To date, Innovate Ventures has run a technology coding camp, an
incubation programme and an acceleration programme.
In July 2012, the core team of Innovate Ventures, along with World-wide Somali Students and Professionals World-wide Somali Students and Professionals ran a coding camp, to engage with the private sector, youth in Somaliland, and the diaspora to develop commercially viable products and applications. The programme comprised a two-week intensive coding camp for 20 of Hargeisa’ top IT students and graduates to develop an Android application; master classes in entrepreneurialism and business presentations, and a programming competition.
Connections were made with the private sector and a remittance company operating in Somaliland was enlisted, and sponsored the competition and commissioned the development of a bespoke solution satisfying a business need. The competition winners were given a one-month contract with the remittance company to develop a fully functioning solution. To support the development of the solution, Somali technologists and developers in the diaspora mentored the group to provide advice and guidance to develop a product- quality application.
This pilot scheme demonstrated the feasibility of bringing together Somali youth and recent graduates and the diaspora to create commercially viable products that are market-focussed and accelerated and supported by the private sector. Click here to see a video highlighting the achievements of this camp.
From May to November 2015, the first tech start-up incubation programme in the Somali region was held for IT graduates and entrepreneurs from 6 of the leading universities in Somaliland. The acceleration programme named The Muhandis Challenge, involved the start-ups receiving business trainings, coaching, product development, pitch training, and mentoring from Somali IT experts in the diaspora, from Innovate Ventures, in collaboration with SPARK, and Shaqodoon Organisation over a period of 5 months.
The winners of the programme (Somalispaces.com) received $2,500 in support along with further investment and marketing to grow their start-up. On the 23rd of November the final event was held in Hargeisa, 4 start-ups comprising graduates and young entrepreneurs graduated from our tech incubation programme and pitched their startups and their business plans to an audience of over 150 people comprising banks, government officials, international organisations, and telecoms. This was broadcast through radio (VOA) and TV (Somaliland TV, HCTV) to an audience of more than 1 million Somalis from the Horn of Africa and the diaspora in Europe, US and Middle-East.
The competition drew the attention of several large companies who have committed to supporting and leveraging the products developed by the start-ups. The press release of this event can be found here.
In 2016, Innovate Ventures partnered with VC4Africa, Work in Progress! Alliance and Telesom to create the Innovate Technology Accelerator Programme. Our experience with the Coding Camp and Incubation Programme has given us the experience to develop the Accelerator Programme and it was our most widely applied and successful programme to date.
The Innovate Tech Accelerator received a total of 180+ Applications. These were narrowed to 20 startups, which were put through a 2-week bootcamp. These startups were further narrowed to 12 4 start-up companies and these companies participated in a 10-week training and mentoring programme. Read more about our inaugural cohort here .
The programme culminated in a demo day attended by our partners, investors and friends and Innovate Ventures invested a total of $15,000 in the winning startups and successfully launched/re- launched 11 companies. Read more about the demo day here.