The coronavirus pandemic presents new challenges to every dimension of life as we know it. With the global effort to reduce the spread of the virus, it has become clear that government intervention may not be enough to tackle the looming economic crisis, especially in Africa – the continent worst hit financially.
Young African entrepreneurs are rising to the challenge, launching innovative business ideas, and collaborating to support communities and create safe spaces to reduce the number of infected cases across the continent.
Here are 6 young African entrepreneurs tackling the pandemic:
Olivia Onyemaobi, Pad up – Nigeria
Since the pandemic, Olivia Onyemaobi’s company, Pad Up has produced and distributed over 100,000 breathable sterile face masks to medical personnel in Nigeria.
Her company, Pad-Up Creations started as a social enterprise, manufacturing washable and reusable sanitary pads as sustainable solution for girls and women in Africa. Her company made history in May 2020 when it became the first and only reusable sanitary pads certified by NAFDAC in Nigeria.
Since inception, her business has created 103 permanent jobs and empowered over 16,000 women who earn wages through the distribution of sanitary pads.
Mohammed Akamara, Light Salone Innovation – Sierra Leone
To combat the spread of the coronavirus through contact, Mohammed Akamara, an entrepreneur from Sierra Leone and beneficiary of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, launched Lili Tap to help Africans in Sierra-Leone with a safer and unique handwashing system for small communities.
Launched by his business, Light Salone Innovation, Lili Tap involves opening and closing the tap with a foot working down a lever system.
The solution has been endorsed by the government of Sierra-Leone and is currently being rolled out in communities, homes, offices, business places, markets, and schools.
Nkem Okocha, Mama Moni – Nigeria
Nigerian-based entrepreneur and TEF alumnus, Nkem Okocha repurposed her business to support low income women in her community who are in dire need of help and support to feed their families.
Her business, Mama Moni, which offers low-income earning women access to micro-loans and opportunities for capacity building, stepped in to support the fight against COVID-19 by donating proceeds of the sales of its liquid soap (Levanter Handwashing Soap) to its community of women.
Marie-Christina Kolo, Alt.soap – Madagascar
In Madagascar, TEF alumnus, Marie-Christina Kolo took a proactive step to the pandemic, launching “Alt.soap”, an eco-friendly soap gel that does not require rinsing with water.
Her idea was developed to help the poorest in Madagascar, who do not have the access to water and soap, and to help people stay safe. To produce Alt.soap, Marie and her team collect and treat used cooking oil from canteens and restaurants with non-chemical products and then pass it into a centrifuge, where it is mixed with soda.
Dr. Adereni Abiodun, HelpMum – Nigeria
HelpMum, a social enterprise with the mission to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria embarked on a response plan to the pandemic.
HelpMum’s Founder and TEF Alumnus, Dr. Adereni Abiodun began the distribution of 10,000 face masks to nurses and traditional birth attendants in primary health centres and rural areas, as well as pregnant women and nursing mothers in underserved communities.
The HelpMum face mask was also included in the company’s clean birth kits to protect nurses, traditional birth attendants and community health workers and ensure safe and hygienic delivery in rural and underserved areas during the pandemic.
Laud Basing, Incas Diagnostics – Ghana
Founder of Incas Diagnostics and TEF entrepreneur, Laud Basing, launched a rapid Covid-19 test kit.
The test kit incorporates an app that handles a symptom assessment checker, result update and tracking of the patient’s location which is pushed to public health authorities. The solution has won awards.
His company is a medical diagnostic development and manufacturing social enterprise in Ghana, using low-cost, easy-to-use, point-of-care diagnostic test kits designed specifically for Africa.