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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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SMMEs So Much Focus On Funding, But What About Skills

A study by StatsSA which surveyed households and obtained evidence relating to skills development and unemployment between 1994 and 2014 showed the following.

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I think we can all agree that the funding of small businesses is only part of the solution. What is possibly more important (as an enabler) is the initial assessment of the level and adequacy of skills existing within new or developing enterprises and to evaluate what further skills development or training is required to ensure a firm business foundation and sustainable growth is achieved.

A study by StatsSA which surveyed households and obtained evidence relating to skills development and unemployment between 1994 and 2014 showed the following:

  • During this time frame across the South African working population of households there was an increase in skilled labour (21% to 25%), with a shift away from semi and low-skilled labour.
  • What is interesting to note in the growth of skilled labour is the disparity within the different race groups.

*For the purpose of this analysis, the occupation types were used to infer skills levels based on the Quarterly Labour Force Survey. Skilled: manager, professional, technical. Semi-skilled: sales and services, clerk, machine operator. Low-skilled: domestic worker.

This is clear evidence that the role of enterprise and supplier development is a crucial one needed to up-skill and train the broader population. It is one thing to provide finance and access to markets, but without the appropriate skills development to make these investments sustainable is would be a fruitless exercise.

Related: 6 Money Management Tips For First-Time Entrepreneurs

The role that the private sector plays in post investment business support and capacity building is incredibly important. There is a requirement to build both technical skills as well as overall business management skills. This in my view is when we will start seeing real impact. In order for the enterprises to be effective in the contracts that they are awarded a focus on skills development (by both parties) is required.

In an economy where growth has crawled to a near halt, SMMEs cannot be expected to be the holy-grail for job creation. Making an impact in increasing the potential salary earning or employable workforce is key and therefore skills development requires a multi-faceted approach:

  1. From early education phase – where emphasis must be placed at school level for entrepreneurship training and opportunities is a key enabler. Entrepreneurship should in essence become a career option to consider. Innovation must be incubated. The world is changing and the skills required to be productive are changing as well.
  2. Clear regulations and commitment to quality interventions should be stipulated at policy level to incentivise skills development/ skills transfer from large corporates to small businesses.
  3. Without looking at the bigger picture these developmental areas are without support – so a holistic approach to skills development – mentorship, networking and overall business acumen are skills that often distinguish between those who do well and those who don’t in business. It needs to all work harmoniously and as an effective and efficient ecosystem reliant on each other’s strengths and support and mutually beneficial objectives.

Related: 3 Things You Must Have In Place To Get That Start-up Bank Finance

At the end of the day, an enterprise should leave an ESD programme empowered to stand and survive in the business world. We know that we are losing the challenge when time and time again we see developing enterprises moving from one ESD programme to another with nothing to show for it. Monitoring and evaluation of these enterprises is therefore also essential to track growth and success – but also to identify areas of weakness or need for further intervention.

At the heart of ESD is the notion that larges businesses/ corporates should move beyond compliance (aka box-ticking) and toward the heart of transformation. Intertwined here is the responsibility to use development interventions and activities in a deliberate and focused manner so that the skills level in small businesses can move upwards and ensure the longevity and success of growing enterprises.

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Become The Number One Pitch Hustler With The ENGEN Pitch & Polish Programme

The ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, hosted by Engen Petroleum Ltd and Nedbank, powered by Raizcorp and supported by national media partner, Caxton Local Media, is based on teaching entrepreneurs to present a winning pitch that is clear and focused.

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ENGEN Pitch Polish final 30 Nov 17

The word “hustle” comes from a Dutch word that means “to shake things up”. Traditionally, the English word “hustler” was used to describe a dishonest person, who would do anything to make money. Hustling is, however, no longer a dirty word; nowadays, a hustler is someone who makes things happen. Hustling is about movement, activity and shaking things up in a positive way – the very things that entrepreneurs need to succeed!

