Jeunes entrepreneurs, ceci est pour vous! New Venture Competition

The Africa Business Club at Harvard Business School will be hosting the Africa Business Conference New Venture Competition on February 26, 2016 in Boston, MA. Applications open online on November 22nd and close December 7th, 2015. 

The 18th Africa Business Conference will be held in Boston, MA from February 26th to February 28th, 2016 under the theme “Unite. Innovate. Disrupt: Homegrown models for Africa’s prosperity”. As part of the conference, the New Venture Competition will showcase the diversity of entrepreneurs making a difference on the continent today.

The competition is open to all African entrepreneurs with businesses that resonate with the broader conference theme of innovation and disruption. Entrepreneurs who offer unique and homegrown solutions to local problems and who meet the following eligibility criteria are highly encouraged to apply:

  • Early Stage Startups (for profit or not-for-profit)
  • Africa-focused with a majority or all of its operations in Africa
  • Less than 100 employees
  • Less than 5 years of operations
  • Raised less than $5 million in funding to date

From the pool of applications, 10 ventures will be selected to pitch their businessand get feedback from a panel of experienced judges and an audience of approximately 700 attendees. The two winning ventures will be awarded cash prizes of $10,000 and $5,000.

The selected ventures will also have the opportunity to participate in the Startup Lab, a workshop for early-stage entrepreneurs to solicit advice from conference participants. Conference participants and Harvard Business School faculty and students with experience in strategy, operations, finance, and other relevant business fields will be recruited to engage with the entrepreneurs and help them ideate and solve their problems.

20 ventures will also have the opportunity to showcase their companies in the Startup Fair networking and recruiting event and attend networking lunches with distinguished panelists.

The application form will be open on the conference website from November 22nd 2015 – Dec 7th 2015. All applications must be received by December 7th, at 5pm EST.

Please feel free to contact us at [email protected] for any questions or clarifications


The New Venture Competition at the Africa Business Conference is open to all African entrepreneurs with businesses that resonate with the broader conference theme of innovation and disruption. Entrepreneurs who offer unique and homegrown solutions to local problems are highly encouraged to apply.


The Competition is about assessing the commercial merit and potential viability of each proposed new venture. The judges will evaluate its potential for economic success and the likelihood of achieving that success based upon the team’s plan, experience, and the validation of key assumptions and a clear and convincing presentation of the following:

  • Product/Service (what it is; why distinctive)
  • Team (breadth/depth of skills; ability to execute)
  • Opportunity (market size/need, ability to penetrate, strong value proposition and business model)
  • Context (favorable regulatory/tax/political and industry context; competitive landscape/advantage)
  • Risk/Reward (ways to manage upside/downside)
  • Structured Experimentation (market validation of value proposition/growth hypothesis)
  • Financial (realistic assumptions underlying any financial projections)
  • Execution (defined milestones)

Naturally, the more concrete the plan-all else being equal-the better. Teams that have a proven technology, recruited partners, or even attracted “beta” customers may raise their chances of success. On the other hand, strong early stage ideas that have yet to be launched but have been thought through and tested will be well received and considered based on their potential and the team’s ability to execute. The learning experience and process of defining a strong idea and business model, testing one’s assumptions, and making a compelling pitch about the viability of a new venture will be invaluable for everyone, no matter what the outcome.


Grand Prize Winner: Dot Com Zambia (Zambia)

Dot Com Zambia offers a convenient and reliable way for the general public in Zambia to book their inter-city bus tickets online, using their phone or from an authorized agent, and then pay for that ticket using their bank card, mobile phone or cash payment to an authorized agent. It aims to make bus travel more convenient, reliable and efficient for travelers, while providing management and analytics systems to bus operators to make their operations more efficient.

Runner Up: Tomato Jos (Nigeria)

Tomato Jos is a for-profit social enterprise that produces tomato paste for domestic Nigerian market. The company operates across the entire value chain and sources raw material from smallholder farmers. Tomato Jos’ mission is to make tomato production a sustainable, profitable business for Nigerian farmers while also providing consumers with access to domestic tomato paste that matches the cost of imported products with a much higher quality product.


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