Since launching the Savvy program on Aug. 4, 2020, we have received 90,194 applications from interested individuals around the world. From this large pool of applicants, we have selected 7,511 participants from 156 countries. Today, we profile and feature 13 of these young entrepreneurs that are adequately addressing local problems in their communities.
Avinash Rogye from India (Media & Entertainment)
Avinash Rogye is one of the founders of Headline Network, India’s only citizen journalism, and social commerce platform. Through Headline Network, Avinash provides people with a democratic platform to share and monetize local news using a combination of viewership and referral revenue.
Avinash learned about the Savvy program via LinkedIn, and in his words; “The Savvy program has been immensely useful in helping me refine my understanding of running a successful business with a view on social impact.” In an interview with Savvy, he said that the program has helped him maintain a ‘user first’ mindset, which has enabled him to develop product features and business strategies while keeping his most important stakeholders in mind.
“Our focus has always been on value creation. I believe that what we’ve done differently is to focus on building fundamental values for all stakeholders and stay away from vanity metrics,” Avinash said. When asked what advice he would give to future Savvy Fellows, he said, “Always focus on quality over quantity. Know exactly who your most important stakeholders are and build immense value for them from Day 1.”
He emphasized that entrepreneurs should stay away from vanity metrics. “The ecosystem can easily distract entrepreneurs from their core value and seek shelter behind metrics that impress stakeholders. My only advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to focus on creating value.”
Bankies Matlou from South Africa (Manufacturing)
Bankies Matlou is a young South African innovator. Through his organization, Botle Sanitary Towels, Bankies is working on the Sanicare project, which are reusable sanitary pads designed to empower young women and girls by enabling them not to be limited by their periods.
Bankies first learned about the Savvy Fellowship program on social media and decided to apply. In his words; “Through the Savvy Fellowship program, I’ve been able to explore my business in and out, while exploring the industry I’m working in.” He is looking forward to implementing the insights and lessons he has learned from the Savvy program, and he believes that he will be able to scale the impact of his project in his community.
“I’m sure that by implementing the insights I have learned from the Savvy program, I will have a firm strategy in launching my project nationally and in more African countries,” Bankies said. When asked what advice he would give to future Savvy Fellows, he said, “Remain true to your values and know exactly what you want to achieve from the Savvy program, while working towards achieving your business goals.”
Bankies emphasized that entrepreneurs should always have an interest in learning new things. He believes that entrepreneurs should have passion and purpose-driven capabilities. In his words; “Always be thinking about the next person of interest you want your business to impact.”
Swi Innocent Che from Cameroon (ICT)
Swi Innocent Che is a Cameroonian entrepreneur working to protect African languages through the Cameroon eTranslate, an intelligent translation system that translates from recognized international languages to African indigenous languages, using artificial intelligence technology.
Swi learned about the Savvy program via iDisxcover. He believes that the Savvy program gave him the knowledge to build, expand, and scale his business with the best strategies and techniques available. In his words; “I followed the training program diligently, including the exercises, and it helped me answer all the questions I had on my mind.” When asked what advice he would give to future Savvy Fellows, he said, “Be true to your business and follow the Savvy program properly, and the knowledge you’ll gain will help you in the real business world.”
He emphasized that starting small and improving every single day is the best way to build a business. When advising aspiring entrepreneurs, he said it’s important to follow your business plan, but one has to constantly make changes and updates along the way, according to the fast pace at which the world is evolving.
According to Ethnologue, Cameroon has over 283 languages, 274 are living, 9 are extinct, 17 are dying and the majority remain undocumented and unstructured. This is because many businesses fail to use these languages to attract more customers thereby neglecting about 20% of consumers. Swi believes now is the best time to address this problem.
Abdalah Nyambi from Tanzania (Environment Protection)
Abdalah Nyambi is the founder of Preyo Company, which helps local communities, private households, and corporate entities with waste management, by collecting plastic waste, to sort, shred, and produce eco-friendly products from them, such as eco-bricks for building construction.
Abdalah came across the Savvy Fellowship program through social media, and one of the lessons he has learned from the program has helped him to improve the market strategy of his waste management business. In his words; “I’m using the experience and lessons I took from the Savvy program to develop new and sustainable market opportunities for my business that stimulate the local economy. Preyo is now focused on creating a new plastic upcycling value chain; spanning from the collection of waste to the sale of upcycled eco-friendly products.”
He emphasized that entrepreneurs should have organizational skills, along with a positive attitude. He believes entrepreneurs should be passionate and creative, and be able to turn challenges into opportunities.
