Fifteen young African entrepreneurs have emerged as finalists from a field of more than 800 applicants for the seventh annual Anzisha Prize, Africa’s premier award for her youngest entrepreneurs. Supported by African Leadership Academy (ALA) in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, the Anzisha Prize celebrates and cultivates the next generation of young African entrepreneurial leaders who are creating job opportunities, solving local development problems and driving economies. Selected from 14 countries, nearly half of all candidates are young women representing sectors as diverse as clean energy, agriculture, waste recycling and youth empowerment. For the first time, candidates from Angola, Liberia, Mauritius, and Sudan entered the competition.
“We are excited by the number of young women finalists and thrilled that the prize is contributing to their economic empowerment,” Anzisha Prize Associate Melissa Mbazo said. “The success of these women-led businesses will be accelerated by access to Anzisha’s financial and mentorship support.”
Among these young innovators is 21-year-old South African Maemu Lambani, the young owner of a Fearless Trendz, a digital marketing agency in Limpopo whose aim is to transform growing businesses into global brands and give them a platform to compete with their national, richer and older counterparts through social media. Other entrepreneurs include Liberian Satta Wahab, founder of Naz Naturals, a cosmetics company that creates organic hair care products that empower young girls and women to feel beautiful and confident with their natural hair and Thowiba Alhaj, the founder of Work Jump-Up Sudan, an organisation empowering university students by linking them to job opportunities.
“The calibre and diversity of the young men and women competing for this year’s Anzisha Prize is impressive and improves each year,” said Koffi Assouan, Program Manager, Youth Livelihoods at the Mastercard Foundation. “As the pool of Anzisha fellows continues to grow, so too does their impact and influence on local communities and economies.”
Maemu will fly to Johannesburg to attend a 10-day entrepreneurial leadership boot camp where they will be coached on how to pitch his business to a panel of judges for a share of US$100,000 worth of prizes and support. The grand prize winner will receive US$25,000, while the runners-up and third place winners will receive US$15,000 and US$12,500, respectively. The remainder of the prize will be divided among outstanding finalists, including a $10,000 agricultural prize funded by Louis Dreyfus Foundation, as well as four $5,000 challenge prizes to bolster initiatives led by past Anzisha Prize finalists. All other finalists will each receive $2,500 prizes.
Maemu will also benefit from ALA’s Youth Entrepreneur Support Unit (YES-U), which provides consulting and training support to Anzisha finalists. This includes the Anzisha Accelerator boot camp, mentorship and consulting services, travel opportunities to network, and business equipment, valued at US$7,500.
As finalists, Maemu will be evaluated by a panel of five experienced judges who have contributed to building youth entrepreneurship in Africa, such as Wendy Luhabe, a pioneering social entrepreneur and economic activist. Laureates will be announced during an inspiring gala evening on October 24, which will include a keynote address from serial entrepreneur Fred Swaniker, founder of both the African Leadership Academy and African Leadership University.
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