Co- Creation for Innovation

Make-IT in Africa in partnership with BongoHive launched a call for startup applications for the Open Innovation Program Zambia (OIP) on the 6th of April, 2023.

The Open Innovation Program initiates collaboration between the private and public sectors and startups. The goal of  OIP is to bridge the gap between private and public sector innovation needs and startups through a guided co-creation process.

The program which has previously been rolled out in Rwanda is designed to enable entrepreneurs to connect with stakeholders such as government agencies, investors, and corporates in the sectors of GreenTech, Smart Cities and FinTech. 

What makes the program unique is that startups will go through a co-creation process together to make sure the innovative solutions and products meet public needs and are designed for the user in the end. The program also provides selected startups access to technical expertise, mentoring, and training to help them scale their businesses.

Identifying needs, challenges and trends together with stakeholders

Prior to the startup applications launch, private and public stakeholders were identified to engage in insight formation sessions to deliberate on needs, challenges and trends identified in the three areas of focus: Green technology, Smart Cities and Financial technology.

The sessions further gave way to the formulation of challenge statements for the three focus areas to be tackled by startups taking part in the OIP.

The OIP will help startups in Zambia to create innovative solutions that address these formulated challenges and contribute to the development of their local infrastructure respectively.


Innovation in the Green Tech, Fintech and Smart Cities sectors is particularly important for a number of reasons:

  • In the Smart Cities sector, innovation is essential for the development of smarter, more sustainable cities that use technology to optimize standards of life. Areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and artificial intelligence (AI) can help create more efficient and effective urban systems, such as transportation, energy, and waste management.
  • Further, innovation is critical in the development of sustainable technologies that can address environmental challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, and pollution.
  • In the same vein, the development of the Fintech sector gives rise to the addition of new financial technologies that can improve financial inclusion, increase access, and improve sector efficiency. 

15 startups will be chosen to take part in the Open Innovation Program

After the call for applications which will run from 6th April to 18th May, 15 startups from all three areas will participate in a co-creation process with stakeholders within the ecosystem. The startups will receive mentoring, training, and technical expertise from experienced professionals. The stakeholders will further provide guidance, support, and feedback to the startups, helping them to refine their solutions and scale their businesses.

The co-creation process will culminate in a Demo Day, where startups will showcase their solutions to both private and public stakeholders with the aim to get buy-in and support.

The launch of the Open Innovation Program by Make-IT in Africa and BongoHive is a significant step towards fostering innovation and collaboration between entrepreneurs and public and private stakeholders in Zambia. 

We look forward to seeing the impact that the program will have on the startup ecosystem in Zambia and beyond.

About Make-IT in Africa

Make-IT in Africa believes in the catalytic power of African Innovation and digital technologies for green and sustainable development. In close collaboration with digital visionaries like startups, innovation enablers and political partners, Make-IT in Africa empowers African innovation ecosystems.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH implements this project on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). For further information visit:

About BongoHive

BongoHive is Zambia’s first technology and innovation hub. Established in May 2011.

We work with great minds to build viable solutions that change the world.

We do this by providing a range of startup and tech programs, workshops and events all focused on making Zambia Africa’s next hotbed of innovation. The programs that we have created have been crafted to guide startups through the entrepreneurial journey; from idea right through to scale.

The BongoHive Group also includes BongoHive Consult, a digital transformation and innovation consulting firm, and Hive Co-working, a coworking facility. For more information visit 

Apply for the program here