Pitch africa competition programme for start-ups and entrepreneurs

Moving from anectodal success to a country-wide entrepreneurial revolution requires a new systematic approach to entrepreneurship education. Every African youth must be given the opportunity (exposure, education and access to capital) to achieve self-sufficiency. Every African youth should wake up excited everyday about the chance to TRY!".

Erastus Mong'are
Founder & Executive Director, StartUpAfrica

The African Union in its report Strategy to Revitalise Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Africa identifies linkage of TVET to the labour market and development of business management and entrepreneurship skills in the vocational training programmes as key strategic issues that need to be addressed.

Pitch Africa was developed by a broad coalition of partners to provide high school students with an outstanding opportunity to acquire valuable knowledge and skills. Since 2011, StartUpAfrica has been running the Pitch Africa competition under the banner of ‘Diamond Challenge Africa’ which is a business idea contest that covers over 150 high schools in Kenya and Uganda. The best schools participate in an international competition in Delaware, USA. The Pitch Africa inculcates new skills, expands job opportunities and builds networks for the participating students.

Building on the positive experience of the past few years, StartUpAfrica intends to roll out an Africa-wide programme to promote leadership and entrepreneurship among Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students. The programme will involve the development of a curriculum and training of at least one instructor in at least 300 institutions. The instructors will in turn train a minimum on 30 students in their institutions. The programme will leverage on technology and local partnerships to impart skills create opportunities and build networks. StartUpAfrica will also provide follow-up support through mentorship and access to finance for participating students. The follow-up support will also include incubation for nascent businesses and show casing of the businesses through expos.

The programme will initially target 300 institutions in the East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. It will later be expanded to the rest of Africa.

Good Practice Approach

The three pillars of a successful African Youth Entrepreneurship effort begins by strengthening the capacity of the youth that holds the potential for building rural and peri-urban communities. Africa is still rural and the building of a strong rural economy holds the future of the continent. This shall be achieved through three main goals. To begin with, SUA aims to make entrepreneurship education universally available to all African youth by enhancing the knowledge base in contemporary understanding of entrepreneurship. We have developed a culturally and regionally relevant curriculum that is high interest, easy to understand and that incorporates up to date animation and video technologies. Secondly, creation of a widely available and easily accessible source of capital for youth through the use of IDAs, Micro lending programs, and International citizen good will giving. Finally, SUA aims to make business mentoring free and widely available by developing a pool of volunteer mentors and short term skill trainers both in country and internationally.

The key activities of the program include:

  • Organising entrepreneurship and leadership skills training and soft skills training for TVET graduates looking to start businesses or seek employment
  • Organising regional and national competitions for various TVET organizations within the framework of community development
  • Creating an online networking environment for the functioning of the TVET graduates' networking activities
Key Results

The key results achieved in the past 9 years are tremendous and include 15,000 students reached and 1100 schools impacted since 2013. Besides this, we are seeking further impact as illustrated in our three year targets as indicated below:

  • Training 9000 youth across Africa
  • Providing access to financing for at least 100 persons across Africa
  • Developing an online network for at least 100,000 young people from TVET institutions and supporters of the same across Africa
  • Organising at least one national and one regional conference for TVET competitions across Africa every year
Lessons Learnt (Success Factors & Challenges)

The lessons to be learnt from this process includes:

  • Development of a critical mass of young people who can drive progress through their skills from TVETs
  • How youth views regarding TVETs can be driven to transform the values that enhance functionalities of skills
  • The impact of an engaged youth on local economies

Elements and tools suitable for replication and scalability

The Pitch Competition process, the online system, and the training modules used are easily scalable and have been used in StartUpAfrica's other programmes within the last 9 years.