On Wednesday, we graduated the fourth Cohort of our StartUP (formerly pre-acceleration) programme, and the largest one hitherto! Thirteen ambitious entrepreneurs graduated from our programme and are ready to develop their businesses even more and continue to grow. We look forward to continuing working with them and are proud to see how far they have come over these past few months.
By running entrepreneurship support programmes for over two years now, we have learned a lot about the ecosystem in Sierra Leone and its country-specific challenges. Therefore, we are excited to announce that we have decided to provide funding to some of our start-ups that have shown passion and dedication over the past months and demonstrated the market opportunity for their businesses. All start-ups from Cohort 4 were allowed to apply and get the chance to pitch their business idea at an in-house pitch event.
Preceding the official graduation, five start-ups pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges, including both Aurora Foundation Board Members and Aurora Impact Advisory Board Members. The winners were announced after the Demo Day event last Wednesday, where all start-ups had the opportunity to showcase their businesses to the outside public.
We were very excited to award both Henretta Pamella Haruna and Ansumana Junior Munda with the funding needed to expand their businesses. In addition to Henretta and Ansumana, we created a new price to offer additional support to one of the entrepreneurs who has shown her entrepreneurial spirit. Therefore, we awarded Zainab Bah with the prize of Young Rising Star. In the upcoming months, we will be working side by side with all three entrepreneurs to provide them with the necessary support.
This graduation also had some unique additions to it, as the founders of Aurora Foundation were present and handed out certificates and prizes after giving a speech to the group of graduands and family & friends who attended.