December 12, 2022
Five African start-ups championing innovative healthcare solutions were named winners of the Health Entrepreneurship Challenge 2022 following a rigorous U of T–led incubation program that supports early-stage entrepreneurs at collaborating network institutions across 20 African countries.
Finalist teams took part in the hybrid pitch event on Friday, December 2 at the University of Toronto Scarborough, competing for a total of $30,000 CAD in grant funding across multiple award categories determined by faculty, investors, advisors, and more than participating 400 audience members representing 30 different countries and five continents. See the list of winners.
“This collaboration has been recognized by the United Nations for its development of ecosystems and partnerships across academia, industry, and community to help grow and sustain innovation globally by training and supporting young entrepreneurs on the African continent,” said Professor Irena Creed (pictured), Vice Principal Research & Innovation at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
“I want to congratulate the 2022 Cohort of the African Impact Challenge and encourage this impressive group of founders to continue creating and developing sustainable and innovative solutions.”
This pilot initiative of the African Impact Challenge (AIC), in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, is supported in collaboration with three University of Toronto accelerators—The BRIDGE, Health Innovation Hub (H2i), and ICUBE—as well as programming support from expert African investors, founders, and mentors. Ashesi University and the African Leadership University also play a key role on the continent as institutional partners. Modeled from experiences with African-based accelerators that The BRIDGE and AIC supported in 2020-21, the program attracted more than 227 start-up applications from over 500 founders in 2022.
Among 148 teams engaged in pre-incubation training, the top 30 were determined by a selection committee composed of representatives from each partner. Sixteen start-ups—80% of which include female founders—were advanced as finalists, each receiving stage-based venture funding (up to $25,000 CAD per team), plus an additional $20,000 CAD per team to cover the cost of travel and accommodation. The teams continue to be engaged in an incubation phase that offers comprehensive entrepreneurship training, coaching, and mentorship across U of T and its start-up ecosystem.
Then in 2023, teams will have the opportunity to spend three months in Toronto expanding their entrepreneurship network.
“Africa is not only the cradle of civilization but also the continent experiencing the highest growth in entrepreneurship worldwide,” said Professor April Franco (pictured), Chair of Management at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
“Through innovative Work-Integrated Learning and research initiatives that leverage the U of T community of students, faculty, and community partners across languages and geographies, we look forward to continue building and supporting innovation capacity through collaboration with our partnership network in Africa.”
Delegates from The BRIDGE and the African Impact Initiative will travel to Kigali, Rwanda from December 13–20, 2022 to meet with Health Entrepreneurship Challenge participants, investors, mentors, and institutional partners at African Leadership University. The excursion will also include a strategic planning session to reflect on the past year and to plan ahead for the summer 2022 cohort’s visit to Toronto in 2023, as well as goal-setting for the 2023 African Impact Challenge (pictured: Efosa Obano, Program Manager, U of T Black Founders' Network and Founder, African Impact Initiative).
This initiative is part of Mastercard Foundation University Health Collaborative, which aims to develop Africa's next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our institutional partners in Africa and for their significant contributions to the African Impact Initiative’s Health Entrepreneurship Challenge 2022, and their continued support of future programs:
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