The Afrochampions Initiative (known simply as, “Afrochampions”) is a “special implementation vehicle” for major, innovative, public-private partnerships to harness the biggest opportunities in Africa for transforming the continent’s best companies and institutions into globally significant players. All top 10 pan-African multinationals with the deepest record of integrating Africa’s economies, as well as the leading regional governance bodies, are either members or partners of Afrochampions.
Afrochampions has in its initial phase of existence focused on inter-institutional partnerships and flagship projects such as its ongoing investment fund-structuring work. 2020 marks a new phase of Afrochampions ambitions as it opens up to the general African public in multiple countries with the launch of such new flagship initiatives as Sankore and Caravan.
Through Caravan, Afrochampions aims to empower aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to apply scientific innovation and technology (often abbreviated to “STEM”) to grassroots production opportunities.
Beyond entrepreneurs, Caravan is keen on connecting consultants and freelancers with skills in technology, engineering, marketing, legal, auditing, accounting, finance and research, to opportunities to earn better income by participating in production activities promoted by Afrochampions-backed entrepreneurial groups.
The emphasis on inclusion, through equal consideration for communes and microenterprises as well as more traditional SMEs and start-ups, comes from a strong belief that most accelerators, incubators and other enterprise development programs are designed with Western venture capital and corporate structure models in mind.
Caravan’s unique approach is to “take the accelerator model to the field, to the grassroots”, as its Project Director, Ebenezer Owusu, puts it, by emphasising networks, ecosystems and clusters in value chains that require economic actors of highly varied backgrounds and forms to work together to bring products to market.
Some of these actors will be proprietorships, microenterprises, freelancers and connectors, as well as the more traditional SMEs and start-ups, that intend to grow into big companies.
The key principle here is that the industrialisation and boosting of production goals most Africans have for the continent are too urgent and too ambitious to be realised through the current elite-based, slow, high failure by design, Western-borrowed venture model. Production must be promoted “now” and accelerated through already existing value chain structures by injection of fresh material and social capital resources.
Caravan is thus accepting applications between now and April 2020 from aspiring and existing entrepreneurs and others who can play important roles in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The focus is on accelerated production through enhanced connection of producers and their enablers to raw materials, credit, branding, supermarket access, consulting, and business growth and development support directly through an overall “value chain” strategy.
Whilst applicants targeting all types of production value chains are welcome, the current call for Ghanaian applicants has the following priorities: plastic recycling and repurposing, body care oils, palm-based products, and coconut derivatives. Anyone with ideas and passion for boosting production in these value chains is welcome to apply on the Caravan website (https://caravanafrica.com/2020/application/). Successful applicants shall benefit tremendously from having the vast resources of the Afrochampions network around the world placed at their disposal to excel. The anchor sponsor of Caravan is the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA).
Afrochampions is built on a foundation of public-private cooperation and cross-fertilisation. So, whilst Caravan focuses on the entrepreneurial actions of private actors in boosting production, the public sector’s role is key to realising the success of Caravan.
Alongside the call for applications to the Caravan program, Afrochampions is also inviting applications from mid-career professionals with a strong interest in scientific innovation, public policy innovation, business model innovation, social change technology and the intersections of these fields to apply for consideration as a Prestigious Sankore Fellow or Scholar (Sankorean).
Sankoreans shall work closely with Presidential taskforces in participating African countries to achieve large-scale national transformational programs either linked to Caravan or other socio-economic transformation programs. Programs impacting youth economic empowerment, public sector transformation to serve mass interests, and grassroots economic emancipation shall be priority areas for the Sankore initiative.
Operating at the highest levels of government, Sankoreans shall be embedded for one year (with possibility of term renewal) in project-oriented teams and tasked with highly impactful missions.
Naturally, applicants should demonstrate through their application that they have the skills, training, track record, innovative mindset, creativity, passion and stamina to work with senior government officials, ambitious peers, and driven entrepreneurially minded leaders in business, at the grassroots, and across civil society to develop and launch large, sophisticated, socio-economic programs benefiting the largest cross-sections of society.
Along with a generous stipend and exposure to work at the heart of some of Africa’s most dynamic governments, Sankoreans shall also have the benefit of seeing large-impact programs designed from bottom-up come to life and if successful touch large sections of society.
Applications are open until April 2020.