They Applied. They were shortlisted. They pitched! Eleven entrepreneurs have been selected to participate in the first cohort of the first Growth Accelerator Entrepreneurship Challenge. The selected finalists were unveiled through a symbolic ceremony on Thursday, January 24th from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. held at MHub Offices.
This journey began with a call for applications that was advertised on July 4th, 2018 and proceeded with information sessions in 8 districts across Malawi. The search across 8 districts ensured a wide quest for innovative and impactful Malawian enterprises across industries. These information sessions were conducted in Lilongwe, Zomba, Blantyre, Mzuzu, Mchinji, Mangochi, Kasungu and even reaching as far as Karonga District. Growth Accelerator anticipated to give entrepreneurs, operating their business in Malawi, an equal opportunity to apply for the challenge. Over 200 applications were received, 43 were interviewed and 20 semi-finalists selected to battle it out through pitching to the Investment Committee.
The 20 selected semi-finalists received Business Model Canvas and Business Proposal Development training, which was to prepare them to pitch before a panel of judges – Investment Committee – on 15th and 16th November 2018. On final assessments made by the judges, 11 finalists emerged as successful from the pitch competition.
It wasn’t an easy road for each ambitious entrepreneur, but it has been a journey of self-discovery, learning and growth. Each entrepreneur will receive funding of up to USD 40,000.00 through a matching grant or private equity provided by the GA investment partners Accesserator and Kweza Equity Partners. Not only will finalists receive funding but in addition, 10 months of technical assistance and business strategy development including mentorship.
Apart from the program benefit packages that the finalists will attain, the program has received positive remarks from its funding organizations. UNDP Resident Coordinator Claire Medina has been pleased with the entrepreneurs selected, stating during her speech at the symbolic ceremony, “The quality of the entrepreneurs selected has exceeded our expectations.” On completion of the symbolic ceremony, each entrepreneur was given a Certificate of Participation for successfully being selected into the program.
The first cohort of the first Growth Accelerator Entrepreneurship Challenge started with a 3-day boot camp covering topics in Leadership and Visionary, facilitated by GrowthAfrica Founder and Director Johnni Kjelsgaard. This was 1 of 6 monthly boot camps that will be held as part of the technical assistance component of the cohort.
Congratulations to each of the 11 ventures that have been selected to take part in the Growth Accelerator Malawi program! The most important aspect each entrepreneur will take away from the program is the technical assistance, training and mentorship to make each venture investment ready and increase business growth. Grow Malawi, its implementing partners and supporters look forward to seeing the wealth created by each venture and their innovations improve Malawi’s standard of living.