WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Global Entrepreneurship Network is excited to announce the opening of Startup Huddle in Maseru, Lesotho, to help local entrepreneurs hone their pitch skills and discover solutions to the challenges they face.
Startup Huddle is a program designed to educate, engage and connect entrepreneurs. As an experiential learning opportunity, the Startup Huddle format is consistent in each location: on a given morning, one or two early-stage startup founders give a six-minute presentation of their companies to a diverse audience of peers, mentors, educators and advisers. Each presentation is followed by a 20-minute question and answer session.
According to Startup Huddle organizer Zwelithini Evaristus Matsoso, Lesotho has no shortage of entrepreneurial ideas and activity – but there is a lack of entrepreneurial support and the ecosystem is still lacking opportunities for entrepreneurs to scale their ventures. The hope is that Startup Huddle can provide a boost to the local ecosystem, drawing attention to innovative ideas and providing a platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas.
“Huddle is an ecosystem that is empowering nations, empowering societies,” said Matsoso. “I am excited to be part of the community that adds value to overall development.”
The culture surrounding Startup Huddle is that of a supportive, neutral space, welcoming entrepreneurs to be open and honest about their businesses and the challenges they face. Each event is organized by local entrepreneurs and community builders who volunteer their time to secure a venue, vet and select presenters and publicize the event.
As opposed to a traditional “pitch” environment, Startup Huddle was not created to be critical of entrepreneurs, but rather for the presenters to learn from shared experiences and find ways to support one another as a community.
In 2018, Matsoso said Startup Huddle had set a goal of reaching 200 businesses with founders who are women or young people. According to Matsoso, women and young people suffer the most from economic disadvantages in Lesotho. By focusing the Startup Huddle activity on these two groups, the hope is that the program will help elevate them economically.
“Our goal is to influence [the] establishment of startups, strengthen [these startups] for sustainability, such as businesses, and solve societal and economic challenges,” said Matsoso.
Startup Huddle is an educational experience for both the audience and the presenters. Presenters are given resources and support to prepare for their presentation and surveyed after their presentation to see what they’ve learned.