Sierra Leone joins the world in celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week 2022 which is a massive campaign marked to celebrate and empower entrepreneurs around the world. The event is geared towards empowering individuals who face structural barriers and may have considered the idea of launching their own startup. Each November, 10 million people take part in tens of thousands of activities, competitions and events that inspire them to act and provide them with the knowledge, experience and connections they need to succeed.
We will be organizing three events this year:
The state of the Ecosystem: The Enabling Environment
Dare 2 Aspire: Women in Entrepreneurship
The Green Economy-Sustainable Fashion
The State of the Ecosystem: The Enabling Environment- The enabling environment discussion will be an opportunity for the Sierra Leone entrepreneurial community to deliberate on the challenges the ecosystem is facing and how policymakers, regulators, International Organizations, NGOs, development programs are addressing these challenges entrepreneurs face in starting and growing their businesses from an enabling environment perspective. Entrepreneurs will get to know and understand the work of these institutions to support entrepreneurs; policies, structures, finance, frameworks, and other aspects of the enabling component of the ecosystem.
Dare 2 Aspire: The aim of this event is to inspire future female entrepreneurs, innovative thinkers and potential investors by putting together a panel of women who are successful entrepreneurs, experienced investors, community development leaders, or corporate partners who support entrepreneurship.
Sustainable Fashion: The show will highlight the benefits of sustainable fashion both to Sierra Leone’s economy and to the environment. The fashion show will promote the work of Sierra Leonean manufacturers of local textiles, and designers that are promoting sustainability in fashion, skills development, materials, supply chain and CSR in Sierra Leone.
The show will showcase and promote the exceptional work achieved by students of Bluecrest studying courses in textile design, product design and fashion.
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.
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:
(b) focused on design driven
(c) promotes peer to peer review and
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
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.
Axis is Sierra Leone’s first fully functioning incubator, with programs (Incubation and Acceleration) framed on 5
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 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
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
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.
 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.
(Nairobi, Kenya, 23 August 2018) – Leaders of 15 incubators, accelerators and seed funds were selected to participate in VilCap Communities Africa, an innovative programme led by Village Capital to accelerate the flow of capital to early-stage companies in sub-Saharan Africa. The programme is supported by the Impact Programme which is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
The 15 finalists will take part in forums this fall led by Village Capital in Lagos and Nairobi, capped off by a major convening in Cape Town in November, where they will learn and share the latest best practices, including Village Capital’s proprietary curriculum and peer-selected investment process.
Village Capital has run more than fifty investment-readiness programmes across the globe, including eight in sub-Saharan Africa that have directly supported more than 80 entrepreneurs and facilitated 16 seed-stage investments. VilCap Communities Africa will build on this experience to equip entrepreneur ecosystem leaders with the tools, resources and connections they need to catalyze impact investment.
“Passion and vision are important, but entrepreneurs also need to have a plan to deploy capital efficiently to generate a return on investment,” said Allie Burns, Managing Director at Village Capital. “At Village Capital we specialize in helping entrepreneurs think like investors, and we’re excited to share what we’ve learned over the past eight years with this elite group of leaders in Africa.”
“The number of incubators and accelerators in Africa has grown exponentially, but the number of successful startups on the continent has not grown at the same rate,” said Rachel Crawford, Innovation Manager for Emerging Markets at Village Capital. “It’s still hard to raise capital and scale a business in too many parts of the continent, and we know that entrepreneurial ecosystem leaders are the key to bridging that gap.”
The 15 finalists were chosen from more than 200 incubators, accelerators and funds that applied. They operate in 20 African countries, including Ethiopia, Benin, Tanzania, Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire. The group brings together a mixture of types of organisations, some from more mature ecosystems such as Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and some from very nascent ecosystems such as Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
For more information on VilCap Communities Africa, contact Brenda Wangari at email@example.com.
About Village Capital
Village Capital builds bridges for entrepreneurs who are creating an inclusive and sustainable world. Our programs connect high potential, early-stage entrepreneurs with the people, institutions, and capital they need to succeed. Since 2009, Village Capital has supported more than 1,000 entrepreneurs in 50 cities and 30 countries, and partnered with affiliated investment funds, including VilCap Investments, that have invested seed capital in more than 90 program graduates.
About DFID Impact Programme
The Impact Programme was launched in December 2012 and seeks to support impact investments into businesses reaching the underserved as consumers, suppliers, distributors or employees, in some of the world’s poorest and most fragile states, and innovative business models. The Impact Programme’s market-building activities seek to reduce the constraints in the impact investing value chain and make the practice of impact investing as effective, as efficient and as attractive as possible to investors, intermediaries and enterprises