Past Initiatives

Unleashing African Entrepreneurship at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress

March 17-20, 2014

Moscow, Russia

LIONS@FRICA partnered with Global Entrepreneurship Week to host a session on Unleashing African Entrepreneurship during the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Congress. The session featured talks by 10 innovators from around the continent, presenting the strategies they are using in their respective countries to unleash entrepreneurs. The session was presented to a packed house of 200+ delegates from the African continent and abroad. Presenters at the session were Karim Sy (Senegal), Edwin Zulu (Zambia), Paulo Cabral (Cape Verde), George Mulamula (Tanzania), Dr. Susan Amat (Venture Hive), Fredell Jacobs (South Africa) Fatiha Rachedi (Algeria), Ben White (VC4Africa) Sanjay Mungur (Mauritius), and John Wali (Kenya).

DEMO Africa

October 24-26, 2013

Nairobi, Kenya

The LIONS@FRICA flagship event — DEMO Africa — brought together 40 of Africa’s most innovative emerging and established companies for a high-impact, high-energy two-day launch event attended by 300 of the world’s leading technology companies, investors, media and more. Convening in Nairobi just as the city was emerging from the threat of terrorist attacks made this year’s event difficult, yet was another shining example of the resiliency of the entrepreneurial community. More than half of these participants had traveled from across Africa, the United States, the Middle East, and Europe to attend.

Innovators launched their technologies on stage during fast-paced six-minute pitches that announced to Africa and the world they have arrived. Some great photos from the event can be found HERE and videos of the pitches are coming soon.

Special thanks to LIONS@FRICA partners MicrosoftNokia, Intel, Advance Media, Everlytic, Innovation Prize for Africa, and VC4Africa for generously supporting DEMO Africa.

Innovation Tour: LIONS in Silicon Valley for DEMO Fall

October 15-17, 2013

Silicon Valley, California

As a part of the 2012 DEMO Africa event, the top 5 challengers were selected for the opportunity to pitch their companies to a very prestigious international audience at DEMO Fall 2013 in Silicon Valley. The founders of MaliyoSokomPawaQabila & Flowgear all did a fantastic serving as ambassadors of the booming startup scene in Africa and showing the world just a hint of the amazing business opportunities that exist on the continent.

READ HERE a first-hand account of what that experience was like for Maxwell Donkor, the founder and CEO of mPawa and watch the VIDEO Pitches below.

LIONS@FRICA at infoDev’s 5th Global Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

May 28-30, 2013

East London, South Africa

LIONS@FRICA joined forces with infoDev at the 5th Annual Global Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a global event which brought together over 800 delegates from 60 countries including start-ups and experts to highlight Africa’s innovation potential.  The biennial event included learning and mentoring sessions for entrepreneurs, networking and partnership opportunities. In addition, over 50 entrepreneurs from around the world, including 30 winners of the LIONS@FRICA Meet the LIONS competitions were flown in to East London to participate in a “Dragon’s Den” competition.  At the end of the competition, one LIONS@FRICA entrepreneur –mPayer—placed second out of five leading technology ventures. The entrepreneurs were competing for $40,000 in cash awards.


May 28, 2013

Marrakech, Morroco

On the sidelines of the African Development Bank’s Annual Meetings, LIONS@FRICA hosted a full-day high-level roundtable discussion featuring leading policy-makers, technologists and investors from across Africa for a lively discussion on the needs and requirements of Africa’s innovation ecosystem.  The event was co-hosted by Microsoft and the African Development Bank.

Featured speakers included: Mimi Alemayehou, Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment; the Honorable Walter Jones, US Executive Director to the African Development Bank; the Honorable Arunma Oteh, Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria; Fernando de Sousa, General Manager of the Microsoft Africa Initiatives; Zahid Torres-Rahman, Founder of Business Action for Africa; and Harry Hare, Executive Director of DEMO Africa.

In addition, four high-potential ventures from the “Meet the Lions” competition were brought to Marrakech to present their innovations to policymakers during 8-minute pitch sessions. The entrepreneurs included:

  • Edoh Agbove, founder of Initiatives des Jeunes for le Développement, this Togo-based non-profit provides enterprise development training and coaching for youth through technology
  • Naama Bak, founder of E-Cash to Cash, a flexible mobile money transfer solution based in Morocco
  • Titus Mawano, founder of Ffene, a low-cost business management platform to enable SME’s to leverage technology to reduce overhead costs
  • Tonee Ndungu, founder of Kytabu, a Kenya-based textbook subscription application available on a low-cost e-tablet
  • Aboubacar Sidy Sonko, founder of Mlouma, a Senegal-based web and mobile service providing farmers with up-to-the-minute agricultural market information


May 7-8, 2013

Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

Over 150 entrepreneurs from across East Africa participated in the first-ever GIST/LONS@FRICA Startup Boot Camp East Africa which was organized in partnership with infoDev and in cooperation with Tanzanian-based entrepreneurial incubator DTBi .

Day 1 of the Boot Camp provided intense business theory classes, practical networking, venture road mapping, business plan workshops, and skills development seminars. Presenters from the event included Jeff Hoffman, member of the founding team & former CEO,; Scott Gillespie, founder and managing partner of the Jigsaw Group; and Faysal Sohail, a venture capitalist and General Partner at CMEA Capital.

On Day 2, the Boot Camp provided the top 30 selected ventures a day of individual mentorship and an opportunity to participate in a public pitching tournament.

Global Entrepreneurship Congress

March 18, 2013

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

On the sidelines of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, LIONS@FRICA hosted an information side meeting for approximately 50 coordinators of the GEW chapters across Africa. The event was hosted by Jonathan Ortmans, President of the GEW, and featured speakers from the U.S. Department of StateAfrican Development Bank, and Startup Weekend. After a short informational briefing session about the partnership, the audience was invited to submit their ideas and suggestions about how they can become involved in the partnership and what programs they believe could be most useful going forward.

