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MIT/MasterCard Foundation Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion (USD$100,000 grand prize) 2018

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT in collaboration with the MasterCard Foundation is awarding ventures that contribute to financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Application Deadline: 1st June 2018

Eligible Countries: Sub-Saharan African countries

About the Award: The Zambezi Prize raises awareness of entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, encourages the flow of capital to financial inclusion ventures, and advances entrepreneurship and financial inclusion to fuel broad-based prosperity.

In order to participate in the MIT Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion, your company needs to address one of the following nine challenges:

    1. Low Financial Literacy
    2. Limited Access to Financial Institutions
    3. Low and Unpredictable Income
    4. Proof of Identity
    5. Distrust of Financial Services
    6. Difficulty in Meeting Unforeseen Shock
    7. Limited Commercial Viability
    8. Complex and Costly Partnership Agreements with Other Stakeholders
    9. Limited Financial Infrastructure

Type: Entrepreneurship


Basic Eligibility:

  • African Presence
  • Active Company
  • Early-stage
  • Founder’s intention to work full-time on the venture
  • Availability to travel to the Zambezi Boot Camp in Boston
  • Your company must solve one of the 9 financial inclusion challenges

If selected as finalists, ventures must have a founder or co-founder to attend MIT’s Entrepreneurship Development Program in Boston in 2018.

  • The prize is open to a wide spectrum of financial inclusion ventures demonstrating innovation and potential for impact, financial sustainability, and scalability.
  • The venture must be in its early stages, having progressed beyond concept.

Selection Criteria:

  1. Vision and Purpose: What is your company’s mission? What are the pain points you are addressing?
  2. Scalability: What is your business model? How do you plan to grow over the next 5 years?
  3. Inclusion Challenge: How are you addressing one of the nine financial inclusion challenges of the Zambezi Prize?
  4. Ecosystem Impact: What impact is your company currently making in your community or in your market?
  5. Level of Innovation: What is innovative about your approach to advancing financial inclusion?
  6. Leadership: What are the guiding principles that motivate you? Which specific leadership strategies do you use to contribute to financial inclusion?

Number of Awards: 10

Value of Award: $200,000 USD divided thus:

  • First place winner: $100,000 USD.
  • Second and Third place winners: $30,000 each
  • 7 Finalists – $5,000 Each

How to Apply: Apply Here

Visit the Program Webpage for Details

Award Providers: The Zambezi Prize is presented by the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT and The MasterCard Foundation.