Monrovia – J-Palm Liberia and TRIBE have jointly launched a startup challenge to support young entrepreneurs building small businesses through formal pitch training and grant of L$100,000 to the first place winner.
The Startup Challenge, which runs from September 13 to October 8, 2021, seeks to convene up and coming entrepreneurs challenged by access to capital, lack of knowledge on business pitching, maintenance of a reliable customer base and the possession of a revenue and profit model to attract investment.
SMEs drive structural changes and create economic prosperity. Notably, as the entrepreneurial ecosystem grows and develops, participating SMEs create job opportunities, supporting people’s transition to financial security, and potentially, economic freedom. However, young Liberian entrepreneurs struggle to set up formal business structures and raise capital for their businesses.
During the phases leading up to selecting a winner, entrepreneurs will showcase their products and services to attract a larger audience. Participants are expected to provide more insight into their businesses and work with various trainers to ensure their knowledge is enhanced in business pitching to prepare them properly.
Mahmud Johnson, CEO of J-Palm Liberia said, “We at J-Palm are very excited about the JPL Startup Challenge. As a young entrepreneur who started from scratch, I fully understand the challenges young entrepreneurs in Liberia face with regards to financing and growing their businesses. We hope that over time, we can invest more into growing the Startup Challenge to provide even more support to Liberia’s budding entrepreneurs, as we all strive to build a solid ecosystem for local businesses to thrive, grow and scale.”
The application and recruitment process will happen in two phases: application and business assessment. Interested entrepreneurs will apply using a brief form and the submission of a 90-second video. The top 10 application submissions will be selected for phase two. The top 50% in phase two review process will be selected to participate in the training and pitching events.
In his remarks on the benefits of participating in the startup challenge, the CEO of TRIBE, Wainright Acquoi, mentioned that they intend to help formalize and strengthen the local enterprise ecosystem for developing young entrepreneurs. “Every entrepreneur needs more than an idea and the grind to succeed. A team, access to capital, network, and increasing opportunities are all crucial. Unfortunately, many young Liberian entrepreneurs struggle, and we hope to address this challenge in a small, impactful way.”
The winner of the challenge will receive L$100,000 in a non-equity and non-repayable grant. All finalists will receive a special JPL prize, personal mentorship session with a business executive, and marketing support. Details on the challenge and application process can be found at J-Palm Liberia’s website.
About the organizers:
J-Palm Liberia manufactures skin and hair care products from palm kernels. J-Palm partners with smallholder farmers in rural communities to improve the efficiency of wild palm oil production, while also purchasing the previously wasted palm kernels from the farmers. As a result, farmers are able to double their incomes and expand their businesses. J-Palm currently works with more than 1000 smallholder farmers in Bong County, Liberia. The kernels the company sources from smallholder farmers are processed into a range of beauty products marketed under the Kernel Fresh brand.
TRIBE seeks to inspire a new generation of purpose-driven young African problem-solvers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and storytellers. Through its education social enterprise and workforce development, and entrepreneurial consultancy, TRIBE is reimagining secondary education and creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem to bridge the learning and workforce development gap between students, schools, and employers. TRIBE is a 2021 winner of the Samuel Huntington Public Service Award and a 2020 Acumen Startup Accelerator finalist.