Successful hustlers exist everywhere, and all entrepreneurs have much to learn from those who have mastered the art of the hustle! Whether they are building a business, selling a product or offering a service, hustlers focus on their goal and do whatever it takes to achieve the goal. Hustlers put in the hours and don’t waste time doing things that don’t contribute to their success in some way.

Hustlers grab every opportunity to pitch their business to potential funders and clients. They are seasoned pitch artists, and having secured the opportunity to pitch, know exactly what they want to say. Hustlers present a polished pitch! For this reason, the ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, hosted by Engen Petroleum Ltd and Nedbank, powered by Raizcorp and supported by national media partner, Caxton Local Media, is based on teaching entrepreneurs to present a winning pitch that is clear and focused.

Related: What Type Of Pitcher Are You?

“With us you are number one”, the headline sponsor Engen’s slogan, could just as easily apply to the hustler’s attitude towards his clients and business. Hustlers put their clients first. Their elevator pitch is ready to go and hustlers, always thinking on their feet, can adapt their pitch to meet the needs of different audiences.

Nedbank, a co-sponsor of ENGEN Pitch & Polish, encourages people to “make your money hustle for you”. Hustlers know how to do this. They think carefully about their pricing model, know how to calculate profit, and make their money work for them!

Hustlers do not give up when they hear “no”. They see rejection as an opportunity to be overcome, not a roadblock. At ENGEN Pitch & Polish, entrepreneurs are subjected to many “no’s” as they learn to perfect their pitches. Those who learn to use this feedback to their advantage – are the hustlers!

engen-pitch-polish-bruce-diale-30-nov-17

Bruce Diale

The pitch that was delivered from the heart, with the greatest ease, confidence, and precision – as well as energy and enthusiasm – were the qualities that caught the eye of the judges, and resulted in Bruce Diale, from Polokwane, winning the 2017 ENGEN Pitch and Polish programme, at an exclusive and prestigious event, held in Johannesburg, on 30th November. Bruce’s Agri-consulting business has developed, and patented, Gardenizly, an innovative vegetable gardening product, which is both water and space efficient.

This was not the only reason for his victory. “We chose Bruce as this year’s winner,” says Joe Mahlo, GM for Sales and Marketing, from Engen Petroleum Ltd, who was one of this year’s judges, “because he was clear on the value that his product and business will add to his clients and, indeed, to the world.” This is yet another indispensable quality of the hustler. Watch this space. A hustler has been born!

Related: 10 Ways To Beat The Odds And Get That Funding For Your Start-Up

engen-pitch-polish-refilwe-matsaneng-30-nov-17

Refilwe Matsaneng

Second place was awarded to Refilwe Matsaneng, from Welkom, for her hair products business, GloLooks. Third place went to Renschia Manuel, from Cape Town, for her portable urban veggie growing boxes, GrowBox, business.

“It’s intimidating and unnerving to ask for money,” says Grace Govender, Head of New Business and Support for Relationship Banking, Nedbank. “To overcome this, entrepreneurs must focus on being properly prepared and authentic.”

To further help the entrepreneurs, Caxton Local Media, with over 140 publications, whose roots, too, are deeply embedded in the country, awarded the winner with R20,000 in advertising. “Caxton is firmly established in, and supportive of, local communities in South Africa and the partnership with ENGEN Pitch & Polish, along with Engen, Nedbank and Raizcorp, is a natural fit. We all believe in building small business, from grassroots up,” explains Dejane Poil, Head of Innovation at Caxton.

There was magic on the night as esteemed guests offered these three entrepreneurs further opportunities for growth and expansion.

ENGEN Pitch & Polish’s power lies in its ability to identify, through their pitch, the entrepreneurs that are number one hustlers. “These are the entrepreneurs who demonstrate the ambition to excel and the motivation to put in the work,” says Allon Raiz, the originator of the Pitch & Polish concept, now in its eighth year of identifying entrepreneurs who truly understand what it means to up the hustle!

