Our Mission: Enabling Sierra Leone’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem to source & develop impact start-ups and scale-ups, to contribute towards the development of ‘a better and more sustainable future’ for all Sierra Leoneans.
Our vision: Is of an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem where Sierra Leone’s largest companies, academic institutions, MDAs and development partners 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 fuelled by highly networked and experienced mentoring and capital supported by our incubator and accelerator.
Since Inno SL’s establishment in 2017 as an Entrepreneur Support Organisation (ESO), our focus has been on developing value-creating and high-growth, as opposed to rent-seeking, entrepreneurs. We believe that for entrepreneurship and innovation to play their crucial role in creating jobs, diversifying and growing Sierra Leone’s economy, such entrepreneurs must be encouraged. For this to take effect, the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem must be in place and enabled. Further, we have sought to deviate from the standard approach to nurturing innovators i.e. competitions focussing on the top three out of 50 submissions, with these three normally getting cash prizes, with little or no follow up. The evidence is clear, this approach has not delivered systemic entrepreneurship and certainly not delivered entrepreneurial success compared to, for example, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Senegal. Our approach is based on developing key components of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and enabling other parts suited to nurturing value-creating and high-growth potential start-ups and scale-ups.
Freetown Pitch Night has established itself as the No. 1 networking asset of the ecosystem (Separate Report). The Global Entrepreneurship Week is now also firmly established. In 2019, we ran the “Dare2Aspire- Women in Entrepreneurship” as a flagship event during GEW. As with 2018, the event was a huge success in 2019. Africell was one of our sponsors.
In 2019 Inno SL began our Incubation and Acceleration Programme, which takes two approaches – Ecosystem focussed and Problem focussed. The program is located in Kingtom, a space leased under a separate company, Innovations Axis, a shareholder and director of which is Walid Bahsoon, a leader in the building the circular economy ecosystem and one of the most knowledgeable in this sector.
The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. InnoSL is committed to the SDGs in general and these in particular:
• Goal 2: Zero Hunger
• Goal 4: Quality Education
• Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
• Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
Inno SL believes that the Private Sector has a role to play in meeting these goals and, as an ESO, we focus our incubation and acceleration programs on entrepreneurs developing solutions to these 4 Goals above.
By December 2019 we had twelve start-ups under incubation, in various stages of the development, one of whom has generated revenues of SLL 90 million and is on target to generate a further SLL 350million in 2020. Five more are at the Validation Start Phase, a process which will continue for a further six months in 2020. Validation remains one of the most important parts of our incubation program, with a focus on developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to address a Tier 1 problem for a particular customer segment.
Our “curriculum” will continue to be contextual with the Business Model Canvass and Lean Model Canvass as the tools; with a design driven entrepreneurship foundation. We will continue with mock board meetings, pitch training, mock investor meetings and peer to peer reviews.
In 2019 our start-ups were made up as follows:
• 50% students (each of which had at least two women as co-founders);
• 40% women founders;
• 20 % non-students; with
• An age range from 22 years to 35 years old.
In 2020 we will strengthen our partnerships with our key strategic partners – Sierra Leone Brewery(Heineken), EcoBank Microfinance, Brussels Airlines, The British Council, Limkokwing University, Bluecrest, the nUnivesrity of Makeni (UNIMAK) and the Department of Science Technology and Innovation (DSTI). With the DSTI, we started the mapping of the entrepreneurial ecosystem through a technical working group lead by the DSTI.
We also look forward to forming three new strategic partnerships in 2020; two with major financial institutions and one with a multi-national corporation.
In all our work, building and enabling an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem remains our guiding principle. This has been the framework within which we have built our services, formed partnerships and designed programs.