Total Gives a Leg Up to Young African Entrepreneurs


Portrait des 4 lauréats continentaux
They work in every sector — healthcare, e-business, education and more — and come from 34 African countries. Some 102 winners, three per country, were selected by the Startupper of the Year by Total Challenge, from a pool of 6,642. All are under 35 and opted to compete in our large-scale contest to support business creation and development in Africa. The financing, business coaching and, most important, heightened exposure associated with the Challenge should help the winning start-ups make a name for themselves, improve their business plan, tailor their solutions to the market or catch the eye of other investors. They have every intention of capitalizing on the momentum, as the four startuppers from Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon singled out as "continental winners" explain.


Alain Nteff, Cameroon
GiftedMom: A mobile app to provide health information and provide emergency consultations for pregnant women and new mothers.

"The Challenge was a wonderful opportunity for us to get our message out and increase the number of subscribers to our service. It gave us a lot of national and international exposure. An advertising campaign strengthened our image. And thanks to the award, venture capitalists that might invest in the start-up have contacted us."

Owosho Opeyemi, Nigeria
Fitco Technology: Table-top gas (LPG) stoves

"The Challenge's publicity and visibility were incredible. I'd been trying without success to get a loan from a local bank for months. Now they're finally listening to me, because they've heard and read on the Internet that we'd won an award from Total. Plus, the jury's chairwoman was also the Chair of FirstBank’s Board of Directors. She is highly respected here in Nigeria. And now she talks about us at conferences she attends! It's amazing."

Astou Ndiaye Fall, Senegal
BioAbundance: Recycling agricultural waste by producing biomass briquettes.

"The Challenge came at the right time for us. It let us present our project to a jury of specialists well acquainted with the subject. We want to recycle agricultural waste and in doing so help diversify our country's energy mix. Like Total, we want to work to achieve better energy. Being named Startupper of the Year here in Senegal gave us enormous exposure. It’s not really an exaggeration to say that Total made us stars in the country! It also helped us a lot with networking, so we could meet people in the renewables sector, and gave us real credibility. The technical and managerial support will move us forward. I can hardly wait for the incubation week in Paris scheduled for July!"

Ahmed Abbas, Egypt
Sun City Energy
: Mobile solar pumps to supply small farmers with energy for their irrigation systems.

"Winning this award and getting this kind of support from Total was really unexpected. I thought the Challenge would be just another start-up contest where you only have a few minutes to pitch your idea. Actually, Total gave me time to present my product, and the jury, which was quite diverse, really delved into the project's technical and financial details, asking very specific questions. With the financing we've received, we're going to be able to finalize the prototype and bring the product to market without risking our personal savings. The enthusiasm and passion of Total's teams were fascinating to me. A mentor from the company will now coach and support us and we have a free place to work. All this will help us a lot."