Open-innovation challenge in Africa

Saint-Gobain and NOVA are launching a challenge in Africa to identify the continent's most innovative startups and develop new solutions, particularly in e-commerce.


The Group places innovation at the heart of its strategy. This is why Saint-Gobain in Africa and NOVA – the Group's venture capital arm - are joining forces with AfricArena – a leading local incubator - to launch an open innovation challenge, aimed at e-commerce and/or FinTech startups based in Egypt, Kenya or South Africa. This comes at a time when e-commerce has surged ahead on the continent and is becoming a must for gaining market share.

Since 2018, Saint-Gobain and AfricArena have partnered in a number of open-innovation challenges to identify innovative technological solutions, ranging from analytical tools for predicting climate change to digital platforms for employee upskilling. 

The aim of this new challenge is to find Marketplace, payment platform, community layby or savings (stokvels, tontine or equivalent) that enables consumers, particularly in informal markets, to tokenize vouchers redeemable in Saint-Gobain products at various DIY retailers.

3 startups (each from the aforementioned markets) will be selected to pitch at the annual AfricArena 2021 Summit in Cape Town in late November - where they will showcase their solutions in front of Saint-Gobain executives as well as investors looking for world class talent to partner with. 

Before the Summit, the finalists will also participate in a full day of workshops (The Founders Bootcamp, in partnership with FSAT Labs) on pitching, engaging with investors and business development.

The winning startup (and potential finalists) will have the opportunity to work with Saint-Gobain businesses to deploy a POC solution. Furthermore, AfricArena will award each of the 3 finalist startups US$10,000 worth of Amazon Web Services credit.

By partnering with AfricArena for this challenge, Saint-Gobain aims not only to encourage open innovation that meets the real needs of the Group, but also to identify the best startups in Africa that will contribute to the evolution of the FinTech e-commerce sectors on the continent through their innovative solutions.

More information about NOVA by Saint-Gobain