aNewDomain — Issam Darui is just 22, but the accolades he is receiving for his Lagare.ma, the first online bus portal system in Morocco, are astounding.
In just the last year, his firm has been recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Startups in Morocco and scored first place as the Best Moroccan Ecommerce Platform. But now he’s looking at the big time. The university junior is one of 12 finalists on the shortlist to win Africa’s coveted Anzisha Prize, which recognizes the continent’s most successful young entrepreneurs.
The finalists were hand-picked from a pool of 550 applicants, young entrepreneurs aged 15 to 22 who hail from 32 African countries. They are competing for a share in cash prizes totaling about $100,000 (USD).
“The momentum behind the Anzisha Prize has grown and we are starting to see a real impact,” said Koffi Assouan, a program manager at The MasterCard Foundation, which co-sponsors the prize with the African Leadership Academy.
“Anzisha Fellows are forming a strong, African network of young business innovators that transcends their individual sectors and geographical areas,” he added. “They are learning from each other, growing their ventures and advancing the spirit of social entrepreneurship.”
Added Anzisha Prize senior programs manager Grace Kalisha:
There has been an extraordinary rise of Africa-bred entrepreneurs in the continent and their stories are being told. This is a promise of great things to come for African entrepreneurship.”
Meet the 12 finalists, below.
Aly Abd ElAzem, 20, Egypt. Co-founder of Teens Club, a city youth hub providing teenagers with a platform for professional self-development by linking them to experts, improving their skill sets, and providing a safe space for the expression of opinions and talents, with 30,000 youth applying to participate in the program in 2015 alone.
Issam Darui, 22, Morocco. Founder of Lagare.ma, the first electronic bus station in Morocco, available in 10 languages and 25 currencies, established to provide efficient travel services for the first time in Morocco, with schedules to over 150 destinations.
Ifrah Mohamed, 19, Kenya. Founder of Supermom, which empowers unemployed and underemployed women by providing them with jobs in a door-to-door last mile distribution network for essential goods in rural Kenya, with over 20 “super moms” in the network.
Benedict Kusi Ampofo, 22, Ghana. Founder of Project Kiriku, a demonstration farm aiming to create sustainable agricultural communities with reduced poverty, providing over 60 farmers with skills, knowledge and agricultural innovations.
Lamine Chamsiya, 21, Niger. Founder of E3D Cosmetique, which manufactures and markets a range of neem-based hair and skin cosmetic products with antiseptic properties.
- Yaye Souadou Fall, 21, Senegal. Founder of E-cover, which produces innovative multi-purpose tiles for paving, playgrounds, swimming pools, shoe soles and other products, from recycled tires, employing six people to date.
Geoffrey Mulei, 20, Kenya. Founder of INKISHA, aimed at increasing access to eco-friendly packaging among African consumers by partnering with advertisers and innovative brands, providing around 350,000 free bags monthly, supported by an innovative revenue model.
N’guessan Koffi Jacques Olivier, 19, Cote d’Ivoire. Founder of The Yaletite Entrepreneurship Group CI, an ambitious initiative producing and marketing food crops for profit, locating subsidies for students with disabilities and mobilizing youth for employment, with more than 30 people employed.
Heritiana Fabien Randriamananatahina, 22, Madagascar. Founder of FIOMBONANA, an agro-processing initiative that drives import substitution through local manufacture of dairy products and confectioneries, sourcing from local farmers with 12 people currently employed.
Faustino Quissico, 22, Mozambique. Founder of TQ Group and Services, which supplies, installs and maintains hardwood floors, sourcing inputs and providing employment to 13 people.
Asha Abbas, 17, Tanzania. Founder of Aurateen, an online platform providing teenage health and sex education by raising awareness of high-risk behaviours, working with medical practitioners and youth experts and offering counselling services both online and in-person.
Andrew Ddembe, 20, Uganda. Serial entrepreneur, and founder of Heart for the Hurt, a diversified business supplying school uniforms, restaurant services and growing coffee, all of which reduce income variability for the business and around 30 employees, who predominantly have speech difficulties.
Winners will be announced in late October. Stay tuned.
Reporting from Abuja, Nigeria for aNewDomain, I’m Hussaini G. Mohammed.