LéO Africa Economic Forum: Entrepreneurs, emerging leaders to chart impact of innovations

KAMPALA. The fourth edition of LéO Africa Economic Forum opens in Kampala Friday, bringing together social entrepreneurs, young and emerging leaders from across the region in charting the innovations and their impact on African economies.

Organised by LéO Africa Institute, a non-governmental organisation that works to advance thought leadership, nurture young and emerging leaders in Africa, and spur them to success, the day-long forum will run under the theme, “The Impact of Disruptive Innovations on Growth and Development in Africa.”

Ivan Rugambwa, LéO Africa Institute communications coordinator, said the forum is a gathering of thought leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and social actors to explore the ideas that are transforming industry and highlight vital economic trends shaping the socio-economic landscape in Africa and the world.

“The forum provides a platform for young, emerging and established players in the business sector to network and foster collaborations and partnerships,” Rugambwa said.

The forum is expected to answer key questions such as: how are innovations driving change in a fast-growing East Africa? Where is the next “big idea” being incubated? What do entrepreneurs need to do to make innovations commercially viable for investment?

Other issues to discuss will be on what the current trends in financing models for innovations and social ideas are, as well as how to attract financing for agricultural research innovations.

With some young ‘social movers’ such as Emmanuel Kirunda, author and engineer with Tullow Oil; Lynn Kirabo, software engineer at Fenix International; Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire, cultural and literary scholar; and Susan Mirembe, head of policy and research at Chapter Four Uganda, the forum organisers are expected to throw in a Facebook interaction session with the audience.

Awel Uwihanganye, LéO Africa Institute founder and senior director, said the forum is a platform for innovators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders is vital to ensure that conversations about development in Africa are heard by Africans.

“We believe that ideas matter in moving our societies forward. We also strongly believe networks of thinkers and doers are valuable in advancing global collaborations and partnerships for development,” Uwihanganye said.

The Minister for Information and ICT, Frank Tumwebaze, who will be on a panel during the forum, said the power of innovation is so enormous.

“People’s lives got revolutionised when everybody, young and old, elite and uneducated were able to use a mobile phone. You can now tell what the weather will look like using your phone, or even monitor your multiple activities in different locations through an app,” Tumwebaze said.

Kin Kariisa, NBS Television chief executive, described innovation as “the new buzz word in business.”

‘With innovation comes a disruption that if we are not prepared for will leave many behind. For us in the broadcasting world, it has manifested itself through digital and social media which has seen many of us adapt to the changing times and technology,” Kariisa said.

“We have had to innovate and learn to do more with less. With our new smart technology at NBS, we will be broadcasting the forum live on air and online through our channels and I encourage those unable to attend the forum to join the conversation by watching and following on both NBS Television and social media.”

The forum, to be aired live on NBS Television and social media sites, Facebook and Twitter, will also see key decision makers in the private and public sectors from the three East African countries of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda explore the increasingly crucial role of disruptive innovation in economies.

Disruptive innovation

According to the Harvard Business Review, the theory of disruptive innovation has proved to be a powerful way of thinking about innovation-driven growth.

‘Disruption’ is a process whereby a start-up is able to successfully challenge established businesses. As established businesses focus on improving their products and services for their most demanding (and usually most profitable) customers, they exceed the needs of some segments and ignore the needs of others.

Disruptive start-ups successfully target overlooked segments, gaining a foothold by delivering more suitable service offerings. The start-ups, now emboldened by, having won over the hitherto ignore segments of clients, then move upmarket, delivering the performance that established mainstream customers require, while preserving the advantages that drove their early success.

The Harvard Business Review notes that, for many leaders of small, entrepreneurial companies, disruptive innovation the guiding star.

Rugambwa said the Kampala forum will also have a special Master Class Session in collaboration with the Africa Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) Rwanda on the role of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in nurturing the next generation of innovators.

Besides Minister Tumwebaze and Kariisa, other notable speakers will include Dr Ambrose Agona, director-general of National Agricultural Research Organisation, Stanbic chief executive Patrick Mweheire, and Lucrezia Koestler Bitete, managing director of Laboremus Consulting.




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