AFRICA BUSINESS CONFERENCE NEW VENTURE COMPETITION 2018 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL

The Africa Business Club at Harvard Business School will be hosting the Africa Business Conference New Venture Competition on March 2, 2018 in Boston, MA. Applications open online on November 20th and close December 15th, 2017.

The 20th Africa Business Conference will be held in Boston, MA from March 2nd to March 3rd, 2018 under the theme “Values And Value-Chains: Africa In A New Global Era". 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 from November 20th 2017 – Dec 15th 2017. All applications must be received by December 15th, at 5pm EST. Please apply via one of the below options:

  1. To submit your application via pdf, please download the form here and submit it to hbsabcconferencenvc@gmail.com .
  2. To submit your application via Google Forms, please click the "APPLY HERE" button below or visit here

 Please feel free to contact us at hbsabcconferencenvc@gmail.com for any questions or clarifications.

ELIGIBILITY

 The competition is open to all entrepreneurs with businesses that resonate with the 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 than $250,000 in funding to date

JUDGING

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:

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.


SheaMoisture Sponsorship of new venture competition

The Africa Business Conference is happy to announce SheaMoisture as the sponsor of this year’s New Venture Competition. SheaMoisture’s sponsorship is tied to its Community Commerce purpose-driven business model.  The model, with a focus on women empowerment, creates opportunities for sustainable social and economic empowerment throughout its supply chain within communities in the United States, Africa and beyond.  Community Commerce goes further than corporate social responsibility and fair trade by challenging businesses to use commerce as a means to transform local and global communities, in the process creating a fairer, more equitable world. Community Commerce is about truly looking at how businesses can impact the broader community they operates in and ensure that value is created across the board. It’s about making conscious decisions regarding the partners and suppliers you select, and who you choose to engage with. This means adding value, not only to consumers and customers, but to every player in the value chain. 

As such, the New Venture Competition will use SheaMoisture’s sponsorship to help highlight women led ventures and reward ventures which use their business models to create opportunities for women or other financially excluded persons, or that are helping to improve the ecosystem for female entrepreneurship in Africa.  Aspects of the sponsorship include:

  1. Prize for new venture which most closely reflects the mission of Sundial’s Community Commerce Business Model
  2. Travel subsidies for select finalists traveling to Boston to compete in this year’s competition

About SheaMoisture and Sundial Brands

Sundial Brands is a leading haircare and skincare company recognized for its innovative use of high-quality and culturally authentic ingredients. Sundial’s brands include SheaMoisture, Nubian Heritage, Madam C.J. Walker and nyakio™.  Since its founding in 1991, Sundial through its robust innovation pipeline, product offerings and purpose-driven business model has championed inclusive beauty to address the needs of underserved consumers, with black women leading the way.  Sundial now operates as a standalone company in Unilever. Through its Community Commerce business model, B Corp and Fair for Life certifications, Sundial’s approach complements the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) to accelerate growth while increasing positive social impact.  As part of their partnership, the companies announced the establishment of $100 million fund to support women of color entrepreneurs. Appropriately titled the New Voices Fund, monies from the fund will be invested with companies owned by women and started in the very communities that have underpinned the notable success of Sundial Brands and SheaMoisture over the years. 

2018 FINALISTS

Releaf is making B2B trade in Nigerian agriculture safer, more efficient and profitable by *financing suppliers* and creating reliable supply chains.

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Finnager is Intelligent, accurate and secure software-as-a-service technology providing verification and management of African online identity and personal data.

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WeFly Agri is a company offering a software to enable farmers and land owners to monitor and manage the activities on their plantations.

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Closed-Loop System Ventures transforms organic plant and animal waste into organic fertilizer as a means of promoting sustainable carbon farming practices.

 

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OZE is a mobile app that empowers small business owners across the continent to make data-driven decisions & access capital to drive growth.

