FINCA Ventures Prize Competition Features 12 Social-Impact Entrepreneurs

On Thursday, March 28, twelve start-ups and the entrepreneurs behind them will compete for $400,000 in grant awards at the inaugural FINCA Ventures Prize competition. FINCA launched the competition last November to support social entrepreneurs who work in sub-Saharan Africa and share our steadfast commitment to ending global poverty.

The Event

Starting at 1:00pm and ending at 3:30pm (EDT), the in-person event at FINCA’s global headquarters in Washington, DC will feature rapid-fire presentations from the competitors. A panel of social enterprise experts and investors will serve as judges, probing the competitors to better explain their vision and value proposition. And FINCA CEO, Andrée Simon, will hold a special conversation with Greta Bull, the Director of Women’s Economic Empowerment at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

After the competition, attendees can join a reception and engage with the competitors, judges, and FINCA’s board and management team.

The Competitors

FINCA received applications from more than 300 social enterprises out of which FINCA staff selected 40 to move to the semi-final round. Outside experts helped narrow down the field to the 12 finalists.

The finalists represent a broad array of geographies (East, West and Southern Africa) and business models. Ten of the 12 companies have a woman founder or co-founder. The finalists are:

  • Koffi Nomedji co-founded Baobaby as a way to alleviate hunger among African babies.
  • Naom Monari founded Bena Care to make health care more affordable and accessible.
  • Moka Lantum is addressing key breakdowns in drug supply chains through his company, CheckUps.
  • Folake Owodunni co-founded Emergency Response Africa to better deliver emergency medical care.
  • Ashley Speyer is the COO of Kazi Yetu, a company transforming agriculture trade by increasing local value-add and creating jobs for women.
  • Natalie Casey is the CBO of Koolboks, which is making refrigeration accessible and affordable.
  • Sona Shah co-founded Neopenda to deliver a low-cost technology for monitoring neo-natal vital signs.
  • Adeola Alli launched OneHealth to make it easier to access specialist medications.
  • Angela Odero founded Rio Fish to end the exploitation of women who work in the fish supply chain.
  • JohnCarl Dunyo’s company, Sommalife, increases incomes for producers working in shea value chain.
  • Ashley King-Bischof founded Sprout to build the climate resilience of coffee farmers.
  • Neo Hutiri is improving the last-mile delivery of chronic medication through his company, Technovera

The Prizes

The companies are competing in four different categories, three companies per category. And thanks to support from a generous donor, all 12 finalists will go home with grants. The first-place finishers in each category will win $70,000 in grant funding to further develop their social enterprises. Second and third place finishers in each category will win $20,000 and $10,000, respectively.

“Early-stage social entrepreneurs, especially those operating in sub-Saharan Africa face significant challenges in raising capital to grow their businesses, which keeps poor and low-income people from accessing high-quality goods and services that can improve their lives,” notes Melissa Tickle, investment director of FINCA Ventures. “We are excited to fund young entrepreneurs to solve pressing global health and environmental issues that we hear from FINCA customers every day.”