Thursday, May 26, 2022

Are you running a business incubator, accelerator or fund that supports businesses to start up and grow? Are you interested in growing your entrepreneurship support organization to the next level? Do you want to boost the quality of your programs, engage more effectively with your community, and sustain your work and impact?

Then this unique (and free!) capacity-building opportunity is for you!


Announcing the launch of the ESO360 Program to strengthen entrepreneurship support organizations (ESOs) across Africa. We invite eligible business incubators, accelerators and fund managers to apply for this capacity development and support program.

ESO360 is an initiative of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Innovation Lab, and is implemented by The Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Common Good Company and VC4A. This first phase of the program will focus on ESOs in Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

The Program

ESO360 works with your ESO to strengthen organizational sustainability and the quality of entrepreneur support services you offer. The Program uses a unique and tailored approach, that considers the development of your ESO from multiple angles through a 360-degree assessment and support, for the holistic growth of your organization. We first understand the needs and priorities of your ESO, and then develop and deliver a combination of training workshops, guidance, and best practices as needed.

Our purpose

As an initiative within AfDB’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Program, ESO360 will support 20 business incubators, accelerators and fund managers. Our purpose is to develop ESO capacity to:

  • Be prepared for growth opportunities,
  • Respond better to the needs of their respective communities and contexts, and
  • Sustain their work and impact in the long run by supporting more and more ESOs and/or startups.
Our offering

Through the Program, you will:

  • Self-assess – Assess your strengths and capacities in entrepreneurship support service delivery
  • Strengthen your support to entrepreneurs – Strengthen and improve entrepreneurship support and BDS services and skills; training topics could include but are not limited to: Investment readiness (for entrepreneurs and ESOs), business planning, developing fundraising programs, etc.
  • Get certified – Certification provided by Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
  • Improve your fundraising strategy – Assess your strengths and capacities in organization sustainability, communications and fundraising.
  • Individualized growth planning and capacity development – Leverage the Hub Collective to develop your own growth plan to boost your ESO’s communications and fundraising preparedness and capacities. Training topics could include but are not limited to: Grant fundraising strategy, revenue and income source planning, donor and private sector engagement, etc.
  • Gain experience – Gain practical experience and best practices through tailored support and active engagement with other ESOs.
  • Leverage the VC4A startup academy – Use top business courses of the VC4A Startup Academy for blended learning sessions within your startup support programs.
  • Gain access to VC4A partner tools – Be onboarded and get access to VC4A application and selection tools to manage your venture pipeline in a smart way.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants based in Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa
  • At least two years of business activities and audited accounts
  • Having grown to a team of 5+ full-time employees (including founders)
  • At least two finalized incubation/ acceleration programs implemented with at least 20 supported and/ or 10 companies invested in
  • At least one member of the executive team is available to participate for virtual training and support between April and June 2022

Selection Criteria

Management and Leadership – 30%

– A strong team that has the skills, knowledge and capacity to participate fully in the Program and implement learnings
– Robust management and governance principles including adherence to financial management best practice

Sustainability and Aspirations – 30%

– A clear mission, vision, and program alignment
– A strong business model with a clear approach to scale and financial sustainability with justification

Programs and Impact – 25%

– A clear description of current programs and how they link to objectives and impact with attention to the youth demographic where applicable
– A clear approach to increase access to finance for SMEs
– A clear description of how progress and impact is tracked, measured, reported and incorporated into program development

Community and Communications – 15%

– A clear understanding of target groups and their value proposition to each of them
– Awareness of the local community as well as stakeholders in the wider ecosystem

Applications will be scored according to the list of criteria above and weighted accordingly. Final decisions on successful applicants are made by Frankfurt School, Common Good Company and VC4A.


Apply Now

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