Africa, where 70% of the population is under the age of 30, is buzzing with business ideas and innovative spirit — but who are the continent’s brightest young entrepreneurs?
The answer was given last week when 12 young entrepreneurs from all across Africa traveled to Johannesburg to compete for the annual Anzisha Prize — currently in its fourth year, Anzisha Prize is a pan-African award celebrating entrepreneurs aged 15-22 who’ve come up with innovative ways to solve problems in their communities, or have launched successful businesses in their areas.
Cameroonian Alain Nteff, 22, was named as the grand prize winner of the $25,000 prize for launching Gifted Mom, a mobile app that helps mothers and health workers calculate due dates in order to reduce the high newborn and pregnant women death rates.
South African schoolbag manufacturer Thato Kgatlhanye was first runner up, receiving a cash prize of $15,000. Gabriel Kombassere, a 17 year-old farmer from the Ivory Coast, was awarded $12,500 for coming second runner up.
Alain Nteff, 22, Cameroon
Grand prize winner Alain Nteff started the Gifted Mom project to help tackle the high mortality rate of infant deaths and pregnant women. He has developed an app that helps women calculate due dates. Nteff’s e-content platform also sends automated alerts that help mothers track antenatal care.
Thato Kgatlhanye, 21, South Africa
First runner up Thato Kgatlhanye is the founder of Repurpose Schoolbags, a company making environmental-friendly schoolbags. Made from up-cycled plastic shopping bags, Kgatlhanye’s creations integrate solar technology that charges during the day to provide light for pupils studying after dark.
Gabriel Kombassere, 17, Ivory Coast
Second runner up Gabriel Kombassere is on a mission to eradicate starvation in his region. He launched Ribla Neda, a student-run farming organization that cultivates basic staple food to help members feed themselves and their families.
Tom Osborn, 18, Kenya
Tom Osborn was awarded a special $10,000 energy prize award from Donors Circle for Africa for Greenchar, a clean energy project that produces charcoal briquettes and distributes clean cook-stoves in Kenya to fight deforestation.
Winifred Selby, 19, Ghana
Winifred Selby from Ghana co-created the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative when she was just 15. The project uses local bamboo to help provide a convenient transportation option and employment to Ghanaians in rural areas.
Sam Kodo, 22, Togo
Sam Kodo is the founder of LC-COM (Low cost-Computer) / Infinite Loop, an award-winning company that produces low cost personal computers for students.
Martha Chumo, 19, Kenya
After being refused a visa to to the U.S. to study coding, Martha Chumo decided to create her own hacking school. Thus, she founded The Nairobi Developer School, an institution aiming to help African programmers improve their skills.
Jeffrey Mulaudzi, 22, South Africa
Jeffrey Mulaudzi is the founder of Mulaudzi Bicycle Tours in the Alexandra township. The lifestyle bike tour company aims to combat negative stereotypes about the area.
Noah Walakira, 21, Uganda
Noah Walakira started Namirembe Sweater Makers to tackle unemployment in his community. The company creates sweaters for 43 partner schools across Uganda and has recently started working with uniform companies.
Benedicte Mundele, 20, DRC