Orbit Innovation Hub and Mastercard Foundation marked the successful completion of a pilot incubation and acceleration program for start-ups. The year-long program was designed to help budding entrepreneurs turn their ideas, or early-stage start-ups, into thriving businesses. The program’s first cohort consisted of 15 start-up founders who are now using technology to solve problems in public health, transportation, logistics, education, and hospitality.
During the program, which is part of the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works initiative, the start-up founders benefitted from rigorous training, networking, and mentoring from business experts. Each start-up founder/co-founder also received $5,000 to set up or scale their business. Today, the start-ups from the pilot program have collectively created 89 jobs for young people, with roughly 40 percent of the new roles occupied by young women.
Dr. Essete Yohannes, one of the participants in the program, is a Co-Founder of Techmed: a women-led, technology-based home-to-home medical care platform. Techmed uses a digital application and short SMS number to provide a 24-hour service to customers with a safe and secure registration system for both clients and health professionals. Reflecting on the program, she said: “The Orbit Innovation Hub helped us improve our business, chart a clear roadmap, and articulate a strong and compelling vision. It also connected us to industry experts who provided us with massive support.”
The success of the pilot program demonstrates the untapped opportunity within digital innovation. “Innovation and entrepreneurship are essential for the digital economy to succeed. Ethiopia cannot and should not be left behind. Therefore, it is essential to create Incubation/Acceleration hubs that enable us to monitor the needs of young people within the innovative technology space,” said Girum Habtewold, Orbit Health COO.
During the year long incubation program, Orbit Innovation Hub served as an entrepreneur’s mobilization/connection centre in the start-up community, enabling young entrepreneurs to connect and network. The hub hosted seven Start-up Thursday networking events that were held both virtually and in-person, and that brought together over 5,000 young people and aspiring entrepreneurs. It also hosted established entrepreneurs and leaders as speakers, including:
- Yoadan Tliahun – Managing Director, Flawless Events
- Bernard Laurendeau – Senior Advisor, Ministry of Labor and Skills (former Jobs Creation Commission)
- Munir Duri –CEO, Kifiya technology
- Habtamu Tadesse – CEO, Zayride Technologies
“This program demonstrates the clear potential that incubation and innovation hubs have for supporting the start-up ecosystem and, ultimately, creating jobs. What we learned will continue to guide our work as we seek to enable dignified and fulfilling work for 10 million young people in Ethiopia,” said Samuel Yalew Adela, Country Head, Mastercard Foundation.
Orbit Innovation hub will continue to build the start-up ecosystem in Ethiopia alongside government and non-governmental organizations. Leveraging lessons from the pilot program, it is designing a similar initiative that will have greater reach and impact.
About the Orbit Innovation Hub (OIH)
Orbit Innovation Hub (OIH) is a startup hub that incubates and accelerates digital innovations with an inclination towards healthcare by leveraging a global network of experienced professionals, investors, partners, and industry leaders. The Hub is aimed at creating a strong and well-connected technology ecosystem in Ethiopia where innovators in the region can get the appropriate financial and logistics support and guidance. OIH strives to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in sectors where innovation has not been as common before. For more information please visit: http://www.orbitinnovationhub.com/
About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management. For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org
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