Eastern Africa Startup Awards

Do you want to expand your tech business into global markets? Apply for the Eastern Africa Startup Awards before 31 January 2023

The Global Startup Awards, an independent startup ecosystem competition, invites applicants for the Eastern Africa Startup Awards. The Eastern Africa Startup Awards connect East African tech startups across the region to a global network of leading innovators and investors. The competition will award and support entrepreneurs and innovation ecosystem leaders making an impact in the following areas:

  • Environmental sustainability
  • Inclusive economic growth
  • Emerging technologies and innovation
  • Cross-border collaboration

Successful applicants in the competition will benefit from the following:

  • Access to new markets
  • Access to funding opportunities
  • Access to a global network of leaders
  • Exposure on a global stage

The competition process also brings together local ambassadors, country partners, national and international jury members, and key advisors to identify innovative startups in all aspects of the  ecosystem.

To apply for the competition, visit: Applications

Call for applications for the Qualcomm Make in Africa Startup Mentorship program! Apply before 28 February 2023

Quality Communications (Qualcomm) invites applicants for the Qualcomm Make in Africa Startup Mentorship program. Through the program, Qualcomm seeks to identify and support promising early-stage startups interested in applying advanced connectivity and processing tech to innovate end-to-end systems solutions. Successful applicants will receive the following benefits:

  • One-on-one mentorship with Qualcomm leaders regularly until product realization
  • Masterclass on product management, pitch clinic, hardware architecture and intellectual property rights
  • Demo day with the startup ecosystem
  • Networking with industry leaders, venture capitalists, investors and other accelerators

To apply for the program, visit: Applications

Virtual Partnership Programme

Are you a tech startup looking to partner with tech companies in Europe? Apply for the Virtual Partnership Programme before 29 January 2023

On behalf of the AEDIB|NET consortium, the European Business and Innovation Centre Network (EBN) invites applicants to participate in one of the AEDIB|NET Virtual Partnership Programme managed by two innovation centres (1 in Africa and 1 in Europe).

The program seeks 100 participants (50 from Africa and 50 from Europe) to engage in learning and knowledge exchange exercises. The program is designed with core shared elements for the startups and tailor-made components meeting the specific needs of participating companies.

Through the program, participants will gain skills and knowledge in several areas including business development, strategic planning, startup management fundraising, networking, and sustainability. The program is designed around the following pillars:

  • Capacity-building
  • Peer-learning
  • Problem-solving
  • Learning-by-doing

Thirty successful participants will have the opportunity to participate in a physical boot camp (15 for Africa and 15 for Europe). Each boot camp will be organized in conjunction with a major event during which participants will receive investment readiness training and an opportunity to pitch in front of a jury and investors.

Interested participants should have a company legally registered within their country’s current legislation. They must also be related to one of the groups of specialisation of the project or in the process of developing a product or service applicable to any of the following sectors:

  • Climate Smart Agriculture
  • Smart Cities
  • Digital Trade
  • Clean Tech

To apply, visit: Applications


Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? Apply for the 2024 cohort of the year-long MEST Africa entrepreneurial training program to build your skills!

The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology offers 12-month graduate-level training to aspiring African entrepreneurs. The 2024 class, also known as Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs), will complete a graduate-level course in software development, business, and communication with a specific focus on practical implementation. MEST is an African-wide tech entrepreneur training program, seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for tech startups in Africa. The MEST program is a fully sponsored opportunity.

Through the program, EITs will receive intensive entrepreneurial training and extensive hands-on project work to master industry-proven methodologies for developing world-class tech businesses from industry experts and business executives.

Interested applicants must fulfil the following to be eligible to enroll:

  • Have a degree from a university or technical college or equivalent experience with at least two years of corporate and startup experience
  • Have excellent skills in either communications, business, or software development, enthusiasm for tech entrepreneurship, and knowledge of how to use tech to achieve business results
  • Demonstrate a willingness to commit to a complete residential program for a whole year
  • Be a disciplined self-starter that can work and deliver assignments and projects
  • Have the ability to work well in teams with proven academic or professional excellence
  • Demonstrate leadership abilities

Interested applicants should apply before 26 February 2023.

To apply, visit MEST Application

Small Business

Are you a startup with a solution that drives safe, secure, and simple digital experiences for small and medium enterprises? Apply for the Mastercard Start Path Small Business program

Mastercard, a global payment processing corporation, invites applicants for the Mastercard Start Path Small Business Program. The 4-month program offers startups an opportunity to collaborate with Mastercard to scale solutions that drive simple and secure digital experiences for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Through the program, successful participants can leverage Mastercard’s network and expertise to gain access to product partnerships, grow their businesses, and develop solutions. Upon successful completion of the program, participants will be expected to demonstrate strong synergies with Mastercard’s approach to supporting entrepreneurs globally and thriving by empowering them with digital payment solutions.

