Forty-four African entrepreneurs will travel to Washington D.C. on June 21 to compete for a pool of grant money in the second Africa Diaspora Marketplace (ADM II), hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Western Union Company.
In 2010, the first ADM competition awarded more than a dozen matching grants of $100,000 each to winning business entries from seven countries.
This year’s ADM II received nearly 500 applicants. Finalists from the Democratic Republic of The Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, the United Republic of Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia will be traveling to Washington D.C. on June 21st to participate in the African Diaspora Marketplace. The Marketplace will allow them to showcase their business ideas and concept directly to the judges and other potential funders.
This year’s finalists encompass business concepts from electronic data management for the medical industry, to producing dried produce for the export market which will be implemented across 12 countries in Africa.
Members of the Diaspora are invited to attend the Marketplace event, to be held on June 22nd from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST at George Washington University’s Marvin Center. Workshops featuring business development and entrepreneurship will be open to the public free of charge on a first-come-first serve basis. The award ceremony will be held in coordination with Western Union and USAID on June 23rd from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and requires registration, which will be available at www.diasporamarketplace.org.
Previous years’ winners will also be participating in the event, speaking with ADM II finalists and sharing lessons they’ve learned during the launch of their business in Africa.
“It forced us to think through certain parts of the business plan in much more detail and be able to explain it to investors,” said Alden Zecha, who’s Sproxil, Inc., was a winner in 2010.
Along with the financial boost winning the competition provided for his pharmaceutical brand protection company, Zecha said it also generated additional exposure for the business. Potential business partners also saw winning the competition as having been through a sort of vetting process, he said.
Since winning the competition, Sproxil has grown significantly, receiving $2 million in funding or contributions, he said.
But even for those not selected as winners, participants said the competition offers substantial benefits, creating a meeting place for hundreds of innovators to come together.
Raymond Rugemalira, who’s Uza Mazao also won a 2010 grant said, “It was a gathering place where we could exchange ideas and see what others are doing, and see the synergy between services to see where one would be able to expand to different marketplaces.”
For more information on the competition, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn with the group “African Diaspora Marketplace”.