The word ‘start-up’ has, in recent times, become a buzzword for things like ‘innovation’, ‘boldness’ and of course ‘entrepreneurship’. In the past 5 or 6 years, the world has been showered with millions of these new and exciting business ventures. As adults and young adults, we are constantly being invited to events with catchy themes like ‘Passion to Profit’ where entrepreneurs share their start-up success stories. Thousands of bloggers dedicate their content to helping fresh and growing entrepreneurs better their products and businesses.

However, even with all the golden ideas in the world there is one glaring problem all entrepreneurs know all too well: funding.  Without enough cash to carry out operations of any business, it will not be able to keep up and may even collapse. According to a survey carried out by GeoPoll, the world’s largest mobile survey platform, the funding issue with start-ups in Africa seems to be the biggest challenge facing African start-ups since 37% of the 1000 entrepreneurs who participated in the survey mentioned it as the most needed.

So then, what is the solution? Most start-ups pitch their ideas to investors who then support the businesses with a fair assurance of veritable profits. This isn’t a sustainable scape-goat though, because, these days, start-ups sprout like weeds during the rainy season, so where can all the rest who do not live up to investor’s standards go to? The answer comes in competitions such as the Startupper of the Year by Total.

The idea is simple. If you are under 35 years old and want to create a business or develop one that is more than 2 years old and belong to one of the 34 African countries* they are working with, Total will receive your business plan. Thereafter, a jury of businesspeople led by a chairman will be created. It will have at least 10 members drawn from all spheres of the business, public and private sectors. On completion of the pre-selection stage, the jury in each of the 34 countries will select up to 10 finalists of the best projects submitted. The finalists will then be invited to present their project orally to the jury, which will select up to three winners.

To get their business project off the ground or develop a business less than two years old, each winner of the ‘Startupper of the year by Total’ challenge will receive individual coaching. On completion of the coaching, Total will also provide financial support for their project. Thoroughness, originality and inventiveness can cur more points for competitors and all three qualities are encouraged.

Total in Africa has taken this noble step to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs on the continent and they should set the benchmark for others to follow. It has been often said by businessmen the world over that Africa’s undoing is our tendency to spend our wealth, start our businesses and get our education outside our own continent rather than improving the standards here and benefitting everyone. This selfishness has led to years of Africa lagging behind, but things might be just at the precipice of change.

Do not hold back your imagination as you apply for this opportunity which will be a great chance for young entrepreneurs to learn more, scout the competition and perhaps even win the grand prize. Visit their website now and apply to participate. The deadline for applications is 31st January 2016.

*The 34 countries are Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Guinea, Republic of the Congo, Reunion, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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