By Biko Rading
The Africa rising narrative is something that has taken the continent by storm. This could have been triggered by the visit of the US President, Barack Obama to Kenya; where he launched the Global Entrepreneur Summit and also promised that the US government will work hand in hand with American entrepreneurs.
The annual Anzisha Prize aims to stimulate, celebrate, nurture and scale young African entrepreneurs and catalyse the ecosystem that supports them. It seems to recognise young innovators, aged 15 – 22, who have developed and implemented solutions to challenges facing their communities and created dynamic businesses. The program celebrates young leaders who are blazing a trail for others to follow, showing us all that if you are good enough, you’re old enough.
The 6th Anzisha Prize application phase is now open, and the search is on to find 12 of Africa’s youngest, most innovative social and business entrepreneurs under the age of 22. Organisers are calling for more nominations from the public this year to ensure they discover the very best talent on the continent.
African Leadership Academy (ALA) and The MasterCard Foundation , co-hosts of the Anzisha Prize, also have announced a significant increase in the support available to selected entrepreneurs over the next five years. Each of the 12 finalists will now receive a $7,500 USD fellowship package with the ALA’s Youth Entrepreneur Support Unit (YES-U) which includes the Anzisha Week boot camp, mentorship and consulting services, travel opportunities to network and business equipment.
In addition, a new $25,000 USD prize category has been created to recognize Anzisha Fellows who have created further social and economic value through their ventures by effectively leveraging the opportunities provided by the fellowship with ALA.
This brings the total prize pool to $100,000 USD annually, with the Grand Prize Winner taking home $25,000 USD, 1st Runner-up receiving $15,000 USD and 2nd Runner-up receiving $12,500 USD. The remaining nine finalists will receive $2,500 USD each.
“It is essential that we nurture young, African entrepreneurial talent if we want to see the economic gains we all hope for in the future,” said Koffi Assouan, Program Manager for the Anzisha Prize at The MasterCard Foundation. “Through the provision of leadership skills, access to finance and business networking opportunities, these young entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to reach their full potential and to improve their lives and the lives of others.”
The prize is open to any African national under the age of 22 with an active project, social venture or for-profit business based on the continent. Judging criteria for the prize have been refined for 2016 to better represent the entrepreneurial talent that the Anzisha Prize wants to uncover and support. These criteria can be found in all application materials.
According to the Manager of the Anzisha Program at African Leadership Academy, Grace Kalisha, “The true impact of our work is only possible if we can find the top entrepreneurial potential wherever it may be.”
The deadline for application submissions is April 15, 2016, and the Anzisha Prize team encourages teachers, parents and community members to identify talented young people.
The Anzisha Prize is one of the most accessible and inclusive pan-African opportunities for youth. Application forms and information are available in English, French, Portuguese and Arabic. The Anzisha Prize Tour team will visit key hubs across the continent and engage local media in every region. Both paper and electronic applications are accepted.