Orange launches the 4th edition of the Orange African Social Venture Prize
Orange has announced it is launching the 2014 edition of the Orange African Social Venture Prize with a new category, the Orange Partner award to recognise the best project that integrates an Orange application.
The Orange African Social Venture Prize rewards entrepreneurs developing products or services that use ICT in an innovative way to meet the needs of Africans in fields such as health, agriculture, education, energy, industry or trade.
Over the past three years, more than 1,500 projects have been submitted for the Orange African Social Venture Prize reflecting the dynamism of African entrepreneurs and the potential of the telecommunications sector.
Operating in 18 countries in Africa, Orange serves close to 100 million customers. Given the impact that digital services can have on peoples’ daily lives, this presence means that the Group plays an important role in the continent’s economy and its future development.
As a result, one of Orange’s main priorities is to improve connectivity, particularly in rural areas, and to introduce innovative mobile-based services.
To achieve this, the Group supports entrepreneurs, small and middle-sized firms by facilitating access to finance, supporting structures for incubation and giving access to tools for digital development.
Since 2010, Orange is a partner of the CTIC Dakar incubator, a reference in Western Africa in terms of ICT development.
In April 2014, the CIPME Niger incubator, initiated by Orange, opened its doors to start-ups in the fields of ICT, renewable energy and the environment.
The prize will recognize four projects: three projects with grants of 10,000 EUR, 15,000 EUR and 25,000 EUR, and a new special prize of 10,000 EUR will be awarded to the finalist who presents a project using an Orange API.
In addition, the four winners will benefit from a six-month support package from entrepreneurship and ICT experts and, the first prize will be offered a patent submission in the country of the project’s deployment.
Once again this year, internet users can vote online for their favorite project on Orange’s entertainment portal in Africa,www.starafrica.com.
The winner of the "favorite project" will have its project submitted to the jury along with the others finalists shortlisted by the experts and will therefore have the maximum possible chance of being among the top four winners for 2014.
Any entrepreneur (aged 21 or over) or legal entity that has been in existence for fewer than three years at the time of the competition may participate at no cost and with no restriction on nationality.
Submitted projects must be designed to be deployed in at least one of the African countries in which Orange operates and must use information and communications technology in an innovative way to help improve the living conditions of the populations in these countries.
Applications are accepted from May 22 to September 19, 2014 on Orange's pan-African web portal, www.starafrica.com.
Billionaire Kumar Birla Champions Regional Supply Chains
As the head of the Aditya Birla Group, a US$46bn firm that operates in 36 countries, Kumar Mangalam Birla is no stranger to splashy strategic moves. Yet his recent announcement that he no longer wants to acquire globally distributed supply chains stood out. While many companies have struggled to cope with shipping backlogs, his firm has chosen to pivot and focus on regional networks. Said Birla: ‘We wouldn’t look at a company or a business where you source in one corner of the world and sell in another’.
He cited protectionism, the pandemic, and the limited movement of products and people around the world as ABG’s primary causes of lost profits. And they aren’t alone. Over the past year, 900 of the U.S. and Europe’s biggest IT, defence, and financial services firms have lost an average of US$184mn apiece.
An Era of Global Disruption
Over the past few decades, low shipping rates and rapid delivery times have lulled multinational firms into a false sense of security. In the early 2000s, companies chose to take on significant global supply chain risks in exchange for increased profits. First, it made sense to manufacture higher-value goods, such as electronics, in low-cost regions throughout Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. Second, first-tier suppliers started to outsource the manufacturing of specific components to second-, third-, and even fourth-tiers—leaving supply chains with extremely limited visibility.
So when COVID-19 disruptions struck certain regions, companies were caught unprepared. Usually, these events come few and far between. But over the past ten years, we’ve seen a number of ‘black swan’ events that have thrown the supply chain industry into chaos. Here’s a quick history of the most significant events in recent years, thanks to the MIT Sloan Management Review:
- 2010. China creates export quotas for rare earth elements.
- 2011. The Tōhoku Earthquake hits East Japan; flooding sweeps throughout Thailand.
- 2016-present. Trade wars between the U.S. and China hurt suppliers.
- 2020-present. COVID-19 pandemic shuts down international shipping ports.
Now, Kumar Birla is one of many who want to re-evaluate how we run our supply chains. Though his company has acquired 40+ companies in the last quarter decade, Birla intends to build up local hubs rather than expand operations.
Why Pursue Regionalisation?
Combine Chinese economic dominance, global supply chain vulnerabilities, and major government policy shifts around the world, and you have a storm brewing on the horizon for big multinational firms. As Brookings noted, ‘the biggest risk for trading opportunities in the developing world is growing protectionism in more advanced economies, often dressed up as national security protection’.
Altogether, from the U.S. to the European Union, governments are trying to protect their domestic supply chains, secure adequate stockpiles of materials, and build world-class local networks. Consider Biden’s recent executive order, which seeks to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to home soil, or Japan’s bid to open more memory chip fabrication factories near Tokyo. The Aditya Birla Group intends to react in kind. Said Birla: ‘We’re looking at regionalism as a very big theme’.
Will Others Follow Suit?
In the post-pandemic economy, global businesses must decide whether to expand or contract. On one hand, the Alibaba Group’s Cainiao Smart Logistics Network recently launched a direct flight between Hong Kong, China, and Lagos, Nigeria. On the other, the Japanese government is desperate to make its chip manufacturing domestic. Indeed, as two supply chain strategies diverge in a post-pandemic world, the one businesses take may make all the difference.
Yet Birla is confident that regionalisation is the right call. According to his words at the Qatar Economic Forum, even necessary cross-border transactions should be smaller in scope. And as the Bloomberg Billionaires Index now lists his net wealth at US$10.4bn, up 52% from 2020, he may have the cash to test his theories out. ‘Regional hubs, regional presence, regional employment, catering to regional demand’, he stated. ‘We’re a global company rooted in local economics’.