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[YAOUNDE, CAMEROON] Three information and communication technology (ICT) projects from Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire and Tunisia have won awards for their significant start-up innovations that offer solutions to people’s needs.
The winners were announced at the 2013 Orange African Social Venture Prize during the AfricaCom Awards ceremony held in Cape Town, South Africa, early this month (13 November).
Cameroon-based QuickDo scooped the first prize for providing readers with affordable access to books in digital format.
The second prize went to Ivoire Job, a project that uses an online platform integrated into mobile phone short message services to aid access to employment opportunities in Côte d'Ivoire. The project enables workers, prospective employees and employers share their experiences.

“Apart from the financial reward, the Orange label we obtained would project our image positively to investors”.

Dominique Buende, QuickDo

Chifco, a Tunisian organisation, won the third prize for developing a system for helping users reduce energy use. The system can track such data as production rates of high energy consumption devices in real time.
The Orange Group, a leading telecommunication outfit with its presence in Europe and Africa, sponsored the awards.
“For Orange, the objective of the prize is to support entrepreneurship and social innovation around ICTs,” says Denis Guibard, Orange Group vice-president for sustainable development, products and services.
In a report announcing the winners, Orange indicated that the three winners emerged from more than 450 applicants who responded to a call for innovative ICT projects from May to September 2013.
The three projects received up to 25,000 euros (around US$34,000). Orange will also use its local subsidiaries, ICT and business experts to support the winners for six months. QuickDo, winner of the first prize, will also benefit from Orange patent application.
“Our services haven’t been launched yet, so the money we received will help us to progress in our research and development,” says Marie Le Sant, QuickDo assistant administrator.

Dominique Buende, QuickDo CEO, adds: “Apart from the financial reward, the Orange label we obtained would project our image positively to investors”.

Similarly, Chifco CEO, Amine Chouaieb, tells SciDev.Net: “We are already a working company so the money is secondary compared to the communication and the status of our solution”.
According to Cameroon-based social responsibility expert Sylvain Thierry Mekinda, such awards project a positive image of companies and serve as both motivating and boosting factors to the personnel.
“Winning such awards provide the zeal to improve on quality with the personnel at the centre of innovations. Often the financial aspect is not as important as the image,” he says.
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.