Diana Mong’are of Kenya and Yaw Duffour-Awuah of Ghana named runners-up in $75,000 prize competition for young entrepreneurs.
On August 29th, 2012, at The Venue in Sandton, Johannesburg, 20 year-old Andrew Mupuya of Uganda was announced as the Grand Prize Winner of the second annual Anzisha Prize (www.anzishaprize.org), the premier award for Africa’s young entrepreneurial leaders. The Awards ceremony celebrated 13 exceptional entrepreneurs, all under the age of 22, selected from 270 youth in 23 countries, and was keynoted by Ashish Thakkar, Founder and Managing Director of the Mara Group, who began building what is now one of the largest companies in Africa at the age of just 15.
The grand prize winners were selected by a panel of well-known judges chaired by Jasandra Nyker, CEO of BioTherm Energy, and including a number of celebrated entrepreneurs from across Africa. The three Grand Prize Winners shared $75,000 USD in prize money with the ten other finalists – money that they will use to take their projects to new heights.
Grand Prize Winner of $30,000 USD: Andrew Mupuya of Uganda, 20. When his parents became unemployed, Andrew struggled to balance his school fees with the need to support his family. In 2008, at the age of 16, Andrew saw a market opportunity in paper bag production, as the Ugandan government considered a possible ban on use of polythene plastic bags. After he had raised his initial seed capital of 36,000 Ugandan shillings ($18), Mupuya started making paper bags at a small scale while still in high school. In 2010, Andrew officially registered his new company, Youth Entrepreneurial Link Investments (YELI). YELI is now the first local registered paper bag and envelope producing company in Uganda. His business has grown to employ 14 people, the eldest of whom is a 53 year-old father of eight. YELI’s customer base includes local hospitals, retail shops, roadside sellers, super markets, and major local flour manufacturer companies like Maganjo grain millers and Akamai Foods. In 2011, YELI was the recipient of a 2.6 million Ugandan shilling ($1,000) ILO business plan competition. YELI has now produced over half a million paper bags in his four years of operation. From his earnings, Andrew is able to pay for his studies toward a bachelor’s degree in commerce at Makerere University, pay salaries for his staff, and support his family in Mbale by opening up a distribution outlet run by his mother. In addition to managing his growing enterprise, Andrew has found time to train over 500 individuals, mostly young people, on how to make paper bags through which 16 other projects have been set up. His personal goal is to employ 60 people by 2015 and set up a paper bag making plant in order to achieve a vision of a cleaner Africa. “The $30,000 grand prize is a great honor for me,” said Andrew. “With this money I plan to expand my production capability and also build a paper recycling operation.”
1st Runner Up, award of $20,000 USD: Diana Mong’are of Kenya, 18. As she and her younger brother played outside, the trash piles in Diana’s community seemed to grow larger and larger with each passing day. Diana wanted to make a change and took the initiative. Diana considered that simply removing the trash once was not a permanent solution. Instead she created a clever sustainable system for keeping her community free of trash and improving the environment. After organizing her neighbors and building consensus around her solution, Diana raised 10,000 Kenyan shillings to purchase the first batch of black and clear plastic bags. She convinced the households in her community to use the bags to separate their trash into biodegradable waste and recyclables. Diana then hired a worker to gather the community recyclables and negotiated their sale to a local recycling company. Proceeds from recycling helped fund regular waste collection in the community. Since February 2012 she has recruited 50 households into the Planet Green program. Not stopping there, Diana implemented a financially sustainable system to collect woodchips and sawdust from the local furniture factory, and rotting vegetables from the market and provide them to local poultry and vegetable farmers. Diana is building a movement by educating local school children on the importance of and methods for community and environmental conservation. At just 18, Diana is well on her way to becoming a leading advocate for environmental conservation and sustainability in Africa.
2nd Runner Up, award $10,000 USD: Yaw Duffour-Awuah, 19. As a high school student, Yaw demonstrated a knack for understanding risk and the fortitude to take on risky ventures. After noticing that several high school classmates were regularly unable to travel home for holidays, Yaw saw an opportunity to create a more sustainable system that would benefit more of his peers. At 16, Yaw launched his company, Apex Loans, to assist his fellow schoolmates. Apex Loans extended loans from capital borrowed by fellow partners and provided its lenders a return through earnings from the interest it charged borrowers. Since then, Apex has been renamed to Student Aid Plus and now has a savings plan, financial literacy sessions led by invited professionals, and almost a hundred student volunteers. Student Aid Plus also has 55 shareholders that receive dividends. Its loan default rate is 0% due to an impressive system that relies upon adult guarantors. Yaw’s goals are to continue to grow the business horizontally into other schools that might benefit from their services and also to expand vertically by offering more student services. Yaw’s team ultimately aims to launch a business he calls the African Business Capital fund, whose focus will be financing promising startup business ventures across Africa.
The Grand Prize winners along with the other ten Anzisha Prize finalists won an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa to participate in a week-long entrepreneurship workshop at the African Leadership Academy campus in South Africa. Each finalist also received $1,000 and a $500 technology prize to help grow their business. African Leadership Academy’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership will continue to support all of the Anzisha Prize finalists – now officially called the 2012 Anzisha Prize Fellows – to help them continue to positively impact the continent.