Freetown Pitch Night has become Sierra Leone’s most successful gathering of entrepreneurs. Its organiser, Francis Stevens George, MD GEN SL & CEO Innovations SL & Innovations Axis talks about his vision of a vibrant and effective entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Freetown Pitch Night is part of efforts to enable the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sierra Leone that will support a new breed of value creating entrepreneurs, and over the course of 2018 we saw some significant gains in our efforts to map, connect and enable the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The event established itself as the country’s most successful gathering of entrepreneurs. More than 60 entrepreneurs pitched an idea or a post revenue business. Around 1000 people attended Pitch Nights through the year. The Pitch event for the Mayor stood out as the largest single attended event with an audience of almost 170. We also provided services to the IOM and Government of Japan, Cordaid, The Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation-DSTI.
2018’s themes included Agtech, Fintech, Digital Disruptors, Waste to Wealth, Social Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Designs, Lifestyle and Wellness (SG3), EdTech, Agribusiness and BDS. In 2019, we will bring in four new themes - Water, Sustainable Energy, Creative Arts and Photography and AI.
It is critical not to confuse support for entrepreneurship and innovation with the generic strengthening of the “business climate”. The business climate includes both incumbents and new entrants. Our focus is on new entrants.
These new entrants are of a particular type; Schumpeterian Entrepreneurship.These are Sierra Leoneans that are disrupting existing business models; they are operating in very uncertain times; they see the value of technology; they are not rent seeking but yearn to create value that is consistent with their values. They operate, nonetheless in an environment that is characterised by the high cost of communication and internet; with meagre human resources in the tech space; and with a non-existent entrepreneurial ecosystem. Yet the capacity of these entrepreneurs to innovate is just as strong as similar entrepreneurs in other parts of the world.
To read the rest of Francis Steven George's analysis of Sierra Leone's entrepreneurial ecosystem, click below and turn to page 18