MIT, Mastercard launch ‘Open Mic Africa’ entrepreneurial talent search programme

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation have launched an entrepreneurial talent search programme — Open Mic Africa.

The initiative will host events in three cities across Africa. Namely Lagos (26-27 July), Dakar (23-24 September) and Cape Town (27-28 September). The MIT Legatum Centre will also stop over in Accra, Ghana and Nairobi to establish better networks and increase its presence in those areas.

Each event will host inspirational talks from other African entrepreneurs, workshops and venture pitch training as well as mentorship sessions. Each city will also host an open pitch competition where the participants could win up to US$2500.

“Open Mic Africa is designed to unearth, inspire and celebrate the next generation of global technology ventures that are powering this movement. The Legatum Center community is looking forward to working with all the entrepreneurs we encounter during our summer tour,” said Georgina Campbell Flatter, the MIT Legatum Center executive director in a press release.

‘Open Mic Africa is designed to unearth, inspire and celebrate the next generation of global technology ventures’

The Open Mic Africa tour will also include an “Ask Me Anything” booth which gives entrepreneurs a platform to learn about opportunities at MIT.

Youssouf Sy, associate programme manager of financial inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation also expressed his support for the programme attributing his trust to its ability to find and “nurture” early-stage startups.

Open Mic Africa serves a larger purpose than just an international tour. It’s also the first phase of the 2017 Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion which opens in August this year.

The prize will award US$100 000 to Africa’s best early-stage startup solving issues regarding financial inclusion. The prize finalists will also receive additional cash prizes and the chance to attend MIT’s entrepreneurship programme.

According to Ali Diallo, the MIT Legatum Center Global Programs manager, the Zambezi prize is “redefining” financial inclusion.

“We believe in a more holistic definition that focuses less on the mechanism and more on the end result. It is about creating the conditions, the environment, and the business models that help people access a better quality of life.”