Are you an early-stage start-up with an idea that advances financial inclusion for customers in Sub-Saharan Africa? Have you developed a new electronic payment system, customer-centred payment plan, new financial products, mobile banking instruments or similar ideas? If your idea has the potential to enable customers to become more financially self-sustainable, and you have proof of concept, customers and revenue, then you could be eligible for the 2017 Zambezi Award for Innovation in Financial Inclusion, worth $100 000 in cash.

The Solution Space is collaborating with the Legatum Centre for Development and Entrepreneurship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Mastercard Foundation in the Open Mic Africa Programme, a cross-continent search for entrepreneurs whose ideas could deliver affordable financial services for low-income customers. The programme arrives in Cape Town in September, as the third leg of its tour, which includes Lagos and Dakar this year.

In each city, entrepreneurs are invited to attend inspirational talks from successful African start-ups and MIT alumni, customer-focused workshops, venture pitch training and mentoring sessions. The programme includes an open pitch competition, which awards

$2 500 to winning pitches.

In addition to the cash prizes, selected start-ups will be invited to participate in an MIT-sponsored boot camp, developing their ideas and pitching to prominent entrepreneurs and investors. The boot camp will take place at MIT's renowned Entrepreneurship Development Program in Boston.

The Open Mic Africa Programme culminates in the award of the $100 000 Zambezi Prize, for the most promising and innovative start-up idea that advances financial inclusion. An additional $100 000 will be split among other start-ups selected as runners-up in the competition.

The MIT Legatum Centre established the Zambezi Prize in 2015, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation. The Cape Town Open Mic Africa Programme takes place on 27 and 28 September at the MTN Solution Space at the UCT GSB.

Book to attend the Cape Town Open MIC Africa event here.

Applications for the Zambezi Prize open on 14 August. Apply here.

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