For a region with just 8% of submitted applicants, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) produced five finalists and one winner in the 2015 African Entrepreneurship Award. This all came largely without the participation of Angola, a major economy in the region. The Portuguese speaking country of 22 million is a sleeping giant of economic potential.
The entrepreneurial spirit is not homogenous in the region, as some countries produce more than others, with no direct parallel to population. Regarding “the most coveted host country,”
4 SADC countries are preferred by budding entrepreneurs: Tanzania (47.9 million inhabitants), Zimbabwe (14.6 million inhabitants), the Democratic Republic of Congo (67.5 million inhabitants) and Zambia (15 million inhabitants).This is not surprising, given the
significant number of business incubators and technology parks supported by these 4 countries (i.e. Imani Hub in DRC, Zamrize in Zambia, Dar Teknohama Business Incubator in Tanzania and Zimbabwe Hypercube Hub).
Strong Female Participation
Another highlight of this region, where the average entrepreneur is thirty-one (see chart to the left), is a significant proportion of female applicants (27%). These women focused primarily on education, agriculture and the digital economy; three niches where gender is likely less important and all which offer significant investment opportunities.
High Tech Sustainability
In the 2015 edition, SADC entrepreneurs were most interested in technology (22%), renewable and sustainable energy (17%), and education (15%). Although the interest in these sectors was very high, the winning project from Tanzania in 2015 was agricultural, specifically the production and distribution of fruits and vegetables.
Distribution of projects submitted by industry (SADC)
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