Innovation is more than just coming up with fresh ideas; it is also about recognizing and meeting human needs. As we celebrate Freetown Innovation Week, the second day of the week was packed with insightful discussions, exhibitions, and presentations. All the activities were focused on the theme of climate change adaptation, which proved to be a relevant and pressing issue. The day began with a panel discussion on climate change adaptation with seasoned panelists, namely Mr. Lyndon Baines-Johnson and Mr.Tommy Garnet, environmentalists and social safety specialists, and Ms. Shanice George from Easy Solar.
Climate Change Panel discussion
The panel discussion focused on how climate change can be mitigated in Sierra Leone, the available solutions and strategies, where Sierra Leone is in the fight against climate change, the major challenges Sierra Leone is currently facing in the fight against climate change, climate change and water security, and the focus of climate change in entrepreneurial development.
According to one of the panel’s key experts, climate change will soon become a global human rights concern.
From major hurdles to potential climate change solutions, three recycling companies outlined their businesses in a video presentation.
However, the first session of the second day of the Freetown Innovation Week was completed, and the second session, which was the FIW semi-finals 2, began with eight pitchers pitching on various innovative ideas and solutions in order to win the seed grant of $5000 on the finals, which was provided by one of our sponsors, Mercury International SL.
During the semi-finals, two champions were selected from among the eight pitchers for the finals of the Freetown Innovation Week night.
In the evening, the pitch night event which was the second semi-finals took place, with aspiring entrepreneurs presenting their innovative ideas to a panel of judges and investors. The ideas presented ranged from social impact initiatives to tech startups, and the judges provided feedback and advice on how to improve and scale these ideas.
Ibrahim Jalloh, the first pitcher of KidzCruise, is an experienced web developer who has been applying scientific knowledge to solve societal problems. KidCruise provides a specialized transportation service for families with young children in a kid-friendly manner, prioritizing safety, delivery, and affordable and reliable transportation options. Their commitment has been to deliver a stress-free and enjoyable transport service for children and parents. They would be tackling the issue of unsafe and unreliable transportation challenges facing parents by providing a secure and reliable means of transportation for school-going children.
The second pitcher, Hassan Deadewai Swaray from Ose 4 Rent, is a social innovator, entrepreneur, and real estate dealer. Ose 4 Rent has been a platform that has been bridging the gap between potential tenants and house owners to create easy access and convenience. As a company, they would be solving house rental issues tenants do face with agents by creating a decrease in property scams, which can help mitigate the housing problem in Freetown.
Ms. Hawanatu Sesay, the third pitcher, is a co-founder of the Wi-AgricTech business, which focuses on designing green and smart farming technologies to improve and increase the quality of food products nationwide. In Sierra Leone, men have outshone women when it comes to technology, which is why she served as a bridge to connect more women in the tech world. That is why she focused on farming technologies to increase the production of crops. With these technologies, they would train over 500 farmers by 2025 for the cultivation of vegetables worth 1 tonne annually. The IOT Smart Plant Monitoring device, through cloud-based technology via phone, could detect soil fertility, plant growth, and moisture level of the plant; it could take an automatic decision on behalf of an individual to water, light penetration, and nutrient level. The technology has been highly secure, efficient, and reliable.
Joshua A. Kanu, the fourth pitcher, is the CEO and founder of Agro Investment. Agro Investment is a company that has been using organic waste to produce sustainable energy for rural, urban, and peri-urban areas in Sierra Leone. According to statistics from the WHO Air Guideline report for 2021, 21% of deaths have been caused by indoor pollution as a result of a lack of clean and sustainable energy in rural areas. Biogas is an energy source that is generated from kitchen waste and is both renewable and environmentally friendly. This would help mitigate climate change and improve global health, of which 4 million people have died as a result of air pollution. Statistics show that 26% of Sierra Leone’s population has access to electricity that is not sustainable, and the common method of cooking is charcoal and firewood.
The fifth pitcher is Augustine Mansaray, the CEO and founder of Man’s Recycling Company. Man’s Recycling Company has been collecting plastic waste materials from slums and converting them into useful modernized interior and exterior design products like chairs, tables, and dressing mirrors. They have been solving the serial problem of plastic and tire waste on the street. The uniqueness of the company is that they provide high-quality products and services and after-sale service to customers. The business has been socially, environmentally, and economically viable.
The sixth pitcher is Aminata B.K. Suma from Eco-Agric Business Corporate. Aminata B.K. Suma is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in international business, which has given her the platform to understand and implement agricultural and entrepreneurial skills. Eco-Agric Business Corporation is a company that produces distinct cassava foo-foo flour that satisfies customer needs efficiently. They have been solving the problem of irresponsible cultivation by providing a hygienic processing system, better storage, and curbing the constraints involved during cooking. The viability of the product has created a social, environmental, and economic boost. Economically, there has been an increase in workers’ disposable income; socially, it has created more jobs, promoted food self-sufficiency, and facilitated exportation chains. Finally, environmentally, post-harvest waste has minimized environmental pollution.
The seventh pitcher is Vandi Kosia from Sierra Electric. Sierra Electric has been offering the most affordable and eco-friendly transportation that prioritizes accessibility for people with disabilities in Sierra Leone. This would help reduce carbon emissions and increase mobility for all, contributing to a healthier and more equitable world. By introducing the electric quadricycle, it would provide a more environmentally friendly option that would reduce the country’s carbon footprint. They have been working on electric shuttle buses that would have wider entrances and spacious seating positions for people with disabilities. “We will collaborate with local transportation associations to integrate solutions into the existing transportation system and will be partnering with hotels and tourist attractions to provide shuttle service, ” said Vandi Kosia. This would help address transportation challenges and improve the air quality in Sierra Leone.
The eighth pitcher was Umar Bolokada Mansaray from Smarth-H20, a co-founder, software developer, and entrepreneur who is passionate about using technologies to solve problems. Smath-H20 is a company that focuses on designing IOT-based technology that is being used to purify contaminated water, with a detective and a reporting system that sends alerts to personnel. All electronic components are waterproof. This would help to reduce the 86% lack of water access, 40% of affected children, and 840,000 deaths caused by waterborne diseases in mining communities worldwide. They have impacted mining communities, rural communities, and cities.
The final pitcher, Sorie Ibrahim Koroma from TourSL, TourSL is a company that has been serving as a nexus between tourist-attracted places and tourists, as its AI-integrated, multi-language accessible, and reliable services have made it unique among others. The company has been offering a tourist trap where they can see our cultural value and historical monuments, which have been giving them amusement and leisure. Typically, the company has made it quite easy for tourists to locate tourist attractions in Sierra Leone. It has also helped to mitigate the issue of scams faced by tourists and has created a charming aesthetic picture of Sierra Leone. TourSL has been helping the tourist industry by luring tourists into Sierra Leone to see our cultural foods, country clothes, arts, and recreating centers to the world, attracting potential investors to create economic growth and towns.
At the end of the event, the judges unanimously declared Augustine Mansaray of Man’s Investment and Ishaka Kargbo from Ideal Technologies as the other two pitchers that will be joining in for the finals.
The second day of the Freetown Innovation Week was a huge success, with a range of powerful discussions, exhibits, and presentations highlighting the importance of climate change adaptation. The day showcased the initiatives and innovative approaches being taken by the business community to address critical issues that affect everyone. The event has enabled the community to learn from experts, interact with businesses driving change, and contribute to the ongoing dialogue on sustainability.