A young Cameroonian, Alain Nteff, was Wednesday named the grand prize winner of the fourth annual Anzisha Prize Award, receiving a US$25,000 cash prize to support his social business.
In a statement, obtained by PANA here Thursday, the organizers said Alain, the founder of Gifted Mom, led a rising tide of West African youth entrepreneurs.
According to the statement, schoolbag manufacturer Thato Kgatlhanye from South Africa was the first runner up, with second runner up award going to 17-year-old farmer, Gabriel Kombassere, from Cote d’Ivoire.
They received cash prizes of US$15,000 and US$12,500 respectively for their efforts.
Eighteen-year-old Tom Osborn from Kenya was said to have received a special US$10,000 energy prize award from Donors Circle for Africa, for his eco-fuel venture, Greenchar.
The 2014 Anzisha finalists were honored at a prestigious ceremony held at the Focus Rooms in Sunninghill, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Nteff, 22, is said to have founded the Gifted Mom project, an e-content platform for pregnant women in underserved areas, to help them have safe pregnancies and combat the lack of access and knowledge that has led to high mother and infant deaths in Cameroon.
Gifted Mom works with health providers and medical students to create profiles for pregnant women to send automated alerts that help them track antenatal care.
”Since starting his project, more than 200 medical students have been trained, 1,200 pregnant women impacted resulting in a 20% increase in antenatal attendance rate for pregnant women in 15 rural communities,” the statement noted.
Thato Kgathlanye, 21, co-founded Repurpose Schoolbags that designs schoolbags made from up-cycled plastic shopping bags integrated with solar technology.
Mini solar panels are encased in the bags, charging up during the day and transforming into light for learners to study after dark.
She runs a factory in Rustenburg, South Africa, where she reportedly employs eight women; has impacted the lives of over 120 children and taken major strides in reducing her carbon footprint through recycling over 10,000 plastic bags.
Gabriel Kombassere, aged 17, is said to have founded Ribla Neda, an association seeking to eradicate starvation in his region.
His principle is “We may be students but we can help our parents.” Having grown up farming from the age of eight, he invested in what came naturally by asking his uncle for a piece of land and started to grow maize and cassava.
He employees four students and has 30 members in his organisation. Annually, he produces over 20 bags of maize and a cargo of cassava.
Tom Osborn, 18, is founder of Greenchar, a clean energy project that produces charcoal briquettes and distributes clean cook-stoves throughout Kenya.
It was started to fight deforestation and the health problems that result from smoke inhalation from charcoal. Greenchar coals are carbonized, producing long-lasting, high-energy and smokeless coals, made from revitalized agricultural forests.
Tom was said to have been recently named an ”Echoing Green fellow.”
“Every year it gets harder to choose a winner,” remarked Josh Adler, Director for the Centre of Entrepreneurship at African Leadership Academy.
“All of our finalists this year are shining examples of youth entrepreneurship – examples we hope will inspire teenagers across the continent to start and grow similar ventures.”
The statement went on to point out that this year’s awards were judged by respected entrepreneurs like Wendy Luhabe, Khanyi Dhlomo from South Africa, Willy Mukiny Yav form DRC, Wanjiru Waithaka from Kenya and Mohamed Nanabhay from South Africa.
The Anzisha Prize reportedly received 339 applications this year from 32 countries for Africa’s premier youth entrepreneurship award.
Now in its fourth year, the prize is a partnership between African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation.
Twelve finalists were flown to Johannesburg, South Africa, for the 2014 Anzisha Week that took place from 18 – 25 September where a panel of judges from across the entrepreneurial sphere convened to select the grand prize winners.
The finalists were said to have received training from African Leadership Academy’s renowned Entrepreneurial Leadership faculty and engaged with industry leaders, mentors as well as change agents from across the continent.