We made a few changes to the Anzisha Prize Tour experience, which have definitely allowed our experience on the ground to be more fruitful. This year, we hosted a business ideation session instead of just an informational session about the Anzisha Prize and sponsored one of our Anzisha Fellows to join us in our travels to spread the word about his entrepreneurial journey.
Our visit to Sudan, we were joined by Aly Abdelazem, co-founder of Teensclub, a non-profit in Egypt which upskills teenagers through exposure to beneficial workshops, connects youth with mentors and coaches and also serves as a safe space for skill development for youth of all genders. As a 2016 Anzisha Finalist and recent Fellow, Aly was thrilled at the opportunity to join us in our search for youth entrepreneurs in North Africa. Aly, as a jack of many trades experimenting with several new start up ideas, travel to Sudan with us served as a means for him to explore the many opportunities Sudan has to offer and aided him in learning about a neighboring country and its’ market advantages.
Our motivation for having Anzisha Fellows join us on our search is to have a live example of a youth entrepreneur from the region, who can share his/her own story, inspiring the youth who attends Anzisha’s workshops. I personally found Aly’s presence validated the Anzisha fellowship experience, made the reality of being selected seem less like a far fetched goal. A benefit of having Aly along was assistance with translations from English to Arabic during our events. While many of our attendees spoke English, it’s sometimes easier to have certain concepts explained to one in their mother tongue. Another benefit of having Aly around was that people could learn directly from his experience with applying and being a Fellow. Also helpful was Aly going above and beyond the call of duty by volunteering to assist attendees by giving feedback to their applications – another sign of encouragement for our attendees to apply.
The major event we hosted while in Sudan was at Impact Hub Khartoum, an incubation hub for new ventures. After working with Impact Hub Bamako, in Mali, I have become a fan of the Impact Hub community and the work they do to connect entrepreneurs to investors and impactful organizations similar to Anzisha. Quite impressive about Impact Hub Khartoum was their food and infrastructure.
Even more impressive was our partnership with them – Lena Maghoub and her co-founders did everything they could to ensure that we would be able to host a quality workshop from assisting with the visa application process to helping us find participants for the workshop.
After introducing the Prize, Aly shared his journey with the Anzisha Prize thus far and then we transitioned into an ideation lab. Our participants came up with brilliant ideas which were then interrogated by the Impact Hub staff and partners to push the young leaders to explore how to make their ideas viable. Following the workshop, Aly and I were flattered by the many comments the participants shared about being inspired. With the support of an organization like Impact Hub Khartoum, we know the youth we met that day are more than capable of bring their vision to life.