Comprised of four phases, the program begins with the Conference, which fosters an environment for ideas-generation and brainstorming, leading participants through a week-long journey into critical thinking, creative activities, technology trainings and business plan conception.
During the Research and Development Period, participants fine-tune and craft their business ideas into presentable and persuadable plans. The process culminates in the Competition, where participants pitch their plans to a panel of judges who select the most innovative and feasible ideas to win seed-funding. Microfinance institutions are also invited to the competition so that all participants have the opportunity to access sustainable community funding. Throughout the process, participants collaborate with trained mentors in the field of social entrepreneurship. These mentors guide the entrepreneurs’ development, leading to the final phase—the establishment of a Movement of change-agents within an ecosystem of collaborative, creative, entrepreneurial exchange.
In late 2013, the first phase of Dare to Innovate brought together 21 Guinean youth to pitch their ideas to a jury of distinguished judges. The jury awarded startup funds to seven participants on the basis of creativity, innovation, quality of presentation, and caliber of business plan. As our programs progress, Dare to Innovate fellows have launched 28 social enterprises owned by 78 African youth to date, and are on track to employ 270 other young people by the end of the year.
Dare to Innovate is graciously supported by a team of educators, entrepreneurs and experts in the field of social entrepreneurship. Each of our participants is assigned a mentor who guides and advises during the enterprise planning and creation process. Among our mentors is the founder of Afrimarine, one of West Africa's largest businesses devoted to maritime activities; a former World Bank official and spouse to Guinea’s former Minister of Industry; and Madame Sylla Hadja M’Ballou Fofana, founder of the Organic Farm Fabik and winner of the 2011 prize for female investment in a rural setting. These relationships continue well beyond the Conference, combining the energy and inventiveness of the youth with the business experience of our mentors and creating the synergy that drives the Dare to Innovate Movement.