AFRICA BUSINESS CONFERENCE NEW VENTURE COMPETITION 2017 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL
The Africa Business Club at Harvard Business School will be hosting the Africa Business Conference New Venture Competition on February 17, 2017 in Boston, MA. Applications open online on November 8th and close December 1st, 2016.
The 19th Africa Business Conference will be held in Boston, MA from February 17th to February 18th, 2017 under the theme “Partnering for Prosperity: Working Together to Build a Strong and Inclusive Africa". As part of the conference, the New Venture Competition will showcase the diversity of entrepreneurs making a difference on the continent today.
From the pool of applications, 10 finalists will be invited to pitch their business in front of approximately 700 attendees and receive feedback from a panel of experienced judges. The competition winner and runner-up will be awarded cash prizes of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.
The finalists will 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 8th 2016 – Dec 1st 2016. All applications must be received by December 1st, at 5pm EST.
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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 50 employees
· Less than 5 years of operations
· Raised less $250,000 in funding to date
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.
AFRICA BUSINESS CONFERENCE STARTUP FAIR
The Startup Fair is a recruiting, marketing, and networking opportunity for the top 20 businesses that applied for the New Venture Competition. Selected start-ups will be given a booth to showcase their business in Batten Hall, adjacent to the broader career fair at the Africa Business Conference.
AFRICA BUSINESS CONFERENCE STARTUP LAB
Startup Lab is a workshop for the New Venture Competition 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 use design thinking and ideation to develop solutions to their most relevant business challenges.
2016 NEW VENTURE COMPETITION WINNER AND RUNNER-UP
Grand Prize Winner: Crossfrontier International
Crossfrontier is a family owned agriculture start-up. The company utilizes biotechnology to improve food security by increasing yields on banana plantations. The company leverages a technology to provide virus indexing services and quality affordable virus free tissue culture planting material in order to improve food security in the East and Central African region.
People’s Choice Winner: dotLEarn
dotLearn brings MOOCs to Africa using algorithms that package full courses into tiny 5MB packets which students can load offline on any cellphone. We want to make online education work for emerging markets. We believe that with better technology, and a better business model, we can spur the development of more, better, localized educational content that reaches more than 100 million students around the world.