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Announcing Winning Teams for GBSN Inaugural Africa Business Challenge

This past March 12 – May 14, GBSN hosted its first regionally focused virtual student competition, the GBSN Africa Business Challenge, sponsored by AACSB International and Stanford Seed, and supported by Peaqs, emlyon business school and Localized. Over the course of 6 weeks, student teams across the African continent worked hard to develop and illustrate a business concept that addressed a locally-relevant challenge or problem related to sustainable development and Agenda 2063. Over 80 teams from 15 countries registered to compete for a chance to win the $5,000 cash prize, sponsored by AACSB International and Stanford Seed. Our goal was to not only deliver a meaningful learning experience to students, but also to crowdsource business solutions to some of Africa’s complex development and societal challenges.

As outlined in GBSN’s Purpose, economies and societies grow on the success of organizations that create meaningful jobs, increase wealth and well-being, and generate innovations to improve society. These organizations are created by resourceful entrepreneurs and run by competent, responsible leaders and managers. Our role at GBSN—the reason why we exist—is to ensure that the world has the management talent (leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs) it needs to generate prosperity.

With the pandemic bringing us all largely online, we have been able to make GBSN programs, events and activities more accessible, allowing for more diverse cohorts of participants and stakeholders. At GBSN, we place great importance on designing and delivering a meaningful, international learning experience in anything we do. Doing this successfully in a virtual environment is a challenge. We are so thankful for our two partners, Peaqs and Localized, for contributing its platforms for students to use during the competition. Our goal is always to build a community platform for learning–not just a competition but an opportunity for mutual support and engagement.

The competition kicked-off with a virtual event, Realizing the True Potential of Entrepreneurship, that featured a line-up of notable speakers, an introduction to the international panel of investors and judges and previews into the Peaqs and Localized platforms. The kick-off event was open to the public and convened 120+ participants from across the globe including student teams, judges, investor experts, and faculty mentors.

Peaqs is a high level learning game platform that combines a project development process with a virtual stock market engine for real-time valuation and peer feedback. It is designed for entrepreneurship, project development, marketing and business planning. Peaqs aims to accelerate the rate of business venturing and get more business plans into the real world.

In Round 1, student teams engaged in a four-phased project development process on the Peaqs platform, where their ideas, products and/or services were put up for sale on a virtual stock market.

Localized partners with schools, organizations, companies and accelerators to connect young professionals in emerging markets with experts who share roots and employers looking for talent. Its mission is to help the next generation build careers in the fields of the future on a truly global scale. While talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. You can be smart, educated, ambitious and stuck if you don’t have the right professional networks.

Each student team was provided a private channel to use to collaborate with each other and their faculty mentor. The channel allowed students to share documents, links, etc. In addition to conducting zoom meetings.

We heard from Professor Ricky Moore, Professor of Entrepreneurship at emlyon business school. Professor Moore was the Africa Business Challenge Head Mentor and Academic Advisor, who worked closely with faculty mentors, investor experts and judges. Ricky was instrumental in supporting the GBSN team in designing the learning experience and in the execution phase, which proved to be logistically challenging with two platforms, two rounds, two sets of judges, faculty mentors and students from across the African continent. Ricky’s energy and pure unaltered passion is what all professors, teachers, trainers should emulate. Ricky contributed his time and expertise, working with the GBSN team for over 8 weeks . We could not have done this competition without him.

The kick-off event also featured sponsor addresses from, Darius Teter, Executive Director at Stanford Seed and Tim Mescon, Executive Vice President of EMEA at AACSB International. Following the sponsor addresses, GBSN’s Rob Vember moderated a discussion with a panel of industry experts.

How does youth’s involvement in the demand for social changes across Africa affect the ecosystem?

GBSN’s Rob Vember moderated a 45 mins long discussion with a panel of industry experts and successful entrepreneurs in their own right. Panelists included Austin Okere, Founder and Chairman of Computer Warehouse Group, Adetunji Adegbesan, Founder & CEO, Gidi Mobile Ltd, and Diana Popa, Founder and CEO, Extensio.

