Oxfam Superstar Impact Business competition 2023

Apply to be the next Superstar Impact Business!

Did you participate in Oxfam’s SME or start-up development program in Somaliland*, Egypt, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Cambodia, or Bolivia? Do you have an innovative business idea to make your supply chain more fair and sustainable?

If yes, apply to this competition and your business might be the next Superstar Impact Business!

Oxfam is launching its fourth round of the Superstar Impact Business competition in 7 countries, including Somaliland, Egypt, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Cambodia, and Bolivia. In each country, winners will be chosen by a local jury and receive grant funding and technical support from our local partners to implement the project. The most impactful and inspiring winner in each country will also be featured in a short movie to promote their business idea. Oxfam will provide EUR 30k per country for grants and technical support**.

* Please note that only in Somaliland, the competition is also open to impact-driven businesses that have not previously been part of an Oxfam program.

**Please contact the Oxfam office and the local partner organization in your country for more information on the exact amount of grant funding and the type of support that will be awarded in the competition.

Curious to learn about a great example of an impact-driven business that is building a fair and sustainable supply chain? Meet Florence Okot CEO and Founder of Yellow Star Food Processors in Uganda.

Yellow Star is an agro-based food processing company adding value to agricultural produce to champion access to nutritious products for children, expectant women, the elderly, and health-conscious individuals. Yellow Star focuses on creating a fair and sustainable supply chain by partnering with women-led farmer groups to make their production more sustainable, guaranteeing access to markets and improving livelihoods. The company also provides income opportunities for women through its last-mile distribution network. Visit Yellow Star’s website here.


August 31, 2023
Program dates May 31 - Jun 9, 2023
Organizer OXFAM Impact SME’s Development Programme
Website Visit website
Targets Cambodia, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda
Agribusiness, Business services, Clean technology and energy, Environmental services, Utilities, Construction and manufacturing, Manufacturing, Creative, media and entertainment, Education, Financial services, Healthcare, ICT, Leisure and travel, Retail and wholesale, Consumer durables, Consumer non-durables, Transport and logistics, Water, sanitation and hygiene
SDG (7)
1. No Poverty, 10. Reduced Inequality, 13. Climate Action, 2. Zero Hunger, 4. Quality Education, 5. Gender Equality, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

About the competition

To be truly sustainable, impact-driven businesses want to ensure that throughout the supply chain, all business practices adhere to constant environmental, social and governance principles. The supply chain includes the full lifecycle of a product or process, including material sourcing, production, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal/recycling processes.

This can be challenging when your business is working:

  • To include suppliers or distributors from vulnerable groups and/or minorities that have been disadvantaged or are difficult to reach;
  • In supply chains where there is little collaboration or transparency;
  • In contexts that suffer from climate change, environmental degradation, increasing economic volatility, inflation and unsupportive regulatory frameworks.

At the same time, introducing fair and sustainable business practices across the supply chain provides an enormous opportunity to accelerate impact throughout communities.

Therefore, through the competition, Oxfam seeks to support impact-driven businesses that have innovative ideas to introduce fair and sustainable business practices across their supply chain and are collaborating with suppliers, financial service providers, off-takers and/or logistic providers to implement these practices.

Fair and sustainable business practices include (but are not limited to):

Engaging in Circular Business Models For example, your business partners with another business to reuse or repurpose each other’s waste and to convert those waste streams into inputs or new products.
Introducing renewable sources of energy For example, your business partners with a logistical provider or processor to introduce vehicles and machines that run on renewable energy sources.
Prioritizing human (and labor) rights For example, your business works with informal suppliers and wants to increase their well-being through providing access to (health) insurance, child care and/or safe working practices
Investing in feminist economic justice, women and youth economic empowerment and inclusion For example, your business sets up collaboration with women- or youth-led suppliers and/or distributors in the supply chain to improve their livelihoods and access to markets.
Redistributing benefits fairly and creating fair income and employment opportunities For example, your business partners with a large off-taker and a financial service provider to collaborate to ensure a living income for smallholder suppliers.
Regenerating natural resources and preventing harm to ecological systems and the climate For example, your business partners with agricultural suppliers to introduce regenerative farming practices or practices that prevent deforestation.
Considering the voices, (traditional) knowledge and practices of indigenous and local communities For example, your business partners with a community conserve or re-introduce indigenous practices.
Increasing the climate resilience of affected communities For example, your business partners with suppliers and a financial service provider to invest in new irrigation equipment to make the community more climate resilient.

