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MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge Has Been Revealed

Finalists announced in the MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge powered by Jumia.

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Following a rigorous selection process, involving more than 700 applicants from 26 countries across Africa, the top three finalists in the MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge powered by Jumia, have been revealed.

The challenge, which aims to boost entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as build a stronger and more sustainable business environment on the continent, kicked off in February, and is a joint initiative between MTN, Jumia and the MTN Solution Space based at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business.

Through the entrepreneurship challenge, students were invited to develop a unique digital application or smart solution to address a problem faced in Africa. Applicants heeded the call and hundreds of original ideas covering the areas of E-Commerce Marketplaces, Education Technology, Smart Cities and Solutions, and Health Technology were received.

Over the past few weeks, the ideas were narrowed down, with 11 Live Pitch events taking place from Cameroon to South Africa, to shortlist the top candidates who will eventually pitch their business ideas at the Entrepreneurship Festival in Cape Town in May 2016.

Related: How to Write a Funding Proposal

The three finalists are:

Pass.ng (Nigeria)

Pass.ng is a web, desktop and mobile-based CBT examination preparatory and testing platform, with a vision to help candidates excel in all the major Nigerian examinations and tests.

MedRX (Ghana)

MedRx app is an interactive health platform for all users who have health needs. The app connects users to health personnel from various fields of practice including hospital, pharmacy, laboratory and academia.

Vicoba (Tanzania)

Village Community Banks (Vicoba) are an important instrument of development work, allowing people who do not have access to conventional bank accounts, to access informal investment groups. Vicoba app creates a collaborative platform that includes existing tools for financial and task management in a way that is adapted for the African market.

MTN Solution Space Manager, Sarah-Anne Arnold, congratulated the winners and commented: “Universities are resource-rich, highly networked and create opportunities for students to find like-minded co-founders and explore and develop new opportunities together, and are therefore the ideal environments to encourage entrepreneurs. This was shown by the amazing talent that emerged during the incredible week of Live Pitches which took place across campuses in 11 countries, in collaboration with partner universities and sponsors. Congratulations and best of luck to the finalists.”

The top two applications from each region were selected for the semi-finals and awarded the opportunity to undertake a short course from GetSmarter in order to build new capabilities in areas such as Search Engine Optimisation or Digital Marketing.

Related: How GetSmarter Got Smarter

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The finalists will face a panel of experienced business leaders at the Entrepreneurship Festival, where the winning team will be named. The panel includes Jeremy Hodara, co-CEO Africa Internet Group, Professor Walter Baets, Director of the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, and Herman Singh, MTN Group Chief Digital Officer.

“We are incredibly impressed with the calibre of applicants and the level of innovation shown. We are looking forward to the finals and wish our contenders the best of luck. We are certain that whichever team emerges victorious, it is the continent that will be the biggest winner, as entrepreneurship and locally developed solutions are what will enable the growth and development of this continent,” says Singh.

Bankole Cardoso, the Head of Communications at Africa Internet Group added, “From the application phase, we were very impressed with the high quality business models and it was not at all easy for the judges to select from so many promising businesses. Over the last week, we have held over 100 live pitches and given young entrepreneurs across the continent a platform to showcase their business ideas and even more importantly, to receive critical feedback from experienced professionals on our judging panels. The gaps in the African entrepreneurship ecosystem are in capital and mentorship so it was great to undergo an exercise like this that will no doubt force them to improve. I now look forward to working closely with these three finalist teams to prepare them for what’s to come in Cape Town. It is an incredible opportunity for all of them to propel themselves to the next level.”

The winners will be announced at the Entrepreneurship Festival with the top team being awarded the opportunity for incubation at the premises of either the MTN Solution Space at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, or at one of 9 Jumia offices across the continent. The winner will also win a cash prize of US$25 000 towards their start-up and have access to a Facebook Start Programme to the value of US$15 000, which includes tools and services needed to build mobile applications.