For more information, visit www.pitchandpolish.com.

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R33 Million Available In SME Grant Funding

The Craft + Design Institute (CDI) has launched three funds to support the growth, job creation and innovation of SME’s.

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The Craft + Design Institute (CDI) has raised R33 million to establish three funds to support SME growth – a Growth Fund, a Design Innovation Seed Fund and a Loan Book. These three funds will be managed by the investment arm, CDI Capital.

“In most countries, SMEs play a vital role as drivers of economic growth, innovation and job creation, but in South Africa this value is yet to be properly realised. To achieve this, the challenges experienced by SMEs need to be addressed, namely access to markets, finance and credit, infrastructure, resources for R&D, and access to adequately skilled and work ready labour,” explains Erica Elk, Executive Director of the CDI.

The funding’s aim is to create 60 growth-orientated SME’s and 20 innovation technological solutions, which in turn will create 600 permanent jobs over the course of three years.

Related: 3 Things You Must Have In Place To Get That Start-up Bank Finance

“We have put a significant amount of work into developing these offerings, not only ensuring good governance and appropriate monitoring and evaluation measures, but realising real and sustainable impact with the businesses we support. We are excited to have raised R33 million to launch this new funding for SMEs, and we thank our funders and supporters – we look forward to making meaningful investments,” says Elk.

The Growth Fund

The Growth Fund is targeted at business with a turnover of assets of more than R1 million, with the ability to create permanent jobs. Applications for this fund open on the 27th November and close on the 31st of December 2017.

The Growth Fund invites SME’s that are experiencing growth or equipped for expansion and able to create sustainable quality jobs to apply for grant funding.

Criteria for the Growth Fund

  • Controlling interest in the business (51%) must be a South African citizen with valid South African Identity Document or legal entities controlled by South African citizens with valid South African Identity Documents or permanent residents who hold a valid RSA ID document.
  • All business operations must be conducted within the borders of South Africa.
  • Must be an existing business, preference will be given to businesses that have been trading for two years or more. The business should operate in the craft, design and light manufacturing sectors, but other industries will also be considered.
  • The business will need a turnover or assets of more than R1 million and a willingness to create permanent employment. It must demonstrate year-on-year growth and/or the potential for sufficient growth, while being tax compliant.
  • The applicants business will need to create one permanent employee job per grant investment of R21 000 and prepared to contribute an additional 20% of the grant amount in cash to be used in the business.

For more information and further criteria visit here.

Related: If You’re Trying To Raise Money, Doing Any Of These 9 Things May Scare Off Investors

The Design Innovation Seed Fund

The Design Innovation Seed Fund is open to investors who have protectable innovative technological solutions that can impact specific sectors and create permanent employment. Applications for this fund open on the 27th of November and close on the 31st of December 2017.

This fund is available to individuals and SME’s with pre-revenue innovative technology and tech-enabled ideas and products within specific sectors to apply.

Criteria for the Design Innovation Seed Fund

  • Western Cape based early-stage SME’s/entrepreneurs/researchers.
  • Students at Western Cape tertiary institutions where the institution doesn’t have an Intellectual Property claim to the product/service. Please consult institution’s Intellectual Property policy.
  • Pre-revenue businesses in incubation or entering incubation or existing SMEs with new products/innovation that is still pre-revenue.

Sector focus 2018/2019:

  • Agriprocessing
  • Biotechnology
  • Health
  • Manufacturing
  • Water Conservation
  • Alternative Building Materials
  • Wild Card* (*projects outside these sectors can be considered).

Related: The Truth About Venture Capital Funding

How to Apply for Funding

Click here for more on the criteria and further information visit here.

Loan Book

In addition to the grant funds, CDI Capital is also launching a R3.5 million working capital and term loan facility as reduced rates for the entire three year project. This will provide access to cash flow during the growth stages of SME’s that qualify for these funds and others.

For more information visit CDI Capital.

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