The discussion explored questions such as:

  • What are the biggest challenges facing the development of Africa’s talent?
  • As some of the world’s major economic powers have sought to move more towards de-globalization in the last number of years, what impact will this have on a pan-Africanist agenda?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the development of Africa’s talent?
  • As some of the world’s major economic powers have sought to move more towards de-globalization in the last number of years, what impact will this have on a pan-Africanist agenda?
  • What role do governments have in promoting entrepreneurial culture?
  • How should companies approach the creation of an environment in which innovation can be meaningful, applied & responsible?

The event closed with a presentation from Marie Høpfner-Dahl, Co-Founder and Director of Peaqs. Marie covered the value of blended learning and how Peaqs was designed for entrepreneurship, project development, and is a tool to drive and monitor entrepreneurial processes and teams.

The market on the Peaqs platform officially opened at the conclusion of the Kick-Off event. During Round 1, a group of eight business experts and academics were invited to participate as Investor Experts on the Peaqs platform. Each Investor Expert had 10,000 credits to trade with on the virtual stock market, with the ability to only invest once and divest once per project per phase. After the completion of each phase, Investor Experts reviewed their assigned student projects, provided feedback and made investment or divestment decisions. At the beginning of each phase, student teams had the opportunity to reflect and make adjustments to their projects as they progressed through the project development process. It was a priority for us to incorporate multiple points of feedback exchange throughout the entire course of the competition.

Each student team had its own Faculty Mentor to work with throughout the competition. Phase 5 asked student teams to prepare a pre-recorded, 5-minute pitch presentation for the Investor Experts.

The pitch accounted for 25% of the final score and the virtual stock market accounted for the remaining 75 %. Out of the 80+ teams who registered, only 52 teams successfully completed Round 1. After scores were submitted from the investor experts, the below five teams advanced to the Finals Round, where they faced the international panel of judges in a LIVE pitch presentation. Each team was given 10 minutes to deliver their LIVE pitch. The Panel of Judges were provided 15-20 mins to engage in a discussion with the team, offering their feedback, reactions, recommendations and questions to the team. The top 5 student teams are listed below. Click here to watch all 5 LIVE pitch recordings, watch the team performance and hear what the judges had to say about their projects.

The Africa Business Concept Challenge was designed to assist young people from the African continent who have an entrepreneurial orientation and a desire to serve their community. With a focus on promoting responsible capitalism, the competition identified high potential young people for mentorship and investment. 

It was particularly exciting to witness the live pitch presentations to the international panel of judges. This group of judges is a dynamic mix of industry and academic experts. They were tough, posing challenging questions to each student team. The opportunity to pitch to and hear from these individuals is a huge value and meaningful learning experience for these students. I was largely impressed with the top 5 team’s pitches and found the exchanges between the panel of judges and the students to be insightful, highly interactive, exciting and engaging.

Top 5 Student Teams

in no particular order

Team Aquatrac

Lagos Business School, Nigeria

Farmers in Nigeria are concerned with the scarcity and rising cost of fish meal which has gone up by over 120% as a result of climate change and COVID 19 pandemic, about 174500 low-income farmers are at risk, due to increased production cost, loss of income, reduced productivity and profit, making the known cheapest source of protein to low-income household to increase. 90% of farmers rely on the fish meal that is imported and is not readily available.

The fish meal constitutes a major raw material in feed production. The high cost is attributed to overexploitation of captured fisheries and farmers are seeking an alternative to fish meal. We offer farmers and actors in the feed value chain, affordable, quality and environmentally friendly insect feed with 42% to 45% crude protein (CP) as a reliable alternative to fish meal, not affected by climate or pandemic, the meal has high CP. It enables farmers to reduce their cost of production by 48%, increase their productivity and profit.

Team Crystal Water

Namibia Business School, Namibia

All crops need water to grow and produce yields. The most important source of water for crop growth is rainfall. Unfortunately, about 70% of precipitation evaporates from the soil. Low water retention in soil due to hot climatic conditions, limits agricultural capabilities which are vital lifelines for Africa.