MTN EC by Jumia in numbers

  • Collaborated with more than 60 universities in 13 countries in Africa
  • Over 700 applications received, including 345 videos, from 26 countries in 3 languages -English, French and Arabic
  • More than 1 000 students applied to the competition
  • Top categories are E-Commerce Marketplaces, Education Technology, Smart Cities and Health Technology
  • 11 Live Pitch events from Cameroon to South Africa, in partner universities or Jumia offices
  • Met more than 250 young entrepreneurs during Live Pitch events all over Africa
  • Top 3 countries in number of applications: Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

Infographic - MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge in numbers

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How SMEs Could Cash-In On Black Friday And Cyber Monday

Provided that SMEs prepare ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is an opportunity to leverage off the global hype, where some simple alignment to the theme can result in big benefit without much investment into promotion.

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Jesse Weinberg

Provided that SMEs prepare ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is an opportunity to leverage off the global hype, where some simple alignment to the theme can result in big benefit without much investment into promotion.

In the midst of low consumer and business confidence, tapping into the opportunities presented by these two days could contribute significantly to boosting the cashflow of SMEs.

“To benefit from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two big focus points would be the thinking around what the business will offer to customers and how it will promote the offerings ahead of the days. This allows customers to plan their purchases ahead of time, which also ensures traffic for the SME,” says Jesse Weinberg, Head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB Business.

Related: How To Prepare Your Business To Win Big On Black Friday

Weinberg provides useful tips for small businesses to help SMEs take full advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

  • Use social media – Businesses should make full use of social media as a tool to support their offers on these days. A powerful tactic seen recently is for businesses to actually ask customers what they might like to see as a special offering by the businesses to assess the potential demand from the market.
  • Gauge customer appetite – A simple poll survey offers great insights into what customers want. The real trick for business on these two days is to ensure that the special deals on offer will actually be desired by customers, especially if the business plans on taking-on extra stock in for these specials.
  • Pre-promotion of specials – Another powerful example of using social media would be to communicate the specials that you plan on running on these days to create sufficient awareness and demand by persuading customers to plan their wish lists, with the idea that the special the business wants to run will be on their list.
  • Stock management – Businesses should avoid over-buying with the hopes of profiting from the additional demand. Getting in touch with customers may help the business buy the most desirable stock to ensure it sells.

SME’s should take full advantage of special global trade days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday – it’s like being able to plug your specials into someone else’s marketing campaign for no extra charge,” concludes Weinberg.

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Leading South Africans Inspire Guests At The Standard Bank Business Breakfast In Association With Jacaranda FM

A full house of business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs emerged inspired from today’s Standard Bank Business Breakfast, in association with Jacaranda FM, held at the Montecasino Ballroom in Johannesburg.

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Standard Bank Business Breakfast

A full house of business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs emerged inspired from today’s Standard Bank Business Breakfast, in association with Jacaranda FM, held at the Montecasino Ballroom in Johannesburg.

The latest event in the ongoing Business Breakfast series featured a star-studded line-up of South African leaders and achievers in various fields sharing insights and motivational learnings. Attendees from the corporate world and the Jacaranda FM audience drew inspiration and shared networking opportunities as the speakers talked about their respective journeys to success and what kept them motivated.

“This morning’s speakers are all examples of South African excellence,” said Jacaranda FM General Manager Kevin Fine.

“They showed grit and dedication in overcoming hurdles to succeed in their fields and inspire others to do the same. We’re glad to join forces with Standard Bank to help them connect with our audience and to give our listeners insight into Standard Bank’s business offerings.”

The audience remained glued to their seats throughout the morning, as the speakers gave their views on life, what motivates them and lessons that can help business people excel in their respective sectors.

Speakers at the breakfast were principled political leader Dr Makhosi Khoza, Springbok rugby captain, Warren Whiteley, Astrophysicist and Mars One candidate, Adriana Marais and philanthropist and businesswoman Basetsana Kumalo.

dr-makhozi-khoza

Dr Makhozi Khoza speaks at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

Dr Khoza spoke on her political and business life path, and the importance of speaking truth to power. She encouraged South Africans to accept that “none but ourselves – the good men and women of this country – can save SA”. She ended her talk with an enigmatic reference to the need for “a new vehicle to take us to a prosperous society”.