When asked what advice he would give to future Savvy Fellows, he said, “Savvy Fellows should proactively participate in the program, be open-minded, set smart goals to get desirable results, and learn from past Savvy Fellows.”
“The products or services that we make should help those who use them, not only to better their lives but to also discover meaning within them. Be someone who makes everyone feel like someone,” he said.
Grace Amuzie from Nigeria (Education & Training)
Grace Amuzie is a graduate of Economics from Crawford University in Ogun state, Nigeria. She is an advocate for SDG 4, which is focused on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. In her words; “I am committed to seeing that children from low-income households in Nigeria have access to basic quality education through my initiative, Isrina Schools.” Through Isrina Schools, Grace is offering quality basic education to children from low-income communities through its recycle pay project initiative.
Grace got to know about the Savvy Fellowship program via LinkedIn, and after participating in the 12-week entrepreneurial training and mentorship program, she learned “a whole lot about how the entrepreneurship world works” and she has been able to make good use of some of the lessons learned in running Isrina Schools. When describing her Savvy experience, she said, “it’s been wonderful.”
One of the most impactful lessons Grace learned from the Savvy program is getting to know her customers. For Grace, at Isrina Schools, she works with children between the ages of 3 to 13 from low-income households, and with this, she has been able to engage with them positively with the 5Ps of sustainability in creating better, bigger, and bolder ideas.
“The Savvy Prize was a stepping stone for me in sharing my story to the world. Special thanks to God for giving me the grace to make it through to the final stage. The one thing I did differently in the Savvy Prize competition was to describe the originality of Isrina Schools, its target groups, and our sustainability model,” Grace told us.
When asked what advice she would give to future Savvy Fellows, she said, “Be original. Make adequate research about your entry market, be on the lookout for mentors, and work with people who share the same vision as yours. Also, be humble, set your mind on learning, seize opportunities, and accept feedback, be it positive or negative ones.”
Catherine Nakayemba from Uganda (Manufacturing)
Catherine Nakayemba is a social entrepreneur empowering women in Rural Uganda through Safe Girl, a company that envisions a world where menstrual products are affordable and accessible to all women and girls. Besides manufacturing and distributing reusable menstrual kits that are safe, affordable, and accessible to all women and girls, Safe Girl conducts menstrual awareness campaigns that provide accurate information about menstruation and reproductive health, hence disputing myths and taboos surrounding them.
Catherine got to know about the Savvy program through Google. She was immediately inspired to apply for the program after reading several testimonials posted on social media by Savvy Fellows about the impact of the program on their businesses. With what she has learned from the program, Catherine believes it will help her continue to create a massive impact in the lives of women and girls through Safe Girl.
“The Savvy program helped me to communicate what my business does, the impact it is creating in the lives of women and girls across Uganda and the milestones we hope to achieve shortly,” Catherine said. When asked what advice she would give to future Savvy Fellows, she said, “Entrepreneurs wanting to be part of the Savvy program have to be true and honest to the vision of their business. They have to clearly understand the problem their business is solving and how their solution adequately does that.”
She emphasized that entrepreneurship is about passion, persistence, and teamwork. “Doing what you love keeps you motivated to wake up every day to do the same thing. Not giving up is part of the process, because things will get hard, and people will discourage you, but if you persist, knowing what you do is valid, you will always find the energy to keep going, along with the right team to help you achieve your dream.”
Jobert Ngwenya from Zimbabwe (Education & Training)
Jobert Ngwenya is an entrepreneurship educator based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He is the founder and CEO of Fundi Trust, an organization that teaches entrepreneurship education using experiential learning.
Jobert learned about the Savvy program from a friend who shared it on WhatsApp. In his words; “Through the Savvy Fellowship program, I have learned the concept of looking at problems as opportunities for businesses and to make profits out of solving societal issues.” Now, he is using his Savvy experience and lessons from the program to teach high school learners on financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
Jobert emphasized that entrepreneurs should be motivated by problems. “I identify problems and proffer solutions to them,” he said. When asked what advice he would give to future Savvy Fellows, he said, “Entrepreneurship is about bringing solutions to people’s problems and monetizing these solutions in the process. So, aspiring entrepreneurs should look around themselves and provide solutions to the problems in the communities they live in. Secondly, they should not be limited by the solutions that are already in the market, but they should be willing to disrupt such solutions and bring about new ones.”
Jobert believes that the quality of today’s education doesn’t meet 21st-century skills, so he is working to bring life to the ordinarily academic curriculum in schools. His project, Fundi Trust, teaches skills like problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and other core skills to high school learners, as well as integrating entrepreneurship development into the national curriculum.
