African Innovation Prize proposes a new “Innovation Lab” which is dedicated to research and development around Business Development Services for East African youth entrepreneurs. The mission of The Innovation Lab is to be able to test a market for the innovations and campaigns that are implemented by business development support providers. We will be a think-tank to make sure that BDS continues to evolve, so that African entrepreneurs can stay as cutting edge as any of their counterparts across the globe.
The “INNOVATION LAB”, which we’ll refer to as The Lab, is motivated by the tremendous opportunities for business on the continent that can be accompanied by solid foundations of services to ease operations, management, and profitability. The Lab will be an experimentation ground to support AIP’s mission increasing job opportunities for the youth through interventions that spark business creation, and help expand existing ventures, and to support our partners to do the same.
We envision The Lab will be structured to accommodate as much flexibility in delivery and research through a three pronged approach: Innovations in Business Development, Campaigns & Events, and Revenue Generating Activities.
The Lab will design various business development products for testing within various countries based on context and interest. These products can be in any form: Workshops, Consultancy engagements, Up and Coming consultancy models.
The Lab will aim to create campaigns and events that are not only relevant for young entrepreneurs but also fun, interactive and super productive to participants. The motivation for this focus is that business events on the continent tend to be similar in format, stale and never generate continued interest beyond the event itself. The Lab will be a platform to try out new things in this field such as:
- Modifying the our existing Business Plan competition to reach a broader audience, and maintaining our real focus on innovation
- Working with young entrepreneurs to help them develop social metrics where they hadn’t thought of that before
- Partnering with other business development services providers to help them get fresh approaches
- Test out new major initiatives, like entrepreneurship development in a refugee settings
These are just few examples to guide the underlining philosophy of AIP’s lab to supporting the local East African population to create solutions that are homegrown and hence create local jobs.
African Innovation Prize (AIP) aims to unleash the entrepreneurial potential of youth in Rwanda through running business plan competitions and training support. Annually, during our competition periods, more than 1000 youth from across Rwanda are provided with business creation and management training, mentorship by successful entrepreneurs, and grand prize seed funding to empower them in creating sustainable ventures and jobs. In the past five years, AIP has trained more than 3,500 young people and reviewed more than 1850 business ideas and plans. In the most recent impact survey spanning 2013-2015 winners, it was found that with 14.2 Million FRW in direct funding and pro-bono services from AIP, 17 youth were able to generate about 130 Million FRW in annual revenues, and created 120 jobs, an ROI of 10x. AIP winners have in turn gone on to raise additional investment worth $52,000 USD for their ventures. But we believe we can help them do more. Often, the young people who win our awards need long-term support to develop their ideas further. We believe that we can help business development service providers to come up with more innovative ideas of support to match the needs of our entrepreneur winners. AIP has two full-time staff, both Rwandan, and we pull in colleagues from various partner organizations to make our vision come to life – so we are well suited to help the do even more for the young people we serve.