Mauritius, 13 July 2020: Three female entrepreneurs from Mauritius have been recognised for their pioneering initiatives in the health and digital fields in the annual WIA54 competition to encourage female entrepreneurship in Africa, launched by the Women in Africa Initiative.
Dr Salonee Cunthen Ujoodha, Managing Director of Health Monitor Limited, was announced as a winner in the Health category for Southern Africa. In the Digital category for Southern Africa, Jessica Teerovengadum-Naga, Managing Director of Digital Associates Limited, was announced as one of the winners, while Veda Dean, Co-Founder and COO of Panda & Wolf Holding, was announced as one of the finalists.
Launched by the Women in Africa initiative, through its WIA Philanthropy Endowment Fund and with the support of its patrons Société Générale, Roland Berger, Honoris United Universities, GFI Informatique, Stop Hunger, DS Avocats and the Total Foundation, WIA 54 has selected 54 projects from the 5 regions of Africa.
Since the start of the selection campaign for 2020, 3,800 applications from the continent’s 54 countries and 7 sectors of activities have been submitted by talented women who wish to disrupt the present and future of the continent. Consultants from the firm Roland Berger have undertaken an analysis of all of these applications in order to select the 54 winning start-ups. Each proposal submitted was examined according to specific criteria such as the social impact of the proposed technologies, products and services, the scalability of the business model and their growth potential and the ability of the teams to execute. In April 2020, an international jury selected the 54 winners from the 143 pre-selected entrepreneurs, which were announced on 25 June.
Samantha Seewoosurrun, WIA Ambassador for Mauritius, said:
“I am delighted that three female entrepreneurs from Mauritius have been recognised in the WIA54 competition. Women entrepreneurs have a huge role to play in the future of the African continent, bringing their drive, creativity and dynamism. I would like to warmly congratulate Salonee, Jessica and Veda on all of their achievements.”
The winners will be part of the WIA Link digital platform to gain access to the network of more than 2000 members, developed around the world. Encouraged and supported by the WIA Initiative, the winners and their start-ups will benefit from a reach on the continent and internationally, strong networking with leaders and investors, training in one of the Honoris group training institutions, mentoring, budgets to promote their business offered by Facebook and others. Throughout the year, the winners will be accompanied by WIA and its patrons by virtual bootcamps that will allow them to strengthen their project.
Dr Salonee Cunthen Ujoodha, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Health Monitor Limited
Dr Salonee Cunthen Ujoodha is the co-founder and Managing Director of Health Monitor Limited (HML), a private medical company set up in 2019, offering a range on healthcare services and training programs in Mauritius. Since Mauritius has a high incidence of breast cancer, HML has introduced an innovative and unique screening device called Breast-i in Mauritius, based on expertise which Dr Salonee has gathered from the UK and Nigeria.
HML aims to bridge the existing gap in local screening facilities so as to fight the cancer scourge, particularly breast cancer, which represented over 40% of all cancer cases in females in 2018. HML is seeking to reach 50% of the female population in Mauritius by 2022 with its painless, accurate (94%) and affordable screening procedure, which does not use any harmful radiation, as compared to other conventional screening techniques. The company works in partnership with an international company, Monitor Healthcare Limited, which has the same vision of decreasing the burden of breast cancer across the whole of Africa.
Dr Salonee Cunthen Ujoodha said:
“It was already a privilege to be among the 143 finalists, Health sector, together with two other Mauritians from the Digital and Technology Sector. Being recognized by the international jury and to be among the WIA54 2020 winners is an honour for me and Health Monitor Limited to represent our beloved country Mauritius.”
“A recognition by Roland Berger, one of the top strategy consulting firms in the world is already an indication that Health Monitor Limited is on the right track to bring more innovation to our healthcare system in Mauritius. Being a laureate of WIA54 is an amazing experience and feeling, and the opportunities ahead will definitely be beneficial for both Health Monitor Limited and the health sector of Mauritius.”
