Tuniar, a Benin-based international money transfer and online payment service based on mobile networks, has won the GIST Startup Boot Camp in Senegal.
The Boot Camp, the second to be hosted in the country, took place from April 19-21, 2016 with twenty-seven two-person science and tech entrepreneur teams representing eight countries taking part.
The countries represented were Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Togo.
Over the course of the event, expert instructors Grant Warner, Bob Storey and Todd Morrill taught the participants how to effectively get out of the building and interview potential customers in order to get the information they need to form a successful startup.
The teams conducted customer interviews all over Dakar and the surrounding areas. After getting valuable feedback, many teams pivoted and adapted their startups based on what they learned.
By listening to their customers, they can more closely align their startup with the needs of the market.
On the final day, five selected teams presented their ventures to the public, the media and the US Embassy to Senegal officials.
Keynote speaker Carolina Garcia Rizo, a successful entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, spoke to the audience about the importance of sticking with their entrepreneurial dreams. Sandra Clark, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy to Senegal, also spoke about the importance of entrepreneurship to Senegal.
After much deliberation, a team of expert judges chose Tuniar as winner of the event, winning US$2000 in the process.
Placing second and winning US$1000 was Souclou Online, an Ivory Coast-based online educational platform that provides MOOCs for secondary school Ivory Coast students, as well as personal development modules and education counseling.
The Spirit of GIST Award went to Rwandan startup, Starlight. Starlight is a solar mobile charger with a lamp that provides quick charging of mobile phones.
Robert Post, Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy to Senegal, presented the awards to the teams at the end of the event.
GIST, which stands for Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST), is a U.S Department of State initiative.
Through the initiative, young innovators are empowered through networking, skills building, mentoring, and access to financing to develop startup solutions.