Benin possesses an enormous natural, historical, and cultural heritage. However, its potential has barely been explored. A study by the National Agency for the Promotion of Heritage and the Development of Tourism (ANPT) found that only 2 to 5 percent of Benin’s tourist potential has thus far been tapped.
Faced with the new human, environmental, and technological challenges of the twenty-first century, how can we think of and devise solutions that will rewrite the rules in the sector, which is undergoing rapid expansion in Africa?
To this end, we are launching the Challenge Fund, a competition to identify and select the most inventive, inclusive, and environmentally sustainable solutions. The aim is to anticipate, even exceed, the expectations of tourists by creating unforgettable experiences.
Now is the right time to launch such a competition. Africa in general, and Benin in particular, offer fertile ground for a new form of innovation—frugal, ecological, agile, and resilient—which will allow the emergence of new entrepreneurs, pioneering a truly inclusive circular economy. This is what we term “Innovation Made in Africa”, but we must support our entrepreneurs, especially by helping them to develop their skills and access funding. With the Challenge Fund, we shall overcome these barriers.
Selected projects will receive up to US$500,000 in funding. In addition, project leaders will be able to make use of the resources and network provided by Sèmè City, Benin’s international city of innovation and knowledge, an unprecedented center bringing together creators of start-ups, entrepreneurs, researchers, trainers, and students wanting to change the world.
This is the vision of the Challenge Fund and of Sèmè City: to provide our youth and future entrepreneurs with the tools, skills, support, and structure needed to test innovative solutions. The successful candidates will be able to test their concepts in practice at one of the seven major tourist sites being developed in Benin: the Pendjari wildlife park, the museums at Abomey, Porto Novo and Allada, the lacustrine town of Ganvié, the historical city of Ouidah, and the coastal resort of Avlékété.
All interested project leaders and companies are invited to apply to the Challenge Fund at http://semecity.com/challenge-fund. Applications will be accepted until January 20, 2018.