The search for this year’s top young entrepreneurs in Africa is currently underway with the launch of the 2016 Anzisha Prize. And this year the total prize money pool has been increased from US$75,000 to $100,000.
The award, aimed at entrepreneurs across the continent between 15 and 22, will be accepting applications until 15 April. Young Africans behind both social and for-profit ventures are encouraged to apply, and nominations from the public are welcomed.
While judging criteria for the prize has been refined for 2016 to better represent the entrepreneurial talent that the Anzisha Prize wants to uncover and support, last year’s finalists and winners were happy to share their tips for producing a winning application.
Below is why they believe their applications got noticed.
*Please note the full judging criteria can be found here.
Farai Munjoma, co-founder, Shasha Iseminar (Zimbabwe)
I think my application was noticed because I invested adequate time in providing enough detail and information about my venture in order to make it easier to communicate my ingenuity and vision. Lastly the key was being very honest and realistic about myself and my venture.
My advice to those applying this year is believe in yourself because that will go a long way in determining how far you go in qualifying. The most important thing is to realise that by applying for the Anzisha Prize, you have not just applied for a competition, but a lifelong dedication to bring positive impact to the continent.
Chris Kwekowe, co-founder, Slatecube (Nigeria)
For me I’d say that simplicity is key. If the very first sentence of your business description doesn’t explain exactly what the problem is you are trying to solve, who your customer is, what your solution does, and why it is better than anything else that exists in the market – then it might be very difficult to follow everything else you have to say.
Also, focus on the numbers, your target market, total addressable market, and current milestones. Everyone in Africa has great ideas, but Anzisha wants to know how you’re actually using innovation to solve any of Africa’s biggest problems.
*Kwekowe is the first place winner of the 2015 Anzisha Prize
Sirjeff Dennis, founder, Jefren Agrifriend Solutions (Tanzania)
Ingenuity gives you an edge over the competition. The Anzisha Prize is rooted in celebrating a vibrant young person who has gone beyond his/her comfort zone and thinks outside the box. A person who comes up with unthinkable solutions and brings innovation into existing practices while creating a positive impact for the community [should be noticed].
Your application should clearly define you and your project, it should show how you’ve bridged the gap between innovation and traditional business approaches and, very importantly, how your product/service improves lives and shows success potential.
George Mtemahanji, co-founder, SunSweet Solar (Tanzania)
I think my application was noticed because I spoke about the passion I have for my business and my work. I have not tried to write a sob story about me or invent stories about how big my company is. I simply showed the passion that I have for my idea.
My suggestion to new candidates for the Anzisha Prize is to not think too much about the prize money. Rather focus more on describing your idea and the passion you have for the business. Why? Because Anzisha provides the opportunity to take your idea from a local audience in your community (in my case Ifakara in Tanzania), to reach a worldwide audience, with the possibility then of finding people ready to invest in your idea/business. For an entrepreneur like myself, that is the most important thing.
Mabel Suglo, founder, Eco Shoes (Ghana)
I believe what caught the attention of those reviewing my application was that I communicated clearly what I was doing and demonstrated impact.
For other aspiring applicants, I suggest they read and understand each question on the application well before they make any attempt to answer. At first glance the questions may look simple, but the judges are looking for deep answers.
*Suglo is the third place winner of the 2015 Anzisha Prize.
Fabrice Alomo, co-founder, MyAconnect (Cameroon)
I think my application got noticed for meeting five criteria.
Originality: The uniqueness of the product and its superiority in comparison with similar or alternative products in the market.
Marketability: The extent to which our innovation sufficiently addresses the problem it seeks to solve at a price or model that is accessible to the target market.
Scalability: The extent to which the solution can be easily applied to other similar markets beyond our immediate or local environment.
Social impact: The ability of our innovation to create or effect desirable changes within the target community and beyond.
Scientific/technical aspects: This refers to the extent to which the technical specifications of the innovation are grounded in established science and sufficiently address any anticipated product risks.
*Alomo is the second place winner of the 2015 Anzisha Prize.
Daniel Mukisa, co-founder, Transporter Corporation (Uganda)
Well, I think my application got noticed by the Anzisha team because I elaborated on my answers to questions. Plus, I relied on statistics regarding my field.
I therefore think 2016 Anzisha fellows should use statistics while explaining details of their ventures.
Also they must be as authentic as they can.
Blessing Fortune Kwomo, founder, De Rehoboths Therapeutic Studio (Nigeria)
I was selected as an Anzisha Prize finalist because of my radical approaches to solving an important problem and I was able to communicate my reasons for starting my project, the impact my project has had, and my business vision and goals.
My advice to those applying this year is they should first understand their business very well – from their team to their market to their financials to their impact. All these things must be communicated in a short space.
Finally they must be truthful and confident about their idea.