Celebrating the commencement of its third cohort and third running year, the New Entrepreneurs Xchange for Transformation project (NEXTi2i) has announced the fellows of the Ashesi Venture Incubator (AVI)’s 2021 cohort.
Last year we celebrated the passing of the olympic torch from our first cohort (2019) to our second (2020) and now, we are proud to hail our third cohort (2021) for receiving the torch and lighting the olympic cauldron. We use the metaphor of lighting the cauldron because this is the last year of the USAID-funded NEXTi2i Project and therefore lighting the Ashesi cauldron signifies the transition of AVI from NEXTi2i as a pilot program to be run as a substantive incubator program by the University. Thus, unlike their predecessors, this year’s cohort is going to be largely funded by Ashesi University through a Mastercard Foundation support program.
As part of the transition, five out of the nineteen AVI candidates for this year are fellows of the Mastercard Foundation’s Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund (SEF) which supports Mastercard Scholars with funding for their business’ endeavours. The AVI gives them a more structured process for their venture development activities.
Over the course of three years, we have positively supported twenty-six businesses, twelve in the first year and fourteen in the second year. We are excited to continue this work, amplifying our reach in the years to come.
The Ashesi Venture Incubator
The Ashesi Venture Incubator, a programme of the NEXTi2i project (a collaboration between Ashesi University and MIT D-Lab) is a one-year incubation experience for recent graduates and alumni of Ashesi University. Over the course of their time in the AVI, fellows (incubatees) are provided with financial support, business development programmes and mentorship from local and global industry professionals.
The AVI was designed with the intention of developing hybrid businesses that are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals because it is not enough to simply equip the new age of entrepreneurs with the skills needed to become profitable. To meet the urgent demand for sustainable development in emerging economies, businesses must also be in the position to deliver some level of social impact, be it through their supply chain processes, sourcing, or inclusive employment practices.