Africa’s premier entrepreneurship initiative, the Anzisha Prize, is applying the lessons learnt over the past decade of its existence to tackle challenges slowing entrepreneurship success on the continent. The initiative has for the past 10 years discovered and nurtured entrepreneurial talent within the age group 15 to 22. These are young people who are running job generative businesses in different sectors of African economies including agriculture, education, technology and social entrepreneurship.
In the past decade, the initiative has understood the importance of investing in high potential young entrepreneurs and that this provides a springboard for transformational change on the continent. Leveraging this, the initiative is introducing a longer and phased fellowship programme that focuses specifically on the growth of these businesses and rewards jobs generative initiatives.
According to Josh Adler, Director of the Anzisha Prize, this change affords the initiative to not only celebrate young entrepreneurs and their businesses but to also facilitate sustainable job creation.
“This year, we are in the fortunate position where the program can leverage the lessons and experiences accumulated over the last decade to inform changes in the venture- building support that we provide our entrepreneurs. For example, the Fellowship is now designed in different phases that span three years and, in the period, we will actively track performance and provide capital resources to support growth that is linked to job creation, increased revenue generation and optimization of productivity,” says Adler.
The entrepreneurs that make it into the fellowship will receive annual stipends injected into their businesses. And, during this period, they will be eligible to access short-term educational programmes, as well as networking opportunities with mentors and potential investors.
The new format offers the entrepreneurs access to a network of businesses that are successful in the different sectors both to learn industry trades and to form potential partnerships.
“We are specifically interested in playing a role in cultivating the successes of these businesses. In this revamped programme, the best performing businesses will be measured in categories including an increase in revenue, job creation and integration of systems and processes that improve productivity,” Adler adds.
The revamped programme introduces a televised 4-episodes documentary series called The Quest which takes the public on a trip from Cape to Cairo, discovering entrepreneurial gems across the continent. The Quest is followed by The Journey, which documents the year’s Fellows on the 3-year journey to achieving the set goals for growth – from the application stage to the time they graduate from the Fellowship.
“These exciting changes not only allow us to foster and track the entrepreneurs’ growth but also document the entire process, watching them succeed during the application phase and through the Fellowship program, to graduation. We are also happy that we can now increase the number of the top Fellows to 26, which for us means we now support even more businesses,” says Thokoza Mjo, Head of the Anzisha Prize Fellowship.
The 2021 Top 26 Fellows will be announced officially in the last week of October 2021. These include young entrepreneurs in agriculture, education, fashion, technology and manufacturing – from 17 countries including South Africa, Benin, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.
Lastly, the application season has also been moved to an earlier time this year. Young entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22 from the African continent are invited to apply from the 19th of October 2021 for the 2022 Fellowship cohort.