Startups entering the business incubation program have a proof-of-concept prototype for their product and a preliminary market assessment. The goal is for startups to leave the program with a revenue-generating product that is positioned to successfully compete for the additional investment they will need to scale.

Eligible startups must be less than two years of age, and have the following when they apply:
  1. At least one CMU-Africa student or alumni as a founder
  2. A tech-enabled solution with a clear value proposition for an identified market
  3. A proof-of-concept prototype for the proposed product that has the potential for profitability, inclusivity, and scalability. (Check evaluation criteria for details about prototype requirements)
  4. Preliminary market assessment and a compelling lean business model canvas for their business
  5. Founders who are willing to dedicate at least 40 hours of work per week to their company and all programmed incubation activities
  6. Preferably be a registered company

Benefits to startups

  • $39,000 USD of financial support from CMU-Africa
  • Twelve months of expert consulting services in product development and market research, legal and compliance requirements, marketing and sales, and finance and accounting
  • $5,000 USD in Amazon Web Services credits and $1,500 USD in Amazon technical support services
  • Introductions to angel investors, venture capital firms, accelerators, and CMU-Africa’s partners in Africa and Pittsburgh
  • Access to business development workshops
  • Working space and supporting services at our incubator in Kigali Innovation City
  • Opportunity to participate in conferences, networking events, and exhibitions
  • Access to CMU’s global mentorship network
  • Connection to startups at CMU’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh

Application process

The application window opens on March 15, 2023, and closes on April 30, 2023.

  • All applications must be fully completed and submitted by the deadline
  • Written applications will be reviewed by the IIL selection committee, and the strongest applicants will be invited to pitch virtually. (Please see evaluation criteria for applications)
  • The startups selected to enter the IIL will be notified by May 15, 2023
  • Admitted startups must confirm their desire to participate by May 23, 2023
  • The incubation program begins on June 1, 2023

Virtual information sessions

There will be two virtual information sessions for prospective applicants to learn more:

  • March 29, 2023
  • April 12, 2023

Application timeline