[:en]Smart Villages launches the 2016 Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenge for East Africa[:]

[:en]Smart Villages is pleased to announce the launch of the second annual Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenge. Building on last year’s success, this year’s competition challenges aspiring young East African entrepreneurs to come up with an idea for a social business powered by off-grid energy. Social businesses deliver positive social impacts to the end user and are on the rise throughout East Africa.

The competition is open to current and recent East African university students, aged 30 or younger. Up to five finalist teams will win a spot in the Cambridge Development Initiative’s (CDI) 2016 DAREnterprisers entrepreneurship training course and the opportunity to pitch to win $3000 in prize capital to help implement their idea. DAREnterprisers will run from 29th July – 17th September in Dar es Salaam, culminating with the Dare to Change Dar conference on 16th September.

The Cambridge Development Initiative is a student-run NGO based at the University of Cambridge. The CDI draws on a wide network of experts, businessmen and both UK and African student volunteers to provide hands-on mentorship and business skills training to aspiring East African entrepreneurs.

In collaboration with the CDI, The Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenge is supported by the global Smart Villages Initiative, which aims to provide advice to policy makers on the potential for off-grid energy to deliver sustainable growth in the developing world. According to Project Co-Leaders Dr John Holmes and Dr Bernie Jones, technological innovations have started to change attitudes towards off-grid energy in the developing world. “In the year since the last Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenge for East Africa, we have continued with our series of workshops in Africa, Asia and Latin America, enabling new insights on the real barriers to energy access in villages in developing countries—technological, financial and political—and how they can be overcome. We continue to see drive, motivation and enthusiasm from young East African entrepreneurs and are happy to support a group of aspiring entrepreneurs through this year’s competition.”

Kristin Shine Polman, Director for International Competitions at Smart Villages commented: “Every great innovation starts with an idea, but learning the skills to develop your idea into a successful business are just as important as the idea itself. We are delighted to collaborate again with the Cambridge Development Initiative to run a competition focused on equipping students with the skills necessary to turn a great idea into a successful real world social business. Last year we had nearly 225 applicants from nine countries for this off-grid energy competition and we look forward to another strong year in 2016.”

The DAREnterprisers course and Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenge are strengthened by a range of expert partners. This years confirmed partners include The University of Dar es Salaam, the University of Cambridge, Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi), Digital Opportunity Trust (dot), the National Economic Empowerment Council (NEEC) and Buni Hub at Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology COSTECH, Global Village Energy Partnership International (GVEP) and Practical Action.

Full details on the competition can be found at e4sv.org/competition and the closing date for entries is 12pm 16th April (EAT).

The Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenges opens today and prospective applicants are invited to visit e4sv.org/competition

More information on the CDI’s DAREnterprisers course and other tracks can be found at darenterprisers.strikingly.com[:]

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