Westerwelle Young Founders Programme – Spring 2018

The Westerwelle Young Founders Programme is a fully funded year-long programme for 25 exceptional entrepreneurs from developing and emerging economies. As part of the programme, the Westerwelle Foundation hosts an annual conference in Berlin: the Young Founders Conference. Its focus is to connect young founders from developing and emerging economies with each other and with the German startup scene.

The participants of the Young Founders Conference will have the unique opportunity to meet and interact with successful entrepreneurs, investors and political decision makers. They will also join a network of like-minded outstanding young founders from developing and emerging economies.

Register here to be notified immediately when the next Call for Applications opens.


Our offers:

During the year-long programme, all fellows will get access to:

  • The Young Founders Conference in Berlin, Germany; 10 – 14 April 2018
  • A mentoring programme: monthly mentoring calls with an experienced entrepreneur and with the group of Westerwelle Young Founders
  • Invitations and scholarships for entrepreneurship conferences
  • An international alumni network

Timeline of the Westerwelle Young Founders Programme

10 – 14 April 2018: Young Founders Conference in Berlin, Germany

April 2018 – March 2019: Personal mentoring, peer mentoring (remotely)

Travel and accommodation for the Young Founders Conference will be covered by the Westerwelle Foundation. All fellows are expected to actively participate in the Young Founders Conference as well as in the scheduled mentoring calls.



Our fellows

Meet the Westerwelle Young Founders 2017 here.

Our requirements

  • Have recently (in the last 5 years) started a for-profit company with a scalable business model
  • Be based in a developing or emerging country or have a strong business focus on developing and emerging economies
  • Possess a good working knowledge of English

Please note that foreign applicants must possess valid travel documents (including a visa, if necessary) to enter Germany, and valid travel medical insurance.


Application Process Overview

  1. Online application (Deadline: 18 December 2017, 10 AM CET)
  2. Notification of application status to all candidates (10 January 2018)
  3. Skype interviews with shortlisted candidates (11 January – 9 February 2018)
  4. Jury decision and final selection of candidates (14 February 2018)
  5. Notification of application results to shortlisted candidates (15 February 2018)


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who is considered a Young Founder? Do I have to be of a certain age?
To us, a Young Founder refers to an individual who had started his or her own company within the last five years. Although there is no fixed age limit, the entrepreneurs in our programme are typically between 20 and 35 years old.

Do I have to be an entrepreneur to participate?
Generally, yes. The goal of the Young Founders Programme is to support young entrepreneurs. If you work in a closely-related field (such as an incubator, accelerator, VC fund, etc.), we encourage you to apply nonetheless as the exchange with entrepreneurs can be beneficial for both sides. Please note that the mentoring programme, however, will only be available for entrepreneurs.

I am the founder of a non-profit organization. Am I eligible for the programme?
No, only founders of for-profit companies can be considered.

Will I have to pay to participate in the Young Founders Programme?
The Westerwelle Foundation will cover the costs of your flight, accommodation and food during the Young Founders Conference in Berlin, 10 – 14 April 2018. Additional costs for health travel insurance, visa and personal expenses have to be borne by the participants. Activities during the year such as mentoring via Skype and other online coaching activities are free of charge. On top of this, there is the possibility of applying for further scholarships awarded by the Westerwelle Foundation to attend entrepreneurship conferences worldwide.

How do you select the participants?
We screen all applications and invite shortlisted candidates for a Skype interview. Based on the results of both the written applications and Skype interviews, our jury then selects the candidates who will get to participate in the Westerwelle Young Founders Programme.