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Idea to connect skilled refugees with jobs takes top spot in BeChangeMaker Africa competition

20 October 2020

Teams from Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Tunisia, and Uganda make it to the virtual final of the first BeChangeMaker Africa competition.

After an exciting virtual final, Team Invicta from Ethiopia took the top spot in the first BeChangeMaker Africa with their innovative idea for connecting skilled refugees with global job opportunities.

“BeChangeMaker Africa has helped us immensely—whether it’s with product validation, user acquisition or market penetration. It has given us the tools and confidence to pool our resources and accomplish our biggest goals. We are very grateful to the entire BeChangeMaker Africa program team.” – Team Invicta, BeChangeMaker Africa winner 2020.

Launched this year, BeChangeMaker Africa was developed by WorldSkills International and the HP Foundation with support from the African Union, UNDP (United Nations Development Program), and the German development agency, GIZ. It replicates the global BeChangeMaker program model—which saw a record number of applicants this year—to offer people ages 18–35 in Africa the chance to develop their business and digital skills while exploring their potential as social entrepreneurs. BeChangeMaker Africa is also included in the African Union’s One Million by 2021 Initiative, which is driving opportunities for youth development in entrepreneurship, employment, education, and engagement across the continent. 

The inaugural program got off to a strong start—315 teams from 42 countries across the continent applied to join from which 30 were selected to participate. Teams took HP LIFE courses covering topics such as how to acquire funding, harness the marketing power of social media, and bring a product to market.

“As a lifelong learner, I enjoyed the HP LIFE courses very much. I appreciated the diversity of course subjects available—as well the depth in which each one is taught. The assignments helped me grasp important business concepts and get clarity on my goals.” – Respondent, BeChangeMaker Africa 2020, Top 30 team survey.

The teams were also supported by 30 HP employee volunteer mentors who shared their skills and expertise to help them hone their business ideas and improve their pitches. Another 9 HP employee volunteers served as judges, together with judges representing the African Union, GIZ, and UNIDO.

Team Invicta was one of six to make it to the virtual final. They were joined by Hand Speaks (Egypt) who took second place with their idea to make communication easier for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and Rural Water Filtration Kit (Uganda) in third place with their affordable solution to provide access to clean water across Africa. Runners up were Glarina (Tunisia) for their work to provide affordable and accessible support for people living with celiac disease, Local Female Guides (Uganda) who are empowering women by providing skills training and job opportunities, and Steer Analytics (Cameroon) for their idea to improveaccess to finance in vulnerable communities.

All six teams received an HP laptop and continued access to HP LIFE online courses. Additionally, the top five teams will benefit from customized coaching while the top three will also receive €2,000 seed funding to further develop their business ideas.