One highlight in the past month has been the launch of the Dalberg book titled 17 Big Bets for a Better World. The book is the amalgamation of contributions by preeminent thinkers on ideas that could impact progress towards the Goals for Sustainable Development that were adopted by the member states of the United Nations General Assembly. The Anzisha Prize team attended the launch reception and was re-energized by the conversation. The focus of the conversation was entrepreneurship, which is big bet number four, written by James Mwangi and Ashish Thakkar, titled Entrepreneurship as an Accelerator. The main recommendations made within that chapter resonate strongly with the efforts of the Anzisha Prize team in our work enabling young entrepreneurs.
Overall, the fourth big bet argues that entrepreneurship is one of the main ways we will reduce the problem of youth unemployment, given the great contribution of small business to employment particularly in emerging economies. This very premise underlies why Anzisha Prize exists, to stimulate and enable youth entrepreneurship for job creation and improved youth livelihood. The book raises a few interesting points as essential catalysts to enable the success of the entrepreneurship ecosystem: Increasing availability of early-stage capital, improving mentorship for young entrepreneurs, developing talent and increasing access for overlooked entrepreneurs. These recommendations align very closely with the design and efforts of the Anzisha Prize.
Increasing availability of early-stage capital: Capital access is a challenge for young entrepreneurs in Africa, with capital largely more available to more established businesses. Capital is not available for businesses that require amounts to the order of a few thousand dollars. The $100,000 prize money that is afforded to young entrepreneurs through the prize serves as an option for businesses that would otherwise go unfunded.
Improving mentorship for young entrepreneurs: Young entrepreneurs from families without means and access to networks of established entrepreneurs usually lack access to good mentorship. Anzisha Prize plugs this gap for supported entrepreneurs by connecting them to established business professionals who they can learn from. The Prize also facilitates short internships for the entrepreneurs in businesses that are more established that are within their sectors, enabling them to leapfrog some of the learning they might otherwise have to do through in lengthy and costly trial and error.
Developing talent: Access to strong pools of talent, both managerial and technical, is a challenge for business across Africa in general. Anzisha Prize focuses on solving this problem by instilling some basic business management skills in the entrepreneurs and supporting them to determine what roles they should carry on doing themselves versus roles they should bring in other people to support them with, or train up existing team members to fill.
Increasing access for overlooked entrepreneurs: Women are one of the groups that are highlighted as receiving limited access to investment and support opportunities in the book. Anzisha Prize aims deliberately to find women through the search process, using events targeted at women and partner organizations that work with young women. Though the numbers of women reached still needs to increase, the entrepreneurs in the Anzisha Prize network achieve strong business outcomes.
Overall, this work by Dalberg is timely as the global community has just committed to a set of deliverables to improve lives. It was an encouraging reaffirmation of the importance of the work that we are like-minded organizations are doing in unlocking the potential for the entrepreneurship ecosystem to improve livelihoods. The challenges raised in achieving these goals are non-trivial. The Anzisha Prize team continues to seek new ways to grow, and partnerships that will catalyze our impact.
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