Applications for the Anzisha Prize, Africa’s premier award for its youngest entrepreneurs, are now open for 2014. The award is looking for African entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22 who have started and are actively running innovative social ventures or for-profit businesses with potential.
In addition to over US$75,000 in cash prizes up for grabs, 12 finalists will win an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa to be a part of a week-long entrepreneurship workshop and conference at the prestigious African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg. Past finalists of the Anzisha Prize have since benefitted from media exposure, funding, access to business networks, and/or mentorship.
The Anzisha Prize judging panel is looking for ventures that demonstrate ingenuity, scale and positive impact.
How we made it in Africa spoke to some of last year’s finalists to find out what made their application stand out in the selection process, and what advice they have for this year’s applicants.
Gonjetso Chinyama, founder of Pakwathu.com (Malawi)
“My advice for young entrepreneurs applying this year is to figure out what impact their enterprises are making and how they can best communicate this impact. This, as well as demonstrating their leadership skills in their community, will get them noticed.”
Temitayo Olufuwa, founder of Jobs in Nigeria (Nigeria)
“I think my application was noticed because I was able to demonstrate traction and I was clear as much as possible… Others can make their application stand out by being honest when answering the questions and showing how viable their business model is.
“For young people applying this year, my advice to them is that they should believe in themselves and they should explain their project as clearly as possible.”
Donald Bambara, co-founder of Green Act (Senegal)
“First of all, future applicants have to be honest and take the application seriously. Write, read, correct, read again, write and lastly let people read your application before submitting it in order to get feedback.
“Second, in the application process, don’t be focused on the cash prize only. Money is not the key resource that you need, but money is a tool that you could use to change the life of your community. Thus, be focused on the reason why you decided to start this adventure. Think outside the box and see how many opportunities you could get once part of the [Anzisha] network.
“Thirdly, I would like to insist on the one point: don’t invent a lie. Stay honest and humble during the entire application process.”
Domitila Silayo, founder of Jatropha Soap Production (Tanzania)
“[Applicants] should be smart, clear, simple and specific. They should always have the spirit of trying and not losing hope, although the competition is very high and challenging. Never stop trying.”
David Morfaw, founder of Poult-Vault Inc. (Cameroon)
“For young and promising entrepreneurs, you should know and love your business. Knowing your business includes knowing its impacts on the environment in which it is found. Loving your business means putting in time, effort and creativity and having the best intentions. Applying for the Anzisha Prize with this level of love and understanding of your project, I believe will [help you] make it through.
“I personally think I was selected because I was direct, truthful and confident. I communicated my ideas and story the way it was. I was selected because I was proud of myself and my work. I knew while applying that I needed this award to boost my business so I took it as a goal which I had to achieve.”
Best Ayiorwoth, founder of Girls Power Micro-Lending Organisation (Uganda)
“One thing with the Anzisha Prize application is that it wants you to explain in detail your business, and you have to understand exactly what it is you are doing. So for anyone wanting to apply, you should have a very good knowledge of [your business].
“You should also start practicing your presentation skills because with Anzisha you have to know how to present your business plan in a very short time.”
Aspiring fellows can apply directly online at anzishaprize.org or at the offices of any one of Anzisha’s 2014 country partners. Application forms are available in English, French or Arabic, and will be accepted through April 15 2014.