Launch of “Meet the LIONS” Competition

November 16, 2012



During the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2012, LIONS@FRICA, infoDev and GEW launched “Meet the Lions” — a competition to identify pioneering entrepreneurs coming out of Africa. The purpose of the competition was to recognize new companies that have developed real-world solutions through their revolutionary businesses, while also exhibiting the potential to spur economic growth that is both sustainable and scalable.

By tapping into GEW’s vast African network of country hosts, the competition sought to highlight the entrepreneurial talent and spirit that exists on the continent and motivate the future of African innovators. Entrepreneurs that were identified as winners of the competition by local GEW chapters were then connected to the LIONS@FRICA partnership.

LIONS@FRICA invited more than 30 of these entrepreneurs to share their innovations at infoDev’s “5th Global Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship” in East London, South Africa in May 2013 and to participate in a “Dragon’s Den” with global entrepreneurs from around the world to compete for a grand prize.

In addition, five entrepreneurs were invited to pitch at “Meet the Policymakers,” a high-level event held alongside the African Development Bank’s annual meetings in Marrakech, Morocco.

Apps4Africa Challenge

October 24, 2012

Nairobi, Kenya

At the DEMO Africa 2012 opening plenary, LIONS@FRICA teamed up with the U.S. Department of State and Appfrica International to announce the launch of the Apps4Africa 2012:  Business Challenge. Apps4Africa is an annual Africa-wide competition that seeks to encourage the development of mobile, web, and desktop applications (“apps”) that help address the challenge of youth unemployment in Africa.

Following the launch of the Challenge, young tech developers were asked to submit their business ideas aimed at solving this issue during a series of brainstorming sessions held in six countries across Africa. The brainstorming events engaged local stakeholders, partners, and local US Embassies and focused mainly on engaging and encouraging the next young tech CEOs and teams of change makers that could innovate, create, and transform their technology businesses to provide more employment opportunities and strengthen the economy of their region.

On February 20, the three winners out of the more than 300 applications to the Apps4Africa competition were announced. They were:

  • Ffene is a low cost business management platform that enables small and medium businesses to leverage technology to reduce overhead costs incurred due to administrative tasks, freeing up resources that can be redirected to growth initiatives. Award:  $10,000
  • SliceBiz is a crowdsourcing web and mobile investment platform providing alternative funding for startups. Award:  $10,000
  • Prowork is a mobile first enterprise class project management and collaboration solution for businesses. More mobile and easier to use than Basecamp, Prowork is accessible via mobile, the web, and SMS. Award: $10,000

DEMO Africa

October 24-26, 2012

Nairobi, Kenya

LIONS@FRICA’s flagship event — DEMO Africa — brought together 40 of Africa’s most innovative emerging and established companies for a high-impact, high-energy two-day launch event attended by 300 of the world’s leading technology companies, investors, media and more. Innovators launched their technologies on stage during fast-paced six-minute pitches that announced to Africa and the world they have arrived.

Over $10 million dollars were raised by participants in the DEMO Africa 2012 and many more benefitted from partnerships with global organizations to help them scaled and expand their business models.

At the end of the two-day event, five DEMO Africa entrepreneurs were chosen by a committee of judges to receive an additional prize provided by LIONS@FRICA:  an all-expenses paid trip to Silicon Valley and the opportunity to pitch at DEMO Fall 2013.

Special thanks to LIONS@FRICA partners MicrosoftNokia, and infoDev for generously supporting the inaugural DEMO Africa event.

LIONS Investor Roundtable Tour

September 2012

Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa

LIONS@FRICA and USAID’s Development Credit Authority sponsored a series of Investor Roundtables in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa for over 300 investors. The purpose of the tour was to meet with leading investors, angel networks and venture capitalists in each emerging technology center to discuss their needs and requirements in terms of identifying investment-ready technology startups.  The findings from the tour have helped inform LIONS@FRICA’s work over the course of the first year of operation and are helping to guide the development of an investment facility.

GIST/LIONS@FRICA West Africa Boot Camp

July 10-11, 2012

Dakar, Senegal

More than 130 technology entrepreneurs from across West Africa convened in Dakar, Senegal for a two-day training and mentoring GIST/LIONS@FRICA West Africa Boot Camp designed to spark innovative thinking and trigger the creation of new startup ideas among promising entrepreneurs in the ICT, energy, healthcare and agriculture sectors. The Boot Camp provided high-potential start-ups an opportunity to connect and learn from leading technology innovators and investors.

Day 1 of the Boot Camp focused on building skills, developing pitches, and creative business approaches and financing techniques. Day 2 featured African success stories and included one-on-one mentoring sessions as well as a judged pitch session for seven pre-selected high-potential start-ups.

The GIST/LIONS@FRICA winning startups were:

  • Amarante has created a web and mobile application that allows users to purchase and share prepaid mobile phone credit from different telephone companies. First place prize: $1,500 and a business trip to the US
  • eeZydeel allows any mobile subscriber to purchase or sell a variety of goods and services through text messages. Entrepreneurs upload their goods and services for consumers to view and purchase. Second place prize: $1,500
  • Farmerline Ltd provides timely agricultural information to rural Ghanaian farmers such as seed prices and how to treat diseased crops. Third place prize: $1,500
  • M-Louma  provides farmers with accurate market information so they may determine where and when to sell their crops. M-Louma, BuntunTEKI Prize, $2,000

LIONS@FRICA teamed up with the US Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology, infoDev, CTIC Dakar and the African Development Bank on the event.