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Nokware Skincare is a beauty and skincare brand from Ghana, featuring skincare products that are natural, sourced locally and packaged sustainably

 

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FINT is Nigeria’s first loan marketplace that is financially empowering Nigerians by make credit more accessible and affordable; and investing more rewarding

 

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Saint Michelles and Joey is involved in the manufacturing of Eco-Friendly Paper Products such as toilet rolls, serviettes and kitchen paper

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Do it Now Now helps individuals that are passionate about Africa build businesses that make a profit and save lives.

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National Beekeepers Association - The association is made up of peasant farmers all over Ghana. We produce honey, beeswax., propolis and others. We offer continuous training.

Umwenge Green Electricity Supply Corporation - UGESC Limited is a Zambian owned, female-led, entrepreneurial waste to energy company

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Publiseer is a free digital publishing platform for independent Nigerian authors and artists

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Africa Energy Solutions (AES) - is a power generation (Energy) company that provides professional services in power generation.

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Nourishing Steaks Limited - We are Livestock Fattening; Meat processing, packaging and distribution.


JUDGES

Mr. Samuel Z. Alemayehu is Head of Africa & Managing Director at the Addis Ababa Office of Cambridge Industries Ltd. Mr. Samuel Alemayehu started his career in Silicon Valley as a serial entrepreneur. He is the founder of three successful tech ventures based in California. He began his professional career as an Associate at Venrock Associates, where he focused on consumer media services around the world.  He then moved to Africa in 2009, founding and investing in numerous companies across the continent and in a range of industries. Most recently he co-founded Cambridge Industries Ltd, to accelerate the implementation of pioneering infrastructure projects. Currently he is overseeing the construction of the first municipal waste-to-energy facility in Africa, located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as well as the development of renewable energy projects in Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon, Senegal, Somaliland and Djibouti. Samuel is an active angel investor globally and sits on the board of numerous companies. He is an expert on technology investments and the development of renewable energy projects in emerging markets with an emphasis in waste-to-energy, biomass and wind. He is a graduate of Stanford University School of Engineering.

Mr. Samuel Z. Alemayehu is Head of Africa & Managing Director at the Addis Ababa Office of Cambridge Industries Ltd.

Mr. Samuel Alemayehu started his career in Silicon Valley as a serial entrepreneur. He is the founder of three successful tech ventures based in California. He began his professional career as an Associate at Venrock Associates, where he focused on consumer media services around the world.  He then moved to Africa in 2009, founding and investing in numerous companies across the continent and in a range of industries. Most recently he co-founded Cambridge Industries Ltd, to accelerate the implementation of pioneering infrastructure projects. Currently he is overseeing the construction of the first municipal waste-to-energy facility in Africa, located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as well as the development of renewable energy projects in Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon, Senegal, Somaliland and Djibouti.

Samuel is an active angel investor globally and sits on the board of numerous companies. He is an expert on technology investments and the development of renewable energy projects in emerging markets with an emphasis in waste-to-energy, biomass and wind. He is a graduate of Stanford University School of Engineering.

Steven Koltai is an entrepreneur, long time business executive, and foreign policy expert. This year, Steven will serve as an NVC judge and the facilitator of our Start-up Lab with NVC finalists and other founders. In his 40 year career, he has been Vice President for International Corporate Finance at investment banking firm Salomon Bros, an Associate with management consultants, McKinsey & Company, and, for 10 years, Corporate Senior Vice President for Strategy and Development at Warner Bros..  At Warner, Koltai helped start several new initiatives including WB Feature Animation, the WB TV Network, WB Studio Stores, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, of which he was the first General Manager.  Among several start-up ventures, his most successful was as co-founder of a $16 billion market cap Luxembourg-based SES television satellite company, the largest private commercial satellite operator in the world.  More recently, he served as the first Senior Advisor for Entrepreneurship, working for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, where he founded the Global Entrepreneurship Program.  He currently runs his own consulting firm that specializes in global entrepreneurship ecosystem building (Koltai & Company LLC), and is a Guest Scholar at Brookings Institution, who published his book “Peace Through Entrepreneurship” available here in 2016.  In calendar 2018, Koltai will be a Fellow at the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University, working on the issue of how to make startups in developing countries investible and attractive to large, institutional investors.  Koltai holds a BA, magna cum laude, in Modern European History from Tufts University, a MA in International Economics from Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a Licence in European Integration from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (as a Fulbright Scholar).  He is a 30+ year member of the Council on Foreign Relations, where he served as an International Affairs Fellow.

