Featured News | Jul 27, 2021
I was requested by 22 ON SLOANE’s Ecosystem Enabler to assist them in selecting applications which are suitable to be judged for the Entrepreneurship World Cup 2021, a program that offers startups to pitch on a global stage for a share of US$1 million in cash prizes plus additional investment opportunities and another US$750,000 in in-kind support.
My task was quite simple in terms of vetting the first phase of applications and seeing who qualifies to the next round. Again, on paper and in theory, the process really is not difficult.
There however, were a few identified challenges that startups had while completing my assigned tasks. With easier access to abundant information and advanced technology on our fingertips, one would assume that language barrier would not be an issue, especially in South Africa where English is the medium of communication. Within my first few applications, it was clear that quite a concerning number of applicants either did not either understand the questions asked or they were not able to respond sufficiently. This issue may be caused by a lack of understanding on the real market analysis and actual problem solving. A natural response to problem solving in business is linked to attracting customers and this narrative is false because customers have different reasons for purchasing a product or service. Conducting your consumer market research on existing markets that offer similar services will guide startups on answering the problems which they are trying to solve and your business value proposition.
In addition to the above stated, a noted need for Entrepreneurship Orientation Programmes because the issue highlighted earlier is created by the lack of entrepreneurial skills. A business plan is vital when entering entrepreneurship competitions, even if you are in ideation stage and most applicants either failed to share this or their business plans were poorly written. As a startup founder myself, I know that it can be a daunting task if you do not have a good support structure to guide you. Therefore, there should be an increased awareness and support from both the private and public sector for entrepreneurs to accumulate the necessary entrepreneurship skills required for them to thrive.
Granted the privilege of being acquainted with the 22 ON SLOANE team who have a true passion of helping startups and SMEs to achieve their goals. Compliments and highly commending the team as being able to assist you in identifying your hidden strengths that speak and address your company weak points. During the period of fulfilling my duties as a judge for EWC, one cannot restrain but be overcome with the realization that incubation hubs are a critical need within our society to address the entrepreneurial skills that hinder Africa from being exposed to its natural human talent. With the startup programmes that are offered at 22 ON SLOANE, I strongly believe that the issues identified can assist in developing and enhancing the startup community.
In closing, the continent of Africa has its fair share of problems and daily issues faced. However, within the chaos and crisis, Africans are left with no alternative but to become innovative where it is for survival, or it is for breaking barriers. A take home is that we require more companies to apply and partake in events such as Entrepreneurship World Cup. The more African start up that apply, the higher the chance of a fellow African not just winning but growing which will directly impact other African startups.
Rufaro Rashirai : Co-founder of Achetes Online
22 On Sloane is the largest startup campus in Africa. The campus offers disruptive startups and innovative SMEs a complete turnkey solution to scale, from the initial idea all the way to commercialisation, funding opportunities and access to markets. Its aim is to nurture the entrepreneurial mindset, ensure their sustainability, and explore development of new industries and contribute towards job creation in Africa.
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