After an exciting online final, Team AfriCity from South Africa took first place in this year’s BeChangeMaker Africa with their business idea offering insights and research to bridge the gaps between innovation and needs.
“BeChangeMaker Africa was instrumental in allowing us to gain great clarity on what our product is and who our target market is. We crystalized our brand, offering, and created our product within three months, thanks to the accountability structures through deliverables and check-ins required by the program. The insights and perspectives from HP mentors were invaluable. The HP LIFE courses ensured we holistically thought and engaged with content on building business fundamentals,” said the team.
Five hundred thirty-three teams from 40 African countries applied to join the program. Thirty were selected to participate, receiving received customized support—including coaching, tools, and mentorship from HP business experts—to help them bring their ideas into focus and to learn the skills they need to develop viable businesses.
“It was great to see the diversity, ingenuity and dynamics of the BeChangeMaker Africa finalists, a true showcase of the talent across Africa. This competition demonstrates the potential that Africa brings as a continent which bodes well for the future. All competing teams are winners and it was particularly pleasing to see the contribution to economic growth and prosperity on our continent,” said Bradley Pulford, Managing Director HP Africa and BeChangeMaker Africa judge.
HP LIFE—a free IT and business skills training program from the HP Foundation—is a key program component and a valuable learning resource for participants. Mandatory HP LIFE courses—covering topics such as how to develop a success mindset, where to find funding, and how to manage business finances—are woven into the program.
The teams were also supported by 42 HP employees who volunteered as mentors to help them hone their ideas and improve their pitches.
“As a mentor, I found gaining insight into my team’s business model and guiding them through the different program components to be very rewarding. As HP Africa’s sustainability lead, I could also use my expertise to share sustainability insights with them. The entire experience was extremely fulfilling,” said Ruben Janse van Rensburg who mentored team Ambani Africa.
Another four HP employees served as judges, together with judges from GIZ, UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) and Liquid Telecom.
AfriCity was one of six teams to make it to the virtual final. They were joined by wildcard team, Ambani Africa, who took second place with their idea for a platform to teach African languages through storytelling and gaming. Roser Educare Network from Uganda took third place followed closely by Profred from Zimbabwe, CHRONmate from Nigeria, and Paylend Africa from Kenya.
All six teams will receive €1,000 worth of customized post-program coaching. The top three teams will also receive €2,000 seed funding to further develop their business ideas as well as an HP EliteBook provided by HP.
About BeChangeMaker Africa
BeChangeMaker Africa was developed by WorldSkills International and the HP Foundation with support from the African Union, UNIDO, and GIZ. It offers people in Africa ages 18–35 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.
About HP LIFE
HP LIFE is a free IT and business skills training program from the HP Foundation. It is accessible online, offline, and in person (where safe to do so) offering more than 30 courses in eight languages for entrepreneurs, business owners, and lifelong learners all over the world. It is also an adaptable educational resource used on the ground by trainers, educators, and mentors to enrich curricula, support business creation, and improve employability skills.