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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) — through the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship — has partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to launch the 2018 edition of the Zambezi Prize for Innovation In Financial Inclusion.
Through the prize MIT and the Mastercard Foundation aim to uncover early-stage African startups that are involved in promoting and championing innovation in financial inclusion on the continent.
Applications for the competition, which opened yesterday, are set to close on 1 June, with finalists to be announced on 18 August.
This year’s competition is organised around nine challenges. These are: low financial literacy, limited access to financial institutions, low and unpredictable income, proof of identity, distrust in financial services, difficulty in meeting unforeseen shock, limited commercial viability, complex and costly partnership agreements, and limited financial infrastructure.
Applications for the MIT Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion opened will close on 1 June
A statement sent to Ventureburn yesterday (12 March) states that this year’s edition of the competition will award selected winners with a total of $200 000 in prizes.
The grand prize winner of the competition will be awarded $100 000, while the two runners-up will each receive $30 000.
The three top finalists will also attend the Zambezi boot camp during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) gala at MIT’s Boston campus, where the entrepreneurs stand to get fast-tracked to the challenge’s global grand prize worth up to $1-million.
In addition, seven other finalists will each win $5000 in cash prizes as well as VIP tickets to the Zambezi Award ceremony , cohort-building activities, international media exposure and access to MIT Legatum’s mentor and investor network.
Previous winners of the competition include Kenyan micro-finance startup Umtati Capital.
How to apply
To be considered for the prize, applicants must have an African presence. Founders must also be able to travel to the Zambezi Boot Camp to be held in Boston in October.
Applicants will be judged on their ability to solve one of the financial inclusion challenges put forth by the prize, their current and potential impact on the local ecosystem, the scale of their innovation, and the feasibility of the solution.
Learn more or contact MIT Legatum Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image: Umtati Capital co-founder and CEO Munyutu Waigi receiving the 2015 Zambezi Prize (Supplied)