EMpact Launches its Venture Studio in Côte d’Ivoire

EMpact launches its venture studio in Côte d'Ivoire, heralding a new approach to impact investing in West Africa

Today witnessed the launch of EMpact – a venture studio focused on creating startups that serve agricultural value chains – in Côte d’Ivoire, its first market in Africa, after its successful launch in Latin America in 2023. The initiative in Côte d’Ivoire is a collaboration between EMpact and two leading institutions: International University of Grand Bassam (IGUB) and Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny (INP-HB). The studio will develop collaborative entrepreneurship that addresses the needs of corporate players in the agricultural value chains, leading to sustainable impact at the intersection of human activity and our planet.

Professor Saliou TOURE, President of IUGB, said: “We believe that every IUGB student should develop an entrepreneurial mindset, fulfilling the broader holistic vision of IUGB that our youth are paving the way whereby products and services used in Africa are developed by Africans. The future of the agricultural value chain must include innovative solutions that drive systematic sustainable efforts. This innovative approach must integrate a strong entrepreneurial enterprise. IUGB is pleased to join EMpact in its multi-faceted approach to entrepreneurship development whereby corporate and industry leaders work alongside our students and future leaders to drive change, thus moving the agriculture sector forward”. 

The venture studio addresses the most critical issue facing entrepreneurship in frontier markets, which is the upskilling of talent. Individuals from within IUGB and INP-HB, or alumni, or even students from other universities, will be mentored as entrepreneurs using hybrid training from the academic institutions and EMpact’s own best-in-class global curriculum. This phase is followed by business incubation whereby young and women founders are supported to design digitally enabled solutions that address the needs and pain-points of corporate partners. Finally, the incubated businesses will graduate into a startup accelerator that helps each team turn their solutions into investment-ready businesses through continuous mentorship, access to essential shared services, and opening doors to additional corporate partners.

Dr. Moussa Diaby Abdoul Kader, Director General of INP-HB, said: “We believe in the fundamental role that entrepreneurship plays in the development of a country. One of the main challenges facing our countries is job creation and the placement of our young graduates. This partnership is a relevant response to the growth in student unemployment as it strengthens links between our research system and the valorization of outcomes through innovative companies. Agriculture, which remains one of the key pillars of development in African countries, is the primary beneficiary. Entrepreneurship is gaining unprecedented momentum in our region, which makes this partnership even more relevant and timely for us”.

Sami Lahoud and Prateek Shrivastava, co-founders of EMpact, said: “Traditional farming techniques are keeping farmers poor, producing lots of waste, harming the environment, and are generally unsustainable, thus creating real concerns about global food security. By harnessing the potential of the youth and women in frontier markets such as West Africa, and by connecting them to talent from other parts of the world, we turn the challenges facing these countries and the global agricultural value chains into opportunity for people and for our planet. We are grateful for our launch partners IUGB and INP-HB for joining us on this exciting journey that will place Côte d’Ivoire at the forefront of solving for these critical issues.”

Importing technology from developed to frontier markets invariably neither addresses the needs of these markets, nor the companies in the agricultural value chains, owing to the development stage of these countries. However, innovations developed locally, in collaboration with corporate and technology partners, delivered by local capacity building institutions, are better fit for a market like Côte d’Ivoire, which is a major global provider of critical crops. Such innovations are much easier to replicate in markets that have similar characteristics to Côte d’Ivoire, be it in Africa, Latin America, Asia or other parts of the world. 

The EMpact venture studio inside IUGB and INP-HB in Côte d’Ivoire, which is modelled after the EMpact studio that is already live in Guatemala, will be replicated with other institutions in the country and in the region. In 2025, the plan is to include additional frontier markets such as the ones in Central Asia, and to start interconnecting these markets through the cross pollination of ideas, capitalizing on their organic similarities and complementarities.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of EMpact is a leading pan-African technology news portal and advisory service, dedicated to delivering the latest insight on mobile, tech and innovation in Africa.
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