Young African entrepreneurs for Anzisha Fellowships

The Anzisha Prize has revealed their top 26 entrepreneurs for 2021.

The entrepreneurs, who are between the ages of 18 and 22, will each receive more than US$5,000 in funding and more than US$15,000 worth of venture building support services over three years, which are aligned with the prestigious fellowship’s new structure of enabling young people to receive the financial and mentoring support they need to succeed.

“We’ve seen clearly that a transition from secondary or tertiary education directly into sustainable entrepreneurship requires both financial and learning support,” comments Josh Adler, Executive Director of the Anzisha Prize.

“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.”

The 2021 Anzisha Fellows were selected from hundreds of applications across the Africa, and passed multiple stages of vetting and evaluation.

Applicants were from countries such as Mali, Togo, South Africa, and Madagascar and running businesses in education, health, agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and beauty.

These young Africans are demonstrating how it’s possible to pursue entrepreneurship as career in the face of the pandemic.

Increased support for the top 26 entrepreneurs

In selecting 26 fellows 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, Anzisha’s venture building support team has worked closely with over 150 early-age entrepreneurs in over 30 African countries.

We 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,” adds Adler.

“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.”

The selected top 26 entrepreneurs represent 17 countries with 30% being Francophone.

They include Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Mali, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Nigeria has the largest cohort with four in the top 26. Young women are well represented, making up 10 of the 26 entrepreneurs.

Philip Cotton, Director of Human Capital Development at the Mastercard Foundation says “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, prove 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,” says Philip Cotton, Director of Human Capital Development at the Mastercard Foundation. 

After the selection process, the entrepreneurs will participate in a virtual induction boot camp for 10 days where they will engage with business leaders and past winners of the prize. The boot camp will prepare them for what lies ahead over the next three years.