Applications for the 2016 Anzisha Prize, Africa’s premier award for its youngest entrepreneurs, are currently being accepted.
Entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22 with both social and for-profit ventures have until 15 April to apply, and nominations from the public are encouraged. Those that apply before the end of March also stand a chance to win an Anzisha Prize pack.
This year the total prize money pool – to be shared among 12 finalists – has been increased from US$75,000 to $100,000. Furthermore, finalists will benefit from a week long all-expenses paid trip to the prestigious African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg where they will meet some of the industry’s top entrepreneur mentors and advisers.
In addition to one-on-one business coaching, Fellows will be equipped with valuable skills such as financial reporting, business planning and how to pitch to investors.
Only 12 Fellows are selected each year and become lifelong members of the Anzisha network, with access to a web of business leaders, investors and networking opportunities. Fellows also benefit from the Youth Entrepreneur Support Unit (YES-U) incubation and acceleration programme and the Fellowship’s Experts in Residence programme, where they spend a week with specific industry experts to deepen both skills and strategic thinking.
Here is how some of last year’s fellows have benefitted from the fellowship in the four months since being selected.
Mabel Suglo, founder, Eco Shoes (Ghana)
Being an Anzisha Fellow is a profound and unexpected honour which has given me the deepest joy and satisfaction. The quality of capacity building that I enjoyed during my time in South Africa and after is unrivalled. It has really helped me gain insights into the processes that drive an organisation’s management, strategy, budgeting and forecasting decisions.
Apart from the prize money ($12,500), which we desperately needed to acquire some machines and build up our inventory to supply clients, the exposure we received from numerous local and international media has given much credibility to Eco-Shoes. For instance, two senior high schools that we had approached before [becoming an Anzisha Fellow] to negotiate a partnership to supply their student sandals were not cooperating. But this suddenly changed after a BBC documentary on us was watched by their head teachers. We are currently negotiating with them to finalise a deal.
*Suglo is the third place winner of the 2015 Anzisha Prize.
George Mtemahanji, co-founder, SunSweet Solar (Tanzania)
My company has benefitted greatly from the Anzisha Prize and, in my view, other young African entrepreneurs should take this opportunity really seriously. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.
Credibility is very important in business, especially in Africa where it is difficult to find information on every entrepreneur’s ability or around the credibility of their business. But the Anzisha Prize gives young entrepreneurs and their ideas that credibility. Today, thanks to the Prize, we can talk much more easily with potential investors and develop projects with Western solar and energy companies. We started receiving support from an Englishman, who lives in Korea, after he read our story on CNN.
We are also receiving support from Denmark, Brazil and Sweden. Even a Swiss family decided to sponsor our next solar installation in a dispensary in Mlimba (in Kilombero Province in Tanzania), after they had read our story on the internet. And a Chinese company, which I’m currently talking to about a possible investment, came to visit us in Tanzania in February. They told me they found out about our company thanks to an article written in Chinese that talked about the Anzisha Prize finalists.
The Anzisha Prize also gave me the opportunity to speak with the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation, the Tanzania Investment Centre, the Tanzanian Rural Electrification Agency, as well as many other state agencies in Tanzania. This is the audience that Anzisha gives you. This prize is like a launch pad.
In addition, we should not forget that the Anzisha Prize also teaches the basics of being a good entrepreneur. It helps you understand the strengths of your business and of your idea, to understand your customers, and which partners are necessary and which are not. It advises on how you can cut business expenses and improve revenues, maximising your profits.
I suggest all young African entrepreneurs apply for the Anzisha Prize, because there are many people, investors, organisations and companies who are hungry to help and work with young Africans who want to solve the continent’s problems. They should not be afraid of how big their business is today, but focus on how big their dreams/ideas are for the future of Africa. I wish them all the best.
Farai Munjoma, co-founder, Shasha Iseminar (Zimbabwe)
I have benefited from the Anzisha Prize greatly because it has helped give me enough publicity to be able to reach out to my desired customers and other thought leaders. I have also received the opportunity to be a catalyst student at the African Leadership Academy and this has helped me build a bigger network to expand and develop my venture. I am currently completing the Anzisha course which is helping to expand my business perspective and allow me to develop soft skills that I require as a growing entrepreneur.
The Anzisha prize has opened doors to many opportunities.
Blessing Fortune Kwomo, founder, De Rehoboths Therapeutic Studio (Nigeria)
I want to thank the Anzisha Prize for the exposure it has given my venture. Before the Anzisha Prize selected me as a finalist/fellow, my beneficiaries were only 1,200 persons. But we now have over 6,000 beneficiaries which means more revenue and financial sustainability.
In December last year a private investor from Italy donated two sets of therapeutic equipment worth $10,000 to us, along with a cash sum of $1,000. I am yet to meet the donor in person but the exposure through the Anzisha Prize gave my business the credibility.
I have received numerous calls from other potential investors who may want to partner with us in the near future.
And a few days after my return from Anzisha Prize gala in November, I was shortlisted as a semi-finalist for the UACHD young entrepreneur competition which, after my pitch presentation, I emerged as one of the finalists and a prize winner.
The Anzisha Prize has given my business both national and international credibility.