Mauritania Innovation Challenge

Young people make up a significant portion of Mauritania’s population. They are key drivers of future economic growth and positive social change. However, their opportunities are restricted by high rates of unemployment.

Equipping young people with the right training and support to become entrepreneurs creates an alternative pathway to employment and economic empowerment for young Mauritanians. Cultivating a new culture of innovation could play a pivotal role in the founding of new businesses and the diversification of the country’s economy.

Mauritania Innovation Challenge

The Mauritania Innovation Challenge is comprised of two elements: the MIC Classic for budding entrepreneurs and the MIC Lite for existing start-up businesses. The annual program provides the opportunity for young people to develop the confidence and skills they need to become business owners through a series of classroom modules and competitive pitch competitions.

The Mauritania Innovation Challenge Classic

The Mauritania Innovation Challenge takes entrepreneurs on a proven eight-step journey to develop a market-ready product or service.

The program starts with guided classroom learning through the first three foundational teaching elements corresponding with the first half of the business development journey. Participants receive structured, one-to-one mentoring from an assigned coach, testing their learning following the classes, and receiving personalized guidance on developing a business concept and planning for the first pitch event.

For four months, participants are guided through the early and fragile stages of business growth, learning everything about defining a business problem, creating a value proposition and how to understand and identify a target audience. Participants are expected to pursue and engage in their own field research and planning to fully inform themselves about their chosen market and business proposition.

The businesses that pass the first pitch go on to the second round of intensive support to develop their business plan and to ready their product for launch. Following a further period of product testing, refinement and pitch practice, the remaining participants will be ready for the second and final pitch.

At the end of the program, participants pitch to a panel of judges and stakeholders in Nouakchott. Here, they present their new business ideas and proposals. The most promising ideas receive further technical assistance and potential seed funding to continue their growth journey.

Mauritania Innovation Challenge Lite

The Mauritania Innovation Challenge Lite is a smaller-scale, more sector-focused program which looks to award and grow innovations within the Mauritanian ecosystem.

The new program was developed in response to the global pandemic deepening long-standing challenges in Mauritania. The future of Mauritanian agriculture calls for new business models, digital innovations, alternative sources of energy, and climate-smart solutions.

Participants in the new program will be young entrepreneurs leading existing early-stage start-ups that are testing new, innovative solutions, with a particular focus on agriculture, food innovation, circular economy, and alternative energy.