ANZISHA PRIZE ANNOUNCES TOP TWENTY VERY YOUNG AFRICAN ENTREPRENEURS

[PHOTO - COURTESY]
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The Anzisha Prize has revealed its top twenty finalists for 2020. The winners will be announced at this year’s Anzisha Prize Conference in October, where the programme will be celebrating ten years of supporting very young entrepreneurs.

This year’s application season saw a record number of one thousand two hundred applicants vying for a chance to join the Anzisha Prize fellowship. From these applications, twenty businesses emerged that were forty-five percent female-owned. They represented sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and education. Young entrepreneurs from Morocco, South Africa and Tanzania displayed impressive ventures that are tackling critical issues within their communities while also turning a profit. Through their businesses and entrepreneurial leadership skills, these job starters are paving a way for other young Africans to pursue entrepreneurship.

Selected as a top twenty finalist is twenty one year-old Alaa Moatamed who is the co-founder of Presto, a company she describes as one of the leading delivery management platforms in Egypt. The venture provides business owners with an affordable and convenient delivery service for their customers. Joining Alaa is twenty -year-old Benjamin Mushayija Gisa from Rwanda who manufactures and packages natural organic products for consumption and for cosmetic purposes in the form of lotions and coconut soap.

“2020 has seen a global shift in the future of work. This year’s applicants have personified the resilience and innovation that Africa needs as we navigate our way into a post-Covid-19 future,” says Melissa Mbazo-Ekepenyong, deputy director of the Anzisha Prize.

For the past decade, the Anzisha Prize, which is a partnership between African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation, has championed and supported very young African entrepreneurs such as Alaa and Benjamin. The programme has supported one hundred and twenty two entrepreneurs. Seventy seven of those businesses have created over two thousand  jobs, with fifty six per cent  of them  being employment provided for young Africans aged under twenty five years.

Peter Materu, chief programme  officer, Mastercard Foundation says : “The success of the Anzisha Prize over the last decade stands as a resounding testament to the creativity and entrepreneurial potential of Africa’s very young people—a hugely under-tapped resource. Through Anzisha, we are reminded of what they can achieve when challenged and enabled to own and solve the problems they see around them. Now, as ever, the innovations that have emerged through the Anzisha Prize inspire and renew our faith in and commitment to their promise.”

This year, the top twenty will gather virtually from their various countries to share knowledge and learn from expert coaches and mentors as they prepare for their final pitches to a panel of external judges. All the entrepreneurs will receive a cash prize of $2 500. The grand prize winner will receive $25 000, while the first and second runners up will receive $15 000 and $12 500 respectively.

As the programme celebrates its tenth year, the announcement of the grand prize winner will take place at the Anzisha Prize Conference on the 27th of October. This will be a virtual gathering of key stakeholders within the youth entrepreneurship community.

As an advocate of young people starting businesses and hiring their peers to combat youth unemployment, the Anzisha Prize is confident that these top twenty entrepreneurs exemplify the importance of young Africans choosing entrepreneurship to build sustainable businesses.

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