The African continent suffers high levels of unemployment and poverty. However education and youth empowerment are two powerful tools that can be used to combat this.
This is the view of the Anzisha Prize.
Every year the Prize – together with the African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation – selects a group of young African entrepreneurs to become a lifelong member of its network. Here they will have access to a number of resources that will help them establish viable, sustainable businesses – including business incubation and funding.
In line with its goal, the Anzisha Prize also looks to support young Africans focused on educating and empowering other youth in their countries.
“In Africa, there is a need for entrepreneurs to create opportunities in education that aim to assist disadvantaged youth to enter the job market and improve their livelihoods,” says Grace Kalisha, senior programmes manager at the African Leadership Academy.
Over the years, the Prize has identified a number of young African entrepreneurs who are pursuing ventures to improve education levels and develop youth skills. Last year Chukwuwezam Obanor made the Prize’s finalist list for his start-up Prepclass, a database of study content to help improve students’ chances of admission into Nigerian universities. And in 2013 Neftaly Malatjie was selected for his Southern Africa Youth Project, which began as a community training centre for disadvantaged youth in Johannesburg’s Diepsloot to help them access better jobs. The same year, Ugandan Best Ayiorwoth won the $25,000 grand prize for her company GIPOMO, which specifically finances mothers with small businesses so that they can afford to keep their children in school.
This year, around 20% of applicants for the Anzisha Prize were pursuing ventures within education and youth empowerment. Here is a sample of some of the entrants.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Finalists for the Anzisha Prize have not been announced. The entrepreneurs profiled below have been selected randomly, and are not necessarily winners.
College and career guidance for Zimbabwean high school students
Zimbabwean Prince Abudu (20) is currently studying computer science at Morehouse College in the US. In 2012 he co-founded Emergination Africa (EA) a youth-driven initiative that provides e-mentoring programmes for Zimbabwean high school students to assist them with the college application process and career development.
“Many public high schools in Africa lack career and academic counselling services. Therefore, high school students miss out on opportunities to develop themselves professionally and in identifying tertiary education opportunities,” explains Abudu.
EA connects Zimbabwean youth to US college students via web platforms, such as Google Hangouts, so that they can mentor and assist them on the US college application process, SAT preparation, and career guidance. Students are also given opportunities to talk to admissions offices and counsellors to develop other professional capabilities – such as interview and networking skills.
You can visit their website here.
Improving the Ethiopian education system through forums and workshops
When Ethiopian Hidaya Ibrahim was allowed the opportunity to pursue an undergraduate degree at New York University Abu Dhabi in the UAE, she was inspired to improve the standard of education in her home country.
“Ethiopia’s success at expanding access to education in the country has been characterised by very low quality of education,” highlights the 22-year-old social entrepreneur.
“Since 1999, primary and secondary education has seen an increasing trend in student repetition, dropout and underperformance.”
In response to this, she co-founded the Qine Association for Promoting Education Quality (QAPEQ) in 2013. The initiative organises forums that bring together representatives of government, private education institutions, and students to inform policy makers of student needs and discuss innovative solutions to problems. It also runs capacity building projects, workshops and competitions for students to help develop academic skills such as critical thinking and writing.
To date Ibrahim has managed to raise around $4,000 for the organisation’s projects and hopes to expand beyond the capital Addis Ababa to incorporate more schools and students.
“We aim to inspire a culture of grassroots level advocacy and engagement in an effort to promote education quality – a movement that is inclusive of various stakeholders.”
Business skills for school students in Egypt
Yehia Nabil is just 17 and the founder of Junior Labs, a business incubator specifically for school students in Egypt. It provides mentorship and teaches skills in business, entrepreneurship, computer coding and design. It also invests in students with “cutting-edge” ideas.
One of the incubator’s start-ups is Awraq, which provides a set of cards to help other entrepreneurs develop their business strategy – from finance to human resources. It has already received its first round of funding.
“In the next five years I hope Junior Labs helps launch more than 100 start-ups started by school students,” says Nabil.
Visit Junior Labs on Facebook.