Uganda’s Best Aiyorworth takes the grand prize!

Uganda’s Best Aiyorworth has been named the Grand Prize Winner of the Anzisha Prize, Africa’s foremost youth entrepreneurship award.

Her fellow countryman Titus Mawano was the first-runner up while Domitila Silayo of Tanzania was named as the second runner-up of this prestigious competition.

The three shared $75,000 USD in prize money with the nine other finalists – money they will use to take their projects to new heights. Aiyorworth received $25,000 USD; Mawano $15,000 USD and Silayo $12,500 USD. They also received networking and learning opportunities, provided through a partnership between the African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation.

A $10 000 USD Energy Award, made possible thanks to the Donor Circle for Africa, went to Rwanda’s Joie Laurent Sangwa.

The awards ceremony celebrated 12 exceptional entrepreneurs, all under the age of 23, selected from nearly 400 young people in 32 countries.

Nigeria’s Tunde Kehinde was the keynote speaker at the Anzisha Prize ceremony which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kehinde, who has an MBA from Harvard Business School, is the co-founder of Jumia, Nigeria’s No 1 online retailer which now employs more than 500 people and has created the largest retail warehousing in West Africa. It has attracted global foreign investment.

Twenty-one- year old Best Aiyorworth started the Girls’ Power Micro Lending Organisation that supports girls by helping their mothers. They give women starting capital or money to boost their existing businesses so that they are able to support their daughters with school fees and scholastic materials and ensure that they get an education. Aiyorworth has empowered more than 400 women since starting her enterprise.

Titus Mawano (22) wanted to get African businesses “in the cloud” and launched Ffene, a one-stop shop for a SMME’s accounting, customer and inventory management needs. With more than 400 current customers in the first six months of operation, Ffene is well on its way to revolutionising how SMMEs do business in Uganda.

Domitila Silayo (21) saw the potential of using the jathropa plant for cosmetic and medicinal uses. She began research on how to produce a soap made from the herbal plant that could heal a variety of skin problems including ringworm and dandruff. Jathropa Soap Production has gone on to help thousands of people in Tanzania fight off skin problems while turning a healthy profit and creating employment.

Nineteen-year-old Joie Laurent Sangwa from Burera in Rwanda realised that her community needed cheap and renewable energy resources. Working with a team, she discovered that human waste is a good source of energy and worked to install domestic biogas units throughout her home region. This offers a cheap, alternative energy source while helping with the environment.

Says Chi Achebe, Anzisha Prize Programme Manager: “We were delighted with the high calibre of this year’s finalists and it was a tough job for the judges to choose the top three. We believe that all 12 will be growing their businesses and actively making a difference on the African continent.”

“Every year, the Anzisha finalists remind us of the powerful role young people can play in their communities,” said Meredith Lee, Youth Learning Programme Manager at The MasterCard Foundation. “It is impressive to see the initiative and range of businesses of the 2013 finalists. Our hope is that the Anzisha Prize process will inspire them to grow their businesses further and pursue their bold visions.”

Now in its third year, the Anzisha Prize, celebrates the initiative and innovation of youth in Africa. It identifies exceptional young entrepreneurs who are leading by example and underscores their ability to significantly shape the future of the continent.

The word ‘Anzisha’ is taken from Swahili and translates into ‘initiative’ and is a project that is gaining significant momentum in African business circles as its impact is beginning to be felt.