Owners of profitable, growing enterprises (with annual revenues between US$1-15 million) may submit entries online at www.africaawards.com until 24 August 2011. The grand prize winner will receive US$100,000 and five other companies will receive awards of US$50,000 each.
Kicking off its fourth year, the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship recognises and rewards African business leaders who embody the entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrate the qualities required to succeed in business. Applicants will be evaluated on key areas such as profitability, return on investment and growth; long-term business strategy; leadership, culture and values; investment in employees; innovation to address market needs; and contribution to the community.
Connie Nkosi, CEO of Lidonga Investment Holdings and keynote speaker for the launch event being held at the Hilton Sandton Hotel in Johannesburg this morning commented, "Initiatives such as these encourage the much needed development of SMEs in South Africa. Nearly half of all private sector jobs are generated by the SME sector and as such, the growth of sustainable enterprises in South Africa are imperative if we are to stem problems of unemployment in the country."
"Entrepreneurs hold the reins of Africa's future and the Africa Awards programme is evidence of the business revolution that is now sweeping the continent," said Alan McCormick, a MD of Legatum. "The Africa Awards has expanded and now for the first time is open to every country in Africa. We believe that neither location nor size of the population is a barrier to world-class entrepreneurs competing for one of the most prestigious business awards. Entrepreneurs drive local economies, create jobs, support communities, and deliver the most effective solution to sustainable development. They are the inspirational role models who are crucial to the future of Africa's continued growth."
The 2011 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship builds upon the 2010 programme, which included over 2,700 entries received from 15 countries and 18 different industry sectors; 250 business leaders and influencers attended the gala awards event; and 10 finalists from Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda were recognised. Since 2007, the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship programme has grown from five countries to including every country in Africa.
The announcement of this year's Africa Awards coincides with the publication of a report on entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa from the Legatum Institute, the publishers of the 110-country Global Prosperity Index. The report finds that entrepreneurs are the "enablers of growth" who break down economic barriers and social constraints and that entrepreneurship and access to opportunity are by far the most highly correlated indicators of a nation's overall prosperity.
"Legatum and Omidyar Network share the belief that motivated entrepreneurs can foster positive social impact from within Africa," said Matt Bannick, managing partner of Omidyar Network. "We are proud to renew our support of the Africa Awards, a program that honors and connects a growing network of leaders that are creating terrific new opportunity across the continent."
A one-day conference on entrepreneurship, Convergence: Africa, will precede the gala awards banquet on 8 December in Nairobi. The 2011 Africa Awards will conclude by honouring the ten finalists and winners in the presence of an international audience of business people, investors, policymakers, and entrepreneurs.