39 In 2018, we expanded the activities of the KIC into Mauritania with the first annual Mauritania Innovation Challenge. The Mauritania Innovation Challenge provides the opportunity for young people to develop the confidence and skills they need to become entrepreneurs through a series of classroom modules and competitive pitch competitions. The Mauritania Innovation Challenge takes entrepreneurs on a proven eight-step journey to develop a market-ready product or service. The program starts with guided classroom learning through the first three foundational teaching elements corresponding with the first half of the business development journey. Participants receive structured, one-to-one mentoring from an assigned coach, testing their learning following the classes, and receiving personalized guidance on developing a business concept and planning for the first pitch event. Participants are guided through the early and fragile stages of business growth, learning everything about defining a business problem, creating a value proposition and understanding and identifying a target audience. Participants are expected to engage in their own field research and planning to fully inform themselves about their chosen market and business proposition. The businesses that pass the first pitch go on to the second round of intensive support to develop their business plan and to ready their product for launch. Following a further period of product testing, refinement and pitch practice, the remaining participants are ready for the second and final pitch. At the end of the program, participants pitch to a panel of judges and stakeholders in Nouakchott. Here, they present their new business ideas and proposals. The most promising ideas receive further technical assistance and potential seed funding to continue their growth journey. In 2018, we received more than 170 applications for the program. Following a rigorous review of the online application process and individual interviews, Kosmos selected the most promising 25 businesses to participate. After several months of individual coaching and training in entrepreneurship, the field of participants was narrowed to 12 businesses which then competed to win admission into a year-long KIC incubation program, as well as initial seed funding to help them launch their businesses. The winners developed innovative business ideas in a range of areas, including construction materials, solid waste removal, electronic money transfer, food delivery, office space, and distance education. Kosmos is providing seed funding to four of the companies, with Banque Mauritanienne pour le Commerce International, a large Mauritanian bank, and SEPCO, a waste management company, supporting two other businesses. Launched in 2018, the Senegal Start-Up Accelerator provides entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas for the agricultural sector with the skills they need to turn their ideas into reality. In partnership with Reach for Change, an international nonprofit focused on social entrepreneurship, the KIC is helping fledgling businesses in the country test and iterate their solutions to develop a sustainable business model. The program starts with a week-long selection process where potential candidates are thoroughly introduced to the program and the program leaders to their business ideas. With this depth of understanding, ten entrepreneurs are selected to move forward in the process. These ten finalists then undergo an intensive boot camp with business experts and then pitch for their place in the accelerator. Five entrepreneurs go forward to take part in the six-month program. Participants are guided through the early stages of business growth, learning everything from how to develop customer profiles and how to carry out competitor analysis, to how to make a product roadmap and develop a sustainable revenue model for their business. Six months later, the aim is to launch five new businesses with the potential to help transform the agricultural industry in Senegal. In 2018, we expanded the activities of the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC) into Côte d’Ivoire with the launch of a comprehensive business accelerator program called Stimulating the Spirit of Entrepreneurship in Côte d’Ivoire. The accelerator aims to help young Ivorian entrepreneurs and small enterprises develop their businesses sustainably and unlock economic prosperity in the country’s coastal and other regions. The program was developed in partnership with the Direction Générale des Hydrocarbures (DGH) and is being delivered by TechnoServe, an international nonprofit that promotes business solutions to poverty in the developing world by linking people to information, capital, and markets. Through the accelerator program, small enterprises led by women and men are learning how to overcome barriers to growth and how to build competitive businesses that generate wealth for fellow Ivorians through improved sales and new job creation. More than 300 entrepreneurs in coastal communities have been selected to take part in the program. Over the course of four months, participants receive intensive business and managerial support training, financial consultancy, and one-to- one mentorship. After the four-month incubation period, all 300 entrepreneurs present their work to a jury. Around 180 will progress through this stage, and receive five months of additional support to help implement their business growth plan. Further training and mentoring is provided, as well as support for accessing financial institutions and funding. For more information about the Kosmos Innovation Center, visit www.kosmosinnovationcenter.com. MAURITANIA INNOVATION CHALLENGE SENEGAL START-UP ACCELERATOR STIMULATING THE SPIRIT OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN CÔTE D’IVOIRE