Alain Nteff of Cameroon was declared the grand prize winner of the 2014 Anzisha Prize. As the founder of Gifted Mom the 22 years old receives $25,000 to further grow and support his booming business. He was one of many Central African finalists, a region that is increasingly proving that they are a force to be reckoned with.
The first runner up was Thato Kgatlhanye from South Africa who wins $15,000 for her Repurpose Schoolbags business. While the second runner up Gabriel Kombassere from Ivory Coast received $12,500 for his Rible Neda business, it deserves special recognition because he is only 17 years old.
All of the winners and by extension the finalists are all entrepreneurs who run businesses with a social impact. Which I believe is the answer to African problems as they promote innovation while providing employment.
Nteff’s Gifted Mom is an internet platform for pregnant women who have problems with accessing information on safe birth procedures; it basically educates them thus reducing the high infant deaths in his home country of Cameroon. Since its inception into the community, it has trained more than 200 medical students and impacted 1200 pregnant women.
Kgathlanye’s Repurpose Schoolbags is revolutionizing schoolbags with the environmentally friendly up-cycled plastic shopping bags incorporated with solar technology. These bags are multipurpose in they charge up during the day and become beacons of light after dark which they use for learning.
The mighty 17 year old Kombassere’s Ribla Neda aims to eradicate starvation in his region. Ivory Coast relies a lot on agriculture yet there are millions who do not have access to food crops. It is a simple solution to a complex problem.
Tom Osborn of Kenya is the founder of Greenchar that produces charcoal briquettes and distributes clean cook-stoves throughout his country. He won a special $10,000 energy prize from the Donors Circle for Africa.
The whole reason the Anzisha Prize was started to encourage others to follow in the footsteps of the fellows and finalists; to show the whole continent that all you need is a good idea and a viable execution plan to positively impact thousands of African lives. For the winners the gala night is only the first step as afterwards there is mentor-ship, consulting and community gatherings in the years that follow. It is an amazing initiative because after in this year alone they received 339 applications from 32 countries.
To the winners, congratulations! To the organizers and sponsors keep up the good work!