The best of African innovation met  Europe and Italy at the Startup Africa Roadshow

From agriculture to finance, through fashion and health: the winning startups of Startup Africa Roadtrip 2019 and 2021 introduced themselves in Turin and Milan thanks to BeEntrepreneurs APS and the Italian Embassy in Uganda.

Africa and innovation is a combination that’s going to mark the social, technological, and scientific future of humanity: and that’s why BeEntrepreneurs APS and the Italian Embassy in Uganda decided to bring the best startups from Silicon Savannah, the ecosystem including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda, to Europe with the Startup Africa Roadshow.

The initiative gave 6 projects the opportunity to introduce themselves and meet the economic, financial, entrepreneurial, and industrial fabric of Turin and Milan, for a week focused on building connections thanks to networking and training opportunities, meetings, and sessions with potential investors. The Startup Africa Roadshow culminated with two major events open to the innovation communities, which took place on Tuesday, May 10 at the OGR in Turin and Wednesday, May 11 at the Cariplo Factory in Milan.

These startups were selected from hundreds of other businesses and were the winners of the 2021 “Next Generation Africa” and 2019 “Made in Africa” editions of Startup Africa Roadtrip. This non-profit initiative was launched by BeEntrepreneurs in 2017 to support innovation in developing countries and took place in Kampala, Uganda, at the end of a tech week of training by Italian volunteers. The program included mentoring and pitching sessions, “go to market” strategies, business modeling, and fundraising techniques. At the end of the program, an independent jury selected the best teams.


Next Generation Africa 2021

Kimuli Fashionability (Mpigi, Uganda) creates unique clothing items produced by people with disabilities using recycled fabrics and plastic waste combined with traditional African textiles.

Phy2App (Nairobi, Kenya) developed an app to simplify economic and financial transactions between local agricultural producers and potential customers through processes based on trust and transparency.

Zofi Cash (Kampala, Uganda) developed a digital payment platform that allows employees to obtain an advance on their salary to prevent economic and financial emergencies, a very relevant problem in the country.

Marula Proteen (Kampala, Uganda) transforms the city’s organic waste into fertilizer through a biological process obtained thanks to insect larvae, which are in turn used as high-quality feed for livestock.

Made in Africa 2019

HerHealth (Kampala, Uganda) developed technological solutions to facilitate access to healthcare through a community-based approach focused on promoting health awareness in the most disadvantaged rural communities.

Gorilla Conservation Coffee (Bwindi, Uganda) is a social enterprise training coffee producers with the goal of improving yield and quality and safeguarding the natural habitat of the gorillas present in Bwindi National Park.

Over the past five years, the Startup Africa Roadtrip project has become an increasingly important reference point in promoting the link between the Italian and East African innovation ecosystems. All this thanks to 5 training programs, a database of over 1500 startups, more than 80 entrepreneurial teams formed, a network with more than 100 stakeholders, and a group of 40 young professionals capable of believing in innovation as a tool to create intercultural bridges between Italy and Africa in full harmony with the vision of the founders Andrea Censoni and Lorenzo D’Amelio.

The vision of BeEntrepreneurs APS is entirely fulfilled: “Thanks to Startup Africa Roadshow – emphasizes President Andrea Censoni – we have created connections, contaminations, and synergies between the African innovation system and the Italian one, it is a really important milestone for our association and our Startup Africa Roadtrip project. The event should have taken place already 2 years ago but the pandemic forced us to postpone it: the motivation of our group of 50 volunteers, coming from 3 continents, gave us the strength to resist and reorganize ourselves with the participation of over 100 entities including corporates, incubators, accelerators, investors, and startups.”

Cristina Toscano – Program Officer Fondazione Cariplo comments: «Innovation for Development, a program promoted by the Cariplo and Compagnia di San Paolo Foundations, supports Startup Africa Roadtrip and the 2022 Roadshow with a view to further encouraging cross-fertilization between the international cooperation sector to African development and innovation through networking and mutual contamination opportunities.”

“We are really happy,” says Mattia Voltaggio – Head of Joule, Eni’s School for Business – “to be part of this project that promotes new forms of international collaboration between Europe and Africa, where Eni operates. The African continent represents today an opportunity for change in the energy sector and shows us, through the entrepreneurial talents selected within ‘Next Generation Africa’, also to have developed a strong sensitivity towards female, inclusive, and sustainable entrepreneurship. We are sure that together we can start new development opportunities, the result of a mixture of skills, experiences, and enthusiasm.”

Enrico Mercadante – Specialist and Innovation Director South Europe at Cisco comments: “It was an honor to host a leg of the Startup Africa Roadshow at our cybersecurity co-innovation center in Milan. We have seen beautiful entrepreneurial ideas that are already mature enough to receive further investments and we have met talents that have given very interesting perspectives on how to imagine a more equitable and sustainable world, perfectly aligned with our intent to create, thanks to digital, a more inclusive future for everyone.”

«Startup Africa Roadtrip – says Laura Prinzi – CEO of B Heroes and Managing Director of lastminute foundation – is a project of great value for us: creating bridges between Italy and African countries with a view to mutual learning and valorisation of ecosystems of innovation of both contexts, contributes to the development of economic systems and, at the same time, brings to light a different and little-known narrative of the African continent, away from stereotypes and preconceptions and much closer to that living and vibrant context – which many countries Africans are expressing – and that can tell us a lot about the future.”

The Startup Africa Roadshow was made possible thanks to the supporters Last Minute Foundation, Eni Joule, DHH, Innovation for Development, Uber, and Primo Ventures.

Technical partners: AVSI, Cisco, Startup Wise Guys, BizPlace, 80/90 Estudio Creativo, The Innovation Village, Rifò, Digitonic, Kaleidoc, and Tech Garage.

Ecosystem partners: B Heroes, Oneday, B4I Bocconi for Innovation, E4Impact, Cariplo Factory, TAG – Talent Garden, Dpixel, Endeavor Italy, PoliHub Innovation Park, Feat. Ventures, OGR, Politecnico di Milano, Bocconi, SIT – Social Innovation Teams, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, and PlugandPlay.


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