By Ashemiriogwa Emanuel
Four Nigerian entrepreneurs are among the 26 African business owners selected for the Anzisha Prize Fellowships 2021. They will receive $5,000 each and over $15,000 worth of venture building support services over a three-year period.
The lucky Nigerian entrepreneurs, who are between the ages of 18 and 22 years, are Mr Eneyi Oshi, the 19-year-old founder of Maatalous Nasah in poultry farming; Ms Esther Akin-Ajayi, also 19 and founder of Jemai Interiors for architectural solutions; Mr Oluwadamilola Akinosun, 22 years old, co-founder of Grant Master, an online marketplace funding; and 22-year-old Grace Okezie owner of Royal Graced Baking Company.
The selection process and subsequent outcome for the 2021 Anzisha Fellows came from hundreds of applications across Africa and passed multiple stages of vetting and evaluation.
These applications came from individuals in countries like Mali, Togo, South Africa, and Madagascar and running businesses in education, health, agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and beauty.
The four selected participants from Nigeria make the country the largest cohort in the total 26, while 30 per cent of the selected top 26 entrepreneurs nationality were Francophone, including Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Mali, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
The initiative, done in partnership with Mastercard Foundation, is in line with the prestigious fellowship’s new structure of enabling young people to receive the financial and mentoring support they need to succeed in their line of business, even in the face of the global pandemic, and rise of technology.
Speaking on the program, the Executive Director of the Anzisha Prize, Mr Josh Adler, 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.”
He said that the grand prizes will now identify and recognize excellence from these young, selected entrepreneurs who role model job creation, venture growth, storytelling, and process improvements during their fellowship.
On his part, the Director of Human Capital Development at the Mastercard Foundation, Mr Philip Cotton, stated that, “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 program, 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.”
Meanwhile, applications for the 2022 cohort of young business owners opened on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, and will close on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. Eligible entrepreneurs are advised to download the application guide or apply for the prize at www.anzishaprize.org/apply.