Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship 2023

Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship 2023

The Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship 2023 gives African students and recent graduates the opportunity to access training, resources, financial support and a network of mentors to develop their entrepreneurial skills and start building their own venture. The 8-month program develops the exceptional entrepreneurial skillset and mindset of leaders to drive social and financial impact. The application deadline is December 4, 2022.

Eligibility Criteria

The Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation accepts students and recent graduates from all academic disciplines, and from any African post-secondary institution. Whether you are already working on a business or you are looking to start something new, the fellowship can help you.

The foundation is looking for participants who are committed to developing their entrepreneurial mindset and taking advantage of the resources provided to develop their own enterprise. The program is delivered virtually and can be completed at any pace, however the most committed participants will commit at least 10 hours per week. In order to progress through the program phases, participants will submit assignments online, adhering to strict deadlines.

The program content will be in English. Mentorship may be offered in English and French. Assignments and pitches must be completed in English. Prospective fellows who are unable to speak or write English are still encouraged to apply and form teams with someone who can fulfill all the requirements of the program in English. Prospective fellows may also work with their local university to come up with a strategy to make sure they are able to access university resources that will help them navigate the challenge related to language ability.

Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship 2023 Program Benefits

The program provides participants who demonstrate a willingness to learn, take risks, and commit themselves fully with the best that the foundation innovation centre has to offer.

The participants will enjoy the following

  1. best in class training
  2. mentorship and networking opportunity
  3. financial support
  4. inclusivity

Program Timelines

Phase 1: Explore (January-February)

1000+ exceptional candidates receive access to a curated list of online entrepreneurship courses and work through the first 11 steps of the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework workbook. Candidates have several months to demonstrate their commitment to the entrepreneurial process by completing the training and progressing on their ideas’ respective milestones.

Guiding Questions:

  • Who is my customer?
  • What can I do for them?


  • Make observations through interviews or some other means
  • Clearly define and validate the problem you are solving by speaking to end users
  • Validate or invalidate key assumptions which are the basis of creating the solution you want to work on
  • Ideate – generate solutions to the problem you are solving
  • Create a journey map of your end users’ experience using your solution

Phase 2: Ignite (March-April)

180+ finalists with an outstanding commitment to the entrepreneurship process, who will have excelled at the milestones set out in phase one will be selected to join this phase. Under this phase, they will continue to go through an additional curated list of additional online entrepreneurship courses and work through the remaining steps of the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework’s workbook. At the end of this phase, the participants will pitch their ideas, competing for the fellowship, and the most advanced and promising business ideas will become the finalists who receive the fellowship.

Guiding Questions:

  • How does your end user acquire your solution? 
  • How will this be funded or become financially sustainable?


  • Develop channels to market and reach out to any necessary partners
  • Create a business model or a plan for funding your solution
  • Prototype your solution in the simplest way possible that still allows you to generate meaningful feedback from end users
  • Validate all critical assumptions by creating experiments and test your solution using your prototype

Phase 3: Launch and Fellowship (May-August)

Up to 60 Fellows will be selected to join DDQIC’s summer incubation program. During this phase, Fellows will get the opportunity to work on their ideas, access seed funding, and participate in weekly 3-2-1 pitch presentations about the work they are doing as they transform their ideas into scalable startups. In addition, Fellows will receive a $500 stipend and dedicated coaches and mentors from DDQIC’s Global Network of industry experts and entrepreneurs. Fellows will have the opportunity to compete in a pitch competition for more seed funding at the end of the program.

Guiding Questions:

  • How do you execute your solution? 
  • How can you scale it?


  • Pilot your solution in a more real life scenario
  • Generate expressions of interest, end users, or customers
  • Create a plan to scale

Graduation (August)

Startup entrepreneurs (Fellows) will complete their incubation program at the end of August. After graduation, Fellows will continue to receive post-incubation services, support, and pitch competition opportunities as part of DDQIC’s network.

High-performing Fellows will receive invitation to participate as ambassadors and mentors for future Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowships as well.

For more information and details on how to submit your application, visit the fellowship website.

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