How the can the Accelerator Lab, leverage the UNDP knowhow to empower innovative entrepreneurs in Guinea-Bissau?
Nô Firmanta: An Opportunity to Scale
June 16, 2023
Meet Quintazinha Cá, an entrepreneur and the proud owner of Mehéd, a business based in Bafatá, Guinea-Bissau focussed on the transformation of local fruits. Her mission? To combat poverty in the city of Bafatá and economic empowerment of women. Quintazinha recently participated in the Solutions Clinic, a collaborative event organized by the Accelerator Lab and the BMW Foundation. This platform enabled her to present her business and its concept to UN agencies, local embassies, and the BMW Responsible Leaders Network (RLN). The Solutions Clinic provided Quintazinha with invaluable insights, allowing her to reflect on her business model and explore avenues for greater impact. Nevertheless, Quintazinha faced a significant obstacle in scaling her business and accessing vital resources for sustainable growth, such as business guidance, capacity building, and training.
However, Quintazinha's challenges are not unique. In Guinea-Bissau, over 35% of the population operates within the informal sector, earning daily incomes of less than $1. Entrepreneurs aiming to formalize their businesses face significant hurdles, such as exorbitant formalization costs and tax obligations. So the question is: How can the Accelerator Lab and the UNDP expertise in the country address this barrier?
Nô Firmanta, which translates to "Let's Stand," symbolizes the need to build resilience and minimize the risk of collapse. Nô Firmanta is not just any competition; it is an initiative designed for visionary entrepreneurs who have developed innovative and transformative business solutions. The competition focuses on businesses or solutions that generate income and align with key sectors such as agriculture, climate action, digital, energy, health & sanitation, and creative industries. Winning businesses will receive a grant of 15,000 USD and solutions 7,500 USD and the invaluable opportunity to be matched with a local UNDP partner who will provide guidance and support in scaling the business or implementing the solution. This partnership ensures that the winners receive the necessary expertise and resources to propel their business or solution to scale.
The winning businesses or solutions will have daily contact with the UNDP partner they are matched with, however, they will also benefit from exclusive sessions with the Accelerator Lab. These sessions will focus on leveraging innovative methodologies like design thinking, human-centered design, collective intelligence, and system mapping. The primary objective of the Advisory Lab is to provide guidance to winners, enabling them to gain a deeper understanding of their target market through Solution Mapping, Exploration and Experimentation. By doing so, they can effectively customize their businesses or solutions to meet the needs of their customers, ensuring a successful response to market demands.
Why Nô Firmanta?
In Guinea-Bissau, small-scale enterprises play a crucial role in addressing development challenges and fostering economic and social progress. However, these enterprises often face a common problem: they struggle to sustain themselves and achieve targeted growth, resulting in short lifespans. The question then arises: How can we identify businesses that are driving innovative transformations, generating income, and creating economic opportunities in their respective regions?
To tackle this issue, the Accelerator Lab has partnered with the Na No Mon Platform and the Strategic Economic Cluster at UNDP Guinea-Bissau to develop "Nô Firmanta." By combining the collective expertise of these three projects, we aim to identify and enhance existing initiatives, fostering a chain of investment that goes beyond financial support. Through knowledge sharing and increased visibility within the ecosystem, facilitated by the Innovation Hub, Na No Mon Platform, and the Bissau Rising Forum, we can strengthen businesses and create a sustainable environment for growth.
Leaving No One Behind
With the aim of facilitating access to information and expanding the number of potential candidates across the country, IT technicians were selected and trained and will be present across the regions and 16 sectors to support those who face barriers such as lack of access to the internet, illiteracy, disabilities, and other elements that can make the application process difficult.