Checking in with:

The Hague Innovators Challenge winner Wajenzi (2019)

With the annual The Hague Innovators Challenge, the municipality of The Hague challenges startups, students and creative minds to come up with fresh and innovative ideas to tackle global problems of our time. With the next edition coming up soon, we thought it would be good to check in with Wajenzi, one of the winners of the Hague Innovators Challenge in 2019, to find out about their journey so far. Check out this guest blog to learn about their journey.

With help from ImpactCity, Wajenzi has started its pilot project. Besides, the prize money won from the Hague Innovators Challenge, ImpactCity provides a strong range of services and access to a large international network where everything revolves around doing good & doing business. They help entrepreneurs to successfully start and grow. It opens doors to investors and offers access to a broad business network, inspiring business locations, international trade missions and organizes various events and challenges where it offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to present themselves and their ideas.

Migrant investments beyond remittances can change the development landscape of local communities if given appropriate options.
With the help of ImpactCity, Wajenzi has been able to draw attention from different stakeholders promoting entrepreneurship and SME finance worldwide. In addition, Wajenzi has been able to attract and hire two additional co-founders with a strong software development background and extensive knowledge in e-commerce. Today, we are improving our product and adding additional features on the Wajenzi platform.

Entrepreneurship by Diaspora for Development (ED4D) – IOM PUM, The Netherlands

On February 9, Wajenzi was invited by IOM and PUM at the launch of their joint new program called Entrepreneurship by Diaspora for Development (ED4D). The ED4D project supports Ghanaian and Ethiopian migrants residing in the Netherlands and Dutch entrepreneurs in partnership with the diaspora to set up businesses in the mentioned countries. Since one of the biggest challenges for SMEs is access to finance, Wajenzi is seen as the platform entrepreneurs can use to raise funding to kick-start their businesses. Indeed, Wajenzi sees Diaspora investments as a vital source of capital for both diaspora entrepreneurs and diaspora investors.

UNCDF partnership, Burkina Faso

On March 5, Wajenzi was in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to present its solution at Tech’ Konnect, a program launched by UNCDF in partnership with the Government of Luxembourg to promote financial inclusion through fintech. Wajenzi presented its solution and explained how it can promote financial inclusion in Burkina Faso by connecting SMEs looking for funding to diaspora investors looking for investment opportunities in their country of origin. Wajenzi’s solution was well received by UNCDF and we have started discussing a potential partnership. UNCDF can provide seed funding to conduct a pilot in Burkina Faso. If the pilot is a success, UNCDF will connect us to its investment hand who can provide additional funding. The organization can also help us unlock additional funding from its network.

World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum – Switzerland

Wajenzi was also present at The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, a global United Nations (UN) multi-stakeholder platform facilitating the implementation of the WSIS Action Lines for advancing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  It is co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD. Wajenzi aims at contributing to SDG 8 (Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all). Wajenzi, by leveraging diaspora investment, wants finance the SDGs. Thus reducing the SDGs finance gap estimated at $2.5 billion.

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE)

In addition, Wajenzi has been selected to participate to EYE. EYE is a cross-border exchange programme which gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other Participating Countries. The exchange of experience takes place during a stay with the experienced entrepreneur, which helps the new entrepreneur acquire the skills needed to run a small firm. The host benefits from fresh perspectives on his/her business and gets the opportunities to cooperate with foreign partners or learn about new markets.
During this exchange program, Wajenzi will work with Brodoto, a creative agency based in Croatia specialized in crowdfunding, PR, Marketing and fundraising.

Opportunities and challenges

We see much interest from many stakeholders who are promoting impact investment, SME finance and employment in emerging countries. Indeed, several UN agencies (UNCDF, UNDP, ITC and UNCTAD), financial institutions (FMO, African Development Bank) and NGOs (Oxfam Senegal) are looking for digital solutions such as our platform. Unfortunately, so far it has been very difficult to raise enough funding to fully conduct our pilot in the Netherlands. At this point we have decided to start looking for funding outside the Netherlands. Check in again soon to find out how our journey continues.

Are you working on solutions that tackle global issues? Is your company focused on doing good and doing business? Find out how you can apply for The Hague Innovators Challenge of 2020.