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R100 000 Cash Prize Up For Grabs In The SA Innovation Summit’s AYO Scaling Africa Investment Challenge

The SA Innovation Summit, Africa’s pre-eminent and largest start-up event, has announced an extension to the closing of entries to the AYO Scaling Africa Investment competition, an important funding investment series aimed at scaling the continent’s next tech-champions.

Under the auspices of its 2021 theme, Expanding Horizons, the SA Innovation Summit and AYO Technology Solutions (AYO), a JSE-listed ICT investment Group, have created a funding-securement challenge to further escalate the continent’s adoption of 4IR. 

For AYO specifically, the series will open the doors to new innovators and companies who are forward thinking the solutions for the continent’s problems, some that have not yet even been encountered…This also provides the company with the ideal platform from which to consider adding to its investment portfolio, delivering on its mandate to digitally transform the economy. 

“It’s an exciting event to be involved in”, commented Jeni Kostova, Marketing and Communications Executive at AYO, who explained that: “The technology space is a hotly competitive landscape, even more so than ever before, given the speed of innovation that is required to bridge the chasm wrought by the seismic shift to digital in 2020.  In this competition, we will award a cash prize to the winner of the pitch, but AYO is also looking to fund Series A companies, who have successfully concluded their proof of concept addressing a particular problem, have demonstrated some form of traction and who require the development capital to them to the next stage. We are excited to see the entries.”

Entrants simply complete an entry form on the SA Innovation website:  the panel will select the top five entries who will then go to battle in a live Demo Day on 28 July 2021, for the no strings attached cash prize of R100 000, plus an opportunity for further equity investment from AYO. 

Speaking about the wealth of change she has witnessed over the past 18-months or so and what she and her team are looking for in terms of the competition, SA Innovations Summit’s founder and Chairman, Dr Audrey Verhaeghe observed: “Scaling is an entrepreneurial word we don’t spend enough time on, it is vastly different to growth.  When you scale, you scale exponentially beyond your current markets even beyond borders, whereas growth is more organic.  We therefore want to see more innovative companies enter this competition, who are geared to scale without their costs growing as much.”

Verhaeghe notes that that tech-sector is filled with competitions, but as she notes, many of them can be superficial and mostly for image purposes.  She notes that the difference with the AYO Scaling Africa Series is: “This is one competition that goes beyond the prize money to include not only the potential for real investment funding, but also the investment into skills, experience and new markets that the investor can offer the winner.”

In terms of pitching and submission tips, Kostova and Verhaeghe encourage would be entrants to understand that the competition is in two parts – one for the cash prized and the other for potential investment.  As such, they require different approaches. 

The pitch is all about the impression – delivery, believability in the people making the play, can they be trusted etc.  Can the panel see the idea and its potential immediately, will it make money?

However, the investment portion works very differently, is there a real problem that is being solved, in a unique and easily scalable way?  Is there a real viable market?  “We also need to know this business can deliver, what’s your traction, and we need to see the proof that the market already responds to what you do.  In short, convince us that the money we put into your company will make more,” said Kostova. 

The SA Innovation Summit will be a hybrid event in 2021 and will take place 21-23 September.

See: for further information.