Business and Finance

Ugandan win 2012 Anzisha Prize

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On August 29th, 2012, at The Venue in Sandton, Johannesburg, 20 year-old Andrew Mupuya of Uganda was announced as the Grand Prize Winner of the second annual Anzisha Prize (www.anzishaprize.org), the premier award for Africa’s young entrepreneurial leaders. The Awards ceremony celebrated 13 exceptional entrepreneurs, all under the age of 22, selected from 270 youth in 23 countries, and was keynoted by Ashish Thakkar, Founder and Managing Director of the Mara Group, who began building what is now one of the largest companies in Africa at the age of just 15. The three Grand Prize Winners shared $75,000 USD in prize money with the ten other finalists — money that they will use to take their projects to new heights.

The Anzisha Prize is managed out of African Leadership Academy’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which was established through a $1.6 million multi-year partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. Through the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation seek to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship among young people across the continent. In the two years since its inception, the Anzisha Prize has awarded over $140,000 to promising businesses and projects led by young people across the continent.

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When his parents became unemployed, Andrew struggled to balance his school fees with the need to support his family. In 2008, at the age of 16, Andrew saw a market opportunity in paper bag production, as the Ugandan government considered a possible ban on use of polythene plastic bags. After he had raised his initial seed capital of 36,000 Ugandan shillings ($18), Mupuya started making paper bags at a small scale while still in high school. In 2010, Andrew officially registered his new company, Youth Entrepreneurial Link Investments (YELI). YELI is now the first local registered paper bag and envelope producing company in Uganda. His business has grown to employ 14 people, the eldest of whom is a 53 year-old father of eight. YELI’s customer base includes local hospitals, retail shops, roadside sellers, super markets, and major local flour manufacturer companies like Maganjo grain millers and Akamai Foods. In 2011, YELI was the recipient of a 2.6 million Ugandan shilling ($1,000) ILO business plan competition.

YELI has now produced over half a million paper bags in his four years of operation. From his earnings, Andrew is able to pay for his studies toward a bachelor’s degree in commerce at Makerere University, pay salaries for his staff, and support his family in Mbale by opening up a distribution outlet run by his mother. In addition to managing his growing enterprise, Andrew has found time to train over 500 individuals, mostly young people, on how to make paper bags through which 16 other projects have been set up. His personal goal is to employ 60 people by 2015 and set up a paper bag making plant in order to achieve a vision of a cleaner Africa. “The $30,000 grand prize is a great honor for me,” said Andrew. “With this money I plan to expand my production capability and also build a paper recycling operation.”

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