Entrepreneurship competitions in Zimbabwe



With unemployment rampant in Zimbabwe and Africa at large, many youths have turned to entrepreneurship. There are several entrepreneurship competitions in Zimbabwe and Africa at large that have been introduced which are aimed at empowering these startup entrepreneurs.

Why is it important for you to participate?


There is a common saying which says, “Ambition without knowledge, is like a boat on dry ground.”

It is one thing to have a business idea and it is another to build a business.

So, what’s the real deal?

There are several benefits to be gained from these entrepreneurship competitions in Zimbabwe and Africa which can help accelerate the growth of your startup. The common benefits are:

  • Mentorship
  • Seed capital
  • Networking with other entrepreneurs
  • Publicity and many other benefits.

Well, let’s jump in and have a look at some of these competitions. I have arranged them in the order of the due dates of applications

jump in

Accel Awards

Accel Awards
  • Applications opened on 01 December 2018 and closes on 31 January 2019.
  • The ACCELAwards is an annual business start-up contest organized by the London Business School’s Africa Club to accelerated mentoring and promotion platform for early-stage African start-ups.
  • The program is open to African entrepreneurs with business proposals that have proof of concept.
  • The business needs to be Africa focused or caters primarily to the African market.
  • The criteria used to assess the applications are:
    • Originality of the idea
    • Strength of Business Case
    • Level of product development
    • Level of business opportunity or impact
    • Team’s ability to execute the idea and other Intangibles
  • There is no application fee that you pay.
  • The prize money is £5,000 per team
  • To read more please click HERE,
  • Remember applications close on 31 January 2019.

Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurship program

Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme
  • The second entrepreneurship competition which is currently running is the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme which was launched in 2015
  • It opens for applications every year on 1 January
  • Applications for 2019 close on 1 March 2019
  • Only 1,000 projects are chosen from all the applications made per year.
  • It is open to any citizen and legal resident of all African countries who run for-profit businesses based in Africa that are no older than 3 years
  • Applications will be judged based on the following criteria:
    • feasibility,
    • scalability and potential for growth of the product/service
    • market opportunity for the idea/business
    • financial understanding
    • leadership potential and
    • entrepreneurial skills
  • The programme has 7 pillars which are:
    • The startup tool kit – a 12-week programme to equip startups with basic skills to launch and run their businesses at early growth stage.
    • Online mentoring – Every participant of the programme will be assigned a mentor he or she will work with online. There are minimum stipulated hours of interaction between participant and mentor
    • Online resource library – a collection of materials, case studies, videos, tasks, templates and interesting articles. The participants will have access to these even after completing the program.
    • Meet-ups – Country and state level meet-ups or bootcamps to promote personal exchanges and formation of strong ties with one another
    • TEF entrepreneurship forum – a world-class annual forum that brings together key persons in the African and global entrepreneurial ecosystem.
    • Seed capital – Each entrepreneur will receive a non-returnable seed capital of USD $5,000. The seed capital is tied to clear milestones in the entrepreneur business plan
    • TEF Alumni Network – The network comprises of all those who have successfully completed the 12-week training program. It is both online and offline, sector based, and geography based

ACT in Africa

Act in Africa
  • ACT in Africa is one of entrepreneurship competitions in Zimbabwe and it was launched in 2014
  • The program was developed by MBA students from Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Zimbabwe, and Africa University.
  • Applications for 2019 open in April.
  • Stages
    • A four-week intensive course focusing on all stages of business development.
    • You will be matched to a mentor that will guide you as you refine your business plan.
    • You will iterate your product or service and gain traction in the market.
    • Seed funding will be provided to the most promising start-ups, but there are no guarantees.
    • Seed capital amount not specified

Youth Entrepreneurs Program (YEP)

