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Kenyan innovator set on becoming millionaire at 20

By Moses Omusolo | Sep 28th 2020 | 3 min read
By Moses Omusolo | September 28th 2020
Wlifred Chege, founder Shulemall Limited.

A Kenyan youth is staring at more than Sh2 million in an Africa focused innovation challenge now in the 10th year running.

This as the Anzisha Prize has revealed its top 20 finalists for 2020. The Kenyan Wilfred Chege, who is only 20 years old, is eagerly positioning himself to be announced among winners at this year’s Anzisha Prize Conference slated for October 27, where the programme will also be celebrating 10 years of supporting very young entrepreneurs. 

The prize is an initiative of African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation.

“This year’s application season saw a record number of 1 200 applicants vying for a chance to join the Anzisha Prize fellowship. From these applications, 20 businesses emerged that were forty-five percent female-owned and represented sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and education,” said the prize in a statement.

Data shows the programme has supported some 122 entrepreneurs where 77 of the businesses have created over 2 000 jobs, with 56 per cent of them being employment providers for young Africans under 25.

The prize has so far managed to raise over Sh750 million as grants for investment purposes.  

Commenting on this development, Anzisha Prize Deputy Director Melissa Mbazo-Ekepenyong 2020 has seen a global shift in the future of work.

“This year’s applicants have personified the resilience and innovation that Africa needs as we navigate our way into a post-COVID-19 future,” she said.

Mastercard Foundation Chief Program Officer Peter Materu said the success of the prize over the last decade stands as a resounding testament to the creativity and entrepreneurial potential of Africa’s very young people—a hugely under-tapped resource.

“Through Anzisha, we’re reminded of what they can achieve when challenged and enabled to own and solve the problems they see around them,” he said.

Chege is co-founder of Shulemall Limited, an e-commerce platform that sells uniforms and stationary for students in boarding schools. 

He is battling it out with other young entrepreneurs in some 11 African countries including Morocco, South Africa and Tanzania-- who displayed impressive ventures that are tackling critical issues within their communities while also turning a profit.

Posing serious competition for Kenya are some six innovations to be pitched by David Denis (22) who is founder of Cutoff Recycle, a Tanzania-based human hair waste recycling venture.

Adjei Nyamekye (17) from Ghana is founder of Mosquito Trapping and Emergency LED Bulbs, an initiative that sells state of the art light bulbs that provide 12 hours of emergency electricity during power outages and trap mosquitoes.

Mustapha Zeroual (22) from Morocco is founder of IA4YOU, a business that designs different systems and digital platforms using artificial intelligence.

Adjei Nyamekye (17) from Ghana is founder of Mosquito Trapping and Emergency LED Bulbs, an initiative that sells state of the art light bulbs that provide 12 hours of emergency electricity during power outages and trap mosquitoes.

Joshua Adabie Armah (22) from Ghana is founder of PopKing Ghana, a business that sells fresh popcorn in multiple flavors to vendors in Ghana.

Hamidu Biha (22) from Uganda is founder of Biha Eco Venture, an innovative recycling company that uses poultry eggshells to make various eco-friendly products including eco-charcoal and eco-tiles.

Incidentally, after online voting, the top 20 will later gather virtually from their various countries to share knowledge and learn from expert coaches and mentors as they prepare for their final pitches.

Moreover, all the entrepreneurs will then receive a cash prize of more than Sh270, 000 ($2 500).

The grand prize winner will receive more than Sh2.7 million ($25 000), while the first runner and second runners up receive over Sh1.7 million ($15 000) and over Sh1.4 million ($12 500) respectively.  

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