SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge

SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups are vital engines of economic growth and employment throughout the world, and in particular in emerging economies like Africa. They can give new generations much needed opportunities and enable a more equitable and sustainable development. 

However, their potential is all too often obstructed. Harsh regulations, lengthy registration procedures, lack of (fair) labour rights, no protection of intellectual property and high levels of taxation and corruption, are just some of these hardships to name a few. In some places it is practically impossible for local businesses to flourish because of lengthy and costly procedures to set up a business, obtain the necessary licenses or meet international standards. Moreover, for female entrepreneurs the challenges can seem truly unsurmountable due to discrimination.

The question arises, how can we help alleviate such problems and propel Africa's growth and development?

The HiiL Justice Accelerator, together with the Ford Foundation, has embarked on a pioneering endeavor to accelerate justice ventures in East- and West Africa. The SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge is geared towards finding and strengthening new initiatives that can empower startups and SMEs.

In 2015, 20 highly promising innovations made it through the selection rounds and competed for a finalist-position for the Innovating Justice Boostcamp and the Innovating Justice Forum. The winners of the SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge in 2015 have won up to $70,000 in seed funding and received acceleration support.

Want to learn more? Read about the SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge here.

Project details

Project leader: Nathalie Dijkman
Project partner: Ford Foundation
Duration: 2014-2016