  • Another program in the entrepreneurship competitions in Zimbabwe is the Youth Entrepreneurship Program.
  • The 2019 edition starts in July.
  • YEP is a program that is run by the Empowered Life Trust which is a non-profit making organisation.
  • They believe the youth have a potential to transform the communities that they leave in if they are empowered with the right environment and skills.
  • The program is done in partnership with CBZ bank.
  • It incorporates the youth who are in the rural areas.
  • The program is open for youths aged between 18 and 35 years.
  • The following are the benefits of the program
    • Skills – they develop skills for effective entrepreneurship from the practical assignments they must complete
    • Support – participants receive coaching and follow-up support via social media.
    • Sharing – by associating with other business-minded people, participants become part of a community of purpose that facilitates sharing of valuable knowledge and real-life entrepreneurial experiences
    • Finance – some of the participants will receive financial support into their businesses as prizes at the end of the program
    • Knowledge – acquire essential knowledge on how to run successful business and other entrepreneurial skills through attending two-day workshops.

Total Startupper of the year challenge

  • The competition is organised by Total and is available in 55 nations across the world
  • The recent one was the 2018 – 2019 edition which started in October 2018 and is expected to run until November 2019
  • The competition aims to support good ideas and projects that help address widespread problems affecting communities in different countries. It could be about providing educational opportunities, reducing child mortality, improving public health, developing access to electricity in rural areas, improving road safety on the roads or building houses with eco-friendly materials.
  • For entrepreneurs 35 years and younger with ideas or businesses younger than 2 years old
  • Assessment of the candidates is based on
    • Social/societal impact – The ability to create value enduringly and contribute to the development of the local community
    • Innovativeness – The innovative nature, meaning the supply of new and/or technological solutions (but not only the latter) to respond to difficulties encountered in the country from a social or societal point of view and;
    • Feasibility and development potential
  • The winners of the program benefit from a mentoring program and the following prizes
    • Winner No. 1 – An amount in local currency equivalent to USD 17,500
    • Winner No. 2 – An amount in local currency equivalent to USD 10,500
    • Winner No. 3 – An amount in local currency equivalent to USD 7,000
  • The prize money will only be paid after the mentoring program
  • The challenge also seeks to recognise the top female entrepreneur in the competition

Seedstars World Competition

Seedstars competition
  • The competition is run by Seedstars and was brought to Zimbabwe in 2016 by  ImpactHub Harare in association UNDP.
  • The competition is run in 80+ cities where they identify the best seed-stage startups.
  • In addition to having the top startups pitching, their events are filled with disruptive tech, inspirational discussions, networking sessions and one flight ticket for the winner to go to the Seedstars Summit in Switzerland.
  • Applications are made to the local competitions.
    • NB. We are yet to confirm when they will open applications for 2019 – 2020 edition.
  • A pitch is then made in front of investor jury.
  • Those that win locally get a chance to join the global competition including the regional and global Seedstars Summits.
  • In addition, you get a chance at joining the Growth Program.
  • The following are the benefits from this competition
    • Equity Investments – There is a prize package consisting of up to $ 1 Million in equity investment and more in cash and in-kind prizes. You will be exposed to Venture Capitals, corporates and angels searching for investment opportunities.
    • Coverage & Prestige – All Seedstars World events are heavily covered by local and international press with around 500 articles about these events last year.
    • Partnerships & Family – You get an opportunity to join the close knit Seedstars Family of talented entrepreneurs in 65+ countries. In addition, you find potential partners and business opportunities through the community and at the various events.
    • Learn & Grow – Seedstars hand pick top-quality mentors from all over the world with experience in relevant industries. You therefore benefit from the knowledge of corporate leaders, serial entrepreneurs, accelerator directors and investors.
  • The criteria that is used to assess the projects are:
    • Firstly, the Startup must have been launched within the last 2 years.
    • The second criterion is if the Startup has received external funding, it can only be up to US$ 500k.
    • The third criterion is that the Startup must have a demonstrable product or service (Minimum Viable Product, MVP) and;
    • Finally, the Startup needs to be scalable or have the potential to reach the scalability.

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