Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship for African Students and Recent Graduates in 2024

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The Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship offers African students and recent graduates a unique opportunity. It provides access to training, valuable resources, financial support, and a network of mentors to nurture their entrepreneurial skills and kickstart their own ventures. This intensive 8-month program is designed to cultivate exceptional entrepreneurial capabilities and mindsets, empowering participants to make a significant social and financial impact.


The Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship is open to students and recent graduates from diverse academic backgrounds across all African post-secondary institutions. Whether you’re already working on a business endeavor or contemplating a new startup, this program can benefit you. We are looking for individuals committed to developing their entrepreneurial mindset and leveraging the program’s resources to establish their own enterprises. The program is delivered virtually, allowing participants to work at their own pace. However, we encourage dedicated participants to invest at least 10 hours per week. Throughout the program, participants will submit assignments online, adhering to strict deadlines. Program content is primarily in English, but mentorship may be available in both English and French. All assignments and pitches need to be finished in the English language. Prospective fellows who are not proficient in English are still encouraged to apply and can collaborate with someone who can meet the program’s English language requirements. Additionally, prospective fellows can work with their local university to develop a strategy for accessing university resources to help overcome language-related challenges.


Best in Class Training

  • Engage in a business bootcamp led by Queen’s University faculty and industry experts with extensive entrepreneurship and C-Suite experience.
  • Explore the Disciplined Entrepreneurship Framework, a proven, step-by-step methodology for scalable startups developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Receive pitch coaching and mastery training.
  • Participate in live workshops covering marketing, goal setting, and recruiting throughout the program.
  • Earn micro-credentials in entrepreneurship awarded by Queen’s University upon successful completion of the courses.

Mentorship and Networking

  • Connect with mentors and speakers who are leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship in North America.
  • Gain access to a global network of Queen’s entrepreneurial alumni.
  • Become part of a cohort comprising thousands of like-minded students and recent graduates from across Africa.
  • In the final program phase, fellows are matched with industry leaders and entrepreneurs and receive feedback at key startup milestones.

Financial Support

  • Up to 60 Fellows will be selected in the final phase and receive a stipend of $500 CAD.
  • Opportunities to pitch for prizes of up to $15,000 CAD in the pitch competition at the program’s conclusion
  • Opportunities for travel to the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre to establish lasting connections to advance your business venture

Program Timeline

Phase 1: Explore (January-February)

  • Over 1,000 exceptional candidates gain access to a curated list of online entrepreneurship courses and work through the first 11 steps of the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework workbook. Applicants have several months to showcase their dedication to the entrepreneurial journey by successfully finishing the training and making progress towards the milestones related to their ideas.

Phase 2: Ignite (March-April)

  • Approximately 180 finalists who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the entrepreneurship process and excelled at the milestones in phase one will be selected to join this phase. Participants will continue to complete an additional curated list of online entrepreneurship courses and work through the remaining steps of the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework’s workbook. At the end of this phase, participants will pitch their ideas, competing for the fellowship, and the most advanced and promising business ideas will become the finalists who receive the fellowship.

Phase 3: Launch and Fellowship (May-August)

  • A maximum of 60 fellows will be chosen to participate in the DDQIC’s summer incubation program. During this phase, fellows will work on their ideas, access seed funding, and participate in weekly 3-2-1 pitch presentations, discussing the progress they are making as they transform their ideas into scalable startups. Fellows will also receive a $500 stipend and dedicated coaches and mentors from DDQIC’s Global Network of industry experts and entrepreneurs. At the program’s end, fellows will have the opportunity to compete in a pitch competition for additional seed funding.

For More Information

Application Deadline: December 4, 2023

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