Africa’s young entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22 have just two more days to apply for the 2016 Anzisha Prize before applications close on 30 April. After that a team of judges will carefully make their way through applications to select 12 finalists who will each take home a share of US$100,000.
While the Prize has already received well over 500 applicants, only around 5% of these are from entrepreneurs in North Africa – mainly Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. To encourage more applicants to apply from this region during this final push for applications, the Anzisha Prize has decided to profile some of these entrepreneurs below.
If you are doing something similar, or know of a young entrepreneur who is, then don’t forget to nominate or apply for the Anzisha Prize before applications close. Entries are accepted in English, Arabic, French and Portuguese.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Finalists for the Anzisha Prize have not been announced. The entrepreneurs profiled below have been selected randomly, and are not necessarily winners.
Online shopping in Morocco
Aya Blidi (17) is an economics and management student in Casablanca who co-founded Han Shop last year when she and two friends noticed an opportunity to import quality products and resell at a profit. The company retails a variety of different items, such as Manga t-shirts, posters and even Korean food.
Products are marketed and sold on various Facebook groups, and the team delivers directly to customers. As online payments can sometimes be a challenge, Blidi and her team also allow cash-payments on delivery.
One key challenge has been stock management, as at times inventory sells out so fast that the team has to wait weeks for new stock to arrive before they can start trading again. The founders are now working on improving their cash-flow management to prevent this from happening again.
Looking forward, Blidi wants to also set up a brick and mortar shop in Casablanca, as online shopping is still in its infancy and she believes she will be able to gain a greater market share with a physical retail presence.
“Currently my co-founders and I are focusing on getting more investment so we can open our shop. These investments will help us grow and grant us more consumers,” she explained.
“And in the next five years I would like to see myself opening another shop in Morocco’s capital Rabat, after the first one has been a success.”
You can visit Blidi’s business here.
Delivery service for start-ups in Egypt
Mohaned Darwish (20) is the founder of Cheap-Shippy, a Cairo-based company launched at the end of last year that offers reliable and affordable product delivery solutions for start-ups looking to reduce costs. At the moment the business uses bicycles to deliver goods.
While the business is earning revenue and already has three employees, Darwish said it has been difficult breaking into the market as there is a considerable level of distrust that surrounds young entrepreneurs.
“Our society is not used to see young people run businesses so they don’t trust us as much as others. But we are managing to overcome this obstacle by sharing our vision and taking small orders to gain trust and expand in the market.”
After Darwish has consolidated his business in Cairo, he hopes to expand to other cities in Egypt.
Budding game developer studio in Tunisia
Tunisian Mohamed Aziz Khedhiri (17) is one of the founders of Evolution Game Studio, a digital company that develops video games, computer programmes, as well as designs logos and graphics for brands. The studio was started in 2013 and is currently working on a horror-themed computer game called Unnamed Soul.
Khedhiri is a graphic designer who says he has learnt a lot from dealing with clients and leading a new business.
“I feel I have changed for the best since we started our company,” he explained. “I have learnt the meaning of leadership and how to lead a business.”
So far the studio has been self-funded by its members, but Khedhiri hopes to source capital to invest in game and software licensing. He also wants to see the business rise to one of the top gaming studios on the continent in an industry that is still relatively young in Africa.