The Green Innovation Boot Camp took place on July 8-9 at the Ethiopia Climate Innovation Center’s headquarters in Addis Ababa. The event banded together more than 30 entrepreneurs to develop innovative products and services that take on big development issues like energy efficiency, renewables, waste management and more. The two-day program of lectures and hands-on workshops provided participants with an opportunity to refine their product strategies, business models and marketing pitches, sharpen their negotiating skills, and network with investors and peers.
The presence of coaches from all the sponsoring organizations – the ECIC, the Finnish Embassy, ICE Addis and the German Development Agency – along with mentors from the “iHub” in Nairobi gave the learning sessions a diverse and international perspective. The 48-hour hackathons included pitch training, lessons on climate-tech innovation, and an introduction to the latest business and management techniques specifically developed for emerging entrepreneurs and SMEs.
Software programmers, architects, designers and engineers worked together in small teams to refine business concepts and develop their innovative products. These ranged from plastic children’s furniture manufactured from water bottles to small wind turbines and tote bags made of recycled textiles.
At the end of the second day, each team pitched their business concept before a panel of four local entrepreneurs with extensive experience in developing innovative ideas and building successful ventures. The panel selected two teams that in November will attend in Helsinki the prestigious event ‘SLUSH: a start-up conference for companies from Northern Europe, Russia, and beyond.’
The event turned out to be a great success for both the participating entrepreneurs and the organizers. All the entrepreneurs had the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from international mentors and from each other’s experiences. Furthermore, the general sense of fellowship was all the more remarkable as many of the participants were new to hackathons, pitching competitions, and collaborative work. For the organizers, the event not only helped identify new ideas for local clean-tech solutions; it was also an effective first step toward unleashing the great entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes Ethiopia.
Pictured above: Estifanos Kiflu, one of the winners presenting his innovation.