Open Innovation Program Zambia

Ready to take your innovative ideas to the next level?

Check out the application criteria for the Innovation Challenge to make sure you're a good fit

  • First things first: you must be registered with the Business Registration Agency (PACRA) and have all relevant registration documentation. No cutting corners here!
  • We’re looking for startups that already have a product or service with demonstrated traction. 
  • Startups with more than one founder are preferred. Two heads are better than one, right?
  • At a minimum, your startup should own a tech or tech-enabled minimum viable product. 
  • The product/service should demonstrate clear potential for monetization and sustainability.
  • The product/service must be innovative and should have a unique value proposition
  • The product or service you offer must present a positive social or environmental impact. We want to make the world a better place, one startup at a time.
  • If your startup is currently operating in the fields of Smart Cities, Fintech or Green Tech, you’ll get bonus points. We’re all about sustainability and innovation.
  • Collaboration is key! Your startup should be open to working with potential clients and other stakeholders. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
  • We encourage women-led businesses and businesses led by differently-abled persons to apply. We believe in diversity and inclusivity and want to give everyone a fair shot.
  • The innovation should be practical and feasible to implement within a reasonable timeline.
  • Applicants should be available for the virtual/in-person sessions between June 21st and August 21st 2023 (approximately 1 session per week)

If you meet these criteria, we can’t wait to see what you bring to the table. Let’s make some magic happen together!

Open Innovation Program Objectives

The delivery activities are designed to transformatively:

  • Strengthen participants’ professional identity, and creative skills and increase innovation capacity through team-based co-creation;
  • Increase participating companies’ capabilities and conditions for success through future projects that produce concrete scenarios as well as validated product and service concepts;
  • Facilitate networking and knowledge exchange between companies, startups, and other key stakeholders in the ecosystem; and
  • Create conditions for the creation of new companies and entrepreneurial activity by the innovators.

Challenge Statements


Problem statement
Jennifer is a 35-year-old founder of a tech-based financial management platform living in Lusaka Province who needs to build trust with consumers so that she attracts and retains her customers, drives the adoption of her products and services, and increases revenue for her business.

How might we help Jennifer build customer trust so that she attracts and retains her customers, drives adoption of her products and services, and increases revenue for her business?

Problem statement
Francis is a young entrepreneur in Zambia’s fintech sector who needs access to affordable financing because he wants to scale his business and improve financial inclusion in Zambia. 

How might we increase access to affordable financing options for young fintech entrepreneurs like Francis to enable them to bring their innovative ideas to the market and scale their businesses?

Problem statement
Peter, a 30-year-old young entrepreneur, needs skilled local talent to help his business innovate and grow because local talent is cost-effective and improves the local talent pool.

How might assist young entrepreneurs like Peter to attract and retain skilled local talent so that he can innovate and compete effectively in the market in a cost-effective manner?

Problem statement
Martha Chiti is a 35-year-old fintech founder from Ndola, Zambia who needs to collaborate with a traditional bank so that she can access resources and expertise to help overcome key challenges as her business scales while helping banks expand their offerings and increase their market share.

How might we foster collaboration between fintech startups and traditional banks to partner effectively and leverage each other’s strengths to expand their reach and impact in the financial industry?

Problem statement
Maria Banda is a 37-year-old founder of a village banking entity who needs increased awareness and understanding of the role of technology in the finance sector because she wants to leverage technology to improve her operations and services.

How might we increase public awareness and understanding of the role technology could play in the financial services sector among Zambian users to improve their operations and services?

Smart Cities

Problem statement
John is a university student who needs access to infrastructure that supports smart city technologies because he needs to efficiently navigate his urban environment and access services without obstacles or delays.

How might we provide seamless integration and coordination among different smart city systems for John, so that he can efficiently navigate his urban environment and access convenient services without obstacles or delays?

Problem statement
Sarah, an experienced government official in urban planning, needs to accelerate the development of smart cities in Zambia because they are crucial for promoting sustainable, livable, and economically competitive urban environments.

How might we improve collaboration for smart city solutions between industry, government, and academia for Sarah to accelerate the development of smart cities?

Problem statement
Jacob is a 25-year-old small business owner in Lusaka who needs an understanding of smart city initiatives and adoption to gain confidence in the technology.

How might we How might we simplify smart city technology for small business owners like Jacob so that he gains confidence and understanding thus increasing the adoption of smart technology?

Problem statement
Joseph is a recent IT graduate from the University of Zambia who believes in the power of information technology but is unaware of the concept of smart cities and the potential it has to solve some of the problems in his city.

How might we practically and effectively build awareness about the concept of smart cities and their potential to solve some of the problems in Joseph’s city?

Problem statement
Twiza, a 25-year-old startup CEO in Lusaka Province needs a better understanding of the Human Centered Design (HCD) methodology to ensure her projects address the real needs of actual users thus ensuring a more efficient, more flexible design

How might we provide a better understanding of the HCD methodology for Twiza so that she can adopt and implement smart city projects that are user-centric and meet the needs of the communities they serve?

Problem statement
Chalwe, a 40-year-old CEO of a technology company needs skilled local talent to develop and implement smart city projects in Zambia because he wants to build local capacity to drive economic growth, and sustainable development and promote the use of these technologies in enhancing the quality of life for residents.

How might we develop and attract skilled local talent in Zambia’s smart technology sector to support Chalwe, in developing and implementing smart city projects to drive economic growth and sustainable development?


Problem statement
John is the founder and CEO of Kenaya Energy Limited, an upcoming energy company in Solwezi, North-Western Province with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He needs financing for his company to promote green energy production in Zambia.

How might we provide affordable financing for John to speed up production for his company in Solwezi?

Problem statement 

Chipego Mwanza is a 27-year-old Director at D- Generations; a greentech company. She wants to directly deliver clean and sustainable energy solutions such as solar and wind power but lacks access to the right infrastructure. 

How might we solve the energy infrastructure problem for Chipego to ensure the smooth delivery of wind and solar power?

Problem statement 
Mwaka is a 37-year-old farmer living in Chongwe who needs access to an affordable renewable energy source because she needs to increase productivity on her farm despite the energy deficit in her area.

How might we provide an affordable renewable energy source for Mwaka so that she may increase productivity on her farm despite the energy deficit in her area?

Problem statement 
Jane, a small business owner in Kitwe, Zambia, is a sustainability advocate who needs access to affordable and reliable renewable energy sources for her business operations because she wants to reduce her carbon footprint and operating costs while contributing to a greener future.

How might we provide affordable and renewable energy access to small business owners like Jane to promote a greener future in Zambia?

Problem statement 
Maria is a 30-year-old restaurant owner in the Soweto market of Lusaka, who needs a proper collection of waste around her workplace so that she can attract more customers to her business and increase her earnings.

How might we transform waste management services so that Maria can attract more customers and increase her earnings?

Problem statement 
Kaluya, a 37-year-old environmental advocate in Chongwe, Zambia, needs to build awareness of green technologies and their benefits in her community because she recognizes the significant potential for Zambia to transition towards a more sustainable energy sector through the development and utilization of green technology.

How might we build awareness and adoption of green technology in Zambia to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and promote a more sustainable energy sector?

Competition Timelines

  • 06 April 2023

    Call for applications

  • 21 June 2023

    Facilitated co-creation process

  • 01 September 2023

    Demo day

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