By Paul Ndou
Ten budding young entrepreneurs have made it through to the incubation stage of the third edition of the Value Creation Challenge, after a record 533 applicants this year, organisers said.
This is the stage where they will be equipped with the essential skills and resources to transform their ideas into successful businesses.
The Value Creation Challenge is run by Zimbabwe’s premier start-up and entrepreneurship hub, the Eight2Five Innovation Hub powered by Old Mutual, in collaboration with the British Council, The British Embassy and EFT Corporation.
Old Mutual Zimbabwe’s Head of Group Marketing, Public Affairs, and Sustainability Lillian Mbayiwa commended female entrepreneurs on taking part in the Value Creation Challenge this year.
“One notable achievement of this year’s VCC3 program is the significant increase in female participation, which has risen to 22% compared to the previous years’ 8%. This increase in female participants indicates the growing interest and involvement of women in entrepreneurship, as well as the success of initiatives that promote gender diversity and inclusivity in the start-up ecosystem,” Mbayiwa said.
The VCC3 program’s commitment to empowering women entrepreneurs sets a positive precedent for future editions and reinforces the notion that entrepreneurship knows no gender boundaries.
The top 10 finalists of the VCC3 program represent a diverse range of innovative ideas and ventures. Clean Up Zimbabwe aims to address environmental challenges through sustainable waste management practices, while Dawa Health (Zimbabwe) Ltd focuses on leveraging technology to improve healthcare delivery. Farmbuzz Agriculture Solutions seeks to revolutionise farming practices using intelligent farming techniques, and Lifeline Publishing House aims to promote literacy and education through innovative publishing methods.
Mumoch Enterprises endeavours to create employment opportunities through its manufacturing and distribution of eco-friendly products. Nyasha Textiles Studio is dedicated to promoting locally made textiles and empowering local artisans, while Save More Tomorrow (SMarT) Wealth aims to provide financial literacy and wealth creation solutions. Tax Pal Zimbabwe Pvt Ltd offers simplified tax management solutions to small businesses, Zar Tech specialises in providing tech solutions, and Zimbabwe Flying Labs focuses on utilising drones for social good.
Over the next three months, the finalists will undergo intensive training and mentoring programmes facilitated by a diverse pool of mentors and facilitators from various industries. This carefully selected group of experts will provide guidance and support in critical areas such as opportunity development, growth strategy, marketing and PR, pitching, testing and prototyping, as well as financing and profitability. The incubation period aims to equip participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive and be resilient in the competitive business landscape.
Their journey through the incubation stage promises to be a transformative experience, equipping them with the tools and knowledge to build sustainable and thriving businesses.
From previous editions to date, the Value Creation Challenge has already engaged over 1,000 participants and distributed approximately $70,000 worth of funds to support promising start-ups.
Old Mutual Zimbabwe group chief executive, Samuel Matsekete said the financial giant was committed to supporting young entrepreneurs as an acknowledgement of the vital role played by entrepreneurs in driving economic growth and job creation.
“By empowering entrepreneurs through programs like the Value Creation Challenge, Old Mutual aims to foster a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that contributes to the sustainable development of Zimbabwe” he said.
“Success stories come from nurturing innovation and guiding young people towards success by offering the right mentors who will help them navigate entrepreneurship challenges.”
The Value Creation Challenge has not only been successful in terms of nurturing entrepreneurship but also in creating a network of like-minded individuals who share a common passion for innovation and business development. The program serves as a platform for participants to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among Zimbabwean entrepreneurs.
The ripple effect of these entrepreneurial endeavours can only lead to a positive transformation of communities and industries.