Our unique product, Crystal Waters, is specially formulated to store water, such as rainwater, in the soil so that water is accessible to plant root systems when there is limited water available. The water-reserving power of Crystal Water means that water is not evaporated, but rather stored in the soil for when it is needed most by plants. Launching fromNamibia, one of the driest countries south of the Sahara, Crystal Water has the ability to transform the agricultural sector. With the power to improve agricultural production comes the ability to improve health, increase food security, expand opportunities for self-support and decrease reliability on food imports.

Mini Solar Plant

Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Botswana

Botswana imports half of its electricity demand thus leaving remote areas off the Botswana Power Corporation national grid power supply line. One of the villages is Kweneng which have a primary school, kgotla and a clinic with no power supply. Lack of electricity in the clinic means limited healthcare services especially at night as the nurses cannot operate at night and limited medication as some need refrigeration. This puts the lives of those in need of medical attention at night at risk.

We are to install a15kW mini solar plant requiring an estimate of 26 solar panels with wattage of up to 330W, producing an estimated 2000 to 3000kWh of alternating current power per day assuming 5sun hours per day. The solar plant will be the main supply of electricity. The electricity that is produced will then be used for lighting, charging and powering the fridge that will store medicines such as insulins, antibiotic liquids, injections and eye drops.Page load times can often be measured and discussed in a matter of milliseconds.

Thinkshifts Group

Lagos Business School, Nigeria

Lagos, the most populous city in Africa is facing a crippling housing crisis. A 2017 report by theLagos State Government estimates the housing deficit in Lagos to be over 2.5 million units.Increasing cost of building materials, labor cost, small land mass, access to funding for real estate development are some of the factors responsible for housing shortage in Lagos. Available houses are not affordable to 80% of average Lagos residents comprising mostly young people that earn only about $230 per month and 87% of households in Lagos live below poverty line. Lagos has been dubbed the “megacity of slums” with an estimated 66% of the population living in slums.

In view of the problems enumerated, the purpose of our business solution is to establish an alternate but affordable building option for the mass majority. The Thinkshifts Group is proposing its Modular (container) Housing solution that is 47% cheaper and takes less than half the time to build a conventional house.


Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

With 29.77 million individuals in Ghana, about 35 % of food goes to waste every year. Farmers put in effort and investment into their farmlands yet their produce perish due to lack of preservation units, as well as ready markets. Akumadan, a rural community in Ghana, was once the nation’s major supplier of fresh tomatoes but the community now contributes to methane and carbon dioxide emissions as a result of excessive spoilage of farm produce. Due to the rapid spoilage of the farmers’ produce, traders and consumers have diverted their attention to purchasing imported tomatoes from Burkina Faso, a neighboring country of Ghana.

WELLFED is a proposed business enterprise committed to people, the planet, and prosperity in tackling post-harvest losses. The WELLFED business model covers the following:Contemporary education on green farming methods, Tomato Preservation to keep harvested produce fresh for 20 to 30 days and processing services, and a farmer-to-buyer service.

The panel included industry experts, like, Anil Benard-Dende, Austin Okere and Adetunji Adegbesan. Anil is a seasoned angel investor as well as a successful entrepreneur and mentor. Anil is now the Director General of one our member schools, Kedge Business School. Austin Okere founded the Computer Warehouse Group Plc, the largest ICT company in Nigeria; he is also a member of the World Economic Forum Business Council on Innovation and Intrapreneurship, and Entrepreneur in Residence at MIT and Columbia. Knowing Austin since 2017, when he first spoke at a GBSN Annual Conference in Washington D.C. with Paul Romer, then Chief Economist of the IFC, I knew he would make a perfect judge for this competition. Austin has dedicated a large part of the last decade towards mentoring high potential entrepreneurs. He asks hard questions and delivers straight forward feedback with the goal to get the student thinking further.

During the LIVE pitches, I noticed both Anil and Austin really pushing to see strong financial models with sustainable cash forecast model. Some teams delivered the financials, and some did not, instead placing more focus on the challenge, product prototype and target market. Judges were looking to see strong financials with innovating prototypes backed up by compelling research and impact potential.

Darius Teter, Executive Director of Stanford Seed and Tim Mescon, Executive Vice President of EMEA at AACSB International, and Amini Kajunju, Executive Director, IUGB Foundation seemed to focus largely on viability, accessibility, competitiveness, need and impact.

