Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenge 2016 for East African Entrepreneurs ( $USD 3000 & Funded Training in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

Application Deadline: 16th April 2016

  • Every great innovation starts with an idea…but learning the skills to develop your idea into a successful business are just as important as the idea itself.
  • Do you have an idea for a business using off-grid energy in villages that you want to put into action?
  • Can you attend entrepreneurship training in Dar es Salaam from 29th Jul – 17th Sep 2016?
  • Enter The Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenge 2016 to turn your idea into a reality.

In collaboration with the Cambridge Development Initiative, Smart Villages is running its second annual Off-grid Energy Innovation Challenge to support young aspiring East African entrepreneurs with ideas for social businesses that can run on off-grid energy.  Finalists will again win a spot in the seven-week DAREnterprisers course to learn business skills, develop their idea into a full business plan, and pitch for start-up capital

This competition seeks to give young East African students and recent graduates an opportunity to develop business skills, build their network, meet peers for collaboration and win capital for innovative business ideas that use energy generated off-the-grid.

  • Up to five finalist teams will be chosen to receive certified intensive practical business training from the Cambridge Development Initiative (CDI) to help develop their idea and build it into full business plan and investment proposition.
  • At the end of the training period, finalists will pitch their business propositions to a judging panel who will chose the winning team.

The Challenge

Technological innovations for providing electricity services to rural villages have recently started to change the landscape of off-grid energy across the world, including East and Central Africa. Access to new forms of energy opens doors to a whole range of new social businesses and productive enterprises.

This competition seeks to find and support aspiring young entrepreneurs who have ideas for businesses that are made possible by off-grid energy access.

Examples of possible areas to consider include (but are not limited to):
▪▪ Mobile-phone-based businesses
▪▪ Innovative methods of agricultural processing or storage
▪▪ Waste management and sanitation
▪▪ Ideas for improvements to education or healthcare

Eligibility Requirements:

  • The competition is open to current university students or recent graduates under the age of 30.


The winning team will receive $3000 in prize capital to help implement their idea.
All finalists will benefit from:
▪Training – learn business skills through the seven-week DAREnterprisers course
▪Funding – direction towards additional funding sources, travel expenses and accommodation may be provided upon application
▪Certification – earn practical training credit
▪Network – expand your network of peers, potential partners and supporters

Idea generation and application

The entry phase of the competition is open between 16th March and 16th April 2016. The simple online application asks for some background on yourself and why you want to enter the competition and a short description of your idea.

The idea description should include:

  • The specific problem your idea is trying to solve
  • The solution you are proposing, how it is new and why it will work
  • How your solution would impact one specific community that you know well, and how it might apply to other communities across East Africa

Training and Development

  • Finalists win the opportunity to develop, trial and refine their idea with the CDI during and intensive seven-week DAREnterprisers programme based in Dar es Salaam. The focus will be on developing a product or service in direct interaction with test communities around Dar es Salaam.
  • During this training, you will learn how to:
    ▪Conduct market research and develop a business plan
  • Validate prototypes and build revenue models
  • Develop core business skills including public speaking, leadership and teamwork
  • Pitch to prospective investors Competition Format e4sv


  • Mar– Apr Submissions open for the Smart Villages Off-grid Energy Challenge
  • May :Up to five teams selected as finalists
  • Jul–Sep : DAREnterprisers business training course in Dar es Salaam
  • September : Finalists pitch to judges at the Dare to Change Dar conference
  • October : Winners receive prize capital

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the  Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenge 2016 for East African Entrepreneurs



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