List of Competitions and Award Opportunities for African Entrepreneurs

Are you an entrepreneur in need of fund to bring your bright idea to limelight?

Or have you made innovative progress as an entrepreneur in Africa and need a platform to demonstrate your achievements?

A number of organizations offer business plan competitions and awards to support and encourage budding and successful entrepreneurs in Africa and worldwide.

To help you get acquainted with some of these programs, we have compiled a list of business plan competitions and awards for African entrepreneurs. Most of these programs are offered annually, so you can keep up for the next application process.

African entrepreneur competition

The Anzisha Prize seeks to award young entrepreneurs who have developed and implemented innovative solutions to social challenges or started successful businesses within their communities. 12 finalists from across Africa will win an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa to be a part of a week-long entrepreneurship workshop and conference at the African Leadership Academy campus on the outskirts of Johannesburg.  The grand prize winners, selected from these finalists, will share prizes worth $75,000 USD.

IsDB Business Plan Competition for Sub-Saharan Countries. The Business Plan Competition is a recently introduced initiative of the IsDB Group. In this competition, candidates come together to develop and further refine their business plans to launch their start-ups or grow ventures, while competing for the cash prizes!

Development Innovation Ventures aims to find and support breakthrough solutions to the world’s most important development challenges—interventions with the power to change millions of lives at a fraction of the usual cost.  Through its grant program DIV invests in these game-changing ideas, rigorously tests them using cutting-edge analytical methods, and scales solutions that prove they work.

BID Network and 7 investment partners have announced the Fast5 Challenge, a new competition designed to support the financing of leading fast growing established businesses in emerging markets. The Fast5 Challenge aims to identify the most sustainable companies, showcasing them on the international stage and presenting them to ready-to-invest financiers. Our investment partners are eager to invest up to $5 million in great opportunities in any sectors of industry although some have preferences for Agri-businesses and Clean Energy.

The Argidius Foundation and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) have announced the Argidius-ANDE Finance Challenge (AAFC), a new competition designed to support innovative ways to provide capital to small businesses in emerging markets that require $20,000-$250,000 in early stage capital.  The goal of the challenge is to accelerate the development of innovative and sustainable solutions in a number of emerging markets, ideally establishing models that can be replicated.

Business Plan Competitions (BPC)  is the website up to date listing of entrepreneurship contests and business plan competitions.

In 2011, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Western Union  launched the second African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM II). ADM II encourages sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting U.S.-based African Diaspora and other entrepreneurs through grant funding and technical assistance facilities. ADM II Awardees are individuals with demonstrable connections to or experience in Africa, who have innovative and high-impact start-ups and established businesses on the continent.

The African Innovation Prize, supported by De La Rue, contributes to the development of entrepreneurs by incentivizing the most promising African university students to create sustainable and locally driven business models. The African Innovation Prize is a UK-based charity providing training and seed funding to university students in Sub-Saharan Africa. It aims to inspire students’ entrepreneurial ideas and support their development into investment ready propositions

Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year awards are the world’s most prestigious business awards for entrepreneurs. The award encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement.

Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) will be awarding $150,000 to winners who are unlocking new African potential through market-oriented solutions for African led-development. Priority areas for the 2014 Prize included: agriculture and agribusiness; environment, energy, and water; health and well-being; information communications technologies; and manufacturing and service industry.

The African Media Initiative (AMI), the continent’s largest association of media owners and operators, has announced a $1 million fund to spur innovation in the news industry. The African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC) is designed to encourage experimentation in digital technologies and support the best innovations that strengthen African news organizations. Although, it is no longer accepting proposals for this year’s competition, there’s always next year.

The African Leadership Network celebrates entrepreneurs by hosting the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurs, the most distinguished business and entrepreneurship awards programme in Africa, which considers candidates from African Nations. The award recognize and award exceptional entrepreneurial leaders who serve as role models to Africa’s aspiring entreprenuers and demonstrate business execellence, innovation and profitability.

The Saville Foundation Pan-African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education is a competition initiated by Teach a Man to Fish and generously sponsored by our partner organization Educating Africa. The competition is open to all organizations based in Africa working in education, from primary through to tertiary, as well as in non-formal and adult education. As well as a First Prize of $10,000 and two Runners-Up Prizes of $5,000, there are up to 50 Awards of $1,000 available for the best entry from every country on the continent.

Launched in 2009, the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition is co-organized by the MENA-OECD Investment Programme, aims to promote entrepreneurship and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Middle East and North Africa, by mentoring entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to come up with the perfect business plan for their startup or expanding their young enterprises.

The Zayed Future Energy Prize will invite entries from companies, individuals, organizations and high schools to submit applications by August 5, 2013, for a chance to win part of the US$4 million prize fund. The scope of the Prize has also been broadened to include five distinct categories: Large Corporations, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Lifetime Achievement, and the newly instituted Global High School Prize.

Seed Engine is a South African organization that works with entrepreneurs to develop ideas, hone business skills and invest in business ventures. Through an application process Seed Engine selects 10 business ventures throughout the year to take part in their program. Selected ventures receive R100000 in seed capital to fund their business initiatives and attend a 13 week program where they receive mentorship and support through the business start up process.

DEMO Africa is the place where the most innovative companies from African countries come to launch their products and announce to Africa and the world what they have developed. To be eligible to launch on the DEMO Africa stage applicants MUST have a working product (Not an idea) ready for market

African Achievers Awards is a set of annual awards bestowed on Africa’s most accomplished achievers in politics, diplomacy and entrepreneurship. Now in its fourth year, the African Achievers Awards recognizes individuals and organizations that selflessly devote their time and talents toward improving Africa’s international profile and building stronger, integrated communities in Africa.

The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) is a bilateral trust fund administered by the African Development Bank – anchored in a generous commitment of USD 57 million by the Government of Denmark – to support small and medium clean energy and energy efficiency projects in Africa.

The Dell Social Innovation Challenge identifies and supports promising young social innovators who dedicate themselves to solving the world’s most pressing problems with their transformative ideas. We provide university students with world-class teaching and training, as well as with start-up capital and access to a network of mentors and advisors.

INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future features a series of multi-disciplinary contests across top campuses in Africa and India. The contests are aimed at offering students and professionals from both geographies a common platform for future collaborations in business, design and culture.

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