Months of outreach and training later, the one-year-old business incubator reached success it never anticipated. Three Moroccan start-ups were invited to compete for $175,000 in cash prizes and up to $1 million in investments at a global pitching competition next June in Washington, D.C.
The 1776 Challenge Cup is a competition for start-ups with transformative solutions for education, energy, health, transportation, and more. Start-ups advance through three rounds of competitions—local, regional, and global—on the strength of their pitches and potential impact of their business models.
The Moroccan entrepreneurs began their journey at the local competition in Casablanca, hosted by the Morocco Climate Innovation Center and World Bank Group. From 83 applicants, 14 start-ups were invited to participate in the local competition.
“The Morocco Climate Innovation Center organized the event from beginning to end, including communication, start-up selection, judging, pitch coaching, event planning, and logistics,” said Omar Agodim, manager of the center. “Our goals were to promote the Moroccan start-up scene, learn how to manage a start-up competition, and share the center’s business incubation solutions.”
Of the 14 participants in the Casablanca pitch competition, three start-ups were selected to attend the Africa Regional Finals, where they would compete with winners of competitions held in Accra, Addis Ababa, Casablanca, Harare, Kampala, Lagos, and Pretoria. The Moroccan finalists represented the education, health, and finance sectors:
- GoMobile helps people who cannot read connect to the Internet through mobile platforms that feature voice communication.
- Hakeeme is a wearable device that monitors the health of manual laborers and provides anonymized reports of working conditions to government agencies.
- Moldiag produces affordable diagnostic kits that can detect diseases and viral infections.
The Morocco Climate Innovation Center worked closely with GoMobile, Hakeeme, and Moldiag to perfect the content and delivery of their pitches. Facing off with 30 teams from across Africa, the three Moroccan teams were selected to advance to the global finals, along with two teams from Ghana and Kenya.
“After the local competition and our training, I thought that at least one of the start-ups would be invited to the finals in Washington, D.C.,” Agodim said. “Seeing the three of them selected from more than 30 start-ups was incredibly encouraging.”
For GoMobile, Hakeeme, and Moldiag, now the real training begins. According to Abdeladim Moumen, Moldiag is beginning to produce its diagnostics kit and pitch to potential clients throughout Africa to make a stronger business case for its service.
“Entrepreneurship is growing in Africa and attracting innovative young people,” Agodim said. “I’m inspired to continue growing the Morocco Climate Innovation Center to offer solutions for our local entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
The Morocco Climate Innovation Center was launched by Masen and the World Bank Group in 2014. The center provides seed funding, mentorship, and networks to climate technology enterprises in the region.