Today’s teenagers, as we have seen again and again, are anything but apathetic. Despite our past focus on U.S. teenagers, the entrepreneurialism of this generation isn’t limited to the country. The Anzisha Prize, an award for African leader ages 16 to 22, is a hotbed of inspiring projects. This year’s finalists are no exception.
Take Laetitia Mukungu, a 16-year-old from Kenya. She goes to school in Nairobi, but grew up in a remote village with her mother (she never knew her father), and saw firsthand what happens when students lack basic educational tools like books and uniforms. "I wanted to help support them financially in school and help parents to have a sustainable income," she says.
Mukungu didn’t collect donations like most high school students might do; instead, she borrowed 40,000 Kenyan shillings, set up a rabbit hutch, and started breeding rabbits. She began with 15 in 2009; now there are 600. Mukungu doesn’t raise the rabbits all by herself. Instead, she relies on the Women’s Rabbit Association (her creation), a group of 15 women in her home village that use the fast-breeding rabbits as a sustainable source of income. While Mukungu is in school in Nairobi, the women run the project themselves.
The rabbits are a rich source of income.The women currently sell rabbit meat, for example, and in the future, Mukungu hopes to expand the project and sell to supermarkets throughout Kenya. The women also run a farm. "It’s a very easy project and it’s very productive," says Mukungu.
Mukungu is one of 13 finalists in the prize ( co-sponsored annually by the African Leadership Academy (ALA) and The MasterCard Foundation) selected from 270 entrepreneurs in 23 African countries. Other finalists include Lindokuhle Mdluli, an 18 year-old from Swaziland who founded Eco-Eagle, a company that produces high-yield organic produce on non-arable land; and Yaw Duffour Awuah, a 19 year-old from Ghana who founded Student Aid Plus, a company that offers a savings and loan program to help students pay school fees as well as financial literacy education. The Anzisha Finalists share $75,000 in prizes to further their ventures.