ORANGE CORNERS PRESENTS THE #COUNTERINGCOVID SERIES

COVID-19 has impacted the world as we know it. Whereas for the coronavirus pandemic (social) distance is needed, it is also uniting us more than ever. Times of chaos can bring out the best in humanity. It’s inspiring to see how people are working together for global solidarity and coming up with creative responses to COVID-19.

The Orange Corners’ #CounteringCovid series highlights entrepreneurs that are creatively responding to COVID-19. It is centered around the leaders and changemakers that have adapted their business models to keep them healthy, relevant and in service of their communities. The following categories will be featured:

  • COVID-19 hygiene & health
  • Reaching the SDG’s #education #circularity #foodsecurity #water
  • SME Business continuation
  • Tackling misinformation

Let these times be an invitation to courage, innovation, creativity and resilience. Let us stay positive, healthy and spread the entrepreneurial vibes. Join the movement!

STORY 7: SAMUEL LEVIE– Food Entrepreneur starts movement to #SupportYourLocals

Who: Samuel Levie, Food Entrepreneur & Founder of #SupportYourLocalsNL
Theme: Reaching the SDG’s #foodsolutions#SDG 12, 13
Creative response: Samuel has several food-related businesses selling specialist local produce to restaurants and retail. During the COVID-19 crisis, the team has adapted their business model to direct delivery to consumers via #SupportYourLocal boxes. 

This week we are reporting from the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. A small city characterised by canals, walkable distances and picturesque houses, yet with a think-big-mentality of entrepreneurship lurking behind the facades. This mentality is reflected in an innovative food scene, filled with out-of-the-box concepts and artisan restaurants. However, the current lockdown has turned the scene silent, leaving local produce uneaten in the fields and shops. But not for long: Samuel Levie started a new movement to sell directly to consumers while also supporting those most in need.

Samuel Levie is an entrepreneur with several food-related businesses in the Netherlands. Among these are a specialist sausage-making butchery, started with his friends Jiri and Geert, and Food Cabinet, a project and campaign agency specialised in food and sustainability. All different, yet inspired by one mission: that something has to change in the way we handle food. It is time to transition to a system of quality, local produce and sustainability.

As a consequence of the current pandemic, the likelihood of going out of business, and thereby affecting many farmers and producers the team works with, became a serious threat. “Amidst the chaos”, Samuel states, “I saw the possibility to bring restaurant artisan food culture and local produce to the homes of people”.

Some hours and phone calls later, a plan was made under the name “Support Your Locals”. The team would sell boxes of local products directly to consumers, while also donating hundreds of boxes to the local food banks. “Together with Instock, a social enterprise that battles food waste, we set up a distribution hub and website, and within 48 hours the orders were flooding in. Now, our Support Your Locals initiative is flourishing nationwide, helping nearly 300 specialist producers to stay in business as they continue to farm their livestock and produce their food.”

Good news travels fast and soon the biggest hospital in Amsterdam called and requested if 7,000 boxes of food could be made for their frontline staff. “We had to step things up. We had 275 volunteers working in shifts and under social-distancing measures in a huge warehouse, dancing along to a DJ as they packed.”

Samuel, we salute you and your teams. Let’s get the ‘Support Your Locals’ movement across borders!

For the full toolkit explaining how to set up your own ‘Support your Locals’ project click here

Photocredit to Rein Janssen/Volkskrant

STORY 6: BEN DIOP – E-Health Entrepreneur from Dakar

Who: Ben Diop and Nafissatou Diouf
Theme: Health Solutions SDG 3, 10, 17
Creative Response: Senvitale is an e-health startup creating ‘health passports’  through QR codes that enable health professionals to access medical data.  In response to Covid-19, the team used their resources to create an information and awareness platform about Covid-19, offering self-assessment tests in collaboration with the Senegalese Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization. The platform reached 100.000 users within 2 months. 

Senegal’s fast-growing and progressive capital, Dakar, is booming. Whereas it is still characterized by laidback charm and jazzy vibes, it is also pulling in foreign investors, experiencing increased infrastructure and is a breeding ground for innovative ideas and a new generation of savvy entrepreneurs.

One of these talented Senegalese entrepreneurs is Ben Diop. Together with his female counterpart Nafissatou Diouf, they decided to combine the traditional health industry with some young entrepreneurial spirit and founded SenVitale. The company operates in the field of e-health, developing solutions at the cutting edge of technology to respond to current challenges. The amount of prestigious awards, partnerships and funding they have attracted is, to say the least, rather impressive.

The company offers a universal digital health passport which can be scanned via a QR code and is connected to a technological platform. In case of emergency, the patient data (blood group, allergies, medical background, emergency contacts) can be made available to health professionals to save time and up to 40% in expenses. The health passport comes in the form of cards, stickers, jewelries and pendants. “One QR code scanned is a life saved”.

