The competition is organized in three phases. Phase I is the business idea screening phase in which applicants will be required to submit applications according to the rules described above to have their business idea considered and reviewed. TechnoServe will screen applications for eligibility and completeness.

Phase I: Business Idea Screening and Selection

Following the submission of application forms to participate in the ENGINE BPC, all eligible applicants will be invited to attend a 2-day Entrepreneurship Clinic and Seminar, after which they will be required to present a 5-page concept paper. During this phase, judges will evaluate the Business Concept Statement and select the top business concepts with the greatest potential for sustained growth. The applicants who submitted the selected business concepts will be invited to attend Phase II of the competition.

Phase II: The Core Programme - Business Management Training, Building a Business Plan and Professional Consulting

The top shortlisted entrepreneurs will be invited to attend a 4-day Business Plan Training programme that will include business coursework, business plan development seminars, industry specific topics and, consulting sessions with a business professional, and networking events.

Participants will also have access to technical support, and will receive a business plan manual. Experts in law, finance, accounting, marketing, and other relevant areas will serve as trainers and consultants, and will participate in programme events. Supporting companies and financial institutions will also attend networking events. The second phase concludes with the submission and evaluation of a 15 to 20-page draft business plan, and the administration of a psychometric test to determine the participant’s growth mindset. Each participant receives constructive feedback on his or her plan prior to the presentation of the business plan. The business plans with the greatest growth potential will be selected, and these entrepreneurs will be invited to continue on to Phase III as finalists.

Phase III: Strengthening and Presenting the Business Plan

During Phase III, finalists have the opportunity to improve their business plans based on the feedback received at the end of Phase II, and additional seminars on select topics. Each participant will be required to address weaknesses in the draft business plan. Finalists will also work to develop the oral pitch presentation of their business plans that they will deliver to a panel of judges. The 20 to 30-page final business plan will be submitted at the end of this phase. The panel of judges will select winners based on the written final business plans and the oral pitch presentations.

Note on Consultants

While ENGINE organizers will do their best to match participants with consultants who can provide the optimal mix of knowledge and expertise for a given participant, the organizers cannot guarantee that expertise in a specific functional area or sector will be provided to a given participant. Similarly, although organizers will adhere to a careful selection process of consultants, they will not be held responsible for any perceived failings on the part of consultants to guide and advise their allocated participants.


Note on Trainings and Seminars

Although participants will have different backgrounds, levels of experience and formal training, all participants are expected to attend the sessions, as discussions amongst participants and sharing of experiences are core components of the programme and its prospective benefits. In addition, although organizers will adhere to a careful selection process of trainers, they will not be held responsible for any perceived failings on the part of trainers to impart information and guide participants through the content of the programme.

Judging Process

The judging process at each phase of the competition will be as transparent and objective as possible. Judges will include established entrepreneurs, university professors, technical experts, venture capitalists, private investors, and Angel Investors. All judges will attend an orientation session, will sign confidentiality agreements, and will follow scoring guidelines.

All judging will be anonymous, both for the judges and for the participants. At each phase, each business idea/plan will be evaluated by at least 2 judges (4 in Phase III) to ensure greater objectivity. At the end of Phases II and III, participants will receive written feedback on their business plans. Participants should not expect to receive more feedback beyond what is provided in written format after the end of Phases II and III.

All decisions related to the evaluations by the judges are deemed final. The results will be subject to audit by an independent panel. There are no opportunities for participant appeals.


Winners will receive a combination of seed capital and aftercare (business development services). The programme will also facilitate participants to access loan or investment capital from financial institutions or investors. Several finalists will also win aftercare awards (business development services). At least US$720,000 (GBP450,000) in seed capital and aftercare will be awarded across the winners and finalists.

All finalists will receive an ENGINE certificate commemorating their participation and achievement.

Distribution of Awards

Cash awards will be paid directly to the vendors and service providers selected by the winners according to approved investment plans and through the determined process as outlined in the award manual. The first request must be made within six months after having been declared a winner and the final payment must be made within 12 months of the end of the competition.

Aftercare awards will be distributed in a similar manner as cash awards as outlined in the awards manual, except that aftercare awards will be disbursed only to the approved business development service providers.

Winner Obligations

The winners will sign a contract in which they bind themselves to invest the seed capital (cash) awarded directly into the project described in their submitted business plans. Winners of ENGINE will be expected to participate in a variety of media events after the conclusion of the competition. All winners are subject to an ENGINE audit for the first three years of the life of the business or the expansion. Additionally, all winners must present quarterly financial and non-financial reports to the ENGINE implementing agency (TechnoServe) for verification.

Note on Access to Finance

ENGINE organizers will provide networking opportunities with potential financing sources and investors, either in informal discussion sessions, or as organized events during the competition and post-competition. However, ENGINE does not guarantee participants that their business plans will be funded as a result of participation in the competition (except to the seed capital award winners). Also, should outside finance providers (banks, venture capital firms or private equity funds) make contact with participants as a result of the competition ENGINE will not manage their confidentiality arrangements. This assumes that in such instances the standard confidentiality practices of the given finance providers will be applied.