Heritiaina Randriamananatahina, a 22-year-old agriculture entrepreneur from Madagascar, has won this year's Anzisha Prize for recognizing Youth Entrepreneurship. Currently in its sixth year, the prize is awarded by the African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation, and it comes with a $25,000 Grand Prize.

Heritiaina is the founder of Fiombonana, an agro-processing enterprise that manufactures dairy products and confectioneries using raw materials sourced in Madagascar. The business employs farmers and providing local job opportunities.

Heritiaina was selected from a competitive pool of diverse young entrepreneurs from all over Africa, and is the first winner from Madagascar, in line with the prize’s aim to create a truly pan-African network of entrepreneurs.

This year, the Anzisha Prize saw an increased representation of entrants from Francophone countries. The first runner-up was environmental entrepreneur Yaye Souadou Fall, 21, from Senegal, who will receive $15,000, and the second runner up was agricultural entrepreneur N’guessan Koffi Jacques Olivier, 19, from Cote d’Ivoire, who will receive $12,500).
The Agriculture sector saw the largest share of applicants for the prize this year, with two agriculture entrepreneurs in the top three, a sign of just how important agriculture is in Africa’s economies.

The Agriculture Sector Prize was also claimed by N’guessan Koffi Jacques Olivier, who demonstrated the potential for agriculture to create jobs for youth.

As the grand prize winner, Heritiaina impressed a pan-African panel of judges with his venture response to a real need within his community, effective business model, job-creation potential, scalability, and demonstrated leadership potential. Fiombonana has enjoyed significant success to date including sizeable growth, producing 800kg of cheese a week, with potential for rapid and low cost expansion due to innovations such as reverse-engineering machinery for food processing.

I am so excited to win the Anzisha Prize for 2016, even though I had to drop out of school when I was in grade six. My hard work in my business is paying off, and I appreciate the training I have already received so far. Now that I have won, I will invest in my own education and grow my business Heritiaina Randriamananatahina

The first runner up for the prize, Yaye Souadou from Senegal and founder of E-cover, is also the first Senegalese entrepreneur ever in the top three in the history of Anzisha Prize. The core need the venture meets is to repurpose the many discarded tyres that are available in her home city, Dakar, into multi-purpose tiles for paving playgrounds, pavements, roads, and other surfaces. Yaye believes that youth can be agents of change to solve the problems that Africa faces and can drive pursuit of opportunities for economic growth. She is looking to build the production capacity that her venture needs in order to meet customer demand.

Second runner-up N’guessan Koffi Jacques Olivier from Cote d’Ivoire is the founder of Yaletite Entrepreneurship Group CI. Yaletite Entrepreneurship Group CI is an agricultural group with the aim of producing and selling chocolate and food crops for profit and mobilizing youth for agricultural employment. It is unique for the manner in which Koffi operates his farm, through modern methods to ensure maximum yields during processing. Koffi has employed 35 people through this venture, improving the livelihoods for over 100 households through access to innovative farming practices.

The Anzisha Prize in Agriculture was offered for a second year this year, and is sponsored by the Louis Dreyfus Foundation. The Foundation promotes projects in sustainable agriculture, food security and self-sufficiency, particularly through education and direct support to farmers. The Louis Dreyfus Foundation Award for Entrepreneurship in Agriculture aims to recognize young African entrepreneurs who are making a sustainable impact in the agriculture sector.

All the finalists will take part in a support program supported by the MasterCard Foundation. “Joining the ranks of the Anzisha Fellows, this impressive group of young men and women are igniting the entrepreneurial spark in young people across Africa”, said Koffi Assouan, Program Manager for Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation. “This ripple, the Anzisha Effect, has the power to transform the continent as these young entrepreneurs rise to become the next generation of African movers and shakers.”

“The entrepreneurs really represent the true cream of the crop from the entire continent”, says Grace Kalisha, Program Manager for the Anzisha Prize. “The Prize is truly inclusive and pan-African. It is run in a multi-lingual learning environment in which entrepreneurs can learn regardless of their preferred language of instruction such as Arabic, French, Portuguese, and even Malagasy this year.”

The 12 Anzisha Prize finalists were handpicked from an applicant pool of 550 entrepreneurs from 32 African countries. The 12 finalists presented their ventures to a panel of judges after spending ten days in a business accelerator camp to strengthen business fundamentals. They join a now 67 strong pool of Anzisha Fellows and will receive ongoing business-consulting support, access to experts, and access to networking opportunities to enable sustainable venture growth.

Applications for the next cycle of the Anzisha Prize will open on 15 February in 2017. Nominations for promising youth entrepreneurs are accepted all year round.

Cover Image: 2016 Grand Prize Winner Heritiaina Randriamananatahina (Courtesy of The Anzisha Prize)

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