Written by: Daniel Mpala
While Africa continues to battle poverty and unemployment, the continent’s large number of young people could be key to solving many of its problems.
This is a key reason why Mastercard Foundation and African Leadership Academy in 2010 established the Anzisha Prize.
The Prize aims to recognise and celebrate founders under 22 years old that have implemented innovative solutions to social challenges or started successful businesses within their communities.
More importantly, the initiative aims to increase the number of entrepreneurs in Africa that create jobs and to encourage young people between the ages of 15 and 22 to choose entrepreneurship over other career options.
Here are four things you should know about the Prize.
Application close on 15 April
Applications for this year’s award were initially set to close on 31 March, but the Anzisha Prize has now extended the deadline to 20 April.
If you haven’t submitted yours yet you’ll want to make use of the Anzisha application guide.
After applications close, those shortlisted will be contacted for phone interviews next month (May). Thereafter, the Anzisha Prize will in June conduct due diligence visits to those shortlisted.
The names of the top 20 finalists are set to be released in June, while this year’s winner will be announced at a gala event in October.
Over 600 applicants from 13 countries applied for last year’s edition of the Anzisha Prize, culminating in 20 finalists being selected as Anzisha Fellows.
About $100k up for grabs
Every year the Anzisha Prize hands out about $100 000 in prize money. This year’s grand prize is $25 000, while the first and second runners up will receive $15 000 and $12 500, respectively.
The remainder of the cash prizes will be awarded to the rest of the 17 finalists who will each get $2 500. In addition, fellows also receive over $7 500 each in additional support and services.
More than just a prize
The Anzisha Prize is more than just another prize. The initiative consists of a number of programmes. These include the Anzisha Business Accelerator, which will this year take place in October.
The finalists of the Anzisha Prize, who then become Anzisha fellows, are flown up to South Africa to develop their businesses further at the African Leadership Academy during a two week-long bootcamp.
A number of initiative and programmes have been spun off from the prize. These include its Experts-in-Residence programme which brings global experts and small cohorts of Anzisha fellows together for one-on-one mentoring. A similar programme The Youth Entrepreneur Support Unit (YES-U) was designed to provide consulting and training to Anzisha Fellows in their first year of fellowship.
Another initiative is the Anzisha Regional Fellows Indabas, an annual event that brings together Anzisha Fellows and African Leadership Academy alumni.
Running for nine years
The Anzisha Prize was first announced in 2010 and launched in 2011. This year’s edition marks the ninth consecutive year that the initiative has been running.
To date 102 Anzisha fellows have been selected (check some of them out here). In 2016, the Anzisha fellows had raised about $1.6-million in venture capital. As of last year, the fellows had created more than 600 jobs.
By 2020, Mastercard Foundation will have invested about $10-million into the initiative.