Adetunji Adegbesan, Founder & CEO of Gidi Mobile, creators of gidimo, the leading personal mastery & learning-for-livelihoods platform, was another judge. Tunji, having degrees in Electronic Engineering and Strategic Management, and Peter Bamkole, Director of the Enterprise Development Center, Pan-Atlantic University, focused many questions and comments largely around the production process, supply chain, prototype and the competitive strategy behind the business concepts.

Each Judge has his/her own style and personality in the way feedback and discussions happened. The different styles complimented each other well. It was important to us to put together a credible, yet dynamic group of investor experts and judges.

Cultivating engagement and motivating students throughout the six weeks was not the easiest task to face in a virtual world. Student teams put a lot of time, effort and work into their projects for a somewhat lengthy amount of time. They deserve the best, most engaged judges and investors to connect with and learn from and that is exactly what they received. Our judges and experts were fantastic, contributing a lot of their own time and expertise in reviewing projects closely and engaging with students. I congratulate all the student teams who successfully finished the competition and completing deliverables and I extend my deepest gratitude to the judges and investor experts for being an integral part of delivering a meaningful learning experience.

Virtual Awards Ceremony

The closing Virtual Awards Ceremony convened students, faculty mentors, judges and the general public to celebrate the power of entrepreneurship in sustainable development and commend the work of all the student teams who successfully completed all rounds, phases and deliverables of the Competition. This was not an easy task, spread across 6 weeks, each phase within the competition required specific deliverables. Student teams were challenged to meet tight deadlines with changing conditions. Many teams did not finish the entire competition. I truly appreciate those who did finish. As organizers, we want to see all participants start and finish, taking every opportunity to engage and capitalize on the experience we designed and impact the learning can have.

1st Place Goes toTeam Aquatrac, Lagos Business School!

Team Aquatrac, a group of three MBA students from Lagos Business School, Took 1st Place, winning the $5,000 USD cash prize, sponsored by AACSB International and Stanford Seed, in addition to a one hour professional mentoring session supplied by Afrilabs! Team Aquatrac, led by Peter Igberaese, and included Temitope Osunrinde and Olalekan Oladimeji, prepared their pre-recorded pitch presentation in Round 1 right in the middle of their final exams. It was tough to balance both, but in the end their hard work and sleepless nights paid off!

Team Aquatrac 1st Place GBSN Africa Challenge
Team Aquatrac from Lagos Business School Takes 1st Place GBSN Africa Challenge; pictured with the judges, Rob Vember, Dan LeClair, Jacinta Anakua and Prof Moore.

Thank you to our sponsors

2nd Place

Team Thinkshifts Group, Lagos Business School, Nigeria

3rd Place

Team WELLFED, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

All top three teams will receive a one hour professional mentoring session with African Innovation Hub Leaders offered by AfriLabs, which is a network organization of 268 innovation centers across 49 African countries. They support hubs to raise successful entrepreneurs that will create jobs and develop innovative solutions to African problems.

Congratulations to our top 3 winners and to all the teams for all of your hard work!

The conclusion of this competition is bitter sweet. It was a tough and challenging eight weeks for the GBSN Team. There were a lot of small important details to attend to because of the virtual environment. I am truly thankful, and would like to commend my team who supported this competition through its entirety, Maddie Handler, Program Coordinator and Alex Craig, Events and Membership Assistant, and especially Emma Martens, Network Coordinator, who took the lead in executing this competition. The virtual environment doubles, sometimes triples the amount of work that goes into delivering an initiative or program to completion. At GBSN, we continue to face this challenge head on and capitalize on the opportunities to make our experiences, initiatives and events more accessible and more impactful.

This October we will be hosting a second iteration of the HUMLOG Challenge, this year’s global student competition, which is part of our signature event, GBSN Beyond. Our plan is to host at least two student competitions each year, one that is regionally focused and one that is global. The student competitions are a means to simultaneously crowd source solutions and create meaningful learning experience to engage our global network. The Africa Business Challenge was 2021’s regionally focused competition. I encourage students from across the globe to save these dates, get involved and be change makers in our communities.