Oxfam aims to get better insights into the needs of businesses in introducing fair and sustainable practices in their supply chains and inspire investors and policymakers in recognizing the importance and potential of supporting and investing in impact businesses.

Eligibility criteria

To apply, your business needs to meet the following minimum requirements**:

  • The project your business proposes focuses on implementing fair and sustainable business practices in the supply chain in collaboration with supply chain partners (for example, suppliers, financial service providers, off-takers and/or logistic providers).
  • The applicant is a previous or current participant in either i) Oxfam’s SME Development project in Uganda, Kenya or Cambodia; ii) the Work in Progress! project for Egypt, Nigeria, or Somalia (Somaliland); iii) Oxfam’s Empresas que Cambian Vidas (ECV) program in Bolivia.
  • The business is a registered commercial company in Somaliland, Egypt, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Cambodia, and Bolivia 
  • The business meets the requirements of an ‘impact-driven business’: namely: i) the business has ‘impact’ as its mission or key driver; ii) the business resolves a societal issue, not through charity, but through its business model; iii) the entrepreneur has a ‘social heart’, clear motivation and vision on impact.
  • The business is not in any way involved in activities such as arms, tobacco, alcohol, and gambling industries, registered in so-called tax-havens, or involved in environmental or human rights abuses or corruption.
  • Grant funding should be matched with at least 50% of the applicant’s own contribution (cash and/or in-kind).
  • The proposed project can be completed over four months and be finalized during Q4 2023. 

**Additional local requirements can be added per country. Please contact the Oxfam office or the local partner organization in your country for more information.

Competition process

Step 1: Application

Candidates can apply by completing the application form. The application is only complete, in combination with a venture profile on VC4A. If you don’t have a venture profile yet, you will be asked to create this in the first step when clicking on the “Apply” button at the top of the page.

Please download the budget template here, as you will be asked to upload this in your application form. The deadline for applications differs in which country you are applying:

Egypt  24th of April 2023 end of the day (12 midnight CEST).
Uganda, Bolivia 31st of May 2023 end of the day (12 midnight CEST).
Nigeria 7th of June 2023 end of the day (12 midnight CEST).
Somaliland/Somalia 22nd of June 2023 end of the day (12 midnight CEST).
Kenya 31st of July 2023 end of the day (12 midnight CEST).
Cambodia 31st of August 2023 end of the day (12 midnight CEST).
Step 2: Selection

A local jury scores all applications and invites the best-selected applicants to pitch their business and project proposals. Winners will be announced latest on the 1st of July, after which grant contracts will be processed.

Step 3: Implementation

Projects will be implemented until December 2023.

Sustainable Development Goals

We encourage applicants to make use of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) framework to target, define, and assess the impact of their company and proposal. 

Assessment criteria

The following criteria will be taken in consideration when evaluating candidates:

  1. Social / environmental impact (25%): The business has a clear vision and strategy for positive social and/or environmental impact.  It is important that the project has a positive social and environmental impact on the supply /value chains and on the company’s stakeholders (suppliers, clients, employees and communities). This impact is supported by numbers.  
  2. Feasibility and relevance of proposal (25%): The proposed project is described clearly and is relevant in creating a fair and sustainable supply chain. It is clear how the business will collaborate with a supply chain partner to realize the project. It is viable and feasible to implement the project in a short time frame. The budget and own contribution are realistic.
  3. Strength of team / entrepreneur (25%): The team has the qualifications and experience to manage and implement the project successfully. Motivation and ideas are clearly communicated. The team has unquestionable integrity. Having a significant number of women and youth in the team is a plus.
  4. Growth potential and sustainability (25%): The impact business addresses a clear market need with a unique product or service. There is a clear business model and a realistic growth strategy. The financial figures (historic and projections) show good performance and/or potential. The proposed project demonstrates innovation and it is clear how it creates new opportunities and/or addresses a risk or problem for the business. It is clear how the business will sustain the implementation of the project and integrate it in their core operations.

Eligible activities

The following activities are eligible for funding:

  • Business support services (e.g. consultants/experts on scaling, sales, operations, investments, social impact);
  • Investments (machines or equipment needed to scale up);
  • Business development costs (e.g. test or launch new products, market study);
  • Visibility costs (brand design, promotional materials, trade fairs);
  • Scaling of impact (process redesign, sustainable production, fair trade certification).

Non-eligible activities

The following activities are not eligible for funding:

  • Purchasing and rent/leasing of land or buildings/facilities;
  • Bank charges, cost of guarantees, and similar charges;
  • Overhead costs such as office supplies, support staff, management;
  • Value and registration costs of intellectual property rights.