Seven startups from East and West Africa have been named semi-finalists in the SME Empowerment Challenge, an initiative geared towards finding and strengthening new initiatives that can empower startups and SMEs in the field of justice.
Disrupt Africa reported in June on the launch of the SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge by advisory and research institute HiiL, the Ford Foundation and the World Economic Forum (WEF) to empower SMEs in East and West Africa.
Earlier this month, online voting opened in the competition, asking the public to select their favourite of 21 shortlisted candidates from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia.
Voting closed on September 17; with seven startups emerging semi-finalists, and going on to pitch their innovation to an audience of justice, technology, government and academia during the upcoming Innovating Justice Boostcamp in Lagos on 29 October.
At the Lagos event, the three most promising startups will be selected to attend the sixth annual Innovating Justice Forum to be held in the the Hague, Netherlands, in December; where they will compete for seed investment totalling US$70,000.
The seven semi-finalists selected are legal document generator DIYLaw; Ugandan micro SME support centre mSME Garage; Nigerian government budget information hub BudgIT; SME sales tracking solution ShopOfficer; BitsPlatform – a collaborative coding platform for organisations that regularly need to hire software developers; Atikus, which expands access to credit by increasing the capacity of MSME lenders via reimagined insurance and technology risk solutions; and Justart – which provides simplified legal information and incorporation for SMEs in Nigeria.
“The efforts by these entrepreneurs are a key indicator of growth. I am confident that efforts by such entrepreneurs are the correct path for the continent to reach levels of self-sufficiency,” said head of the Innovating Justice accelerator, Wilfried de Wever.
In addition to the US$70,000 investment up for grabs, finalists are also competing for acceleration support, access to funding, networks and expert advice.