On top of this, the health passport allows people to have personalized follow-up such as reminders for taking medications, vaccines and medical appointments. Especially for those who need to be cautious of their health this offers a great relieve.

When faced with the current pandemic, the founders created the PrevCovid19 platform in partnership with tech-startup Defarsoft. The platform provides information and awareness about the pandemic. In addition, it offers a self-assessment test, considering personal symptoms and medical history, and guides people through steps to follow in dealing with Covid-19, to avoid overloading the national health services. It works based on an algorithm and data from the Senegalese Ministry of Health and collaborates with the World Health Organization. Within two months, the platform reached 100.000 users (wow). The data collected on the platform also makes it possible to predict the future potential foci of the epidemic.

“We looked at our resources and decided we had to play our part in this pandemic. The platform connects citizens with health institutes, startups with governments. That is exactly how we should approach this crisis: together.”

We salute you team SenVitale, what an energy you have in getting things done!

STORY 5: THE DJÉ SISTERS – Confectionary Entrepreneurs Fighting Food Waste

Who: Carine & Esther Djé, Founders of FREEANDIZ
Theme: Fighting food waste SDG #2 #9 #11 and #12
Creative response: FREEANDIZ is a company producing traditional delicacies made from waste fruit. Due to the pandemic, many distribution points have been closed and sales have dropped significantly. In response, the team has rapidly set up a collaboration with delivery platform AHIWAA. To strengthen the outputs a media campaign was launched to create awareness and reach customers. 

Abidjan, also referred to as the economic and cultural crossroads of West Africa, is characterized by a cityscape of gleaming skyscrapers. Beyond this surface, local life pulses in the shape of markets, artisans and … BANANAS. Ivory Coast is rich in fruit resources, yet due to a lack of processing possibilities, a large part is being discarded. The UN ambitiously announced the goal of halving worldwide food waste by 2030. The dialogue is most centered around the theme of “post-harvest losses”: the products that leave farmer’s fields but never make their way into consumers mouths. To tap into this lost potential, FREEANDIZ was founded: a confectionery company that processes local fruits that would otherwise go to waste and turns them into traditional delicacies.

The company is founded by two Ivorian sisters, Carine and Esther Djé. In 2016, these changemakers noticed that there were large amounts of local fruit and vegetables being thrown away. Inspired by their uncle, the sisters decided to set up a processing unit for the local fruits and FREEANDIZ was born.

To bring their company to the next level, the sisters needed a considerable amount of seed funding as the required start capital was high. Fortunately, in 2018, their business idea won the SIFCA Agriculture and Agro-industry prize* and they joined the Entrafrica foundation. This accomplishment provided them with the funding needed to purchase the equipment to scale up the business. “As the confectionery market in the Ivory Coast is dominated by imports and industrial products, we believe our local brand has a promising future”. Last year, the business sold over 7.000 units and has shown substantial growth since.

Aside from actively fighting food waste, the products in de FREEANDIZ range also contribute to the healthy food trend as they are free of additives, colorants and preservatives. The product range includes fruit pastes, dried fruit, fruit spreads, fruit juices, caramels, candies: pineapple, mango, honey, cashew, chocolate.

Because of the pandemic, it has become difficult to sell their products via traditional retail channels. Therefore the team partnered with delivery platform AHIWAA and made their fruits go digital! “Our unique project is based on the sharing of the same philosophy and the same desires: innovation, quality and originality. We offer you products of great gustative, natural and artisanal quality using only real fruit”

#agriculture #SDG’s #foodwaste #circularity

STORY 4: FADWA MOUSSAIF– Sustainable Fashion Entrepreneur from Morocco

Who: Fadwa Moussaif, Co-Founder of IDYR
Theme: #sustainablefashion #circularity #SDG 5, 8, 11
Creative response: IDYR is a sustainable fashion company that uses recycled fabrics and supports local artisan women through selling fashion accessories. In response to COVID-19, IDYR has launched a new collection of which 100% of the profits go to over a hundred artisan families in need.

“As I grew up, I knew I wanted to help people in a sustainable way. So, I decided the best way to achieve this was to give people jobs.”

Casablanca, one of Morocco’s ancient cities, is known for its beautiful and intricate richness in colors and patterns. Craftmanship on the street corners reflects a rich artisan heritage, yet the rise of mass-production is making it difficult for female artisans to turn their skills into profitable businesses. Fadwa Moussaif and Amal Kenzari decided to put their energy together to make a difference. After visiting several peri-rural villages and interacting with the communities, they concluded that 20% of women in the villages were experienced weavers but weren’t actively weaving. Connect local craftmanship to modern fashion and a touch of entrepreneurial spirit, and IDYR was born!

