Online voting starts for $70k SME Empowerment Challenge East, West Africa

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Online voting has begun for the Innovating Justice SME Empowerment Challenge, which will eventually see three startups from East and West Africa head to the Netherlands in a bid to win seed funding totalling US$70,000.

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.

The challenge is aiming to find and strengthen new initiatives that can empower startups and SMEs, supporting the best innovations and addressing regulatory hurdles and bureaucratic red tape faced by youth-led startups in the two regions.

A total of 21 innovations from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia have now been selected to take part in the online campaign phase, with voting on the shortlist open until September 17.

The top six innovators from the online voting will be invited to the Innovating Justice Boostcamp in Lagos on October 28, where HiiL Innovating Justice and an expert jury will select three innovations to attend the Innovating Justice Forum on December 3-4 in The Hague, Netherlands.

At the Forum, the finalists will compete for seed investments totalling US$70,000, acceleration support and access to funding, networks and expert advice.

“Investing in the business climate from the bottom-up not only increases the sustainability of the flow of capital to the continent, it also contributes to the improvement of the daily lives of the people across Africa,” said Wilfried De Wever, head of Innovating Justice Innovator.

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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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