Entrepreneurs from the East African region are set to benefit from a start-up challenge that offers mentorship and seed capital to winning participants.
Money transfer firm Dahabshiil and the US have partnered in the challenge that began on Friday in Kampala, Uganda. It is expected to widen its reach to Kenya and Tanzania with the main aim being to identify talent, create innovation and to reduce unemployment.
“A $5,000 (about Sh500000) is up for grabs for the best innovative team or individual during the three day event. The winner will also have six months of mentorship and training at a start-up incubator in Kampala,” said a statement by Dahabshiil on Friday.
The firms’ group CEO Abdirashid Duale says empowering the youth across Africa will immensely reduce poverty and create opportunities for them to participate in development projects in their respective countries.
The chosen teams are required to come up with business ideas that are viewed to be economically viable. They will work with mentors from Silicon Valley; build prototypes; test, iterate, and refine these prototypes to pitch their business ideas to a judging panel, live audience and online crowd.
“We believe in the power of entrepreneurship to dramatically change the socioeconomic landscape in Africa. Youth entrepreneurs, in particular will be key drivers of innovation and future economic growth,” said Duale.
The US Government has prioritised entrepreneurship as an engine of economic growth and stability in Africa and other regions.
President Barack Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative and the next Global Entrepreneurship Summit are among key US driven entrepreneur programmes that are prioritised.
A spokesman from the US Mission in Kampala, said: “The hackathon represents part of the Mission’s ongoing efforts and key goal of increasing economic opportunities for Ugandans across the country. In addition, the US Mission supports this program to spur local technology and start-up industries that can in turn create jobs, especially for youth.”
The project dubbed ‘+256 Rising’ is being organised by social impact organisation Affinis Labs and supported by the Ugandan Muslim Youth Development Forum; alumni from President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative; Generation Change; Angels Initiative; and Maya Launchpad.