At Seedstars, we believe in the power of collaboration and knowledge sharing. Over the last five years, we have managed to bring together more than 10K entrepreneurs and 3K partners, government representatives, public institutions, and investors to collaborate in solving the most burning issues in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.
Very often, companies hire a consultancy agency to help them with the research and strategies. Instead, it would be more efficient to get hands-on insights straight from the target audience, partners, and all interested parties. Probably, you would argue that it requires a lot of time to gather all together and organize such a meeting. But we’ve already got a practical solution for that.
Each year, at our events, we engage the participants in problem-solving workshops, hackathons, and meet-ups to leverage our brain power and come up with creative ideas for edtech, fintech, mobility, healthcare, etc. Among our partners are highly impact-driven companies such as UNFPA, Luminate, FedEx, Agefi, WWF, and Continental. Usually, the company decides on the topic of the discussion that relates to its core activities and the event agenda. For example, together with Luminate, we organized a workshop aimed at finding alternative ways of funding for civic tech startups in Ukraine.
Leveraging Technology for Citizens and Government in Ukraine with Luminate
The problem: Today, the Ukrainian civic tech market is saturated with incubation programs and hackathons that work mainly with early-stage startups. At the moment, there are around 400 civic tech ideas across Ukraine. Unfortunately, many of them cannot reach the growth phase due to the lack of financial support and poor understanding of civic tech in general.
The major challenges: 1. How to raise awareness and educate people about civic tech. 2. How to provide funding opportunities for civic tech startups. 3. How to ensure proper legislation and standards for sustainable business development.
Participants: Luminate representatives, organizations such as transparenCEE, BEST Solutions, OpenDataBot, 1991 Open Data Incubator, Republic of Estonia E-Residency, EGAP Challenge, and many more institutions and tech experts.
Duration: 90 minutes
The outcome: The workshop participants came up with an action plan for all the stakeholders to foster the growth of civic tech startups in the country.
The major takeaways from the workshop were:
- Start a conversation between key market players (NGOs and government) to discuss the current state of civic tech in Ukraine and raise awareness among the citizens.
- Find efficient ways and channels to connect with local authorities and focus on creating quality educational programs to prepare highly skilled IT experts.
- Initiate the opening of accelerators for civic tech startups helping them to switch from seed to growth stage.
Tackling the Reproductive Health Issues in Africa in Partnership with UNFPA
The problem: In many African countries women’s health remains under threat due to various factors such as poverty, gender inequality, gender-based violence, low access to quality medical treatment.
The major challenge: How to prevent early marriage and pregnancy among the young girls aged between 12 and 19 years and how to ensure the quality prenatal care when the pregnancy occurs.
Participants: UNFPA representatives, medtech and healthtech experts, doctors, healthcare startups from Mozambique, Cameroon, Rwanda, and Tanzania, Embassy of the Netherlands, corporate representatives (Vodacom, Standard Bank), students from Mozambique.
Duration: 90 minutes
The process and outcome: All the participants were divided into groups of 5-7 and focused their discussion on crucial pain points of the target audience, cultural specialities, their beliefs, and behaviours. At the end of the workshop, the teams presented their solutions and each group also discussed how they could put their ideas into action.
“Having different perspectives, countries and people’s backgrounds in one room is so great. Very impressed by the audience”. William Georges Palous, General Manager, Sintetica - Bioren.
Shaping the Future of Energy in South Africa
The problem: The energy supply in Africa is still insufficient. Only 10% of the continent is on the grid. Almost 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity including South Africa where up to 50 % of citizens live in the dark. The challenge: To choose an innovative business model with low carbon impact that can provide electricity in a rural area of 1,000 people for a price of $2,000 per month
Duration: 60 minutes
Location: Standard Bank Incubator, Johannesburg
The outcome: The participants analyzed the existing electricity models such as Micro-grids, Solar Kiosks and Solar Home Systems (SHS) and came up with key conclusions:
- The grid is still expanding in the country, and people don’t want to invest in SHS if the centralized network arrives soon. Before proposing an off-grid solution, it’s important to verify when the centralized power system will be established.
- The electricity system has to be powerful enough that’s why small solar panels are less relevant than in another part of Sub Saharan Africa.
- In South Africa, people prefer to have their own systems.
- Solar Kiosks are more relevant for rural areas where there’s no grid.
- Localized micro-grids with the pre-paid methods of payment could be proposed to households already connected to the grid to provide them with more flexibility.
- Various payment options are crucial to meet customers’ needs.
These sort of activities can become the first step towards collaboration between the startups, government and public institutions and multiply the potential impact of all interested parties.
In 2018, we plan a series of similar workshops at each Regional Summit taking place in 5 different cities across 5 continents — Africa (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), Latin America (Lima, Peru), Middle East and North Africa (Beirut, Lebanon), Asia (Bangkok, Thailand), and Central and Eastern Europe (Kyiv, Ukraine). If you are interested and want to address your company's biggest challenge in any of the region mentioned above, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.