The two Nigerian-born, Victoria Olimatunde and Ajiroghene Omanudhowo have been chosen among the fifteen emerging Young African Entrepreneurs for the seventh annual Anzisha Prize, Africa’s premier award for youngest entrepreneurs.
Victoria, 15, and Ajiroghene, 22, were selected as finalists from among 800 applicants from 14 countries – a chunk of the candidates being young women representing sectors as diverse as clean energy, agriculture, waste recycling and youth empowerment.
Victoria founded Bizkidz, a board game designed to teach children about financial literacy and the rudimentary aspects of starting a small-scale business through a fun and interactive manner. Bizkidz also encourages young people to create jobs as entrepreneurs, not just seek jobs as employees.
Ajiroghene on his part founded three businesses – ASAFOOD, ASADROP, and BetaGrades – under the parent company, 360 Needs, a social enterprise created to identify and solve logistical problems in his community. ASAFOOD delivers food to universities, while ASADROP is a logistics company specializing in parcel delivery and Beta Grades helps students prepare for their exams by providing computer training.
Koffi Assouan, Program Manager, Youth Livelihoods at the Mastercard Foundation said, “the calibre and diversity of the young men and women competing for this year’s Anzisha Prize is impressive and improves each year. As the pool of Anzisha fellows continues to grow, so too does their impact and influence on local communities and economies.”
Anzisha Prize Associate, Melissa Mbazo said, “We are excited by the number of young women finalists and thrilled that the prize is contributing to their economic empowerment. The success of these women-led businesses will be accelerated by access to Anzisha’s financial and mentorship support.”
As finalists, Victoria and Ajiroghene will fly to Johannesburg, South Africa, to attend a 10-day entrepreneurial leadership boot camp where they will be coached on how to pitch their businesses to a panel of judges for a share of US$100,000 worth of prizes and support.
They will be evaluated by a panel of five experienced judges, including Wendy Luhabe, a pioneering social entrepreneur and economic activist, who have contributed to building youth entrepreneurship in Africa such as
Laureates will be announced during an inspiring gala evening on October 24, which will include a keynote address from serial entrepreneur Fred Swaniker, founder of both the African Leadership Academy and African Leadership University.
The grand prize winner will receive US$25,000, while the runners-up and third place winners will receive US$15,000 and US$12,500, respectively. The remainder of the prize will be divided among outstanding finalists, including a $10,000 agricultural prize funded by Louis Dreyfus Foundation, as well as four $5,000 challenge prizes to bolster initiatives led by past Anzisha Prize finalists. All other finalists will each receive $2,500 prizes.
Finalists will also benefit from ALA’s Youth Entrepreneur Support Unit (YES-U), which provides consulting and training support to Anzisha finalists. This includes the Anzisha Accelerator boot camp, mentorship and consulting services, travel opportunities to network, and business equipment, valued at US$7,500.