Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs Take on Bold Challenges


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For the past 7 years, the Anzisha Prize has reviewed thousands of business ventures in order to find the top entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 to 22  across the continent. These very young entrepreneurs operate in well over  20 industries at a time with a wide range of business models .There is one thing that most of the successful ventures have in common-they care deeply about solving for challenges that Africa faces whilst not neglecting financial sustainability.

Naturally, Anzisha fellow ventures have also consistently demonstrated this boldness in the challenges they solve for. We have illustrated  a sample of 46 fellow ventures on an Anzisha Startup Idea Matrix .This matrix is inspired by Eric Stromberg’s Startup Idea matrix, which is a tool to help founders generate new business ideas by examining the tactics that existing startups have used to deliver unique value in their industries. The vertical axis shows the industries in which these ventures operate, and the horizontal axis shows the specific tactic used to deliver unique value in their markets. Although a startup may use more than one tactic, the matrix highlights a major tactical choice evident in the business. 

The Startup Idea Matrix can also reveal general patterns and trends in the startup ecosystem, the Anzisha Fellow ecosystem is no different. However, unlike the highly diverse patterns one might expect in a more general startup matrix, there seems to be a few patterns that differentiate fellow ventures. From an analysis of a sample of fellow ventures, three major patterns emerge :

  1. Young entrepreneurs see their role as one of serving others: they care deeply about social impact and justice by improving access to basic goods and services in their communities
  2. Young entrepreneurs in Africa tend to find ways of innovating by improving existing products and services with extremely limited resources
  3. Young entrepreneurs are mostly innovating in education, agriculture and energy-some of the top challenges facing Africa today.

The entrepreneur who serves others

There are several ways in which young entrepreneurs in our pool have demonstrated their commitment to social impact:

One of our 2017 finalists, Maemu Lambani, who runs a digital marketing agency called Fearless Trendz, deliberately decided  to service small business owners in predominantly rural Limpopo in South Africa. She delivers unique value in professional services by targeting an underserved segment of the market.  George Bakka, a 2011 Anzisha fellow owns the largest privately owned business center in Kampala , Uganda. This center could have been arguably used to generate a lot more revenue by focusing on higher paying clients, yet Angels Initiative runs an incubator whose primary mission is to assist young people lift themselves out of poverty by pursuing entrepreneurial ventures.

Another group of entrepreneurs are guided by a need to celebrate local culture, art  and music by promoting opening up wider markets for local talent. Three fellow ventures on the matrix are examples of this  Morroccan Boucharouette Eco Creations revives the art of Boucharouette weaving through making carpets and other products,  and deliberately employs local women. Phush’Ismokol- a South African clothing brand celebrates the townships of South Africa with their unique Identity. Vicente News Company , the 3rd  most visited website in Angola in 2015 has at its heart the promotion of African music to a wide range  of audiences.

Innovating around extremely limited resources

There is a general tendency to believe that innovation required limitless resources. Our African young entrepreneurs prove to us that despite limited financial,social and natural resources- solutions should be found. One of the patterns that here is a move from trying to secure more of the limited resources we lack, to finding suitable substitutes and alternatives. Headboy Industries, founded and led by 2011 Anzisha Fellow,Ludwick Marishane is one example. Ludwick created DryBath, which is a bath substituting lotion that enables people in crisis situations or with high water scarcity to remain hygienic.  

Solving for Africa’s great challenges of food sustainability, education and energy.

Solving for the great challenge of energy is no longer the domain of large global conglomerates- our young entrepreneurs show.Gas Gassy, Angaza Technologies & Sun Sweet Solar are some of the ventures highlighted here- solving for energy crises in different, yet environmentally responsible methods. The Founder of SunSweet Solar, George Mtemahanji, founded a photovoltaic company that imports solar energy solutions and materials from Europe. The company built the largest photovoltaic plant in the region at a school in Ifakara.

A  significant number  of young entrepreneurs are tackling the food sustainability challenge  in 2017, fellow founded ventures such as  Volailles D’Or in Ivory Coast & Jessan Kumar’s Aquaculture Project in Mauritius  join other young entrepreneurs in this mission. The Africa Rabbit Center, founded by Laetitia Victoria Mukungu from Kenya is  a cooperative organization that raises and sells rabbits, their fur, and their waste products profitably in order to help local women pay for their children’s’ educational needs. In 2013, she  opened a school in her hometown that educates over 200 young children.

BizKids- a gamified financial literacy business, founded and run by 15 year old Victoria Akinfolarin from Nigeria- delivers value by creating a highly customized product to appeal to the interests of her young target market. Sasha Network in Zimbabwe & PrepClass in Nigeria provide study assistance to students in their respective home countries to help them perform better. Kenyan Martha Chumo, a self taught developer founded Nairobi Developer Schools,  which works to provide youth with the necessary computer programming knowledge and skills to build sustainable solutions using technology.

The message is simple. Young entrepreneurs in Africa are challenging all of us to embed social responsibility and impact right into the logic of the business, to find creative ways of solving for great challenges with extremely limited resources, and overall to think of the practice of entrepreneurship as a social, and not an entirely personal endeavor.

We invite you to explore the Anzisha Startup Idea Matrix further and learn more about each of the profiled businesses. To find out how you can partner with the Anzisha Prize to support young entrepreneurs such as our fellows and more, email