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 provides the opportunity for young people to develop the confidence and skills they need to become entrepreneurs through a series of classroom modules and competitive pitch competitions. The Challenge will take 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.
Applications are now open: Startups in teams of two or more people, between the ages of 16-40, are encouraged to apply. Startups must have been in business for less than three years to be eligible.
Deadline for entries: 20 July 2019
Applications will be reviewed in two stages:
1) pre-selection based on the written applications, 2) those preselected will be invited to an interview.
Those invited to an interview will be assessed on the following criteria:
• Project Idea: Innovation, Realism, Relevance, Revenue Model
• Skills & Experience: Training, Language, Technical Experience in the project area
• Personality: Communication, Confidence, Leadership
• Relevance to the market: Mauritanian context, Problem and Solution
Successful applicants will be contacted in August.