Orange Continues to Support Innovation in Africa and Launches its Third Incubator Partnership on the Continent

May 26, 2014 (Mon): After the CTIC incubator in Senegal and the Ebène project in Mauritius, Orange announces the opening of the first start-up incubator in Niger. Orange Niger and its local partners have helped to set-up CIPMEN, a small- and medium-sized business (SME) incubator designed to encourage the creation of new and innovative companies in the country.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 85% of SMEs fail within the first two years, but 80% of companies that undergo an incubation process are still operating after five years.

Supporting the creation of innovative businesses in Niger

CIPMEN was designed to support small- and medium-sized enterprises from their launch phase until they reach a level of maturity and turn enough profit to fend for themselves in the long term. The purpose of CIPMEN is to help innovative SMEs grow on a market where many companies fail to see the light of day, and to bridge the gap between the informal sector and the larger national and international companies. Niger offers few suitable support mechanisms for upcoming businesses, despite the central role that companies play in creating jobs for young people, helping to form a middle class, and in creating and redistributing wealth.

The incubator will help companies in future-oriented sectors such as Information and Communication Technologies, renewable energy and the environment. The project, initiated by Orange, is a pilot program which should enable the launch of other regional initiatives in Niger.

CIPMEN was inaugurated in late April 2014 at the first Startup Weekend held in Niamey, and during which 80 participants spent 54 hours working on innovative projects.

Innovation promoting social and economic development

Through its network investments and its presence in emerging countries, Orange plays an important role in social and economic development in Africa. What’s more, ICT services encourage the emergence of new economic models, new segments of activity, and the development of markets and local businesses.

Orange is keen to support new ideas that result in progress for all, in particular those that create economic value at a local level. This is why Orange supports partnership initiatives that help to speed up these positive changes. Orange has already contributed to the creation and support of the CTIC incubator in Dakar and the Ebène project in Mauritius, in addition to the organisation of Hackathons in Tunisia, Uganda and Mauritius. The Group has also set-up a specific prize designed to support African start-ups, the Orange African Social Venture Prize, the fourth edition of which was launched recently.

These projects embody both Orange’s innovation strategy and the responsible approach it takes when addressing people’s needs in the fields of education, healthcare and farming, as well as financial and administrative services.

Author: Terry KS

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