We asked some of the latest winners about their experiences of the LSE Generate funding competition and as an entrepreneur, and here’s Julia Lipowiecka’s view:
Who are you and what does your venture do?
I’m an LSE alumna (MSc Development Studies 2014) and the CEO and Co-Founder of Sauti. Sauti, meaning voice in Swahili, is a mobile-based trade information and social accountability platform for East Africa’s cross-border traders. Our mission is to empower cross-border traders to exercise their rights as citizens of the EAC – able to trade freely and legally across borders and stand up for their rights with a loud and clear voice.
What’s it like to compete and win funding from LSE Generate?
We were extremely excited to have won funding from LSE Generate! The funding will help us roll out our pilot, and the support from LSE as an institution has enabled us to approach other funders and partners. The competition was certainly tough, with many amazing ventures competing for the prize and some hard questions from the judging panel. It therefore feels great to have gained validation for our idea and initiative through the competition, particularly because our social venture is something quite niche and new.
What’s your favourite thing about LSE Generate?
I think the LSE Generate competition is an amazing initiative and something I feel very proud of as an alumna of the LSE. The support, feedback and connections we have received through the Generate team so far has been extremely valuable in helping us plan and develop our social venture.
What’s the strangest thing that you have had to do as an entrepreneur?
Travelling to the borderlands so often allows me to see very remote and beautiful parts of East Africa. When travelling to the Kenya/Tanzania border you pass through Tsavo East, one of Kenya’s largest national parks. On my recent trip there I got to glimpse a large herd of elephants crossing the road. Often it also means using innovative means of transport to get around. When conducting research at the Kenya/Uganda border we had to use a boda-boda (motorcycle) to get around.
You can watch a selection of Lent Term winners pitch alongside Michaelmas Term winners for extra funding and the accolade of LSE Entrepreneur of the Year or LSE Social Entrepreneur of the Year on Thursday 9 June. And after the competition, on the same evening, you can celebrate all of Generate’s success stories and meet the teams behind them at our summer party!