The CEO, Mr. SekouAmadou Bah and Directors of Orange SL, our Implementing partner – Freetown Pitch Night, Past Winners of Orange Social Venture Prize, Representatives of Various Institutions and Colleges across the Country, Members of the Fourth Estate, Distinguished Guests, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning.

We are thrilled and excited to have you here this morning to witness the Press launch of the 4th Edition of the Orange Social Venture Prize (OSVP) in Sierra Leone. As a mobile telecoms company, Orange is positioned to be the lead digital partner for startups in Africa and the Middle East. This is why Orange Middle East & Africa (OMEA) initiated OSVP 12 years ago to reward the best technological projects with positive impact and solutions to social challenges mainly in the fields of education, health, agriculture, mobile payments or sustainable development in Africa and the Middle East. The competition is organized annually in all 17 Orange affiliates in OMEA. The three winners from each of the 17 countries get an opportunity to compete in a grand international contest where 1 out of the 51 contestants emerges as the winner. The International winner bags a whooping sum of 25 thousand Euros.

Orange Sierra Leone joined the OSVP challenge in 2019 three years after joining the OMEAfamily. We have successfully held three national competitions in 2019, 2020 & 2021 respectively. The 2019 winner AminataKandeh and the 2020 winner, BayohTuray won 10 million and 20 million Leones respectively to support the growth of their businesses. Today Aminata is a proud owner of a thriving Agro-Fish farm in Bo while BayohTuray is now gainfully employed by Orange as a trainer in our Orange Digital Centre where he is providing his expertise in coding and mentorship to young aspiring innovators.

Last year, we accelerated the tempo of OSVP with the support of our Partner, innovation Sierra Leone to bring more meaning to the innovation axis and increase empowerment for young startups/innovators/entrepreneurs inf the country. Out of a total of 128 applicants, HajaIsata Bah of ‘Uman for Uman emerged as the Winner of 2021, with a prize of 100million leones to improve her business that is positioned to support women and girls by ensuring availability and affordability of recycled menstrual hygiene pads. Also in 2021, we introduced an additional prize to increase female participation and to promote projects offering a technological solutions to improve the living conditions of women. In this new category, SiaChaywai emerged as the winner with a 50 million leones grand prize to support the enhancement of her mobile clinic project.

This year we are poised to spend a whopping 150 m leones for the 2 categories of the OSVP competition, 100 m for the general prize and 50 m for the women’s category.  For the second consecutive year we will continue with the women’s category and this year we shall go live with a local theme with the catchphrase “Orange Tech Queen”.

Applications for both categories open today and competition rules including eligibility criteria will be expounded by our partner immediately after my statement.

As a mobile telecoms company, Orange is positioned to be the lead digital partner for startups whilst ensuring that we transform the lives of young people in Sierra Leone.

Let me at this point take this opportunity to thank our implementing partner, innovation Sierra Leone for their commitment to the innovation ecosystem in Sierra Leone and their contribution to the successful execution of OSVP. I want to encourage young entrepreneurs, women as well as men to participate with the best of ideas to ensure Sierra Leone gains a spot in the international contest this year.

Thank you for your attention.

By Bah

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