JPL Startup Challenge
Call for Applications
The IFC estimates that 40% of SMEs have unmet financing needs between one and two years of operations, and half of SMEs do not have access to formal capital. SMEs drive structural changes and create economic prosperity. Notably, as the entrepreneurial ecosystem grows and develops, more SMEs create job opportunities, support people’s transition to financial security, and potentially, economic freedom. However, young Liberian entrepreneurs struggle to set up formal business structures and raise capital for their businesses.
If you are an entrepreneur looking to grow your business by raising initial non-equity funds and getting training from experienced entrepreneurs and business executives, we have an opportunity for you. J-Palm Liberia is collaborating with TRIBE to provide seed funding and entrepreneurial training to Liberian small businesses through a startup pitching challenge.
The initiative seeks to support young budding entrepreneurs with non-equity capital, capacity, entrepreneurial development and exposure to opportunities.
What are we looking for?
- A business that has been in existence for less than 24 months
- A business that has raised less than $5,000 in grants, loans or other investments
- A business that has generated at least US$500 and at most US$10,000 in revenues
- An entrepreneur who has identified an initial market for their product/service
- An entrepreneur who is less than 30 years old
- An entrepreneur who demonstrates how L$ 100,000 will impact their business
If selected, what will you get?
- L$100,000 non-equity / non-repayable grant
- Training on marketing, pitching, business model development and market assessment
- One-on-one meeting with an entrepreneur, business executive or diplomat
- Exposure to opportunities and resources
- Branding and marketing
- Promotion on J-Palm Liberia's and TRIBE’s social media pages
- 30-minute airtime on a popular radio program to discuss the business venture for the top two winners
Application and recruitment
The recruitment process comprises two phases: application and business assessment.
Phase one: application. Candidates will submit a brief personal information form and a 90-second video about themselves and the business. The top 10 application submissions will be selected and transitioned to phase two before the training and pitching events. The next ten runners-up will receive personalized feedback on their application.
Phase two: business assessment. Selected candidates will complete a business assessment to qualify for the training and pitching events. The evaluation covers six sections: business model, product/service, customer, competition, revenue/profit model and market potential. The top 50% (5 entrepreneurs) will be selected to participate in the training and pitching events.
Interested entrepreneurs should complete this application form and submit a 90-second video addressing the following areas:
- Problem/Need: What problem does the business seek to solve? Is the business addressing any urgent needs?
- Solution: Why is the solution needed, and it is relevant and applicable to the problem?
- Why: What is the entrepreneur’s personal motivation for starting the business?
- Customer: Who is the customer? What customer pains does the business exist to address? Is there a market?
- Financial potential and Investability: Has or is the business generating revenues? How will the financial investment be helpful to the business?
- Application Launch. Monday, September 13
- General information session. Thursday, September 16 at the Kernel Fresh Store at Boulevard Palace (13th Street, Sinkor) at 2pm. The team will be available to answer any questions you may have about the program and the application process.
- Application deadline. Sunday, September 19
- Top 10 finalists selection. Tuesday, September 21
- Top 10 finalists workshop/ information session. Thursday, September 23
- Top 5 finalists selection. Tuesday, September 28
- On-boarding and prep. September 29 - October 6
- Training. Thursday, October 7
- Pitching event. Friday, October 8
About the Organizers
J-Palm Liberia manufactures skin and hair care products from palm kernels. J-Palm partners with smallholder farmers in rural communities to improve the efficiency of wild palm oil production, while also purchasing the previously wasted palm kernels from the farmers. As a result, farmers are able to double their incomes and expand their businesses. J-Palm currently works with more than 1000 smallholder farmers in Bong County, Liberia. The kernels the company sources from smallholder farmers are processed into a range of beauty products marketed under the Kernel Fresh brand.
TRIBE TRIBE seeks to inspire a new generation of purpose-driven young African problem-solvers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and storytellers. Through its education social enterprise and workforce development, and entrepreneurial consultancy, TRIBE is reimagining secondary education and creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem to bridge the learning and workforce development gap between students, schools, and employers.