NVC offers $50,000 in cash prizes to winning startups

Select startups focused on serving the African continent will gain access to coaching from HBS students, networking opportunities with investors focused on the African continent, and a chance to win over $50,000 in prize money.







2024 Semi Finalist

How it works

Applications open for submission
Applications will be collected until November 15, 2023 11:59 pm EST. Afterwards, submissions will be reviewed and selected based on the criteria provided below in the Requirements and Criteria.
10 semi-finalists will be announced
On December 15th, 2023 the semi-finalists will be notified. Semi finalists will be paired with HBS resources in preparation for the big day.
3 winners will be selected
10 semi-finalists will pitch live in front of over 1,000 attendees at Harvard Business School on Friday, February 16th, and 3 winners will be selected.

Winner tiers

10 semi-finalists will pitch live in front of over 1,000 attendees at Harvard Business School on Friday
Runner up
Third place

Requirements and criteria

The 26th Harvard Business School Africa Business Conference will be held on February 16th - 17th, 2024 with the theme “Africa Forward: Competing in a Global Era.” As part of the conference, the Africa Business Club will be hosting the New Venture Competition which seeks to showcase the diversity of entrepreneurs making a difference on the continent today.

From the pool of applications, 10 semi-finalists will be invited to pitch their business in front of over 1,000 attendees and receive feedback from a panel of experienced judges. The winner and runner-ups for second and third place will be awarded cash prizes of $30,000, $15,000, and $10,000, respectively.

NVC semi-finalists will have the opportunity to get feedback, advice, and input from conference participants as well as senior partners at Africa-focused VCs from across the continent.

Select ventures will also have the opportunity to showcase their companies at the Startup Fair networking and recruiting event and attend networking lunches with distinguished panelists.

The application form will be open on the conference website from October 16, 2023. All applications must be received by 11:59pm EST on Wednesday, November 15, 2023.

Please feel free to contact us at hbs.abcconference@gmail.com for any questions or clarifications.
The competition is open to all African and Africa-focused entrepreneurs with businesses focused on shaping our future. Entrepreneurs who offer unique and homegrown solutions to local problems and who meet the following eligibility criteria are highly encouraged to apply:

- Early stage startups (for profit or not-for-profit)
- Africa-focused with a majority or all of its operations in Africa
- Fewer than 50 employees
- Fewer than 5 years of operations
- Raised less $1,000,000 in funding to date
The Competition is about assessing the commercial merit and potential viability of each proposed new venture. The judges will evaluate its potential for economic success and the likelihood of achieving that success based upon the team's plan, experience, and the validation of key assumptions and a clear and convincing presentation of the following:

- Product/Service (what it is; why distinctive)
- Team (relevance to problem/breadth/depth of skills; ability to execute)
- Opportunity (timing, market size/need, ability to penetrate, strong value proposition and business model)
- Context (favorable regulatory/tax/political and industry context)
- Competitive advantage (Business & Product / Technology)
- Easy to copy? Barriers to entry? IP? Hiring capabilities, How many competitors? etc.
- Risk/Reward (ways to manage upside/downside)
- Structured Experimentation (market validation of value proposition/growth hypothesis)
- Financial (realistic assumptions underlying any financial projections)
- Traction & Execution (defined milestones)
- Go-to-market strategy
How will you or are you acquiring customers?
- Marketing/Sales Channels/Partnerships?

Naturally, the more concrete the plan, the better. Teams that have a proven technology, recruited partners, or even attracted "beta" customers may raise their chances of success. On the other hand, strong early stage ideas that have yet to be launched but have been thought through and tested will be well-received and considered based on their standalone potential and the team's ability to execute. For the applicant/entrepreneur, the chance to learn and the process of defining a strong idea and business model, testing assumptions, and making a compelling pitch about the viability of a new venture will be invaluable.
NVC Application Form

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NVC Application Form

Will your company be this year winner?

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