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

martin-bester

Martin Bester, Jacaranda FM breakfast show host interviews Warren Whiteley at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

In conversation with Jacaranda FM morning drive show host Martin Bester, Whiteley spoke about the need for cohesion, commitment, continuity and morale in sport and in life. He explained how the successful Super Rugby team saw purpose as more important than winning.

“Our purpose is to inspire people through what we do on the field and off it,” he said.

dr-adriana-marais

Dr Adriana Marais speaks at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

Dr Marais is one of the 100 finalists to be part of Mars One, the first manned space expedition to the red planet. She emphasised the power of inspiration, reminding the audience how the Apollo moon-landings had inspired a generation of young people to embark on science careers, which led to advances in technology and communications. She explained how the innovations that solved resource scarcity in space could be used on earth to improve inefficiency and to resolve resource disputes.

Related: 13 Female Entrepreneurs Rising To The Top

basetsana-khumalo

Basetsana Khumalo speaks at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

In her address, Basetsana Kumalo reflected on her journey from Soweto schoolkid to Miss South Africa 1994, to trail-blazing businesswoman and serial entrepreneur. Having founded TV production companies, resources ventures, travel and property firms, she said her guiding wisdom was to “show up and raise your hand”.

“Challenge the status quo”, she said. “Resist gender stereotypes and help others. Your success can create a generational legacy for those that come after you.”

Jacaranda FM Marketing Manager, Minisha Patel, said the breakfast was a great success, “We offer a full spectrum of informative and entertaining content, and sharing business knowledge is part of that. It was great to see a packed house and so much passionate engagement during and after the event. Clearly our speakers’ messages resonate with the Jacaranda FM audience.”

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SEDA Launches A Centre For Entrepreneurship And Rapid Incubator In Upington

The Centres for Entrepreneurship (CfE) and Rapid Incubators form a strong link between institutions of higher learning and enterprise development.

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The Centres for Entrepreneurship (CfE) and Rapid Incubators form a strong link between institutions of higher learning and enterprise development. It is in this spirit that Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Nomathemba November will be launching the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) CfE/Rapid Incubator in Upington.

This centre will service graduates from the university and broadly young entrepreneurs from Upington and neighbouring towns such as Keimoes, Kakamas and Groblershoop.

Related: Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda)

The VUT CfE and Rapid Incubator centre strategically located to focus on predominant economic sectors within the area they are located. The VUT centre will focus on renewable energy, agriculture and tourism sectors.

These sectors are key the local economic activities within the Upington area with a potential of accommodating new entrants in particular graduates with innovative ideas who would like to take advantage of opportunities within the area. These are young people who are going to be developed into entrepreneurs through CfE/Rapid Incubator programme.

The programme is designed to develop viable innovative ideas into small enterprises after 18 months.

The CfE/Rapid Incubator is divided into two parts, the first part is CfE which is six months theoretical training programme focusing on business entrepreneurship training, innovation and idea generation training and product conceptualisation.

Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

The second part of the programme is the 12 month rapid incubation open only to qualifying selected candidates. It is during this period that actual product development and refinement takes place.

During this period the commercialisation of the product entails advanced sector specific technical training, seed funding and other business support also takes place. After the 18 months the SMME is expected to be ready for the open market and will graduate from the programme.

The CfE is able to accommodate up to 60 clients but only around 20 graduates are selected at enterprise start-up week for rapid incubation by the incubation team and Seda. This is the eighth rapid incubator to be launched out of the nine planned across the country.

Related: Tender Process For The Tough-Minded

Other provinces which have launched are: KwaZulu Natal (Esayidi TVET College); Northern Cape (Northern Cape Rural TVET College); Limpopo (Vhembe TVET College); Western Cape (False Bay TVET College); Free State (Motheo TVET); Free State (Goldfields TVET) and North West (Orbit TVET College).

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