Sierra Leone Opportunities for Business Action launches Freetown Pitch Night
Sierra Leone Opportunities for Business Action (SOBA), a private sector development programme to facilitate economic growth in Sierra Leone, recently launched Freetown Pitch Night, a monthly event that gives entrepreneurs a platform to practice their business pitches while connecting them with the mentors, advisers, and business experts they need to grow their businesses.
"Freetown Pitch Night was created to highlight the work entrepreneurs are doing in the country while helping to foster collaboration towards building a strong and sustainable entrepreneur ecosystem in Sierra Leone," said Jason Eaves, SOBA's Business Innovation Hub Senior Lead.
"SOBA's iLab is committed to sponsoring these type of private sector-driven platforms as well as making investments in critical market systems gaps to accelerate the scale-up of Sierra Leonean business innovations."
More than 90 people attended the inaugural event which took place on Wednesday 1st of March in Freetown. The evening featured five entrepreneurs from the food processing sector:
• Hannah Tarawally- Founder of Coffee Couriers- A coffee roaster and catering service
• Fatim Wright- Founder of Fatim Products- Producers of supermarket quality snacks in Sierra Leone
• Allie Bangura and Patrick Cole - Wangu Holdings-A passion fruit farm and juice producer
• Regina Clarkson- Founder of Clarkson Cupcakes- A cupcake baking company
• Bockarie Brima- Founder of Tropical Mark Chili Pepper -A pepper farm and pepper peri and paste producer
"Freetown Pitch Night was very valuable because I met with new customers and I feel I am out there now," said Hannah Tarawally from Coffee Couriers.
Each entrepreneur gave short pitch about their business followed by Q&A. The programme continued with a conversation with Dr Zed Bahsoon, Founder and CEO of Bennimix.
With more than 30 years of food processing experience, Dr Bahsoon provided insight into his business practices and offered advice to young entrepreneurs. The evening was a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to build networks and foster future collaborations.
As a grassroots driven platform, each Freetown Pitch Night will be run and sponsored by a collective of organisations looking to grow the private sector in Sierra Leone. This collective will help pick the theme for each event, choose pitchers, and ensure financial support. SOBA's iLab is providing the short-term technical assistance to establish the platform's sustainability.
"Freetown Pitch Night was really great. And I think it's a good idea for like entrepreneurs to come together, express themselves and just interact with one another having the same struggle. It was very valuable. It's a great way to show that financial support isn't the only support you should look forward to in terms of improving on your business," said Regina Clarkson of Clarkson Cupcakes.
This Freetown Pitch Night was held in association with:
• Global Entrepreneurship Network
• Impact Hub Freetown
• Sensi Innovation Hub
• SOBA iLabs
The iLab/Business Innovation Hub is a high-risk innovation facility that fosters high return ventures. SOBA is investing in start-up ventures to plug critical market systems gaps that hinder business performance.
The Business Innovation Hub looks to support the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that allows SOBA's innovations to scale and future innovations to thrive. Learn more about iLab here.
Sierra Leone Opportunities for Business Action (SOBA) is a private sector development programme that uses a market systems approach to facilitate economic growth in Sierra Leone.
The programme collaborates with private sector businesses in three primary areas: (1) sustainable energy, (2) agriculture, (3) professional services and entrepreneurship markets to trial and to scale innovative and inclusive business practices that reduce poverty and improve economic opportunities for poor women and men.
The programme also provides targeted technical and financial investment with the aim of growing businesses and improving farmer and small-scale entrepreneur performance and market position.
Implemented by Adam Smith International and funded by the UK's Department for International Development, the programme collaborates with the private sector and investors to introduce pro-poor market innovations that result in significant and sustained economic growth for all. SOBA also works with the Government of Sierra Leone's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) and the Ministry of Energy (MoE).
The Freetown Pitch Night event can be viewed in its entirety here.