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Ideas Made to Matter

These 9 African startups are working toward a more inclusive world


A matchmaker for tutors and students, a software skills accelerator, mobile cold-storage units.

The nine African finalists of the global MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge are “using technology to reinvent the future of work,” according to the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.

The challenge is the flagship program of the initiative, and this year the initiative launched a worldwide competition divided into five regions: North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

“If we employ inclusive innovation globally, it could be the best thing that ever happened to humanity,” Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the initiative, said in a statement. “We can have more wealth, better health, and widely held prosperity.”

The 2018 IIC has two rounds, according to the program’s website. The first round involves 12 selected startups across four categories competing at “celebration events” in their home continents. The four categories are skills development and opportunity matching, financial inclusion, income growth and job creation, and technology access. The competitors are judged on vision, impact, participation, and scalability.

The winner of each category then goes on to compete in November during the Global Grand Prize Gala at MIT. The gala includes four $250,000 prizes, one for each category.

Nearly 200 entrepreneurs from 16 countries registered for the Africa competition.

The finalists are traveling to Nairobi, Kenya, in late August, where they will pitch their ideas at a regional competition.

The 9 African finalists are:

Income growth and job creation
Wefarm provides a mobile network accessed through SMS, where millions of small-scale farmers can share information.

PrepClass connects students and tutors.

Wesabi offers a way to connect skilled laborers to individuals and businesses.

Skills development and opportunity matching
Lynk is an online platform that operates as a hiring service and also a showcase for artisans.

Brave Venture Labs
Brave provides talent sourcing software for growing companies.

Moringa School
Moringa School teaches software development and offers professional skills training.

Technology access
Safi Organics
Safi Organics provides small-scale farmers with affordable fertilizer for their crops.

Solar Freeze
Solar Freeze offers mobile cold-storage units for small farmers to help reduce crop spoilage.

AgroCenta is a digital platform for rural, small-scale farmers to connect with buyers and access financial services.

For more info Meredith Somers News Writer (617) 715-4216