Motswana in contention for Orange African Social Venture Prize 2015

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

Botswana’s Thabiso Mashaba’s ‘These Hands Social Enterprise’ Project has been shortlisted in the top 11 of  Orange African Social Venture Prize 2015 projects and is in the running for 25 000 Euros (BWP 300,000) which is the top prize. Mashaba was competing against 608 innovation start-ups from 16 African countries.


Mashaba’s entry makes it the second consecutive year that a project from Botswana has made it to the top 11 of the competition, with ModisaR from Botswana having won last year’s challenge.

Thabiso Mashaba who is the brain behind this year’s shortlisted project stated that he developed “These Hands Social Enterprise” project to address the “digital divide” that has left developing countries in Africa and Asia poor and disconnected from the rest of the world. These countries are said to have low levels of internet usage, due to lack of internet infrastructure and prohibitively expensive for the average person to use.

“This digital divide and lack of connectivity not only keeps them underdeveloped but often thwart attempts at entrepreneurship, which can greatly reduce poverty. Many of these communities wish to lead their own development projects. However, their lack of connectivity leaves them unable to engage with development experts to obtain technical and financial assistance for their projects.” he says.

The project therefore aims to empower people in these marginalized communities to start their own development and entrepreneurial activities.

“Our plan is to create a social network (which does not require internet access) that supports community-led development in impoverished countries. This social network will serve economically marginalized communities and allow them to obtain business services and international development consulting services from experts, youth and students in our global network that are also seeking meaningful work,” he says.

In addition, the platform will provide them with an avenue to seek funding, mentorship, and other support for their development and entrepreneurial initiatives. The platform will allow those who do not have internet access to network with those who can provide them the support necessary to start their own development projects.

“We believe that access to these networks and services will help these communities to overcome the digital divide,” says Mashaba.

This year’s finalists include projects from Senegal, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Mali, Kenya, Cameroon, Egypt, Niger, Morocco and Botswana. On November 18, at the AfricaCom Awards ceremony in Cape Town (South Africa), Orange will announce, among these 11 finalists, the 3 winners of the Orange African Social Venture Prize 2015.

The three winners will receive cash prize of 25 000; 15 000; 10 000 Euros respectfully and also benefit from a 6 months coaching by the entrepreneurship and ICT professionals. The winner will be offered a patent registration in his country.

The Orange African Social Venture Prize which was launched in 2011 rewards entrepreneurs developing products or services that use ICT in an innovative way to achieve social impact and meet the needs of Africans in fields such as health, agriculture, education, energy, industry or trade. As a Group initiative, the projects are then rolled out to any African affiliates of the Orange Group which includes countries like Botswana, Cameroon, and Kenya. 


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