Start-up prize for Burkina Faso, Mali entrepreneurs

A new competition aimed at providing entrepreneurial finance will award up to two million euros to entrepreneurs.

The Argidius Foundation—a charitable foundation promoting businesses as a way to mitigate poverty—and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) announce an opportunity for organizations to help unlock financing for small and growing businesses in emerging markets.

The Argidius-ANDE Finance Challenge seeks innovative financial solutions for firms requiring 15,000-200,000 euros (20,000-250,000 USD) in start-up capital. Organizations can submit independently or jointly, adapting a proven method or program, or inventing a new tool for filling the financing gap for SGBs.

Four to six finalists will be awarded grants of approximately 200,000-300,000 euros in August to conduct 12-18 month pilot programs, during which ANDE will provide ongoing guidance. Provided impact targets are met, a grand prize of one million euros will be bestowed in spring 2014 to the most successful pilot.

"We're looking for new solutions to mobilize finance for promising—but risky—small businesses. We hope this challenge encourages organizations to think creatively and collaboratively about what can be done, and we're convinced ANDE is the right partner to make this happen," explained Leslie Johnston, Argidius Foundation executive director.

An expert panel of SGB sector finance professionals will select the winners based on the clarity, feasibility, capacity, expected impact and replicability of the proposed solution. Applications must include at least one of the following Argidius Foundation-target countries—Burkina Faso, GuatemalaHondurasMaliMoldova or Nicaragua—although additional countries in the region can be incorporated.

For more information about the challenge guidelines and criteria, please visit http://as.pn/sgbprize. Entries will be accepted until midnight on June 15, 2012

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