Every young enterprise does reach a point where it needs operational growth and a cash injection to ensure it grows to its full potential. There are numerous ways to go about it.
You can ask an established business person for guidance, but you might be disappointed since he or she might be too busy to mentor you. You could borrow from family and friends to bolster your operations, but that source also dries up with time.
There are other alternatives though. Fellowships. Fellowships are a great way to get the money and the professional guidance you need from regional and global mentors who dedicate their time and open their networks to you, to help grow your business.
Here are some fellowships that you need to apply for, to ensure your business growth is optimised. All these Fellowships are free, and no application fee is charged. What are you waiting for?
1.MICROSOFT #INSIDERS4GOOD EAST AFRICA FELLOWSHIP 2017
Deadline for application: March 31, 2017.
We all know Microsoft for its software innovation and its founders’ philanthropy through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Microsoft is now in East Africa on a different mission. It is in search of innovative East African entrepreneurs from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. These entrepreneurs need to be visionary, and offer a business solution to community challenges with a strong growth potential of the solution they offer. Only 25 entrepreneurs will be selected for the six-months fellowship, and each will receive a premier suite of Windows software and hardware. The fellowship will connect these lucky entrepreneurs to regional and international mentors to build their business ideas.
If you think you are what they are looking for, apply now.
Visit: https://windowsinsiders.azurewebsites.net/Fellowship/EastAfrica to apply.
2.UNREASONABLE EAST AFRICA FELLOWSHIP
Deadline for application: February 28, 2017.
Unreasonable East Africa is a business accelerator; they guide and grow young and early stage businesses. They work primarily with businesses and financially sustainable nonprofit entities in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Every year they run a rigorous 10-month fellowship programme where businesses are introduced to a huge network of business mentors who assist to strengthen operational models and fundraise through the organisations existing pool of funders. In three years, they have helped raise USD 5.2 Million (Sh538.2 million) in funding. This is your chance to grow your business or nonprofit.
Visit: http://unreasonableeastafrica.org/ to apply
3.AFRICAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARD
Deadline: opens on February 17, 2017
This is another opportunity for you to take Africa by storm with your business proposal. The African entrepreneurship award is now seeking business proposals from across the African continent. Simply log on to their site, submit your business proposal, and a mentor will guide you through your concept. If you need to refine it, you can always re-submit your business proposal before the deadline.
All proposals received in the first round then go through four rounds of evaluation by judges, therefore make sure your business idea offers the East African region a solution that is likely to succeed in Africa, is significant and sustainable. And if you make it through the first three rounds, you will be making your presentation to the judges in Morocco and sharing the USD 1 Million (Sh101 Million) cash prize with other winners.
Apply here: https://africanentrepreneurshipaward.com/eligibility/
4. THE TONY ELUMELU FOUNDATION ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAMME
Deadline: February 28, 2017
Tony Elumelu is a Nigerian entrepreneur, economist and philanthropist on a mission to create 10,000 startups across Africa. He founded the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme in 2010 to achieve this goal, and has committed USD 100 Million (Sh10.35 billion) towards development and support of Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs.
There are 1,000 slots open each year to entrepreneurs across Africa. You need to ensure you are at least 18 years and older - there is no upper age limit. Your business needs to be in the initial stages at least 0-3 years. All successful applicants will be notified on email on March 22, 2017.
If you are one of the lucky 1,000 African entrepreneurs selected, you will be introduced to your business mentor, who will be by your side for the duration of the programme. You will go through sufficient training, and if you successfully complete this process, you could get up to USD 10,000 (Sh1.035 million) to fund your business. This is a great opportunity for any entrepreneur who genuinely wants to grow their business.
Apply here: http://tonyelumelufoundation.org/Programme/
5.GROWTHAFRICA 2017 ACCELERATION PROGRAMME IN KENYA AND UGANDA
Deadline: March 12, 2017
GrowthAfrica describes itself as an international post-revenue startup and business accelerator. They work with African entrepreneurs and international companies to scale business in and across Africa.
The 2017 GrowthAfrica Accelerator Programme is seeking Kenyan and Ugandan entrepreneurs, currently running businesses with an existing clientele, seeking to expand and optimise operations. These entrepreneurs need to have co-founders currently engaged in the business. This is not for the solo entrepreneur therefore.
The programme entails an initial five-day workshop and subsequent six three-day workshops, with the assistance of a mentor, financial specialist and growth specialist all amounting to USD 50,000 (Sh5.2 million) in support. They are open to various sectors, but they do have a special interest in education, IT/mobile solutions, water and sanitation, health, manufacturing and processing, renewable energy, agribusiness, construction and affordable housing and financial technology sectors.
For their support in this programme, GrowthAfrica aims to ensure they double your revenue, triple your profit or at least raise USD 250,00 (Sh25.9 million). If they are able to do this for your business, they then expect 2 per cent equity in your company, 1 per cent of your revenue and 3 per cent of the investments raised.
It is an interesting fusion of venture capital and business incubation. If this is something that piques your interest, then go ahead and apply.