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Old Mutual’s entrepreneurship innovation competition begins

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Old Mutual’s entrepreneurship innovation competition begins


Staff Writer

HARARE– OLD Mutual’s business incubation program, Eight2Five Innovation Hub, is this year collaborating with the British Council and British Embassy for the 2024 Value Creation Challenge (VCC4) as ambitious young businesspeople compete for the top innovative business idea.

With the annual challenge, which has become a permanent feature on the local financial calendar of every year, Old Mutual aims to bolster innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

The VCC provides promising business innovations with the necessary support to grow into successful enterprises. The program enhances participants’ business acumen and refines their strategies through expert mentorship, bespoke training, and invaluable resources. Additionally, it facilitates networking opportunities, connecting entrepreneurs with industry luminaries, potential investors, and collaborative partners.

On launching the VCC4, Samuel Matsekete, CEO of Old Mutual Zimbabwe Group, reiterated that “Eight2Five is strategically aligned with the Zimbabwean National Agenda, focusing primarily on fostering economic empowerment, creating employment opportunities, and catalyzing innovation. We directly contribute to these national goals by nurturing startups and stimulating innovation. Our initiatives support the government’s vision of transforming small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into significant contributors to the national economy.”

Additionally, Matsekete highlighted the success of the Value Creation Challenge in the previous year.

“The challenge received over 1,200 applications, with 533 outstanding proposals completed. Notable startups like Farmbuzz (an agri-tech company using drone technology for farming) and Taxpal (a regulatory tech innovation simplifying tax filing for SMEs using AI) stood out. These startups not only address local and regional challenges but also have the potential for broader market impact.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Old Mutual plans to expand the Value Creation Challenge further. They aim to support emerging industries, sustainability, the creative sector, and advanced technological innovations. This expansion is set to attract more innovators and provide comprehensive support, helping them move from ideation to market-ready solutions.

The challenge is open to early-stage startups with innovative prototypes and existing businesses with a minimum viable product (MVP), particularly those within the first two years of operation. The VCC4 is especially interested in businesses in emerging industries, innovative technology, the creative sector, and sustainability-focused ventures. Entrepreneurs from all over Zimbabwe are encouraged to apply, ensuring no location or individual is left behind.

As part of their commitment to inclusivity, the Eight2Five team will conduct innovation clinics in Harare, Mutare, Masvingo, Gweru, and Bulawayo between May 20 and May 24. These clinics aim to extend the reach of the challenge and ensure that entrepreneurs from various regions can participate.

Eight2Five through VCC4 is committed to cultivating an inclusive and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in Zimbabwe by recognizing and harnessing the immense potential and innovations brought by women entrepreneurs. By actively encouraging female participation, the program seeks to address the gender gap in entrepreneurship and create equal opportunities for women to thrive and succeed in their ventures.

Female entrepreneurs are encouraged to take advantage of the program, which aims to empower women, amplify their voices, and support their entrepreneurial journeys. By promoting gender diversity and inclusivity, the VCC4 aims to create a vibrant and dynamic entrepreneurial landscape that harnesses the full potential of Zimbabwe’s talent pool.

The Value Creation Challenge has played a significant role in nurturing entrepreneurial talent and driving sustainable economic growth in Zimbabwe. The VCC4 aims to transform innovative prototypes into tangible ventures brimming with promise and potential by providing aspiring entrepreneurs with the necessary support, resources, platform and market access.

One of the key advantages of the VCC4 is its focus on providing market access for participants. Through pitching events and demo days, entrepreneurs gain unparalleled business exposure and visibility.

The impact of the program was recently showcased at the 2024 Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) where startups from the Value Creation Challenge 3 were featured. Furthermore, VCC alumni can participate in significant events such as the Creative Economy Week by the British Council

To register for the Value Creation Challenge 2024, visit the Eight2Five social media pages or website, www.eight2five.co.zw, and seize the opportunity to turn your entrepreneurial dreams into reality.

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