Shark Tank presented by the MSU Mastercard Foundation Alumni Entrepreneurship Fund

MCF Scholar Alumni pitch business ideas at Shark Tank, presented by the MCF Alumni Board

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Published: Tuesday, 14 Jun 2022 Author:

Shark Tank Awardees
Shark Tank Winners no names.png
Awardees from left to right: Violet Acumo, Simpson Kamugisha, Joyline Chepkorir, Claire Gapare, Don de Dieu Iradukunda, Rosette Nakalema

On Saturday, May 28, 2022, six Mastercard Foundation Scholar Alumni from Michigan State University pitched their business ideas for ventures before a panel of judges at the inaugural Shark Tank of the Mastercard Foundation Alumni Entrepreneurship Fund Competition (MCF AEF). The MCF AEF was launched to assist alumni to initiate or expand viable, sustainable, and scalable business projects that have a transformative social and economic impact in their communities. This Shark Tank is unique because alumni participated in all aspects of planning and implementation ranging from budget and proposal development, to judging and offering post completion support to the winners.

The Shark Tank was the culmination of a selection process that began with fourteen proposals. The proposed ventures ranged from microcredit and peanut butter manufacturing enterprises in Uganda, a breast and cervical cancer prevention program in Kenya, an e-learning platform for emerging African professionals, an education-centered social innovation initiative in Burundi, to an online English tutoring platform for students across the globe. A seasoned and diverse panel of four judges evaluated the entrepreneurial ventures namely Venkata Matoory, Director of the Management Consulting Academy, Broad College of Business at MSU, Leonidas Murembya, Assistant Professor of Economics, MSU, Nneka Okekearu, Deputy Director, Enterprise Development Center, Pan Atlantic University, and Aminatou Seydou, an MCF Scholar Alumni and previous entrepreneurship fund recipient currently pursuing a Masters in International Development at Science Po, Paris.

The funding given to us, Simpsons Financial Solutions Ltd, will open more doors for future funding 

The judges evaluated the Alumni based on the clarity of pitch, innovativeness of the idea, the impact threshold, viability of the business, sustainability of the venture, and the time used for the presentation. They also provided Scholars with thoughtful feedback and among other pieces of advice, encouraged them to ensure that their initiatives were sustainable, understand their competitors and seek opportunities to collaborate with each other. They also volunteered to constitute an advisory board to guide the fund recipients in the implementation of their ventures.

Ultimately, Violet Acumo, Simpson Kamugisha and Simpson Kamugisha were each awarded $5000 for their ventures, Claire Gapare and Don Iradukunda each received $3400, while Rosette Nakelema received $3200. Reflecting on the competition, Simpson Kamugisha was gratified by the experience the competition afforded him:

“I would like to thank the program for the entrepreneurship fund focused on supporting ventures like mine. I am sure that the funding given to us (Simpsons Financial Solutions Ltd) will open more doors for future funding from either the foundation or other organizations that care about projects related to ours. We plan to invest the grant into the field by loaning it out, but not investing it in any other activity. The $5000 grant will support between 50 to 100 new clients depending on the client’s capacity, and we shall be transparent and accountable for the support given to us. We shall specifically invest the funds into our daily individual loan product where a client takes a loan for one month but pays it on a daily basis. We anticipate that our program’s clientele will expand from 400 to 500 clients.”  

His sentiment was echoed by Claire Gapare:

"I am truly honored and grateful to be selected as a final recipient of the entrepreneurship fund. This award will go towards establishing Gaps English Services - an online English tutoring platform that works with teachers across Africa to deliver one-on-one, and group lessons to “English as a second language” adult students across the globe. A big thank you to the MSU Mastercard Alumni Association for creating this opportunity."
Click here for a video of the event.
Tags: Africa