$1 million to fund inventive African entrepreneurs

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BMCE Bank of Africa launched its African Entrepreneurship Award which aims to support talented entrepreneurs from Africa.

The African Entrepreneurship Award will fund $1 million USD to African entrepreneurs with scalable and sustainable businesses in 2 new categories: Sports and Innovation.

This initiative aims to support talented entrepreneurs from Africa or Africans in the diaspora whose ideas create jobs and improve lives on the continent. The competition remains open for entries until April 30th.

The BMCE Bank president Othman Benjelloun announced the award in 2014 at the Marrakech Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

During the past 3 years, the award was dedicated to projects in Education, Environment, and uncharted categories.

Over 12,000 entrepreneurs applied from 132 countries.

Mentors then selected 112 Finalists and the Presidential Jury selected 33 winners to receive funding to launch or scale their business.

South Africans have shined in the awards with Louise Williamson clinching $100 000 for her pitch on developing Sustainability Professionals, a startup to provide sustainable fuel ovens for schools in remote areas.

Paul Bartels also received an award for his initiative Waterbok, a community fire-fighting cart.

Neil du Preez took $100 000 in 2016 to fund Mellowcabs, electric mini-cabs providing a low cost and eco-friendly transportation option.

In 2015, two South Africans received $150 000 for their individual proposals. Firstly, William Maphem for his project Vula Mobile which helps in diagnosing patients in remote areas for quicker referrals.

Johann Kok won an award for Seebox, which is Artificial Intelligence technology to teach electronic engineering to workers and next-generation engineers. The Scientific Engineering Education Box educates learners of all ages to become Electronic and Electrical engineers by means of videos and experimentation.

Volunteer mentors from all over the world support entrepreneurs with free, online business advice. These mentors are entrepreneurs, academics, and leaders from all continents who assist the applicants throughout each stage of the contest.

The first round is open to all entrepreneurs to apply, from every country in Africa. Rounds two and three question entrepreneurs on the scalability and sustainability of their idea. Applicants are asked to support their project with an uploaded video or document.  At the end of the journey, Finalists are flown in to Morocco for a Boot Camp, before they pitch in front of the Presidential Jury for their chance at $ 1 million.

BMCE Bank of Africa operates in nearly 20 countries over the continent.