What would you do if you were given free money for your business? Grants give the beneficiaries peace of mind to be able to build their businesses. They are an act of philanthropy and aim to inspire and or grow those who benefit from the funding. Jack Ma, the Founder of Alibaba had a humble beginning and rose to become one of the most influential business moguls in China. Because of the inspiration, he drew from African enterprises and the similarities in the business environment, 100 businesses will share $10 million grant over a decade through the Africa Netpreneur Prize. Applicants have until 30th June 2019 to seek a share in this year’s $ 1million Prize.
There are many grant opportunities on the continent, each looking to support the entrepreneur in their own unique way. For Jack, his inspiration is to give a one-year runway to entrepreneurs who put effort towards building their business, so they think more about expansion than the actual search for capital. Looking at many high-ranking entrepreneurs in the continent, they invest heavily in visions they believe in. In order to make an impression on leaders like Jack Ma, your heart needs to be in the right place with regards to the long-term vision of your business and your focus on the people.
As a forward-charging continent, African entrepreneurs continue to break the mold in their unique approach to their socio-economic challenges. Securing funding for your business growth is one of the most exhilarating experiences, which is right up there with clinching a customer you have been courting for a while. It’s a sigh of relief after working hard to win favor in a highly competitive market. So here are some quick tips to catching the eye of your future funder.
- Passion: This is contagious positive energy that would draw the attention of an investor. As an entrepreneur, fellow leaders appreciate it when you see the challenges as opportunities and are willing and eager to make a positive impact in your community. This is what helps drive you as an entrepreneur especially on the tough days.
- Mission-Driven: While most people start a business to simply make money or get out of a sticky financial situation, investors also want to know that they are dealing with determined, straight-forward entrepreneurs who hold values and business ethics in high regard. The desire to make a positive difference should come first before making money.
- Clarity and brevity: Remember that funders have very little time to look through tons of proposals they receive in a day. Think about your one-minute pitch that, assuming they walked into the same elevator, will get them saying ‘I’m interested, here is my contact’. In your pitch, begin with the solution you aim to provide and scope of how far you aim to go before you can even say your name. Practice with someone until you get it right.
- Understanding of your business environment: There are certain X factors that the funder will be looking at to see that their investment is adding value, not just to you as the entrepreneur, but also to the community at large. Funders are cognizant of the fact that there is nothing new under the sun, but are aware of innovative ways that a solution can be provided. This therefore challenges entrepreneurs to carry out extensive research on business growth, competition and the market dynamics.
- Updated Financial records: How organized and up to date are your business records to qualify for funding? This demonstrates the keen interest you have in your cash flow. Some entrepreneurs are incredible at creating visions but probably score an E on the finances. Nowadays there are many easy book-keeping applications one could retrieve, or even better hire a pro.
To qualify for a share of the $1Million Africa Netpreneur Prize, entrepreneurs are urged to consider the following:
- All applications are done online on www.netpreneur.africa website.
- Be African nationals from any of the 54 African countries with a business registered in the country of operation in Africa.
- Have been in operation for a minimum of 3 years in order to show year on year revenue
- Have a service/ product market fit, i.e. addressing a need in the continent.
- Be mission-driven with strong values.
- Have a minimum of 2 co-founders or 5 staff members. The applicant is required to make 3 one-minute long videos demonstrated below, which can be shot off a phone in a well-lit environment
Applications close on 30th June.
This column was submitted by Africa Netpreneur Prize Media Team.