Youth Entrepreneurship Is Lagging In North & Central Africa, Says Anzisha Prize



According to information collected from the applications of this year’s Anzisha Prize, there is a potential shortage of young women entrepreneurs who are from North and Central Africa or involved in renewable energy ventures.

“We are hoping that our application data reflects weaknesses in our outreach strategy, rather than the reality on the ground. If our sample is a mirror of youth entrepreneur activity across the continent, then we are sitting with a fairly terrible situation for youth venture creation outside of some key hubs,” said Josh Adler, Director for the Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the African Leadership Academy.

The prestigious Anzisha Prize, Africa’s premier award for its youngest entrepreneurs, is encouraging North and Central Africans, young women and those with renewable energy ventures from around the African continent to enter. Application information and in-country support are available in both French and Arabic.

The $75,000 Anzisha Prize, hosted by the African Leadership Academy in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, awards young African entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22 who have started ventures that are making a real impact in their communities. There is an additional $10,000 grant, courtesy of the Donor Circle for Africa group of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, that is given to a young entrepreneur who is working on a renewable energy initiative.

With a week to go until the application deadline, over 200 applications have been received from more than 25 countries.

  • Applications from young female entrepeneurs are declining yet 55 percent of the African youth population between 15-24 is female, young women only make up 25 percent of the current Anzisha Prize applicant pool.
  • North African applications are low despite significantly more awareness campaigns for the Anzisha Prize.
  • Official documents are now available in Arabic and French and the Anzisha Prize team met with partners across North Africa in early March.
  • Biogas and green charcoal initiatives look to be more prevalent amongst African youth rather than solar, wind, and other alternative energy initiatives. 

“We need to enlist the help of the media, gender-focused youth organizations and teachers to encourage candidates they know of for the prize to apply. Our applications team is standing by to support entries and nominations in French, Arabic and English and our country partners in every region are available to engage national media in the debate around youth entrepreneurship in different countries,” added Adler.

Past award recipients include Best Ayiorwoth, a young woman from Uganda, who  began a small micro-credit services company that invests in and empowers young women in Uganda, and Khaled Shady, inventor of Mubser, a wearable belt for the visually impaired in Egypt.

The Anzisha Prize applications are now open and close on April 1, 2014. Application and nomination forms are available online on

Finalists will win an all-expense paid trip to the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, to attend a week-long entrepreneurship development programme and awards gala.