WeCyclers, which helps people in low-income communities capture value from their waste, was announced as the winner of a $55,000 investment prize today at a pitch competition hosted by the Case Foundation at Co-Creation Hub, along with supporting partners EchoVC, Lagos Startup Week and Africa 2.0. Iconic American entrepreneurs, investors and philanthropists Jean and Steve Case, EchoVC, the firm founded by pioneering Nigerian venture capitalist Eghosa Omoigui, and iDEA (Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator) contributed to the investment prize. WeCyclers will also receive three months of training, coaching and mentoring, office space and other services from iDEA as part of the prize package.
The event, “Pitch for Lagos,” brought together nine companies representing Nigeria’s burgeoning entrepreneurial sector across a number of industries including transportation, financial technology, education, e-commerce and fashion. Jean and Steve Case, Eghosa Omoigui, Dotun Sulaiman of iDEA and Tariye Gbadegesin of Propel Solutions judged the pitch competition, with Sheila Herrling of the Case Foundation and Ross Baird of Village Capital serving as emcees.
“With a rich talent pool and a growing recognition of the important role that startups play in driving innovation and economic growth, it’s no wonder that Nigeria is rising as a leading entrepreneurial ecosystem in West Africa and beyond,” said Steve Case. “WeCylclers is a testament to the increasing democratization of entrepreneurship, and yet another proof point that Africa is truly open for business.”
“We’re proud to have been investing in Africa for more than a decade, through both grants and investments in innovative enterprises,” said Jean Case. “After spending an inspiring and exciting week with startups in Nairobi, Accra and Lagos, we are more convinced than ever that entrepreneurs and for-profit business models have a huge role to play in not only in solving some of Africa’s biggest challenges, but bringing those solutions to the world.”
Prior to the “Pitch for Lagos” event, audience members were treated to a panel discussion featuring the Cases and Omoigui, moderated by Mo Abudu, chairman and chief executive of EbonyLife TV. Jean and Steve Case, who have come to Nigeria following their attendance at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi as part of the US delegation representing the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, shared their thoughts on opportunities and challenges for accelerating the growth of the startup ecosystem in Lagos.
In addition to the winner, companies who pitched include:
- Aella Credit: Providing loans to individuals and small businesses at a fair and attractive interest rate, minimizing defaults using a proprietary algorithm.
- BudgIT: a social enterprise focused on raising citizen awareness and lowering the costs of access to public data.
- Callbase: Helping businesses foster a good relationship with their customers through quality tools that help organizations effectively communicate and related with customers through voice and messaging.
- Eve & Tribe: A fashion brand designed for today’s contemporary African woman, leveraging a technology-enabled direct sales distribution model to empower the next generation of female entrepreneurs.
- Jekalo.com: A ride-sharing platform for trusted and verified passengers going in the same direction, providing a convenient, affordable, reliable and fun way to commute.
- Lizzie’s Creations: Develops digital content aimed at the education, entertainment and enlightenment of women and children while also drawing attention to certain societal gaps.
- Mamalette: Giving African women an online space to connect with each other and provide them with the information required to make informed decisions about a variety of issues.
- Queens of Africa: Addressing the lack of confidence and sense of belonging amongst children of African descent through dolls, comics, music, animation series and more.