Africa’s youngest entrepreneurs have one more week to apply for the Anzisha Prize, the continent’s premier award for entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22 years who have started and are actively running innovative social ventures or for-profit businesses with potential.
Applications will be accepted till April 1.
Why apply for the Anzisha Prize?
In addition to over US$75,000 in cash prizes up for grabs, 12 finalists will win an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa to be a part of a week-long entrepreneurship workshop and conference at the prestigious African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg.
All past finalists of the Anzisha Prize have also benefited from media exposure, mentorship, access to business networks, and/or funding.
According to David Morfaw, founder of Poult-Vault in Cameroon, being a finalist of the 2013 Anzisha Prize has opened numerous doors for him.
“First of all, I have gotten to know many amazing people… Through this award I have had a higher level of media coverage and recognition both nationally and internationally which has opened many other business opportunities for me in my home country and beyond,” he added. “Being a finalist has made me revalue myself, knowing that I have a lot to contribute socially and economically in the lives of persons and communities.”
Last year, Best Ayiorwoth, founder of Girls Power Micro-Lending Organisation in Uganda, was the Anzisha Prize’s first place winner and recipient of $25,000. With less than a quarter of the money, she has already managed to scale up her business operations four-fold.
“Winning the Anzisha Prize helped broaden my organisation’s structure. It also helped advertise the organisation,” she added. “For example, it became the focus of the Ugandan media and that made people know about it. It also created a lot of networking for me so that I am able to get different kinds of help from different people, from different departments.”
Who should apply?
The Anzisha Prize judging panel is looking for ventures that demonstrate ingenuity, scale and positive impact in their communities. Each year, professionals from various industries are invited to judge the Anzisha Prize. They are chosen for their expertise, success, diversity and the willingness to share their knowledge.
According to Pip Wheaton, founder of enke: Make your Mark and a past judge of the prize, she looks for three things in an entrepreneur.
“[Firstly] a passion for whatever issue they’ve chosen. There is no issue that is more important than the other. If the entrepreneur is passionate, they will want to understand their market inside out. [Secondly] the ability to be realistic. Rather than pursuing 17 things at once, they should understand that their core business is x and understand that if their product has been done before, they need to use a different approach. [Thirdly] the ability to iterate and the ability to ask key questions to test their business/ product accordingly. They should research answers and improve as they test it over time and make changes. They have to be humble enough to take feedback and use it,” she explained.
Gossy Ukanwoke, another Anzisha Prize judge and the founder of the Beni American University in Nigeria, said he is looking for a young entrepreneur who “creatively solves old or new problems, is ready to hold on and withstand any challenges ahead and has a clear understanding of how they want to get to their goal”.
How to apply?
The application process is now underway for the 2014 Anzisha Prize and applications will be accepted until April 1 in English, French or Arabic.
This year, the Anzisha Prize has partnered with a group of youth NGOs across Africa to extend its reach. Anzisha country partners for 2014 include The Knowledge Institute (Swaziland), The District (Egypt), iEARN (Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Mali), AIESEC (various countries) and Junior Achievement (various countries), among many others. These partners will allow Anzisha to reach more young entrepreneurs than before and find another incredible set of fellows in 2014.
According to Gonjetso Chinyama, founder of Pakwathu.com in Malawi and a finalist of last year’s Anzisha Prize, young entrepreneurs should make sure they highlight how their business is making an impact in their community in their prize application.
“My advice for young entrepreneurs applying this year is to figure out what impact their enterprises are making and how they can best communicate this impact. This, as well as demonstrating their leadership skills in their community, will get them noticed.”
Temitayo Olufuwa, another 2013 Anzisha finalist and founder of Jobs in Nigeria, said he believes his application was noticed because he could demonstrate business traction.
“Others can make their application stand out by being honest when answering the questions and showing how viable their business model is,” he added. “For young people applying this year, my advice to them is that they should believe in themselves and they should explain their project as clearly as possible.”
Credit: How we made it in Africa