Chisom Obidigbo from Nigeria (Education & Training)
Chisom Obidigbo is a writer, trainer, author, entrepreneur, and publisher. She has spent the last 7 years helping millennials learn easily monetizable high-income skills; thereby earning a living from them. Chisom has trained over 1,000 youths across Africa, South America, Europe, and other continents, on several hard and soft skills, such as copywriting, video animation, graphic design, online book publishing, and web development. Chisom is committed to SDGs 4 (Quality Education) and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).
After participating in the Savvy program, Chisom launched SYA Innovations, a digital creation enterprise that helps business owners create, launch, and sell their products and services. As a publisher, she helps aspiring authors write and publish their books across major online retail book stores. Chisom runs a community of forward-thinking entrepreneurs called Skillful Youth Africa.
Chisom got to know about the Savvy Fellowship program from the founder, Chidi Nwaogu. Over the years, she has learned about teamwork from Chidi and all that he does at Savvy with his team. In her words; “From the Savvy program, I’ve learned that I can pursue and achieve whatever my mind can conceive.”
When asked what advice she would give to future Savvy Fellows, she said, “They should be able to clearly state the ‘how’ and ‘why’ they do what they do. Also, they should learn how to write a compelling business plan. There are a lot of materials at their disposal for this.”
Chisom emphasized that everybody has been created to achieve great things. In her words; “You should start from where you are. Start from what you have. Start from who you are right now, and grow from there. Aspire to always be the very best version of yourself. The sky would be your starting point if you do so.”
Ahmad Khaled from Lebanon (Healthcare)
Ahmad Khaled is a Lebanese entrepreneur, who started his entrepreneurial journey after the 2020 Beirut explosion, where he volunteered and aided in taking care of those injured. However, he realized that the nearest blood donation station wasn’t capable of providing the blood needed, so he designed Drops-Leb, an application that helps link blood donors to recipients; thus making the donation process more efficient and safe. Khaled’s vision is to help as many people as possible, find their donors as fast as possible, and provide them with further assistance if needed.
Ahmad got to know about the Savvy program via the $3,000 Savvy Prize, which we run every year to seek, recognize and support the efforts of Savvy Fellows working to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems through innovative and sustainable ways. In his words; “I learned about the Savvy Prize from a close friend of mine, and what is so great about the program is that it does not only teaches you the right information when it comes to managing your own business, but it also helps you gain experiences and be more familiar with the business world.”
“The experience I have gained from the Savvy program has been a great help in my day-to-day life as an entrepreneur, and I am now more confident when it comes to introducing myself to new individuals because my business knowledge has greatly improved,” Ahmad continued. “Pitch your project in simple words so that anyone can understand the purpose behind it. Give context so that people can relate to your vision, and illustrate the great potential your project holds. Most importantly, believe in the impact your project can achieve and the lives your project can greatly improve.”
He emphasized that to continue the growth of one’s society, one has to seek solutions to problems and build upon them because there is always a solution to every problem. In his words; “What better way to help my community than to solve its problems innovatively and effectively.”
Joseph Churchil Nyeko from Uganda (Healthcare)
Joseph is the founder of Eone, a social innovation that is fighting the problem of cooking with traditional polluting fuels and technology, which has caused 4.3 million premature deaths according to a report by WHO. This is more than the deaths caused by Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis when combined. Eone generates up to 600°C of heat and cooks any kind of food for an average of one hour. It is powered by bio pellets made from post-harvest waste to improve air quality, mitigate carbon footprints, and avert burn injuries, severe headaches, stroke, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases.
Joseph got to know about the Savvy program through our Facebook page. In his words; “I learned many things from the 12-week Savvy Fellowship Program. Applying to the program was one of the finest decisions that I have made for myself as I find myself a completely new person now.” He continued, “The Savvy Fellowship program helped me gain valuable business advice and professional guidance as my Savvy mentor helped me to perfect my critical thinking skills through thorough sessions that can’t be found in other entrepreneurial training programs.”
Joseph is using his Savvy experience to teach and inspire his teammates and other entrepreneurs in his community, by developing and introducing training programs that focus on localized training of women to foster their inclusion in using clean cookstoves. When asked what advice he would give to future Savvy Fellows, he said, “Savvy Fellows should make the best use of the Savvy program. The program will help them maximize and perfect their entrepreneurial skills.”
Over 90,000 women and children, every year, die in Uganda from burning firewood for cooking. Joseph’s family is also affected by this problem, and he believes now is the best time to address it. He is also vehemently sure that the work he and his team are doing at Eone is a “just” cause that will not only improve affordable and clean energy, but will also transform lives by improving health across Uganda, and hopefully, across Africa.
