SME Empowerment Challenge to support African innovations with up to $70k

International heavy-weights Ford Foundation, World Economic Forum and the Hague Institute for the internationalisation of Law (HIIL) are collaborating to provide a lucky few innovative startups and SMEs in East and West Africa up to US$70 000 in seed funding.

Based in the Netherlands, HIIL is a advisory and research institute for the justice sector with a mission to connecting bottom-up justice innovations with support and funding internationally.

The Innovating Justice Challenge is in support of a variety of initiatives around the world including Kenya’s Ushahidi; Access to justice for women in Kenyan property disputes; Legal aid for LGTBI community in Uganda; as well as a web-based tool promoting transparency and accountability of oil spills.

Read more: From iHub to the BRCK: how Ushahidi became an African success story

The recent SME Empowerment Challenge — which focuses specifically on East and West Africa — is said to be in response to Sub-Saharan Africa’s ranking as the world’s worst region to do business.

The organisation points out that there’s a pressing need to overcome harsh regulations, insecurity, high levels of taxation and corruption to unlock the potential of millions of SMEs across Africa.

Wilfried De Wever, who’s the head of the Innovating Justice Accelerator and Investment programme, believes that HIIL’s involvement’s is crucial to overcome many of the region’s challenges:

We have witnessed poor business environments and crumbling economies. It’s upon to us to utilise the best tools to assist Africa in its fight to overcome the economic struggle. I am confident that the Empowerment Innovation Challenge will lead to the discovery of these much needed solutions.

Apart from funding, six chosen innovators will be summoned to the Innovation Boost Camp in Lagos, Nigeria for training and mentorship. Three chosen finalists will be allowed to participate at the 2015 Innovating Justice Forum which will be help 3 to 4 December at the Peace Palace in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Applications are now open until 1 August 2015. For more information or to apply, click here.

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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