Heuristics of the Harambeans Admissions Process

Portrait of Harambeans in Bretton Woods

Harambeans are African innovators who have pledged to work together as one “to unlock the potential of Africa”. Over the last decade, Harambeans have spawned a series of tech-enabled unicorns such as Flutterwave, and Go1, which have collectively raised over $700m from Google Ventures, CRE Ventures, and Accel.

Every year, the Alliance welcomes between 25 and 30 extraordinary innovators from competitive programs who have exhibited a prodigious degree of skill in driving market-creating innovations across the African continent.

This diverse cadre of innovators have an unwavering commitment to “work together to unleash the potential of Africa’s people, pursue the social, political, and economic development of the African continent and fulfill the dream of our generation.”

In essence, they embody the word Harambee, which is Swahili for “collaboration.”

Each class reflects the diversity of the African continent and is a testament to the plethora of ventures under development by these remarkable entrepreneurs for their respective countries.

Mr. Matshoba H’14 Co-founder Yoco

Harambeans are the epitome of servant leadership, enduring optimism, and deliberate audacity.

As a prospective applicant, you must:

  • Share in the values of the Alliance
  • Be of African birth or origin
  • Currently enrolled in a college/university or be a recent graduate
  • Be at the idea, pilot, or scaling stage of a social or business venture focused or related to Africa.

If you are an early-stage founder, our assessment is entirely about you and less about the traction with your venture. We look for indicators that signal a compelling personal nexus and traits that encompass audacity, an entrepreneurial drive, servant leadership, humility, and resilience.

These attributes are an indication of your commitment to materialising your vision from the idea stage into a scalable venture. As we know, the journey of a start-up is as treacherous as the turbulent waves of the ocean and only those with convictions as deeply rooted as a stake pummeled into the dirt can resolve the challenge at hand. These individuals will brave the tides of uncertainty, to actualize their vision despite the cacophony of distractions the entrepreneurial process brings.

As an entrepreneur at the pilot stage, we assess your ability to adapt and incorporate data and learnings obtained from implementing your business model into making strategic and sustainable business decisions.

The ability to validate, invalidate, and pivot your business based on the understanding of the assumptions about the business model and the market is an invaluable tool to have in your arsenal as an innovator looking to scale.

At the scale-up stage, we look at your traction and ability to delegate and build an effective team around you and your venture.

The admissions team is a conduit of the will of the Alliance made up of Harambeans and our Guild of investors and experts. Hence, the admissions team relies on the insights and recommendations shared by investors, mentors, Harambeans, and the community around each applicant to carry its mandate.

Our culture is what binds our entrepreneurs, investors, and partners together – a meritocratic collaboration built on trust and driven by a shared desire to scale our impact.

Pardon Makumbe, Investor in Residence & Founding Partner at CRE Venture Capital

To start the application process, candidates may:

Commencing with an online application, the admissions team relies on the munificent nominations from Harambeans, ecosystem partners, incubators, and accelerators across the globe. The admissions team leverages recruitment expeditions through partnerships with Ivy League universities, such as venture competitions at Harvard Business School that seek to identify innovators at the cutting edge of market-creating innovations on the continent.

Once applications are live, candidates are notified, and must then complete the application to move on to the assessment stage of the process.

All applications consist of the following completed sections:

  • Applicant Venture
  • Essays
  • HEA Opportunities
  • Mentors
  • Recommendations
  • Leadership & Work Experience
  • Awards / Recognition & Skills
  • Education
  • General Information
  • Terms & Conditions

Candidates who make it past the pre-screening stage will undergo a minimum of two interviews with their peers to assess their venture and close affinity with the values and traditions of the Alliance.

Once admitted, applicants will be conferred the temporary status of Affiliate. This designation will then be switched to permanent Associate of the Alliance after attending the Harambe Bretton Woods symposium and signing the Harambe declaration.

Portrait of the XII Class of Harambeans

Affiliates can only be recognized as Harambeans after participating in the Harambe Bretton Woods Symposium (HBWS), which is the annual gathering of the Alliance and serves as an opportunity to welcome each new Class of Harambeans.

During this four-day gathering, Affiliates will be immersed in the culture, values, and traditions of our Alliance and be officially recognized as Associates of the Alliance.

The Harambe Bretton Woods Symposium is the place where African Innovators become Harambeans and a collection of strangers become part of a lifelong Alliance.

If you are not able to make it to Bretton Woods in your cycle, you will be required to submit a short venture update form, which will be assessed with the applications in the following year.

In the event that you are not admitted on your first attempt we encourage you to try again, as our Alliance is a marathon and not a sprint. We believe that the development of Africa will require a long-term commitment from the next generation of African innovators.

We look forward to receiving your application and Harambe on!

By Daniel Boateng

Bretton Woods, Admissions & Culture Manager

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