Two African entrepreneurs were recognized at the “Dragons’ Den” competition during the fifth Global Forum on Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship, which took place in East London, South Africa sponsored by World Bank’s infoDev and the South African Department of Science and technology.
Stella Njoki Kariuki and Kariuki Githitu of Kenya’s Zege Technologies took the $10,000 second place prize for Mpayer, an application that enables financial transactions using mobile money as well as cash.
Third place and $8,000 went to the South African company Afroes, founded by CEO Anne Shongwe, for its mobile applications delivering positive educational messages.
The competition mirrored the internationally acclaimed TV series “Dragons’ Den,” which, like the U.S. show “Shark Tank,” places entrepreneurs before a panel of judges who determine whether or not a business plan is worthy of investment, according to a blog at blogs.worldbank.org.
The panel consisted of Gerardo Corrochano, director for financial and private sector development for the Europe and Central Asia region of World Bank; Wesley Lynch, founder of AngelHub South Africa; Thomas Debass, deputy special representative at the U.S. State Department; Mmboneni Muofhe, deputy director-general with the South African Department of Science and Technology; and technology activist Marieme Jamme.
Judges looked for high-growth entrepreneurs who found sustainable companies creating jobs impacting positively on society, according to blogs.worldbank.org. Over the course of two sessions, pitches were made from 20 of the most impressive and inspiring technology-driven entrepreneurs from developing and emerging economies. Nearly half were female and about two-thirds from Africa. Before the entrepreneurs were thrown into the den of dragons, they received training and mentoring by members of the infoDev team and a few accomplished investors.
“I was happy to be a judge and not on the other side,” Corrochano said at blogs.worldbank.org. “Entrepreneurs had three minutes to make the pitch, and then we – the five judges – scrambled to ask our burning questions within three minutes.”
All the top entrepreneurs invited to the competition were called on stage and received recognition for their achievements.