Eight competitions for your African start-up

Africa's best start-ups and innovators will be descending on the Mother City for the AfricArena Summit, taking place from 11-12 November 2019. These start-ups will be the finalists in the following eight African start-up challenges that are currently accepting submissions ( to enter any of them scroll to the bottom of this article):

1. SA Start-up Nation Challenge (submission deadline: 1 September 2019)

A joint initiative between AfricArena and the SA SME Fund, the SA Start-up Nation Challenge is geared towards tech-based small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa that have a high potential for scale. 

Twelve companies with the most innovative and distinctive products will be selected to pitch at the AfricArena Tour events on Tuesday, 3 September in Cape Town at Workshop17 at the V&A Waterfront, and in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 10 September at Impact Hub in Rosebank. 

The five start-ups with the best pitches and products will then be flown to Cape Town to pitch and show off their offerings at the Summit. The top three to wow the judges will be taken to Paris, France next year to present their work at one of the largest tech conferences in the world, VIVA Technology. 

2. Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge (submission deadline: 13 September 2019)

With a €100,000 equity-free grand prize for the best early-stage start-up up for grabs, the Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge is a deep tech start-up competition concentrating on early-stage start-ups with projects based on a scientific discovery, an advanced technology, a complex engineering process or an innovative application of an existing technology. 

These projects should solve an industrial, societal or environmental unmet need or create a new market. Along with €3,000 in prize money, the winner of the Africa Challenge will receive a return flight ticket to Paris to attend the Global Summit and participate in the Global Challenge. Last year’s winner of the AfricArena Deep Tech/Hello Tomorrow Challenge, RxAll, went on to win the overall competition.

3. Sanofi Mental Illness Challenge For Start-ups submission deadline: 13 September 2019)

French multinational pharmaceutical company, Sanofi, has teamed up with AfricArena to find solutions from start-ups that use tech to empower patients and communities by growing education and awareness, debunking stigma and driving early diagnosis to enable proactive care. 

In addition to possibly getting to showcase their product at VIVA Technology 2020, the winner will receive mentorship from Sanofi South Africa on developing their brand and offering. 

4. ENGIE Africa Challenge 2019 (Submission deadline: 1 September 2019)

The lack of affordable, safe and sustainable resources to cook food is a key challenge affecting over 800 million people throughout Africa. 

To help develop a clean cooking energy solution, ENGIE - a French multinational electric utility company - is looking to partner with and support an African tech start-up. Depending on the maturity of the solution, the winner will receive funding from ENGIE for prototype development. 

Should the product already be in the testing phase, they will be able to test the efficiency and viability of their solution in the relevant environment within ENGIE’s African business framework over a period of six months. 

Based on the results of the testing phase, this may result in the solution’s integration into the ENGIE Africa business portfolio and further co-development of the project.  

5. French Tech Challenge (submission deadline: 5 September 2019)

Sponsored by the French Embassy in South Africa, the French Tech Challenge is aimed at start-ups from the tech ecosystem in France operating in the AI, Robotics or Augmented or Virtual Reality domains and focused on scaling up on the African continent, as well as providing their product and services to the African market. 

There will be not one, not two, but three winners in this challenge who will get to tap into AfricArena and the French Embassy’s networks and connect with key players in the African tech ecosystem. 

6. Sanofi Diabetes Challenge For Start-ups (submission deadline: 13 September 2019)

With diabetes being the second leading cause of death in South Africa, Sanofi and AfricArena are asking start-ups: How can we help diabetes patients to live healthier lifestyles by providing education and support to master their treatment, diet, exercise and emotional well-being? 

Innovative solutions that use tech and have a tested prototype are being sought. The winner will get to work with Sanofi South Africa on growing their brand and offering, as well as attend VIVA Technology 2020. 

7. Old Mutual Challenge (submission deadline: 13 September 2019)

The informal sector in South Africa is made up of more than 10 million people, the majority of whom do not have access to financial services products. 

To address the problems that exist in distributing financial services products to this market segment, as well as collect payment for these services on an ongoing basis, the Old Mutual Start-up Challenge is on the lookout for solutions in savings, insurance and/or lending that enable them to get cash into the formal digital financial services system. 

Start-ups stand the chance of showcasing their solution at VIVA Technology 2020 and the opportunity to work with Old Mutual on developing their brand and offering.

8. Fantom Foundation Blockchain Challenge (submission deadline: 13 September 2019)

Wanting to create a better, smarter future, Fantom, in partnership with ZAR Network, is on the hunt for innovative fintech start-ups that will solve problems for smart cities, public utilities, healthcare, education, environmental stability and financial markets using smart contracts and stable coins. 

The winning start-up will get to meet the Fantom and ZAR Network teams and, depending on the stage of their business, will undergo incubation, acceleration or internationalisation. Plus, they will win prizes to the value of $10,000. 

To enter any of the challenges (or to purchase tickets to attend the AfricArena Summit) go to www.africarena.com.