The African Leadership Academy, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, has announced the finalists for the sixth annual Anzisha Prize, which aims to recognize and reward Africa’s top young entrepreneurs.
This year's 12 finalists were picked from an applicant pool of 550 entrepreneurs from 32 African countries, and they are competing for a share of US$100,000 in cash prizes. The finalists will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Johannesburg for a rigorous two-week business accelerator camp beginning on 13th October, and the grand prize-winner will be announced at an exclusive gala event on 25 October, 2016.
The Anzisha Prize aims to recognize outstanding youth entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22, particularly those with innovative, people-centred solutions across Africa. This year's applicants included entries from Northern African markets such as Morocco and Egypt, and Francophone countries such as Madagascar and Niger for the first time.
The increased reach is made possible by a partner network of youth development organisations that are showcasing the work of previously uncelebrated youth as agents of change across Africa.
"The momentum behind the Anzisha Prize has grown and we are starting to see a real impact," said Koffi Assouan, Program Manager for Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation. “Anzisha Fellows are forming a strong, African network of young business innovators that transcends their individual sectors and geographical areas. They are learning from each other, growing their ventures and advancing the spirit of social entrepreneurship.”
In addition to winning a share of the prize money, the finalists are given access to Anzisha Prize Youth Entrepreneur Support Unit services, which include business support, implementation of projects to grow their businesses, access to business subject matter experts and access to numerous networking opportunities.
"The tide is turning around the youth entrepreneurship narrative in Africa," Anzisha Prize Senior Programs Manager Grace Kalisha said, “There has been an extraordinary rise of Africa-bred entrepreneurs in the continent and their stories are being told. We are pleased that such an impressive group of entrepreneurs will participate in the Anzisha Prize this year. This is a promise of great things to come for African entrepreneurship.”
Some of the innovations seen among the applicants and finalists for the 2016 Anzisha Prize are in value chains within the agriculture sector, which is gaining in prominence among youth. 2016 Anzisha Fellows N'guessan Olivier and Heritiana Randriamananatahina are looking to improve efficiency in food processing, while Benedict Ampofo empowers smallholder farmers and rural youth with requisite skills in agriculture. These forward-thinking entrepreneurs herald an era in which Africa’s youth are driving job creation for other youth.
The 2016 finalists for the Anzisha Prize are:
Aly Abd ElAzem, 20, Egypt. Co-founder of Teens Club, a city youth hub providing teenagers with a platform for professional self-development by linking them to experts, improving their skillsets, and providing a safe space for the expression of opinions and talents. 30,000 youth applied to participate in the program in 2015 alone.
Issam Darui, 22, Morocco. Founder of Lagare.ma, the first electronic bus station in Morocco, available in 10 languages and accepting 25 currencies, established to provide efficient travel services to over 150 destinations in the country.
Benedict Kusi Ampofo, 22, Ghana. Founder of Project KIRIKU, a demonstration farm aiming to create sustainable agricultural communities by providing over 60 farmers with skills, knowledge and agricultural innovations.
Geoffrey Mulei, 20, Kenya. Founder of INKISHA, which aims to increase access to eco-friendly packaging among African consumers by partnering with advertisers and innovative brands to provide around 350,000 free bags to shoppers monthly, supported by an innovative revenue model.
Heritiana Fabien Randriamananatahina, 22, Madagascar. Founder of FIOMBONANA, an agro-processing initiative that aims to substitute Madagascar's imports with local alternatives, especially dairy products and confectioneries sourced from local farmers.
Faustino Quissico, 22, Mozambique. Founder of TQ Group and Services, which supplies, installs and maintains hardwood floors.
Asha Abbas, 17, Tanzania. Founder of Aurateen, a platform providing teenage health and sex education services online, and working with medical practitioners and youth experts to offer counselling services both online and in-person.
Andrew Ddembe, 20, Uganda. Serial entrepreneur, and Founder of Heart for the Hurt, a diversified business supplying school uniforms, restaurant services and growing coffee, employing around 30 persons with speech difficulties.
To meet the finalists and hear more about their ventures, you can live-stream the full event here.
Cover Image: Anzisha Prize 2015 finalists