Precious Azuonwu from Nigeria (Education & Training)
Precious is the Founder and CEO of Bankable Wisdom Solutions Limited, often referred to as “Bankable Skills And Jobs”. Through Bankable, Precious is empowering African youths that are keen on solving extreme youth poverty and unemployment, with digital entrepreneurial skills.
Precious learned about the Savvy Fellowship program via Opportunity Desk, and so far, he has learned how to launch a startup as well as to design a social innovation product for the market. In his words; “After participating in the Savvy program, I have been able to launch the Bankable learning hub, which is a free platform focused on spreading opportunities for digital skills and jobs to African youths. Currently, I’m working to build more partnerships with institutions in other African countries to broaden access to digital skills for African youths.”
When asked what advice he would give to future Savvy Fellows, he said, “Be real and ensure to make a real impact in your community. Also, ensure to communicate this impact clearly to others, and focus simultaneously on creating more positive change in the lives of your target audience.”
Precious emphasized that our lives begin to count when we start to focus more on making a difference in the lives of others.
In his words; “Businesses should be focused on building scalable impacts and nurturing a heartfelt change in the lives of others. The impact you create is not what you say you do, but what others say they’ve experienced as a result of the value you’ve added to their lives.”
Bright Lemchi from Nigeria (Environment Protection)
As founder of Gowasteline, Bright Lemchi is currently working on a ‘Community Zero Waste Campaign’ project in Rivers, Nigeria. Bright is an environmentalist, climate change activist, SDG ambassador, and clean energy enthusiast.
Bright got to know about the Savvy Fellowship program through a newsletter from Opportunity Desk, and the objectives of the entrepreneurial training program caught his attention, so he decided to apply for the 12-week entrepreneurial program. In his words; “I learned a whole lot of business lessons from the Savvy program, such as solving problems, thinking outside the box, identifying and meeting customer’s needs, building effective solutions, and business brand building and structuring. It has been a life-changing opportunity for me.”
“After participating in the Savvy program, I’ve started a training program for young boys and girls to acquire business development, management, and administrative skills. The youths are carefully selected from secondary schools and universities that wish to venture into waste management, recycling, or any business with a focus on environmental conservation,” Bright said. So far, he has been able to create environmental awareness in 42 communities.
Bright took the Savvy program very seriously and through his active participation, he now understands more about running a business. When asked what advice he would give to future Savvy Fellows, he said, “Be original and be yourself. Ensure your business is solving a real problem. Making money is good, but it becomes easier when your business is actually solving a real problem. Most importantly, ensure you have a clear sustainability plan for your business.”
He emphasized that entrepreneurs should start from where they are; start small, think big, and grow even bigger.
Peter Daniel from Nigeria (Financial Services)
Peter Daniel is the founder of Pacioli, a digital lending tool for microfinance institutions. Pacioli has completely automated the process of customer onboarding and account reconciliation, ensuring auto-populating, and auto-validating a customer’s Know-Your-Customer (KYC) details for onboarding.
Peter learned about the Savvy Fellowship program via email when he was nominated for the program by another Savvy Fellow who believed he is an ideal candidate for the Fellowship program. Peter went ahead to apply for the program, and upon completing the Savvy program, he has learned so many lessons that have helped him to understand and prioritize the most important activities in operating his business.
When speaking about what made his application to the Savvy program stand out, he said, “I ensured to be detailed in my application and I paid great attention to the core metrics of my business when applying for the Savvy program.” When asked what advice he would give to future Savvy Fellows, he said, “I would advise them to be detailed yet simple in explaining their projects and also to have a good pitch deck that covers the core details of their business.”
Peter emphasized that aspiring entrepreneurs should ensure that they have a clear understanding of the problem that they intend to solve, and the viability, sustainability, and scalability of the solution that they are proffering.
“The process of manually onboarding customers for a loan can be very boring and unnecessarily long for loan officers and customers at microfinance institutions. Pacioli is improving the efficiency of account reconciliation and customer onboarding at microfinance institutions by more than 10 times,” Peter told us.
Are you passionate about solving some of the world’s most pressing problems through innovation? Have you ever wanted to build a successful impact-driven business, but didn’t know how to? Do you own an early-stage business that you want to grow and scale into new markets and verticals? Are you interested in being part of the new generation of impact-driven entrepreneurs?
Savvy is looking for you.
Some of the things you’ll learn as a Savvy Fellow include fundraising for your business, building the right team to execute your business strategies, building buzz around your product or service, achieving product-market fit, scaling into new markets and verticals, and building customer loyalty and retention.