Meet our COVID-19 Global Digital Innovation Challenge Winners:

Savvy Fellowship

Savvy is one of the winning organizations of the 2021 COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge organized by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in partnership with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The challenge identified scalable, innovative digital solutions that would enable countries, societies, communities, institutions and individuals from the global South to deal with the cascading effects of the pandemic – across governance, economic and social sectors, and wellbeing – and contribute to the organizations’ respective focus on South-South and Triangular Cooperation and digital technologies. All winners demonstrated how their digital innovations are achieving far-reaching socio-economic headwinds by embracing new and innovative approaches to respond to the current health emergencies. 

The award provided access to a 6-month programme receiving mentorship support, capacity-building training in a Boot Camp, becoming part of the Digital Innovation Ecosystem Network and seed funding to scale their impact into other Global South countries through South-South and Triangular Cooperation.  

Savvy was founded to help unemployed professionals worldwide transition into entrepreneurship. Savvy equips fellows with the skills, tools and support network to build sustainable and innovative, profitable impact-driven businesses for reducing the problem of global unemployment, which was broadened by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Based in Nigeria, they have impacted the global South from their inception. Thus far, out of over 90,000 applications, they selected and trained over 7,500 individuals in 158 countries who have built over 2,513 businesses across different sectors. As leaders of this global community, Savvy provides its content in 111 languages, including English, French, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, and Bengali.

As part of the award, Savvy participated in a week-long Boot Camp run by ITU with the support of industry experts for capacity building and refinement of their project through the use of a set of specialised tools developed by ITU. Winners co-created and defined with experts the milestones set to achieve during the 6-month programme to further expand in the Global South and fulfil their commitment to the programme. These are some of their accomplishments during the programme:

  • Consolidated an alliance with Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), an organisation serving the private sector in Kenya by bringing together local and foreign organisations from all sectors of the economy to enable them to speak with one voice when engaging government, development partners and other stakeholders on cross-cutting policy issues and programs for Social – Economic Development of the Country. The partnership will boost local businesses with opportunities for training, networking, financial linkages, mentorship and coaching, access to markets, value chains, and investment, allowing Savvy to train at least 300 students in business development, communications, and product design. However, they exceeded their goal and achieved an agreement to support and empower 1,000 young Kenyans to start their business (access the article here)
  • Migrated their e-learning platform to a dedicated server, allowing them to acquire more users and provide a better experience by improving loading speeds, uptime, and data storage. Since the change, they have accepted 307 new participants, who are currently in a 12-week training.
  • Developed a new 10-week Product Design course in collaboration with 27 of their mentors specialising in this field. The course was uploaded to their e-learning platform and launched for all their Post-Fellows to participate (access the article here)
  • Released a report profiling 13 Fellows highlighting Savvy’s contribution to their growth as entrepreneurs and their impact within their communities. This report allows for a more thorough understanding of how the organisation is supporting individuals in Southern countries and attracting more future investment (access the report here)

Chidi Nwaogu, co-founder and head of the Fellowship Program at Savvy, highlights the 6-month mentorship support provided as part of the award as one of the most valuable elements of the programme. He was supported by Lead Mentor Jeroen van der Lugt, Director of Van der Lugt Sales Coaching, and Expert Mentor Carlos Pons, Senior Digital Strategy & Innovation Lead. As a Lead Mentor, Jeroen successfully helped Savvy achieve their milestones by reviewing their new Product Design course and Impact Assessment Report, providing relevant connections to secure partnerships with state-owned institutions and giving holistic business support guidance. Carlos supported through ad hoc sessions on advanced insights for the new Product design course. 

Since the pandemic, the multi-award CEO has focused on changing the world and helping others create positive change. Chidi mentions: “Accomplishing difficult things brings power and status, but humility helps us not to abuse it. Rather, it helps us focus our resources on helping and encouraging others to rise above us and do greater things”. The exponential growth Savvy achieved whilst completing the programme, together with a new network of innovators and professionals from ITU and UNOSSC, will allow the organisation to scale up their impact further, empowering talent in the global South to drive economies through entrepreneurship and innovation.

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