3 African startups finalists of MTN, Jumia entrepreneurship challenge

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Nigeria’s Pass.ng, Ghana’s MedRX and Tanzania’s Vicoba have been chosen as finalists of the MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge powered by Jumia, and will now compete for the cash prize of US$25,000.

Disrupt Africa reported in February mobile operator MTN and e-commerce firm Jumia had partnered to launch what they described as a “first of its kind” pan-African entrepreneurship competition, offering the winner a cash prize of US$25,000 as well as access to a Facebook Start Programme to the value of US$15,000.

More than 700 entrepreneurs from 26 countries across Africa applied for the challenge, which asked applicants to develop a unique digital application or smart solution to address a problem faced in Africa.

The ideas were narrowed down through 11 live pitch events across Africa, with three startups eventually chosen to pitch their business ideas at the Entrepreneurship Festival in Cape Town next month.

They are Nigerian web and mobile examination preparation and testing platform Pass.ng, Ghanaian interactive health platform MedRX, and Tanzanian financial and task management app Vicoba.

“We are incredibly impressed with the calibre of applicants and the level of innovation shown. We are looking forward to the finals and wish our contenders the best of luck. We are certain that whichever team emerges victorious, it is the continent that will be the biggest winner, as entrepreneurship and locally developed solutions are what will enable the growth and development of this continent,” said Herman Singh, MTN Group chief digital officer.

Bankole Cardoso, head of communications at Jumia’s owner Africa Internet Group (AIG), said it had not been easy for the judges to narrow down the field having received so many strong applications.

“Over the last week, we have held over 100 live pitches and given young entrepreneurs across the continent a platform to showcase their business ideas and even more importantly, to receive critical feedback from experienced professionals on our judging panels,” he said.

“The gaps in the African entrepreneurship ecosystem are in capital and mentorship so it was great to undergo an exercise like this that will no doubt force them to improve. I now look forward to working closely with these three finalist teams to prepare them for what’s to come in Cape Town. It is an incredible opportunity for all of them to propel themselves to the next level.”

The winners will be announced at the Entrepreneurship Festival, with the top team being awarded the opportunity for incubation at the premises of either the MTN Solution Space at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, or at one of nine Jumia offices across Africa.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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