AFRICAN LIGHT BULB MOMENT OF THE WEEK: FUNDING FOR YOUNG AFRICAN ENTREPRENEURS WITH INNOVATIVE IDEAS

flashing money

Funding for young African entrepreneurs with innovative ideas
Prizes for entrepreneurs looking to solve continent’s challenges

BY SIPHELELE DLUDLA
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Entrepreneurship in Africa has the potential of solving the continent’s most developmental challenges, including unemployment and poverty.

According to the World Bank statistics, the youth accounts for 60% of all unemployed Africans.

Last week the Aniza Prize competition was launched. Now in its fifth year, the annual prize celebrates initiative and innovation. The focus of the prize is identifying young entrepreneurs who have vision to create jobs, and provide solutions to some of the challenges faced on the continent.

See also: 5 young entrepreneurs to watch out for and what sets them apart
The competition is tough. Last year no fewer than 340 applications were received from 32 countries. Twelve young entrepreneurs are chosen as finalists to proceed to the final stage. The 12 entrepreneurs have the opportunity to walk away with prize money worth millions of rands as well as non-financial support to develop a sustainable business.

The competition that is hosted by the African Leadership Academy (ALA) in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation.

In addition to cash prizes, past winners and finalists have since benefited from media exposure, funding, access to business networks and continuous support through mentorship, including Reabetswe Ngwane and Thato Kgatlhanye (both aged 22) who were part of the programme in 2014.

The duo’s Repurpose Schoolbags initiative are solar powered schoolbags that also function as a light at night, allowing children from off-grid households to study after dark.

See also: Green energy startup gives light to school kids
The criteria

The Anzisha Prize is looking for young leaders between the ages of 15 and 22 years who are using entrepreneurship to solve problems in their communities and inspire change.

Over US$75,000 in cash prizes will be shared among 12 of the continent’s most exciting social and business entrepreneurs who qualify.

The criteria for the selection of business ideas includes the impact of the idea, its ingenuity and uniqueness, significant potential to grow (scalability), and leadership qualities of the entrepreneur behind it.

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