Success of the 3rd edition of the X-Afrique Forum
On March 10, entrepreneurs, investors and political figures gathered on the campus of l'X to promote entrepreneurship in Africa. Oussama Ourahou, President of the association X-Afrique which organizes the Forum, assesses this third edition which welcomed nearly 700 participants.
> Why was the X-Afrique Forum created?
The X-Afrique Forum was organized for the first time two years ago, in 2016, mainly to highlight African entrepreneurs and project promoters, and also to act as a bridge between these entrepreneurs and investors. We also wanted to create an Africa-themed day at École Polytechnique, which did not exist so far, with conferences and round tables inviting high-level guests to address issues directly related to continent. Our goal is to celebrate and highlight Africa at l'X during one day and we are the only student association that organizes such an event in France.
> Why does an African start-up applies to participate in this Forum?
Sixty start-ups from the African continent submitted an application this year and twenty of them were selected and invited to the Forum. A novelty for this edition: we organized a pitch contest chaired by a jury of experts during which the start-ups were able to present their projects. Such prizes were awarded at the end of the competition as financial assistance, a monitoring offered by the École Polytechnique's incubator and media support offered by the magazine Afrique Jeune Entrepreneur. Otherwise, this Forum offers start-ups the opportunity to meet and exchange with the top decision-makers from Africa.
> How has the Forum evolved since its creation?
The Forum has grown since its inception in 2016. First of all, we have been able to find more funding than in previous years by increasing from two to six partners this year. Engie, the EDF Foundation, Société Générale, Eva Group, Xprojet and Royal Air Maroc sponsored the event.
Moreover, while so far the Forum was held over half a day, it was open as early as 10 am this year. We also integrated a cultural component to this event by exhibiting photos of the Congolese artist Baudouin Mouanda and offering a tasting of Senegalese cuisine.
In addition, we welcomed high-level speakers such as Attijari WafaBank President and CEO, Ismail Douiri, EDF Africa and Middle East CEO Valérie Levkov, and the CEO of Engie Africa, Bruno Bensasson.
Another sign of success: we welcomed nearly 700 participants this year, against 200 for the first edition and 400 for the second. Finally, for the next edition, we hope to increase the number of exhibitors and thus increase from 12 to 25.