By Dipo Olowookere
A 21-year-old Nigerian, Boluwatife Omotayo, has been shortlisted among 19 other young African entrepreneurs to compete for the Anzisha Prize, Africa’s premier award for her youngest entrepreneurs.
Boluwatife is the founder of TabDigitals, an IT company that helps consumers find artisans who can repair and replace electronic gadgets.
The IT gurus will hope to have a share of the $100,000 cash prize being offered by the organisers, who have the support of MasterCard Foundation and the African Leadership Academy (ALA).
The Anzisha Prize awards young entrepreneurs who have developed and implemented innovative solutions to social challenges or started successful businesses within their communities.
Selected from a pool of over 600 applicants, from 13 countries, the finalists are armed with the tools they need to grow their business and attract investment, and are coached and mentored by industry experts. As Anzisha Fellows, they emerge as role models igniting the entrepreneurial spirit within their peers and creating job opportunities in their communities.
Now in its 8th year, the Anzisha Prize program attracts young entrepreneurs from across Africa and for the first time, the Prize is recognizing the achievements of entrepreneurs from Benin, Libya, and Sierra Leone.
Applicants represent a wide variety of entrepreneurial efforts, from manufacturing, mining, and healthcare, but agripreneurs continue to dominate the applicant pool.
Among them is Kenyan Kevin Kibet, the 22-year old founder of FarmMoja Limited which supports smallholder farmers by providing them with inputs, training, and access to reliable markets.
Since its inception in 2016, FarmMoja has distributed inputs to 30 farmers, acquired a seven-acre farm with 1,000 trees, and raised $20,000 in equity funding from angel investors to underwrite its expansion activities. Another finalist, Vanessa Ishiimwe from Rwanda is running three learning centres within a Ugandan refugee camp which are educating more than 300 children and employing 18 youth as teachers.
“Investing in young entrepreneurs to address the youth employment challenge is at the core of the Foundation’s Young Africa Works,” said Koffi Assouan, Program Manager, MasterCard Foundation. “These Fellows are tackling challenges in their communities and driving job creation and sustainable economic growth by improving efficiency in the agrifood sector. We congratulate them on their success.”
The 20 finalists will be flown to Johannesburg for a 10-day entrepreneurship boot camp where they will receive intensive training from African Leadership Academy’s renowned Entrepreneurial Leadership faculty. They will be coached on how to pitch their business to a panel of judges for a share of the $100,000 cash prize. The grand prize winner will receive $25,000. The remainder of the prize money will be shared among the rest of the finalists.
Additionally, each finalist is enrolled in a Fellowship program that will provide over $7,500 in additional support and services.
This year, for the first time, the pitch competition will be live streamed across the continent. Online audiences will have the opportunity to tune into the pitch competition and rally behind the entrepreneurs who inspire them most, possibly motivating them to begin their own entrepreneurial journey.
The pitching event will be hosted by Cameroonian Tonje Bakang, a tech entrepreneur who created Africa’s Netflix, Afrostream and a long-time supporter of young entrepreneurs.
“What makes the Anzisha Prize unique is its dedicated investment in Africa’s young job starters as a means to encourage other high potential young entrepreneurs across the continent. We want these stories to reach the right person at the right moment to catalyse their interest and entry into entrepreneurship,” said Josh Adler, Vice President of Growth and Entrepreneurship at African Leadership Academy.
The winners will be announced during an extraordinary gala evening on October 23, which will include a keynote address from Sim Shagaya, a Nigerian entrepreneur who is the founder and former CEO of Konga.com, one of West Africa’s largest electronic commerce websites.
The Anzisha Prize will be hosting events across the continent to share the stories of this year’s top 20 entrepreneurs and to encourage young Africans to start their own ventures.
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