After a 10-day entrepreneurship boot-camp at the African Leadership Academy campus on the outskirts of Johannesburg, three young African entrepreneurs beamed with joy as they were announced as the top three finalists of Anzisha 2018. Melissa Bime from Cameroon and founder of Infiuss emerged as grand prize winner pocketing USD 25 K, 18-year-old Alhaji Siraj Bah from Sierra Leone and founder of Rugsal Trading taking USD 15 K and the second runner-up was 21-year-old Joan Nalubega from Uganda with her project – Union Ganics taking home USD 12 K.
15 finalists from this year’s cohort represented young African entrepreneurs from 13 countries sharing the finalists’ kitty of USD 100 K in addition to admission as fellows in the African Leadership Academy. Anzisha prize offers young budding entrepreneurs seed funding, mentorship and support that they require early on as they begin living and confronting the challenges of the adult business world.
With the sole aim of Anzisha being the celebration and cultivation of the next generation of young African entrepreneurial leaders who are creating job opportunities, solving local development problems and driving economic growth the program, Anzisha draws sponsorship from the African Leadership Academy (ALA) in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and Louis Dreyfus Foundation. In its seventh year now, twenty young African entrepreneurs participated as finalists chosen from a field of more than 800 applicants for the seventh annual edition.
Away from the rigors of the annual competition Anzisha runs initiatives across Africa that are supported by activities centered along its three pillars of training and accelerating very young entrepreneurs, influencing entrepreneurship education through secondary and tertiary levels and eventually celebrating these very young entrepreneurs which it does by hosting the Anzisha challenge each year. This competition draws applicants as young as 15 through 22 years.
This year’s winners were picked from a seasoned team of Gala judges represented by Chris Kwekowe, MIT-trained innovative Ed-Tech entrepreneur from Nigeria, Saran Kaba Jones, founder, and CEO of FACE Africa and Ntuthuko Shezi who is the founder of Scratch Mobile. Sim Shagaya, a Nigerian entrepreneur who is the founder and former CEO of Konga.com gave the keynote address.
Judging from the top finalists picked it is easy to see of how social enterprises are already being developed by young people especially from Melissa Bime’s Infiuss project that supplies blood to blood banks in rural Cameroon. Uganda’s Joan project produces mosquito repellant soap that helps combat malaria while Alhaji siraj Bah’s project is involved in the making of custom paper bags and briquettes in Sierra Leone. Melissa Blime is enjoying a second award this year having been feted as a Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards Sub-Saharan African laureate in Singapore.