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Opening Soon: MIT/MasterCard Foundation Zambezi Prize for Sub-Saharan African Entrepreneurs 2017

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: 30th September 2017

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.

Type: Entrepreneurship


  • The venture must help advance financial inclusion.
  • The venture must have a presence in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The venture must have a founder or co-founder that work or plan to work full-time on the venture.

If selected as finalists, ventures must have a founder or co-founder to attend MIT’s Entrepreneurship Development Program in Boston in January 2017

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 advance financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The venture must be in its early stages, having progressed beyond concept.
  • Ventures could include – but are not limited to – electronic payment systems, customer-centered payment plans, new financial products, or mobile banking instruments.

Number of Awards: 3

Value of Award:  $200K USD

The first place winner receives $100K USD. An additional $100K USD is divided among second and third place winners and a small group of finalists.

Duration of Program:  January 1 – March 31, 2018

Important Dates:

ROUND 1: Application Deadline: September 30, 2017

A selection committee reviews online applications and selects semi-finalists.

ROUND 2: Semi Finals
Notified: October 15, 2017
Supporting materials due: Nov 1, 2017

Semi-finalists submit supporting application materials. Selection committee members rank semi-finalists and conduct interviews.

ROUND 3: Finals
Notified: Nov 15, 2017
Finalist announcement: Dec 1, 2017

All finalists will attend MIT’s acclaimed Entrepreneurship Development Program in Boston.


How to Apply: 

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.

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