Nigeria: Social Innovation Camp opens

The first ever camp for people with mind blowing ideas in Nigeria using the mobile or web technology will be opening in Lagos on Thursday.

The Social Innovation Camp which started in London in 2008 is making its first debut on African soil after recording successes in several countries across the world.

The camp seeks to bring people with ideas that can solve social problems together and give them the support they need to turn those ideas into products that can solve problems using the internet or the mobile phone.

Bosun Tijani, the Project Director of Social Innovation Camp, Nigeria noted that a total of 46 entries were sent in for the competition.

The entries spanned across different sectors of the economy, attempting to solve problems relating to crime, traffic management, health, tourism, education, agriculture and many more. The entries were later shortlisted to six by a carefully selected panel of judges including Bunmi Lawson, Managing Director of Accion Microfinance Bank; Peter Bankole, Director, Enterprise Development Centre of the Pan African University; Bright Simons, Coordinator of mPedigree Ghana, amongst others.

Explaining the rationale behind Social Innovation Camp, Mr Tijani, also the Principal Partner of Co-creation Hub, organisers of the camp said that people can become problem solvers if given the right measure of help and support they require.“Co-creation hub is a social enterprise that is looking at empowering Nigerians to be able to create solutions to their day to day challenges,” he said. “Our approach is to open an innovation centre where people can walk into and get support in terms of taking an ordinary idea and turning it to a proper product. It’s a model that is being used every where in the world but has not been used largely in Africa. Its a new approach to innovation. Social innovation camp will give us the platform to test our methodology.”

He further explained that the six finalists will be given support from different professionals in fields such as web and mobile application developers, business experts, market communication and fields in relation to their ideas.“We’ve selected 60 professionals from different walks of life,” he said. “In 48 hours, we are going split these 60 professionals into six teams for each idea. They will work with the proponents of the idea to make sure that in 48 hours, they design a prototype which is going to be an example of what the solution would look like. It is not going to be the final solution. Within that time frame, they would come up with a description of their business plan. It doesn’t have to be profit making but you need to come up with a plan of how you’ll make money to sustain the business.”

There is no age, educational or professional barriers for entry into the competition, Mr Tijani stated. The idea only has to be socially relevant. The finalists were selected using three basic criteria: the idea should be one that people can use and would generally accept, should be one that can be used not only by computer whiz kids but by everyone and must have the potential to actually work.

Having recorded successes in other countries, Mr Tijani is optimistic that the Social Innovation Camp will be successful in Nigeria.

It is being sponsored by Opera Software, Google, Enterprise Development Centre of Pan African University, Main One Cable Company, Chembe Ventures, Nokia and TBWA.

The winners of the competition will be announced on Saturday after a ‘Show and Tell’ event where they will make a presentation of their prototypes to a panel of judges. The first prize will be N500,000, second prize, N300,000 and third prize N200,000.They will also receive support from some of the sponsors such as consulting service for their brands, entrepreneurial training and more.

Source – next – by Adeola Adeyemo