Startup competitions for entrepreneurs in Africa

Steven Loeb · September 27, 2019 · Short URL:

They include Pitch Africa, New Venture Competition, Africa Netpreneur Prize and DEMO Africa

If you're a startup seeking opportunities to get funded, educated or connected, startup competitions are a great resource.

Vator has been holding its own competitions, using VatorX, to find and filter for the best startups. We've had some very successful and notable winners in the past that have gone on to raise big funding rounds including Thumbtack, DogVacay, Pokitdok, Grovo, Udemy and Apartment List, to name a few.

Anyone can list their program as VatorX is one of the most comprehensive listing guides to startup competitions, challenges, accelerators and programs. Click here to list your program!

As part of our weekly series, we'll look at top competitions with big cash prizes, as well as competitions that have teed up the most promising startups, to finding popular startup competitions you need to know about. 

Here are some of the startup competitions for entrepreneurs in Africa:


Description: "MEST is a Pan-African entrepreneurial training program, seed fund, tech incubator and hub. Our mission is to create jobs and wealth in Africa by training, supporting and investing in the continent's most promising software entrepreneurs. Are you an aspiring African entrepreneur or experienced professional interested in deepening your experience across African markets? Join us!"

Prize: Up to $50,000 in equity investment and the opportunity to join the Pan-African MEST incubator community.

Previous winners: Seekewa, Snode Technologies, AMPZ, WayaWaya, OZÉ

Description: "The Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative is Jack Ma’s flagship entrepreneur program in Africa led by the Jack Ma Foundation."

Prize: $1 million in total grant prize money. 

Previous winners: None yet

Description: "Africa is a very diverse continent with major health challenges that require dynamic, innovative approaches to ensure the future health of the populations. We, at Sanofi, have been committed to the communities and people right across Africa for more than 50 years. We feel it our responsibility to use our expertise, knowledge and experience to continuously seek out the most innovative, adapted approaches to improve access to medicines and healthcare for the people of Africa. Whether it is preventing disease or managing illness, we strive to integrate the latest technologies to make our innovations and services accessible to millions of people around Africa."


  • Engage deep discussion with expert functions and Sanofi in Africa General Managers to assess feasibility of future collaboration in Africa (e.g. potential pilot, potential investment by Sanofi VC...)
  • Coaching / Mentoring & potential acceleration, with involvement of Sanofi Africa Leadership team
  • Opportunity for financial help and an access to Sanofi internal expertise to support your business and your international growth strategy
Previous winners: Not specified

2019 Africa Business Conference

Description: "As part of the 21st Africa Business Conference, the Africa Business Club will be hosting the New Venture Competition on February 15th, 2019. The New Venture Competition aims to showcase the diversity of entrepreneurs making a difference on the continent today."

Prize: The competition winner and runner-up will be awarded cash prizes of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.

Previous winners: Benoo Energies, Eco Act, FoodPrime, Mum Attendant, Ship’nbag

Description: "Smarter Mobility Africa is launching a Start-up Pitch Competition to identify Start-ups and small businesses that can offer smart, eco-friendly and sustainable solutions to transport people and products. We are looking for start-ups who have unique solutions in the market but are looking for exposure for growth and scaling-up opportunities."


  • Inclusive delegate Pass
  • PR exposure
  • Networking opportunity
  • Showcase your ideas, solutions and technologies to a wider audience
  • Access to Smarter Mobility Africa Community for a year
Previous winners: None yet
Startup Africa

Description: "Pitch Africa celebrates entrepreneurship, innovation and potential in Africa by giving aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their business and social innovation ideas, start-ups, and early stage ventures to compete for cash and in-kind services. The competition targets high school, TVET, college/university and non-college entrepreneurs who want to take their ideas to the next level."

Prize: Not specified

Previous winners: Not specified

Description: "DEMO Africa is a flagship launchpad for emerging technology and trends. Each year, the DEMO Africa conference attracts over 2,000 people from around the globe to experience the finest of Africa’s innovations at their birth. During the annual DEMO Africa conference, a hand-selected class of new technology products are introduced to the world through an audience of global press and prolific bloggers; investors; corporate acquirers; strategic partners and buyers."

Prize: The top five startups from DEMO Africa will be sponsored to Silicon Valley for an all expense paid trip to be part of the Lions@fricaInnovation Tour where they will receive further exposure to a global innovation ecosystem, and get a chance to interact with leading Silicon valley stakeholders.

Previous winners: HawKar

Description: "Bringing together talented entrepreneurs, investors, and other thought leaders in the world of technology. Celebrating high caliber founders who not only drive their businesses with passion and energy, but also take responsibility for the focused execution of their ideas."

Prize: Not specified

Previous winners: Easy Equities, Simodisa, EcOrganics, Yapili

Description: "The Nairobi Innovation Challenge debut was in 2017 as NIWStartups. Then came 2018 where 353 Startups applied, 100 were selected and pitched at NIW. Out of the pitching startups 15 were recognised as the Most Promising Startups of 2018."


  • FREE exhibition booth during the Nairobi Innovation Week.
  • Complimentary tickets into the NIW Innovation Summit on 13th and 14th June 2019.
  • Exclusively pitch to potential investors, partners and customers at the NIW Innovation Summit on 14th June 2019.
  • Become the face of Nairobi Innovation Week.
  • FREE publicity and interviews with NIW Media Partners.
  • Training, coaching and mentorship from experts.
  • An entrepreneurship scholarship from a leading training institution in Kenya.
  • 1 year free subscription to an online Digital Business Planning tool.
Previous winners: Mifugo Bora Agribusiness, Eco Makaa
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