MIT and Mastercard FDN Launch 2018 Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion, Applications Open

Applications Open to Find Africa’s Most Innovative Start-ups Meeting the Greatest Financial Inclusion Challenges

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, today announced the launch of the 2018 edition of the Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion. The prestigious competition, awarding a total of $200,000 in prizes, was established to discover Africa’s most promising and innovative early-stage start-ups that promote and advance financial inclusion on the continent.

There are multiple awards and opportunities available for finalists. The grand prize winner will be awarded $100,000 and the two runners-up will each receive up to $30,000.The top 10 finalists are guaranteed to each receive up to $5,000 in cash prizes as well as VIP tickets to the Zambezi Award ceremony, cohort-building activities, international media exposure, and personalized introductions to the MIT Legatum network of investors and mentors. Past Zambezi finalists have led projects ranging from agricultural finance for the small dairy farmer to an employee-centric boda boda taxi business model.

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The top three winners will also be invited to attend the Zambezi boot camp during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) gala on the MIT campus in Boston and fast-tracked to the global grand prize with up to $1 million available. The IIC event is part of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and, along with the MIT Legatum Center’s initiatives, examples of MIT’s global commitment to the future of work.

This year’s competition will be supported by the MIT Legatum Center’s annual Open Mic Africa tour, a cross-continent tour in search of Africa’s most innovative entrepreneurs that will debut in Spring 2018. The Legatum Center, with support from Techpreneur Africa and the late Bolaji Finnih, hosted the premiere event of the 2017 Open Mic Africa tour in Lagos, Nigeria.

The Zambezi Prize and the Open Mic Africa tour are pillars of the Legatum Center’s Africa Strategy – a global vision to leverage MIT’s ecosystem to improve lives through principled entrepreneurial leadership. The Legatum Center’s Africa strategy is also a core component of MIT-Africa – the initiative that encompasses the Institute’s global priority for collaboration with the continent.

Munyutu Waigi, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer of Umati Capital receives the 2015 Zambezi Prize

The Zambezi application is now open for early-stage African tech start-ups who are furthering financial inclusion in Africa. Applicants will be judged on their ability to solve one of the financial inclusion challenges put forth by the Prize; their current and potential impact on the local ecosystem; the scale of their innovation; and the feasibility of the solution.

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The Zambezi application closes in June, 2018. Potential applicants can find more information and apply at http://www.zambezi.mit.edu/ or contact the MIT Legatum Center at info@zambezi.mit.edu.

About Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT

The Legatum Center was founded on the belief that entrepreneurs and their market-driven solutions are critical to tackling the world’s greatest challenges and driving global prosperity. Based at MIT Sloan School of Management, the Center leverages expertise and research across campus to equip future leaders with the skills, values, and critical thinking they need to succeed as entrepreneurial change agents. The Center’s capstone initiative is the Legatum Fellowship Program which provides aspiring entrepreneurs with a world-class education and substantial tuition support.  The Legatum Center also conducts a set of global activities to strengthen pathways between MIT and leaders of change in frontier markets. To learn more, please visit legatum.mit.edu or follow on Twitter @MITLegatum.

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training, and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard International when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org  Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.

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