The ICT Challenge 2013: Accelerating Entrepreneurship & Innovation through ICT

Amsterdam, February 18 2013 – The ICT Challenge 2013, supports ICT entrepreneurship in five emerging markets: Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda, Kosovo, and Palestine. This business plan competition – organized by BiD Network, in collaboration with Investment Partners; eVentures Africa Fund, SEAF, and the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF), and Coaching Partner; Ernst & Young and Event Partner; TNO – aims to identify high potential business ideas, provide international exposure and finance.

Information and communication technologies (ICT) draw societies and cultures together; strengthening economies, enterprises and communities around the world. The impact of ICT is magnified in emerging markets as it contributes to the development of education, health, markets, social capital and trust. Yet the industry still requires incubation in order to flourish, with 25% of the world’s population still unconnected from the benefits of such technologies. [*1]

The ICT Challenge 2013 provides entrepreneurs with the assistance of the BiD Network coaching program, the access to a network of like-minded entrepreneurs, coaches and investors, and the opportunity to present their business plan to committed ready-to-invest financiers.

‘African SMEs are rapidly developing localized applications, content, platforms and solutions enabling over a billion Africans to use the web for communication, business, e-learning, and transactions. eVA Fund aims to capture the vast potential of digital media in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are delighted to partner BiD Network, who have proven effective at identifying potential investment opportunities, and training entrepreneurs to a matchmaking level’ says Vincent Kouwenhoven, founder eVentures Africa Fund.

The ICT Challenge seeks businesses:

 operating in one of the five following countries: Burundi, Rwanda, Liberia, Kosovo, or Palestine,
• ICT focused,
• growth  potential and a finance need of USD $10,000 to $1 million in the next three years,
• meets BiD Network’s social and environmental requirements.

One finalist is selected from each of the five competition countries, and invited to attend BiD Week in the Netherlands in late 2013. During the BiD Week, the five finalists receive training in preparation for b2b meetings and pitch sessions to investors. The winner is awarded tailor-made consultancy services from Ernst & Young. All high quality business plans will be eligible to benefit from BiD Network’s investor matchmaking services.

Entries will be accepted until June 30, 2013. However applications received by March 30 will benefit from the coaching program.

For promotion, feel free to download the media kit and contact joelle.payet@bidnetwork.org for more materials or information.

About BiD Networkwww.bidnetwork.org

BiD Network contributes to sustainable economic growth by stimulating entrepreneurship in emerging markets. With over 46,000 members and 10,000 business plans, bidnetwork.org is the world’s largest online community for emerging market Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), coaches and investors. Since 2005, BiD Network has launched 670 businesses, created more than 4700 direct jobs, and mobilized $15 million from investors. In November 2010, BiD Network was chosen by a G-20 jury as one of the 14 most innovative SME Finance organizations in the world.

About Ernst & Youngwww.ey.com

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transactions and advisory services. Our 167,000 people are united by our shared values, which inspire our people worldwide and guide them to do the right thing, and our commitment to quality, which is embedded in who we are and everything we do. Our commitment to entrepreneurs, in both emerging and developed economies around the world, helps drive growth, empower innovation, and ensure that we’re working with more of tomorrow’s global leaders, today.

About TNOwww.tno.nl

The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, envisions a world where social challenges in developing countries and emerging markets are addressed and resolved by local people deploying sustainable and innovative solutions. We add value using our core competences: high-level expertise in technical and social innovations, connecting people and managing system innovations and transitions. Currently, 25 projects are running, mainly Africa and India, addressing four topics: Food, water & agriculture, Health, Sustainable energy & climate, ICT.

Investment partners:

eVentures Africa fund: www.eva-fund.com
Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF): www.seaf.com
Palestine Investment Fund (PIF): www.pif.ps

*1 – The Role of ITC in Advancing Growth in Least Developed Counties by ITU (International Telecommunication Union)