“A very positive aspect to be the laureate of WIA54 is benefitting from the mentorship program for a whole year and beyond, to enhance my leadership and entrepreneurial skills, thus ensuring the success of our project to be recognised not only nationwide but on an international level.”
Jessica Teerovengadum-Naga, Managing Director, Digital Associates Ltd
Jessica was announced as one of the winners in the Digital category for Southern Africa after setting up Digital Associates Limited in 2019, as a pan-African law firm having strong links to a number of African countries. The law firm has special expertise in FinTech and digitalization, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) related matters and was set up, in part, to meet the demands of a changing ecosystem. She has since co-founded the Digital Partners Network to provide a ‘one stop-shop’ of multidisciplinary services to clients in the digital and automation sphere.
She has also co-founded the SECDEX group, a regulated market infrastructure located in the Seychelles, which includes an exchange, a clearing house, a securities depository and a digital custodian, with the intent to bring funding and liquidity to African businesses, including SMEs.
Jessica Teerovengadum-Naga said:
“It is inspiring to be connected to so many talented women in varied areas of expertise across Africa. Being an entrepreneur often means facing challenges alone and it is motivating to listen to stories of women who have chosen a similar path of creation, which is inevitably linked to uncertainty.”
« I am passionate about FinTech and digitalisation. I have created Digital Associates Ltd (part of the Digital Partners Network Group), a licensed law firm, which specialises in these areas. Digitalisation can assist to address faster, cost efficiently and with innovation some major infrastructure deficiencies in Africa.”
« Digitalisation can also help bridge the gender gap, by allowing flexible e-learning and rendering tertiary education less costly, allowing flexi-work possibilities for working mothers and removing reliance on traditional networks to build businesses as online apps and platforms, with potentially wide reach and which are gender neutral.”
“WIA 54 creates a family of like-minded women, with attachment to Africa. More can be achieved collectively and I cannot wait to work more closely with my peers from WIA54 for the benefit of the continent as a whole.”
Veda Dean, Co-Founder and COO, Panda & Wolf Holding
Veda Dean was announced as one of the finalists in the Digital category in Southern Africa representing Eco-Warriors™, which is the first ever educational mobile game under the UNESCO Patronage in Africa, that teaches kids aged 6-11, through gamification, the actions related to waste sorting and recycling. The app was developed as a social initiative by Panda & Wolf Holding.
Veda Dean said: “Being one of the finalists of the WIA54 has proved that the impact of our project Eco-Warriors™ has echoed far beyond the Indian Ocean. It gives me immense pleasure to have had the opportunity as a Female Role Model to position Mauritius Internationally in the Digital sphere and that a platform as WIA54 is putting the right kind of approach in terms of Mentorship programs for Women across Africa.”
“Representing Mauritius as a Digital Woman Entrepreneur in the Southern African Region has made me determined to explore beyond this region and acknowledge the fact that This is THE Best time to be a Woman Entrepreneur as with the advent of technology, Female leadership is receiving the right kind of attention that it deserves.”
Besides the 54 winners from the 5 regions of Africa, there will be 8 ‘revelations’ and 1 Gold Award winner to be announced on the TV channel TV5MONDE in September 2020.
About the WIA Initiative
Launched in 2017 by Aude De Thuin, with Hafsat Abiola from Nigeria as its President, the Women in Africa (WIA) Initiative is the first international platform for the economic development and support of leading and high-potential African women. Through its programs, summits and digital platform WIA Link, WIA contributes to the advancement of a new generation of African women who invent inspiring leadership to positively change the continent’s future. Its WIA Philanthropy Foundation has the mission to support women in entrepreneurship, and it develops various programs dedicated to education, mentoring, agriculture, coding and more broadly to the economy. WIA Philanthropy also launched with Working Ladies a first Hub dedicated to women entrepreneurs in Kinshasa in March 2019.
Readers can find all the winners on the Women in Africa website: https://wia-initiative.com/wia-54-2/
 The sectors represented: 10% health, 11% digital, 10% sustainable development, 15% education, 19% creative industries, 20% agriculture, 15% other sectors.