$20,000 won in Anzisha/Mastercard fellowship
Four Nigerians, Eneyi Oshi, Esther Akin-Ajayi, Oluwadamilola Akinosun and Grace Okezie have been named among 26 top youngest African entrepreneurs selected for the new three year Anzisha Prize fellowships in association with Mastercard Foundation.
The entrepreneurs, who are between the ages of 18 and 22, hail from 17 African countries, including Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.
Thirty percent of the recipients are Francophones, they will each receive more than $5,000 in funding and more than $15,000 worth of venture building support services over three years, aligned with the fellowship’s new structure of enabling young people to receive the financial and mentoring support they need to succeed.
According to the organisers, in a statement made available to Business A.M., these young Africans are demonstrating how it is possible to pursue entrepreneurship as a career in the face of the pandemic.
They further stated that the 2021 Anzisha fellows were selected from hundreds of applications across Africa, and passed multiple stages of vetting and evaluation. Applicants were from countries such as Mali, Togo, South Africa, and Madagascar, running businesses in education, health, agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and beauty.
Josh Adler, executive director of the Anzisha Prize, in his comments said, “We’ve seen clearly that a transition from secondary or tertiary education directly into sustainable entrepreneurship requires both financial and learning support. Through our long-term partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, we’re thrilled to not only announce an increase in the number of fellowships we can offer each year, but also in the monetary support each venture will receive.”
Adler added that this year, the annual Anzisha Prize fellowship has more than doubled in size since its first selection process, which included 12 innovative, young, African entrepreneurs in 2011. In that time, he said, Anzisha’s venture building support team has worked closely with over 150 early-age entrepreneurs in over 30 African countries, adding that they have developed a pioneering approach to coaching, skills-development, and business support that has now been packaged into a three-year learning journey.
“Our fellowship offering has essentially been reframed as an alternative or accompaniment to university education for entrepreneurs in this age group. The grand prizes, which recognized achievement prior to selection as a fellow, will now recognize excellence from young entrepreneurs who role model job creation, venture growth, storytelling, and process improvements during their fellowship,” Adler said.
Philip Cotton, director of human capital development at the Mastercard Foundation, said, “Young African entrepreneurs have continuously shown that they can rise to the challenge when given an opportunity. And what a challenging 19 months it has been for our world. Yet the calibre of innovators we consistently see apply to this programme, proving that the rebuilding and reimagining of economies can be entrusted to young people. We are committed to supporting the growth of the Anzisha Prize and betting on the potential of young entrepreneurs to drive transformation,”