Here are six prizes, challenges African tech entrepreneurs can enter in Q1 2020


Last year African tech startups racked in over $6-million in winnings from startup competitions and challenges.

Earlier this week Ghanaian agritech startup Okuafo Foundation was awarded $600 000 after it won the food category in the Zayed Sustainability Prize 2020 (see this story).

Entering startup competitions, prizes and challenges can not only net funding for your startup, but is also a great way to get publicity for your firm and importantly, in some instances, to collaborate with corporates and non-governmental organisations.

Here then are six challenges that African entrepreneurs can enter in the first quarter of 2020.

Ocean Innovation Challenge

This UNDP initiative seeks to accelerate progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14 — Conservation and Sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources.

The initiative does this by identifying, financing, advising and mentoring of truly innovative, entrepreneurial and creative approaches to ocean and coastal restoration and protection that sustains livelihoods and advances the “blue economy”.

The first challenge opened last Wednesday (8 January). Concepts that pass an initial review and that meet the challenge’s criteria will be invited to submit full proposals for further internal and external review and consideration.

Grants range from $50 000 to $250,000 and project time frames run from one to two years. Project proposals must be implemented in and benefit stakeholders in developing countries. In addition, all proposals should include a special focus on ensuring gender equity, livelihoods of the poor and poverty eradication.

Digital Africa 1000’s Challenge

Do you have solutions for sustainable cities, especially ones that can help feed cities, facilitate access to essential services, provide better transport connections for cities or that entail finance?

This challenge will select 1000 African entrepreneurs to travel to Bordeaux, France for the 28th edition of the Africa-France Summit which will take place between 4 and 6 June.

At the summit, the 1000 will present their solutions at the Cité des Solutions, an exhibition dedicated to projects and solutions for the city and sustainable territories.

Applications close on 31 January.

Thought for Food (TFF) Challenge

Found a solution for sustainable and inclusive food systems?

The TFF Challenge is an annual collaborative prize competition that seeks to create successful responsible food and agriculture startups around the world.

The challenge seeks locally-relevant solutions that address a wide range of challenges across the food value chain, from production to distribution through to consumption and waste. To pitch, interested innovators must sign up by next Friday (24 January).

The grand prize winner will receive a $10 000 grant meant solely for the purpose of their project. This, while the runner up will receive $7500. In addition, the challenge also includes other monetary prizes.

Margaret 2020 Awards

Organised across four categories — Entrepreneur Europe, Intrapreneur Europe, Entrepreneur Africa and Intrapreneur Africa — the Margaret 2020 Awards aim to highlight women entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs carrying digital projects responding to major societal challenges.

The awards’ four winners will benefit from the La Journée de la Femme Digitale (JFD), financial and development support and other services with a value equivalent to €1-million.

The Entrepreneur Africa category is open to startups founded or co-founded by a woman that have been operating for less than five years.

Applications opened on 2 January and will close on 2 February.

Africa50 Innovation Challenge

Think you have a solution that could significantly increase access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in under-served areas in Africa?

Then you’ll want to enter the Africa50 Innovation Challenge, which is a crowd-sourcing initiative of Casablanca-based infrastructure investment platform Africa50.

Through the challenge, Africa50 aims to find workable solutions to last mile internet connectivity in Africa.

Applications for the challenge close on 31 January, with submissions set to be assessed between February and March. Thereafter, finalists will present their solutions at the Transform Africa Summit, with winners set to be presented at AfricaCom 2020.

Africa50 said in a statement on LinkedIn last month that it provides project development funding of between $2-million and $10-million.

In addition to cash prizes and potential project development funding, participants stand to benefit from access to investor connections. Participants will also be integrated into Africa50’s pipeline of bankable projects (see this story).

Successful applicants will also be provided with technical support to improve their project’s investment readiness.

They will also get the opportunity to scale their solution to Africa50’s 27 shareholder countries.

FAMAE Challenge Food for Good

Has your startup developed an innovative solution in the areas of food production, transformation and logistics, as well as consumption?

The FAMAE Challenge Food for Good is aimed at individuals, startups and organisations that have developed an innovative and concrete solution from field to fork to deliver fair, sustainable and healthy food.

A total of €2-million in prize money will be awarded to one or more projects, with at least €15 000 per category.

Applications for the challenge close on 14 February.

Read more: African tech startups netted over $6m in collective prize money in 2019 [List]
Read more: Ghanaian agritech startup Okuafo Foundation wins $600k Zayed Sustainability Prize

Featured image: AgroCenta CEO and co-founder Francis Obirikorang accepting the startup’s award at the 2018 Seedstars Summit (Supplied)



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