IDYR is a Moroccan brand that brings the traditional Boucherouite weaving technique and it’s values back to life through the creation of ethical, sustainable and modern fashion accessories that are 100% handmade. IDYR’s goal is to design and manufacture products for daily use, that respect the environment and social conditions of the female artisans. They do this by collecting scraps from large clothing and textile factories, then using those unwanted, clean materials to create beautiful products crafted by local artisans like handbags, rugs, clothing and pillows. In the process IDYR has recycled an average of 4.2 tons of textile falls to day.

“At IDYR, we offer the artisans a flexible work schedule, a nearby work location and we provide training to develop their skills in order to create a higher quality of Boucherouite. In the current market, we offer the highest quality of materials, and the most thin Boucherouite available. The artisans’ self-esteem has increased tremendously and they take much pride in their work. They can become independent and feel free, useful and interesting.”

Due to COVID-19, many business operations have been cancelled, including training workshops for artisans, and the demand for fashion accessories is significantly lower, which has impacted the local communities in many ways. That’s why impact entrepreneurs Fadwa and Amal decided to sell their new collection, partially through crowdfunding campaign Wuluj, with the objective of raising 30.0000 dirham. We are very proud to announce the goal has been surpassed and over 100 local families will be supported!

We are in awe of the many ways that IDYR contributes to Moroccan society, culture and economy in a sustainable way, keep up the great work! We support this #fashionrevolution!

STORY 3: ERNEST NARTEY-TETTEH– Social Impact Entrepreneur from Ghana

Who: Ernest Nartey-Tetteh, COO & Co-Founder of  Eazywaste and Orange Corners Alumni
Theme: Reaching the SDG’s #circularity #plasticpollution
Creative response: Eazywaste Ghana is on a mission to tackle plastic mismanagement by collecting and recycling plastic waste through an inventive business model. In response to Covid-19 the team adapted their business to collect the plastic directly from households, as people were not able to visit the usual Eazywaste collection points anymore.

“PLASTIC POLLUTION DOESN’T WAIT”

The clock strikes 6am. Accra, the capital of Ghana is waking up to the sound of cockerels and Ernest is on his way to meet the Eazywaste team. His eyes on the road, his mind already set on the goal for today: making sure the team visits as many households as possible to pick up plastic waste. “It may well be Corona times, plastic pollution doesn’t wait”.

Africa, which has the world’s highest population growth rate, has a poor record of managing waste, with only 10 per cent of its waste reaching the dumps* and the rest left in communities or burned in acrid bonfires. Of the collected waste only 2% is recycled. This plastic mismanagement is largely due to the lack of education, proper waste management policies and recycling facilities.

Whereas we have only just (virtually) met young entrepreneurs Ernest and Bernard, it is immediately clear that these changemakers dream big. To tackle Africa’s ‘recycling gap’, the founders of Eazywaste have built a profitable company on recycling plastic waste by collecting it from communities, institutions and households, processing the plastics and selling them to manufacturing companies. But the founders don’t stop there. They are embarking on a successful journey to change waste culture in Ghana through education and advocacy projects about the consequences for health and the environment. It is their mission

“to sensitize every individual in Africa about the dangers in plastic mismanagement whiles making them realize the value in recycling and reusing these plastics through income generation and employment”

Due to the pandemic and following the lock-down, people do not visit the Eazywaste collection points in community centres anymore and a barrier to collecting plastic prevailed. Therefore the Eazywaste teams have stepped up their game and found a creative solution to this situation “If the plastics don’t find us, we will find them”. Via a digital chatbox households indicate when and where plastics can be collected, after which a truck embarks on the plastic route of the day. “We follow the directives from government, protecting ourselves and our customers”.

Why EAZYWASTE is different from other waste collectors? “In Accra, governments don’t collect plastic waste, this is in the hands of private companies. We are different because we are located in the midst of the communities and we pay the households a fair price for the plastic we collect. Being a former public health specialist, Ernest acts for the cause, not just the profits”. Currently, Eazywaste is embarking on the “Your Waste Your Wealth” journey which is targeting 500 high schools within the greater Accra region of Ghana to educate them on proper waste management practices by cultivating the Recycling and Reuse attitude.

What a great cause to wake up for everyday, keep it up Eazywaste team!

STORY 2: WILMA CAVALEIRO – From beauty APP to free sustainable hygiene products

Who: Wilma Cavaleiro, Founder of Beauty/Health App KUJINGA from Orange Corners Angola
Theme: Healthy & Hygiene, SDG’s 3, 6, 11 & 12
Creative response: The beauty/health APP KUJINGA is an intermediate platform connecting beauty services in Angola to customers. In response to COVID-19 Wilma has cleverly used her resources to another end: collecting waste (cosmetic & cooking) oil from the KUJINGA network that is turned into sustainable soaps which are freely distributed to communities in need. In addition, the team provides free consultancy to small businesses.

