Round One of the Dragons Den 2018 competition for members of the NNF Missing Link Microfinance project saw 19 contestants each give a 5 minute pitch, outlining the proposal that they had come up to try and win a share of the pot of money available.
There were three criteria that the proposals had to fulfill:
- It had to be innovative
- of benefit to the wider community
- and not harmful to the environment
And it was fascinating to see some of the ideas that the contestants had come up with.
Those that didn’t get shortlisted included rabbit farming, quail farming, making herbal teas, making pig-feed from maize husks, making liquid soap, solar drying, growing soya, making sugar-cane juice, and growing oyster mushrooms – all good ideas, but just not quite good enough.
The six competitors who were shortlisted for round two then had to come back the next day and give a longer, more in-depth presentation, including information on capital required, expected income and outgoings, expected markets, and how to expand the business. This was then followed by a few questions from ‘the dragons’ to get clarification on areas that were a bit unclear.
Given that many of them are not used to doing anything like this, the quality of these presentations, and the amount of effort and information that had gone into them was really impressive to see.
After all that, the dragons had the tough decision of coming up with a winner, or at least working out how best to divide the pot. Such was the strength of the proposals, and the potential for all of them to make a positive impact on the local community, that the prospect of finding just one winner was too much.
As a result the final outcome was to have two winners each having one third of the pot, and the other four getting runners-up prizes of a quarter each of the remaining money. Thus everyone took home some money that they could use to progress their idea further, experiment, and refine the concept.
The other lovely thing about the competition was that so many of the ideas actually have potential for playing a part in the vocational college in some way, whether as part of one of the courses, or as a concept that the students could build on, or as a source of food for the café etc. So as well as being a good competition, there were also some useful links made with regard to strengthing the community ties with the college
All in all a very successful event, and much enjoyed by many – and that’s not only the winners!
And in case you are interested, the winners were:
- Robert – wanting to develop a home-based fish-farming business, to produce fish for the catering industry, and also for sale to local community members, recognizing fish as a very good source of protein and associated nutrients
- Moses – wanting to scale up a paper-bag making cottage industry, in response to the recent banning of plastic bags by the government
And the runners up were:
- Damascene – wanting to try out garlic growing to meet an increasing demand for the food, which is currently imported from Tanzania
- Josephine-Doreen, a 16yr old wanting to set up a egg-production business using local, free-range chickens, and to grow the business to include many other teenage girls to give them the chance to earn an income and get back to school
- Jane – wanting to start making ‘briquettes’ from a mixture of ash, banana peelings, cassava flour and water; as a response to a government announcement of an intention to outlaw charcoal as a source of fuel
- Gladys – wanting to expand her mat-making business by training up other ladies to help with production.
Congratulations to all, and goo