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Winning teams receive cash grants to help grow their businesses, hire staff, and/or purchase raw materials and equipment. 

Support & Community

Winners receive ongoing support to help them overcome the challenges of growing a business.

What to expect when applying


The competition process takes 3-4 months, from initial applications to the award ceremony. Teams must be prepared to go through three rounds of competition, and work with their mentors on a weekly basis. 


Teams already operating a business


Teams starting with an idea


March - June 2022

August 2022 - January 2023

4 winners

4 winners

26th June 2022



12+ months

$6,000 for each winner

0-12 months

$4,000 for each winner

Apply as a new or existing business

We accept early stage teams with only an idea, as well as more established teams already operating small businesses.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will the application for the Winter 2021 Edition open up?

As of August 2021, applications are now open! Follow this link to apply. 

Who can apply?

Anyone aged between 18 and 28 in East Africa can now apply for the competition.

How do I apply?

To apply for the Give Work Challenge, please follow this link to complete the application form.


It typically takes 10-40 hours to complete the application materials, so we suggest starting your application well ahead of the deadline.

Do I need to have a partner to apply?

Business partners allow you to have a broader perspective and strategy for your venture. It is always great to share the weight of decisions with someone else. We encourage you to have at least one partner, although this is not a mandatory requirement.

Where will the final take place?

Due to the Pandemic, the Finals are now virtual, and participants pitch from a virtual studio in their location.

What does the jury look for?

There are 3 rounds of judging throughout the competition, and there is a scoring rubric for each round. Please read through our Resource Guide to better understand the requirements.

Will the Leila Janah Foundation be shareholders in my business?

No, the LJF does not take any stake in your business. We provide cash grants and mentorship, but do not acquire equity in your company.

Is the Give Work Challenge for social businesses only?

The GWC challenge is open to all businesses that operate on green business practices. Your business does not need to have a specific social impact component, but we tend not to fund businesses that have a negative social or environmental impact. For example, we would not fund businesses that rely on significant deforestation as a core component of their business.

What is the difference between the Winter and Spring Edition?

The Winter Edition is for new businesses that are just starting out, and have either not earned any money yet, or have been earning for less than 6 months. The Spring Edition is for existing businesses that have already been in business for at least 6 months, and are looking to expand their operations.

Do all applicants receive mentorship?

Mentorship is a key component of the Give Work Challenge, and is required of all teams. Teams are paired with a mentor after progressing into the second round, and are expected to have regular virtual meetings with their mentor as they progress. There are additional mentorship opportunities after the competition concludes, although participating in this additional mentorship is not required.

How many times can I apply for the Give Work Challenge?

You may apply for the Give Work Challenge once per year, for as many years as you like. Please do not submit more than one application each year.


Applications open for new businesses


Round 1 jury scoring


Semi-finalist announcement


Round 2 scoring & finalist announcement


Give Work Challenge finale

Winter 2021 Cohort Timeline


Apply now to the New Business Edition

Applications open till 31st January

Get updates about future competitions

Sign up to receive news about applications opening up, deadlines for submissions, and other updates related to applying to the Give Work Challenge.

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Apply to the Give Work Challenge

Applications for 2024 New Business Edition is now open

Get funding to start or grow your business

The Give Work Challenge helps entrepreneurs in Kenya and Uganda start and grow businesses. 

Teams go through a 3-month process to improve their business plans, and then pitch their ideas to an expert panel. Winning teams receive $4,000 - $6,000 cash grants.

Work with experienced mentors

Each team is paired with an expert mentor for 3-months leading up to pitch day.

During this period, mentors challenge teams to improve their business models and create a foundation for long-term success.

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