Interested participants should fulfill the following to apply:

  • Have an innovative solution(s) and be able to demonstrate how the solution(s) relate(s) to the program theme
  • Have an experienced, diverse, and passionate founding team
  • Be committed to democratizing financial services
  • Have existing funding from investment raised with a six to the twelve-month runway.

To apply for the program, visit: Applications

funding and mentorship opportunity

Are you a women entrepreneur interested in funding and mentorship? Apply for the Hi-Innovator Women Accelerator Program before 31 January 2022

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) invites applicants for the Hi-Innovator Women Accelerator program. The program is part of the Hi-Innovator initiative that was established to identify and support Uganda’s small and growing businesses with solid potential for impact, sustainability, and scale over five years. Participants in the accelerator program will have an opportunity to improve their business skills, grow their businesses to be more resilient, and make them better placed to receive funding.

Interested applicants must fulfill the following criteria to qualify:

  • Be fully registered with Uganda Registry Services Bureau (URSB), Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), and National Social Security Fund (NSSF). First-time registration before the application is acceptable
  • Be legally and actively operational in Uganda for at least two years
  • Have at least 2 full-time staff with at least 50% of the staff below 35 years of age
  • Be 50% female owned and/or have 70% women in top management/leadership positions
  • Have made a minimum annual revenue of UGX 10 million in the past year and has not raised more than UGX 1 Billion in grants, convertible grants, debt, or private equity
  • Have evidence of 100% completion of the Hi-Innovator business academy course
  • Businesses in all sectors are eligible to participate
  • Be willing to provide a 6% equity stake ownership to NSSF
  • Have team members that proficient in written and spoken English

During the program, participating businesses will receive the following:

  • Grant funding of USD 20,000 and, in turn, provides a 6% equity stake ownership to NSSF
  • Tailored technical support
  • Mentorship and peer-peer learning opportunities
  • Investor networking sessions, as well as market linkages
  • Unlimited access to learning content in the business academy

To apply for this initiative, visit: Applications

Are you a woman entrepreneur in need of funding and mentorship for your business? Apply for the Enhancing Women Entrepreneurship for Africa program before 31 December 2022

Seedstars, a Swiss-based global organization in partnership with the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) and Growth Africa invite business development service providers and women entrepreneurs to apply for the Enhancing Women in Entrepreneurship for Africa program. The program aims two enhance women’s business skills via a two-pronged approach – increasing the capacity and sustainability of providers supporting women-led SMEs and increasing access to mentorship, funding, and visibility for women-led SMEs.

Interested business development service providers should:

  • Be based in one of the following countries (Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Cape Verde, Zambia, DRC, Cameroon, Mali, Zimbabwe, Bostwana)
  • Enhance the viability and sustainability of women-led SMEs
  • Provide innovative approaches to ecosystem support designed to close the financing gap for women-led SMEs
  • Introduce innovative ways to provide capacity building for women-led SMEs
  • Provide digital presence and visibility to women-led SMEs
  • Provide access to mentorship for women-led SMEs

Interested women-led SMES should:

  • Be between seed and growth stage
  • Be based in one of the above countries
  • Have at least one woman on the founding team
  • Have a digital element in their product (for example: Mobile application, Online Shop, SAAS product, etc.)

To apply for the program, visit: Applications


Does your business need tailored business development support? Apply for the GrowthAfrica Acceleration Program

GrowthAfrica, a growth frontier and growth partner dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs in Africa invites applicants for the GrowthAfrica Accelerator program. The 6-months program aims to provide small and medium enterprises with business support to help them understand key components of their business, identify challenges to growth, and build a comprehensive, implementation-ready growth plan.

Participants in the program will benefit from the following:

  • Access to experienced facilitators to support in developing a growth strategy that leads to an increase in revenue, profits, and impact
  • Tailored in-company support to support SMEs in their business journey
  • Access to networks and fellowships fellowship with like-minded entrepreneurs across Africa
  • Support in identification and engagement with potential investors
  • Access to mentors and Pan-African industry experts
  • Support in building a financial model for SME’s business growth and investment
  • Training in leadership skills and tools to develop stronger entrepreneurial leadership

Interested applicants should fulfil the following to apply:

  • Be a for-profit, post-revenue business
  • Have a full-time and dedicated core team
  • Be operational for at least 3 years
  • Have a turnover of more than USD 50,000
  • Be open to raising external investment

To apply for the programme, visit: Applications

Do you have an agribusiness with a climate-smart innovative solution? Apply for funding and business development support from CGIAR before 22 December 2022

The Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global research partnership that unites organizations engaged in research on food security, invites applicants for the CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator program. The program aims to support agribusiness in scaling climate-smart innovations to solve pressing challenges in agribusiness value chains.