Steven Koltai is an entrepreneur, long time business executive, and foreign policy expert. This year, Steven will serve as an NVC judge and the facilitator of our Start-up Lab with NVC finalists and other founders. In his 40 year career, he has been Vice President for International Corporate Finance at investment banking firm Salomon Bros, an Associate with management consultants, McKinsey & Company, and, for 10 years, Corporate Senior Vice President for Strategy and Development at Warner Bros..  At Warner, Koltai helped start several new initiatives including WB Feature Animation, the WB TV Network, WB Studio Stores, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, of which he was the first General Manager.  Among several start-up ventures, his most successful was as co-founder of a $16 billion market cap Luxembourg-based SES television satellite company, the largest private commercial satellite operator in the world.  More recently, he served as the first Senior Advisor for Entrepreneurship, working for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, where he founded the Global Entrepreneurship Program.  He currently runs his own consulting firm that specializes in global entrepreneurship ecosystem building (Koltai & Company LLC), and is a Guest Scholar at Brookings Institution, who published his book “Peace Through Entrepreneurship” available here in 2016. 

In calendar 2018, Koltai will be a Fellow at the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University, working on the issue of how to make startups in developing countries investible and attractive to large, institutional investors.  Koltai holds a BA, magna cum laude, in Modern European History from Tufts University, a MA in International Economics from Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a Licence in European Integration from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (as a Fulbright Scholar).  He is a 30+ year member of the Council on Foreign Relations, where he served as an International Affairs Fellow.

Joshua Sandler is the CEO and Founder of Lori Systems, a logistics technology platform that coordinates and optimizes cargo transport across East Africa. Through tech, Lori has reduced haulage costs by up to 15%, in return reducing the cost of goods on the continent. The software was launched 6 months ago and has achieved a $8mm+ USD annualized system wide revenue. The company won TechCrunch’s Battlefield Africa. A South African native, Joshua has deep knowledge of African markets with experience investing in and building organizations throughout the continent. He began his career in Investment Banking and Private Equity before receiving his MBA and MPA in International Development from Harvard University.

Joshua Sandler is the CEO and Founder of Lori Systems, a logistics technology platform that coordinates and optimizes cargo transport across East Africa. Through tech, Lori has reduced haulage costs by up to 15%, in return reducing the cost of goods on the continent. The software was launched 6 months ago and has achieved a $8mm+ USD annualized system wide revenue. The company won TechCrunch’s Battlefield Africa. A South African native, Joshua has deep knowledge of African markets with experience investing in and building organizations throughout the continent. He began his career in Investment Banking and Private Equity before receiving his MBA and MPA in International Development from Harvard University.

Mr. Samuel Z. Alemayehu, Head of Africa & Managing Director, Cambridge Industries Ltd. 

Mr. Steven Koltai, Entrepreneur & Foreign Policy Expert, Koltai & Company LLC

Josh Sandler, CEO & Founder, Lori Systems


 

AFRICA BUSINESS CONFERENCE STARTUP showcase

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.

The Startup Showcase will be on Saturday, March 3 from 6:00 - 7:30pm at Batten Hall


AFRICA BUSINESS CONFERENCE STARTUP LAb: facilitator - Steven koltai

Startup Lab: Interacting with Investors as an Early Stage Venture

Startup Lab is a workshop for the New Venture Competition entrepreneurs to solicit advice from conference participants. This year, Steven Koltai (Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow, Brookings Institution Visiting Scholar, and World Bank XL Africa’s former Lead Mentor) will lead an interactive session entitled “Interacting with Investors as an Early Stage Venture.” Steven will 1) discuss best practices for early stage ventures that are beginning to interact with investors, 2) explore emerging models for funding entrepreneurship ecosystem development in Africa, and 3) help our New Venture Competition finalists navigate their funding questions through interactive role-plays.

This workshop will take place between 10:00 and 11:15am on Saturday March 3rd right after the morning keynote.