The Tigo Digital Changemakers Award enables 131 African tech start-ups

AA – Millicom, the emerging market telecommunications and media company operating under the brand name Tigo, published its 2015 Impact Report showing its Tigo Digital Changemakers Award has to date enabled 131 African social entrepreneurs to address and solve social challenges in their countries using digital innovation.

The 2015 Impact Report shows that a total of 131 social entrepreneurs were supported through the Tigo Digital Changemakers Award and its Accelerator and Incubator Programs provided in partnership with non-profit foundation, Reach for Change. Millicom and Reach for Change held five social innovation competitions throughout 2015 that attracted over 1,300 applicants across Africa.

The Tigo Digital Changemakers Award seeks and selects exceptional social entrepreneurs who use digital technologies to positively impact their communities and specifically the lives of children. Successful applicants receive Accelerator support to help them refine and test their digital solutions, and prepare them to pitch their social innovation. After completion of the Accelerator program, the very best social entrepreneurs are selected to receive a grant from the local Tigo operation (usually around $20,000) and a space in Reach for Change’s Incubator program. Through this platform the winning Changemakers receive business, communications and financial training, mentorship, collaboration with Tigo experts and access to a network of global social entrepreneurs, potential investors, media partners and more.

As a result of the support provided to the promising African social entrepreneurs, more than 146,800 children have benefitted from various projects in Senegal, Ghana, Chad, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Cynthia Gordon, CEO Africa at Millicom said: “Through the Tigo Digital Changemakers Award we have been able to connect with and support outstanding local social entrepreneurs, and I am very impressed with the positive impact that their initiatives have had on thousands of lives so far. We at Millicom believe technology can be used to change people’s lives for the better. We are committed to offering our digital expertise to support Africa’s brightest entrepreneurs in bringing about this change.”

Reach for Change’s Africa Regional Director Amma Lartey explained that organizations like Millicom, which support social entrepreneurship, are instrumental in ensuring their long-term sustainable development. “Our partnership with Millicom enables us to use digital technology as a key driver of social change,” said Lartey, adding, “Our Accelerator and Incubator programs have grown financially sustainable social enterprises across the continent. This would not have been possible without Millicom’s support and belief in the power of social entrepreneurship as a driver of change.”

The Tigo Digital Changemakers Award tackles a wide variety of issues affecting communities and children. Here are two examples of leading Digital Changemakers that are now making a positive difference to thousands of young beneficiaries.

Street Library, Ghana
In Ghana, Hayford Siaw started out with $800 and a goal to improve literacy by bringing books to children in a mobile library van. Since becoming a Tigo Digital Changemakers Award winner in 2012, Hayford has been harnessing funding, trainings, mentorship and networks to transform his idea into a thriving social enterprise. He has raised over $600,000 since 2012 and has reached over 20,000 children with his Street Library across six regions of Ghana. In addition to bringing printed reading materials to children, Hayford was supported by Tigo Ghana to establish an e-library van to bring digital literacy to rural communities.

The van is equipped with laptops, e-readers tables and chairs that allow children to access literature digitally, in any setting. This innovation has taken Street Library a step further making it possible for the children to have a hands-on experience with digitized books, contributing to better reading, writing and digital literacy skills.
In 2015 alone, Hayford impacted the lives of over 6,700 children, increased his geographical footprint to 12 more regions and increased the volunteers in his program from 80 to 133 and is now set to expand Street Library into three new countries.

Hope app, Senegal
In 2015, Jean Luc Semedo and Evelyne Ines were selected as Tigo Digital Changemakers in Senegal for their idea to create a mobile application called Hope, which increases life-saving blood donations at times when patients need blood transfusions urgently. With only 0.45% of the country’s population currently donating blood, in a country where 2% must donate in order to meet the need for transfusions, the Hope app will address a serious gap in the availability of blood for medical emergencies in Senegal.

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