Successful applicants to the program will receive the following benefits:

  • Technical assistance from CGIAR scientists that encourages agribusinesses’ adoption and strengthens their compliance, safety, and accountability practices.
  • Technical assistance on impact measurement and management (IMM) from CGIAR scientists and experts.
  • Technical assistance on investment readiness from IFDC-2SCALE and its network to help secure private sector financing.
  • Provision of a de-risking Grant of USD 20,000 to four successful companies at the end of the program.
  • Access to investors and corporate partners to attract follow-on funding and potential business opportunities.

Interested agribusinesses must fulfill the following to apply:

  • Be legally registered and compliant with regulatory authorities. Applicants should present the following supporting information:
  • A Certificate of Incorporation for a Limited Company or Partnership Deed for a Partnership Business.
  • Two years of audited accounts.
  • Contact details of the company’s references.
  • Team composition.
  • Curriculum Vitae for the management
  • Tax Compliance Certificate.
  • Have a clear inclusive strategy for smallholder farmers, women, and youth within the business model in at least one of the dimensions: ownership, management team, workforce and policies, supply chain, and/or customers.
  • Be a for-profit company and demonstrate commercial viability and either be profitable or on the path to profitability. NGOs, corporate companies, and consultants will not be considered
  • Be operating in the following countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia

For more information on the program, visit: CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator

To apply, visit: Application


Common Mistakes You May Be Making as a Businessowner & How to Avoid Them

Small business owners have great ideas and solutions – after all, that’s probably what led you to launch a business; but sometimes, these ideas lack the proper execution that lead to success. While there may be several reasons a small business is underperforming, here are some common and avoidable mistakes small business owners make, along with tips for overcoming them.

  • Not Taking the Time to Plan: Lack of planning leads to the production of lower-quality work. Here, you are trying to do everything at the last minute without clear targets or a path to those targets. Take some time to prepare a detailed business plan, and ensure it brings out what your products or services are, how will you earn income, how you will finance business costs, and many other details critical to its success. Having a business plan will provide you with a road map for your business, identify potential challenges, and outline what resources you will need to run your business. Learn more about how to prepare a business plan by clicking here.
  • Trying to Do It All by Yourself: It is helpful to include people in your thought process as you are bringing your idea to life and choosing solutions to challenges that might arise. One mind provides the same range of answers and can keep an entrepreneur from gaining more knowledge that would better support the business. Rely on a team of diverse individuals, depending on the needs of your business for human resources, and delegate tasks according to their expertise.
  • Overspending or Underspending: Overspending often leads to the accumulation of debt, and underspending overlooks essential factors that would need to be carried out for business success. These two factors hinder the idea’s viability and can lead to closing a business or never seeing it fully off the ground. Create a budget to project your business expenses and income for a given period, for example, the upcoming year or quarter. Review that budget against actual expenses to understand where you might have overspent or underspent on your business, giving you a solution to the problem.
  • Forgetting About Financing: No matter how good an idea is, we need to think about where funds will come from to get that idea up and running and what will be required from us as business owners to access them. A business plan should outline how much start-up capital or financing you’ll need to launch or grow your business. Before approaching funders, make sure your business plan is clear and well-structured and that you have a short pitch prepared addressing why your business is a great investment to make. Seek formal financing wherever possible, such as loans from reputable institutions, government funds, or donor funds, to avoid high or unclear costs, unfair collection practices, and potential safety risks.
  • Not Marketing or Advertising: The world learns about what we are doing through marketing and advertising. When your business is not advertised or marketed well, it loses out on potential clients. Depending on your target market, use a marketing channel that guarantees a wider reach and engagement from your target market. With increased digitalization around the globe, consider using online platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, which are popular in East Africa, to put your business products or services out there. Create a content plan for the week or month to ensure your target market is always informed of new products or services your business is providing. If you have enough capital, consider paid advertising for platforms that are most popular to your target marketing such as Facebook. Ensure you include your business contact information and address in your marketing materials to make it easy for your potential clients to find you.
  • Losing Focus: Losing focus is the same as losing the heart of the idea. Most small business owners lose focus when they do not have a proper schedule for their daily, weekly, or monthly tasks for their business. Create a calendar with scheduled tasks, each with a start and end date. Having a calendar with scheduled tasks will help you to balance high-effort and high-priority tasks while tracking your progress against set deadlines for tasks.

For an idea or solution to excel, it needs proper planning and greater emphasis on all the points mentioned above. Putting all of them into practice will add more life to the idea and open more significant opportunities for the solution and its viability.