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Encouraging Entrepreneurship: Submit your Project Proposal and win US$ 15,000 EMRC-Rabobank Project Incubator Award 2010

By Prody MWEMENA MUMBA

13 August 2010 - Brussels, Belgium:
What do a young fruit juice produce company in Uganda and a cashew nut cooperative in Côte d'Ivoire have in common? They are both past winners of the Project Incubator Award, an initiative of the Brussels-based non-governmental organisation EMRC with the goal of encouraging development, innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa. The call to entry for this year's EMRC-Rabobank Project Incubator Award 2010 has gone out, the judges are calling for project proposals in the agro-food and rural development sectors that positively impact the local community.

Entrepreneur Derek Kwesiga entered his proposal to the 2009 Project Incubator Award contest at the Africa Finance and Investment Forum in December 2009 in Amsterdam. He hoped to be chosen for the shortlist to enable him present his vision of creating a world class food processing business in Uganda. “Starting a business project anywhere is very difficult, especially Africa. I saw the Project Incubator platform as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to present my small business ideas and goals to an eclectic audience of industry leaders -we received what we hoped for and more.” Derek Kwesiga, Derekorp. The US$ 15,000 Award was sponsored by the African Development Bank.

Designed to give a much-needed prop up to African entrepreneurs that typically struggle to find funding for their project proposals, Mathias Kouakou & Fabien Yao, directors of COOGES (Coopérative Générale de Sepingo), a cashew nut cooperative in Cote d'Ivoire, were delighted to be chosen as the winners of the US$15,000 EMRC-Rabobank Project Incubator Award. “We entered the competition mainly for the exposure it would bring us, because even if we hadn't won, at least we would have got our name out there and been able to share our business model with potential partners and investors. When we won the award, the joy was immense and indescribable. We realised that we were not crazy for believing in this project, validated by industry experts,” explains Mathias Adou Kouakou from COOGES.

The contest is open to all participants of the AgriBusiness Forum 2010 to be held from the 3 – 6 October in Kampala, Uganda. Jointly organised by EMRC and the Government of Uganda, the forum is supported by a glowing number of partners including Rabobank, FAO, USAID, Novus International, Stanbic Bank, Syngenta Foundation, the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), KPMG, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), IFDC, ProInvest, the East African Community (EAC), the European Union and the World Food Program (WFP).

A shortlist of business proposals is drawn up from the submissions and presented to a room full of attentive delegates who get to hear about the innovative business ideas first hand. This year's EMRC-Rabobank Project Incubator Award 2010 will be no exception with the judges calling for projects in the agro-food and rural development sectors that positively impact the local community. The Award will be presented at the gala evening of the AgriBusiness Forum on Monday 4th of October 2010 in Kampala.

EMRC looks forward to sharing the innovative project proposals with the few hundred delegates with the goal of galvanising small business growth across Africa. The cut-off date for entry is the 10th of September 2010 and entrants are urged to submit their ideas. “The award money we received was partly used to buy raw nuts in order to continue the operation of the plant for which we had no working capital. Another part was used to purchase machinery to increase the activity and complete the processing. Creating a sustainable business in Africa requires a sense of daring and a strong belief in what you do.” Mathias Adou Kouakou, COOGES.

For more information please visit www.emrc.be or email [email protected]