Anzisha Prize offers a million to African entrepreneurs

Over a million rand is up for grabs to winners of the Anzisha Prize. Weeklong training in Johannesburg is planned for the 12 young African entrepreneurs, who range in age from 18 to 22, shortlisted for the prize before the awards ceremony. Training includes entrepreneurial leadership, mentorship and a significant transfer of skills.

 Mabel_Suglo_main Mabel Suglo, a 21-year-old Ghanaian, is one of the 12 finalists for the Anzisha Prize, to be handed out on 17 November 2015. Her business makes shoes from discarded tyres. All her employees are disabled people. (Image: Screengrab via YouTube)

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Melissa Javan

Some 12 young entrepreneurs from nine African countries will participate in a training workshop between 10 and 18 November at the African Leadership Academy (ALA) in Johannesburg – and also stand a chance to win the Anzisha Prize of $75 000 (about R1.033-million).

The winners of the Anzisha Prize will be announced on 17 November. This event will coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), which is held to celebrate entrepreneurship. During one week each November, GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators, reads the GEW website.

“These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors – introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities.”

About the Anzisha Prize

The prize pilot was run as the African Leadership Innovation Prize in 2010. Its aim was to recognise innovative youth in Africa. Following its success, the Anzisha Prize was established in 2011 to recognise entrepreneurship and community impact by African youth.

 Grace_Kalisha_article Grace Kalisha is the senior programme manager of the African Leadership Academy and the manager of the Anzisha Prize. (Image: African Leadership Academy)

This would be the fifth year that the Anzisha Prize awards was held by the ALA, said Grace Kalisha, the senior programmes manager of the ALA and the manager of the Anzisha Prize. “The Anzisha Prize awards are beneficial to Africa, because [they raise] the profile of African youth entrepreneurs as role models for other youth.

“We are propagating an African dialogue around truly African-relevant models of entrepreneurship in sectors that are relevant for Africa. We see youth entrepreneurship as an essential part of improving livelihoods for youth,” she added.

This year’s awards would be different. “We will be inviting fellows from our past cohorts to join in the awards ceremony and [to] speak on a panel to elucidate their journey, lessons and successes so far.”

Watch the introduction of the Anzisha Prize:

Watch Thato Kgatlhanye, a fellow of 2014, talk about how entrepreneurship changed her life:

The finalists

The 12 finalists – who range in age from 18 to 22 – were selected in September for the Anzisha Prize. According to a press release from the organisers, the selection process was rigorous: there were almost 500 applicants, of whom 77 were shortlisted for phone interviews; 23 were then prioritised for site visits. The final 12 now stand a chance to win a share of $75 000. The grand prize winner will take home $25 000.

Watch the 12 finalists explain their projects:

The finalists are invited on an all-expenses paid entrepreneurial leadership training and coaching programme, held at the ALA in Johannesburg. During the training week the Anzisha finalists learn more about entrepreneurial leadership, receive mentorship and a significant transfer of skills that will ultimately benefit the growth of their venture. “We provide them with access to business leaders as mentors, expose them to a strong curriculum and enable them to engage with each other to build lasting relationships,” said Kalisha.

A panel of five experienced professionals from the business and social sectors, who represent a holistic view of contributors to the dialogue around youth entrepreneurship in Africa, will judge the finalists.

Kalisha said the five judges would make their decision on the winners during the week. “There is a presentation and deliberation session to be held on 16 November, during which they make the decision. The actual announcement is made at the awards gala on 17 November.”

The finalists and their businesses, in no specific order, are:

Daniel Mukisa, 21, Uganda – motorbike delivery service in Kampala;

Chantal Butare, 21, Rwanda – dairy co-operative that empowers female survivors of genocide;

Blessing Fortune Kwomo, 20, Nigeria – health care solution for low-income families;

Karidas Tshintsholo, 20, South Africa – clothing brand making a difference;

Fabrice Alomo, 22, Cameroon – empowering local merchants;

Hidaya Ibrahim, 22, Ethiopia – improving the local education system;

Chris Kwekowe, 22, Nigeria – e-learning and skills development;

George Mtemahanji, 22, Tanzania – lighting up rural areas with solar energy;

Mabel Suglo, 21, Ghana – making shoes from discarded tyres;

Vanessa Zommi, 19, Cameroon – processing tea to treat diabetes;

Farai Munjoma, 18, Zimbabwe – accessing courseware content, past exams and career guidance; and,

Sirjeff Dennis, 21, Tanzania – community development through poultry farming.