Akewa Accelerator: Accompanying innovative projects
Launched in 2013 by a young Gabonese named Fabrice NTCHANGO, Akewa is a growth accelerator specializing in supporting innovative projects in the field of the social and solidarity economy, sustainable development, digital and cultural industries. Its mission is to help project, business and start-up companies to finance, Akewa offer them services such as incubation, open spaces, coaching and other support.
Introduce yourself and your journey (briefly)
I am Fabrice NTCHANGO, CEO & Founder of the AKEWA Growth Accelerator. I am of Gabonese nationality, and graduated in management economics from the Alioune Diop University of Bambey and the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce in Dakar in the specialties of Microfinance and project management engineering.
My love for social entrepreneurship is revealed to me, in 2007 while I was studying in Dakar, Senegal where two years later I launched my first start-up LIVINTUS GLOBAL SERVICE. At the same time, driven by my desire to impact my generation and see a new Africa emerge, that I integrate and I participate since Dakar in the creation of several associations and youth movement such as the MAP, M2S international, GABON ECOLOGY just to name a few.
It is in 2013 that I wish to return to my country Gabon, and a few months later I am taken to the presidency of the GROEGA (Group of Reflection of the Ecological Organizations of Gabon) by a collective of associations and ONG Gabonese called IAC ( Inter-Association for Community Action), what has come to me the idea of creating a growth accelerator for the accompaniment and follow-up of young project leaders, especially for project management, partner research, research financing, networking and operationalization of development actions.
AKEWA ACCELERATEUR takes shape in 2013 and specializes in supporting innovative projects in the field of social and solidarity economy, sustainable development, digital and cultural industries.
Can you go back to the reasons for creating the incubator?
AKEWA ACCELERATEUR, is born from a concern to reinforce the operational capacities and democratization within the organizations of the Gabonese civil society, in particular in the management of the change, the management of the quality, the management and the project management in order to correspond the criteria for selection required by funding agencies on the one hand, but also to promote social and solidarity entrepreneurship on the other hand.
I also wanted to diversify my target by directing my choice to start-ups, junior companies and SMEs, in order to provide them with a set of mechanisms for accelerating growth. To achieve this, AKEWA ACCELERATEUR has set up a panel of tailor-made services such as:
- Open space for meetings, workshops, work sessions and interviews;
- Incubation for the follow-up and accompaniment of project promoters;
- Open innovation to share ideas and feedback, and to co-create;
- Advice for NGOs, companies, start-ups, junior companies and SMEs;
- Coaching for training, talent development and capacity building.
What structures have supported your incubator since its inception?
Since our creation, we have been accompanied by partners from civil society, research centers, universities and colleges, public institutions and private sector companies. Today we are trying to build new partnerships to position AKEWA ACCELERATOR internationally.
Is access to financing a problem to incubate and support startups?
The issue of access to finance is a real problem for many countries, it is to overcome this difficulty, that GABON to create a private equity company for the development and support of SMEs / SMIs. Called OKOUME Capital, this financing instrument is added to the aid system put forward by certain organizations such as the African Development Bank (ADB), AFD (French Development Agency) and UNDP (United Nations Development Program).
GABON by this initiative comes to relieve or otherwise reassure Gabonese SMEs that for the most part finance 80% of their own funds and do not always succeed in reaching the performance targets set and often end up putting the key under the mat .
In addition to supporting the fundraising campaign, as a growth accelerator, we help project, business and start-up companies to finance their development actions by up to 30%. At this stage, we have been able to finance up to 43 million CFA francs for the development actions of the project and company promoters we support.
We aim to forge strong partnerships with structures like yours, with structures like Jamaafunding or be part of a network of structures for supporting innovative projects like Afric’innov. By this, we think we can give our incubates the opportunity to benefit from financial loans through business angels or via sustainable crowdfunding.
What is your business model?
AKEWA ACCELERATEUR is constituted on the basis of a major observation made at the level of young project holders member of the community life or not but who had difficulties to mount a project in the rules of art to obtain financing or for real accelerate their activity and thus increase their turnover. Since project editing is not the only problem identified, we have diversified our target by offering services other than project management and project management.
We provide our incubates an open space, spaces for co-working to receive employees and hold work sessions. Also, to maximize our chances of success and optimize our visibility we practice a general policy of differentiation since we offer a price / quality ratio penetrable on the market. This is justified by our essentially qualified and experienced team which offers services at literally attractive prices.
Our strength is also based on the proximity we develop with our customers, as we carry 57% of our communication on social networks like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Whatsapp. These are channels of communication that we have specifically chosen to keep our customers’ attention on our activities, but also to be able to answer their questions continuously day and night.
What have been your main satisfactions so far? (accompaniments, success stories)
Since our inception, we have been able to make acceleration an obvious success step for start-ups. Thanks to a dynamic, versatile and experienced team we have been able to meet the needs of our customers by offering them customized accompaniments. To date, we can look forward to having a number of achievements such as:
- The incubation of 13 structures of different sectors, which rise over time to the rank of leader on the Gabonese market;
- The official launch of the first Gabonese comics publishing house “AFRIC’ART BD”;
- The training of nearly 1500 young entrepreneurs in the use of business software, in strategic business planning, the mastery of communication tools RS (Social Networks), green and decent trades;
- An attendance of 80 people per month in our Open Space;
- Strengthening the gender approach by sensitizing 50 women to the creation of innovative and sustainable projects;
- Accompanying the more than 400 children aged between 7 and 14 years old with DIY techniques (DO IT YOURSELF) through eco-creative workshops to introduce them to DIY through the intelligence of their hands.
- All of these actions contribute to the construction of our success stories, the solidification of our structure and the gratification of our work.
However, it is admirable to see structures incubated at home, achieve sales of 60 million CFA francs in one year, and to be recognized as leaders see pioneers of their activity. This is the example of Corporate CHALLENGE which aims to bring together and, to make companies compete around sports activities in order to raise funds that will finance associative projects of social and solidarity. The Corporate CHALLENGE is currently a reference to GABON and even in Central Africa as a company promoting the social and solidarity economy with a clear focus on sport, CSR and participatory governance.
What are the next steps ?
We want to ensure the sustainability of our actions but also to innovate in our services in order to reach the mass and to support more entrepreneurs to their growth. We also plan to be the defenders of the social and solidarity entrepreneurship at GABON, in order to make a decision with the competent authorities on the legal aspect of this sector.
Finally, we intend to optimize digitization strategies in order to ensure our visibility at the international level, thus maximizing opportunities for partnerships and expansion towards Europe. This initiative will allow us to identify and network entrepreneurs who are developing abroad with those who are developing locally to create synergy in order to boost African entrepreneurship if not Gabonese.
What do you need and how can AfrikaTech help you?
We intend to reach the Gabonese diaspora and Africans living abroad who wish to invest in Gabon. The sharing of knowledge and skills with those of the country will enrich local entrepreneurship and thus boost it.
By integrating AfrikaTech, we will optimize our visibility strategies internationally by sharing our development actions with you, and by working alongside you on the sustainable and innovative development of African entrepreneurship.
What are the contacts of the incubator? Website, email, Mobile / WhatsApp, links to social networks?
Tel / Whatsapp: 00241 01 74 51 03/07 43 42 49/05 51 05 51
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/akewacroissance/