dotLearn's Sam Bhattacharyya and Tunde Alawode were winners at this year's new venture competition

dotLearn's Sam Bhattacharyya and Tunde Alawode were winners at this year's new venture competition

Harvard University hosted its 18th annual Africa Business Conference and over the 3-day event, #HBSABC2016 trended as key note speakers, panelists, and startup teams all shared their passion for investing in the future of Africa.

The Africa Business Conference was started by Harvard’s Africa Business club in 1998 to help increase awareness of the investment opportunities on the continent.

“Every year, the Africa Business Club hosts the largest African student-run conference, bringing together preeminent keynote speakers, expert panelists, and approximately 1000 passionate students and professionals from across the globe to discuss and debate important topics on business in Africa. This highly acclaimed event includes panel sessions, networking events, a fashion show, prospective students’ day, and a banquet.” Harvard Africa Business Club

For the past 3 years, the conference has been home to the New Venture Competition for early-stage entrepreneurs using ‘homegrown solutions’ to make a difference in African communities.

Among startups who applied to the competition, 10 finalists were selected to present for a panel of judges who would select only 2 businesses to take home cash prizes of  $10,000 and $5,000.

Crossfrontier International ltd was this years $10,000 grand prize winner by using biotechnology to increase crop yields and improve food security.

“by providing virus indexing services and quality, affordable virus indexed tissue cultured banana plant-lets, our mission is to improve food security in East and Central Africa . Our overarching mission is to provide secure, longterm preservation, and documentation of diverse viruses identified during indexing.” – Crossfrontier International

The team from dotLearn won the $5,000 prize with their program to expand education in Africa using mobile technology. The team says they believe their solution to package full educational courses into only 5mb packets students can load offline on any mobile phone could help educate more than 50 million students across the continent by 2020.

“we want to create an online education platform for emerging markets, beginning with West Africa” – dotLearn

By designing services that can meet the unique challenges of building sustainable businesses on the continent, these startups are not only bringing localized solutions to African communities, they’re also contributing to the longterm development of their communities.