The capital of Angola, Luanda, has often been referred to with endearing nicknames as “the city that never sleeps”. Whereas the hidden backyard restaurants, beauty salons and barber shops are usually filled with Portuguese chatter and vibrant energy, they remain silent these days. It is these beauty shops that shaped the beginning of Wilma’s entrepreneurial journey in 2017.

Wilma found that in the market for beauty and health treatments, getting and interacting with potential customers is one of the major challenges for health/beauty salon owners and freelance stylists. On the other hand, customers do not have an effective channel that allows them to find and compare available beauty services. After mapping out the beauty treatment market, Wilma found a large market with growth potential and founded KUJINGA: an app that serves as an intermediation platform for beauty services and customers. As a result, prices are made competitive and quality among providers rises.

In response to CO-VID19, The KUJINGA team now collaborates with the Otchiva Project and AmbiRicelo Indústria, a company that is dedicated to recycling and producing ecological products. Wilma has used her network, both providers and clients, to collect (cosmetic- and cooking) oils which are being used to produce soaps. These sustainably produced soaps are distributed throughout the community for free to facilitate hygiene and health measures that are being promoted and enforced in the light of the corona virus. This creative business solution contributes to several of the SDG’s, enhancing health and circularity.

In addition to this, Wilma has rapidly made an appeal to her wide network and has set up free consultancy sessions for small business owners and freelancers in the health and beauty industry. As the pandemic poses huge challenges to them, advice on how to navigate their way through this crisis is essential.

Wilma’s entrepreneurial mindset clearly shows in her response to COVID-19. As Wilma puts it: “Identify the problem you want to solve, and start with the resources you have. Those resources can be used to different end goals than your usual business, which can serve the community in challenging times”. Wilma adds: “Never wait for the right time because the journey is long and quite challenging, the sooner you start, the stronger you become”.

Wilma has been featured and acknowledged by several entrepreneurial forums, programmes and media. Examples include Junior Achievement, Women Entrepreneurs, FAJE – Angolan Young Entrepreneurs Forum, Femtech, leadingladiesAfrica.org and Wilma is currently a participant in the Orange Corners programme in Angola.

Keep up the great work KUJINGA team!

#health #hygiene #SDG’s #foodsecurity

Riches Attai

STORY 1: RICHES ATTAI – The Tech-Agropreneur from Lagos

Who: Riches Attai, CEO & Co-Founder of Winich Farms and Orange Corners Alumni
Theme: Reaching the SDG’s #foodsecurity #SDG2
Creative response: Winich Farms is a leading agro-tech platform educating and connecting over 7000 local farmers to supermarkets in Nigeria. During the COVID-19 crisis, they have adapted their business model to direct delivery to consumers for a lower price.

As the empty streets of Lagos slowly turn gold with the morning sun, five trucks from Winich Farms are on their way to deliver the agricultural products to the homes of their customers. They have received government permission to do so as ensuring that farmers can continue their work and people can receive food is of crucial importance.

Whereas the current political priority is understandably given to slow the spread of COVID-19, another more silent challenge lies in its wake: a food security crisis, both in rural and urban areas. Although governments play their part and often go beyond providing medical support and essential services such as education and subsided inputs to offset the effects of this crisis, one thing is sure: this is not a battle they can win on their own. Businesses, entrepreneurs and civil society will all have to help them carry the weight. And they are.

A shining example is Riches Attai, founder and CEO of Winich Farms in Lagos. Originally Riches’ business is a leading agro-tech platform, improving the living of rural farmers and educating them while providing a large scale digital platform to connect them with their market. With over 7.000 farmers in their network, 100 jobs created, a renowned advisory board and 6 Nigerian states covered, it feels appropriate to say: they are bringing agriculture in Nigeria to the next level.

After COVID-19 reached Nigeria and Riches spent some long locked-down nights at his desk, he and his team figured out two things needed to be done: deliver directly to consumers instead of supermarkets, and drop prices of produce to create more food security. Within a week, with the help of the team and friends, extra trucks were operating, an ordering platform for consumers was launched and the bumpy roads of Lagos were leading cheaper products directly to the communities.

“This new direction is increasing our overhead costs and it is reducing profits. But we have to sacrifice this for the future of our company, and most importantly the community”, according to CEO Riches. “Our goal is to feed 250.000 homes this year, no matter the circumstances”.

We salute you, Riches and the Winich Team!

#agritech #SDG’s #foodsecurity