Luanda, Angola, 6 September 2016 – Angola’s first innovation hub, Fábrica de Sabão, hosted an open-day for the public to experience and learn how they can be a part of an emerging ecosystem for needs-based innovation and entrepreneurship in Angola. Designed to leapfrog education challenges and drive socioeconomic inclusion and growth at all levels of society, Fábrica de Sabão offers Angolans an innovation-led environment to connect, learn, create and grow.
As the country looks for new ways to diversify its economy and accelerate job creation, the hub offers an entirely fresh approach to drive innovation-led opportunities for Angolans. Fábrica de Sabão is a hybrid of incubator and accelerator hubs, co-working and makerspaces and a cultural exchange platform. It will soon have its own local radio station and a residence program for visiting mentors and artists.
Situated in the heart of Cazenga, with a population of 800,000 inhabitants and density of 23,000 people per square kilometer, construction of the innovation hub commenced in July 2015. The internal and external facades of the old soap factory as well as surrounding areas of the neighborhood have undergone a major overhaul to make the premises a safe, creative and conducive hub for sustainable social change. To date, approximately 200 children and youth from the community have been actively involved in workshops ranging from technical training using technology such as 3D printers and CNC machines, urban manufacturing, art, sports and language lessons. Local schools teachers have joined the hub’s volunteer network to carry out many of the programs.
Leaders of the community have also expressed how Fábrica de Sabão is positively impacting the community. “We are delighted by this noble initiative that brings dignity to our neighborhood and hope of a better future for our children. For a long time our community has struggled with the problem of garbage and delinquency that was practiced inside the abandoned soap factory premises, endangering our health and safety. We are certain that the initiatives taking place here will not only contribute to the education of our young but also promote the development of our community and country as a whole”, José António Guerra, Chairman of the neighborhood committee of São João, Zona 17, Sector I.
Founder, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais commented: “I believe that need and creativity are drivers of innovation, especially in a community like Cazenga where youth are highly resourceful, hungry for knowledge and receptive to new ways of learning. Ultimately it is about narrowing the gap between the formal and informal sector and creating equal opportunities that will launch an innovation-led startup culture in Angola. Through Fábrica de Sabão, we are training local communities to become their own creators, designers, producers and marketers”.
The hub comprises of numerous repurposed shipping containers that have been converted into fully-functioning office spaces, workstations and meeting rooms. Companies, startups and entrepreneurs may rent these containers for a nominal charge or use the co-working spaces. The aim is to create a collaborative culture where ideas and knowledge can be exchanged and pollinated into sustainable businesses opportunities for Angolans and by Angolans.
Land from the surrounding slum area has been cleared away for organic farming purposes, which will enable the community to create its own local supply chain for herbs, fruits and vegetables. The hub also has its own sports and market place area for the community.
Fábrica de Sabão will bring together experts and mentors from around the world to share knowledge, harness creative ideas into tangible outcomes and help launch sustainable businesses in Angola.