing a business. Our Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP), often held in association with development partners, is created to provide an alternate route to gainful employment for  young people and economically disadvantaged individuals through their own businesses.

Innovations Axis are located in a warehouse complex in Kingtom with 3000 sqm comprising of an open-plan co-working space of hot desks, an open co-working space for incubatees and acceleratees, private offices, a large conference room sit, a reception area and a cafeteria. Our 3,000 sqm exhibition space is ideal for social and business events, seminars and courses and will come into use by the end of 2019.

Innovations Axis is currently incubating five start-ups, with an additional three going through our recruitment process. We also provide start-up and business services to eight entrepreneurs, while we have recruited two members to our Business Angel Network.

Our accelerator model is an integrated consulting service, addressing business models, business plan development and refinement, strategic marketing, investor presentation development and refinement, fundraising and other areas required to create a world-class company.

Our Value Proposition

Innovations Axis has a team of experienced, accomplished, with proven track record individuals , partners that understand startups, early stage, and middle stage growth. Our founders, service providers and mentoring partners have extensive local and international networks and experience in diverse industries including ICT, agribusiness, sales and distribution, enterprise, innovation leadership and management, mobile payments, social entrepreneurship, healthcare, internet-based services, fisheries, telecommunications and multimedia, We have worked in small, medium and large organizations and have started more than one business – and can look back at at least one failure.

With experience from the start-up scene in Europe, USA, Asia and Africa, Innovations Axis draws on best practices, alliances, partnerships, investors and mentors to help start or grow your business. For seed stage, start-ups and growth stage enterprises who need start-up services, acceleration and pre and post investment, Innovations Axis provides a hub, meeting place, the tools, networks, organizations and companies to nurture, develop and grow your idea/business. Our network of successful entrepreneurs, business leaders and mentors can look at your business plan and tell you what it will take to succeed.

Innovations Axis ultimate goal is to provide the space and support for local talents to lead the change they desire in their society/community through creative home-grown solutions.

Contact Details


a:         11 Bolling Street, Kingtom, Freetown

t:          +232 (0) 77 05 1821, Tel: +232 (0) 78 30 30 83; Tel: +232 (0) 78 359 957

[1] Village Capital is a venture capital firm that finds, trains, and invests in early-stage ventures solving major global problems in agriculture, education, energy, financial inclusion, and health. VilCap Investments, LLC is its affiliated, managed investment fund.