By Andrew Nsoseka
A Cameroonian, Melissa Bime, has emerged winner of the Grand Prize of the Anzisha Prize competition after working on an innovative project which aimed at ensuring the availability life-saving blood in some hospitals around the country, through an online blood bank and digital supply chain.
Melissa came first in the competition for entrepreneurial innovations organised by the Mastercard Foundation and African Leadership Academy.
In a press statement, the two organisations announced that they are thrilled that “22-year-old healthcare entrepreneur Melissa Bime has won the US$25,000 Grand Prize at the 8th annual Anzisha Prize awards gala. She is the founder of INFIUSS, an online blood bank and digital supply chain platform that ensures patients in 23 hospitals in Cameroon have life-saving blood when and where they need it. She is only the second woman to win the grand prize since Best Ayiorworth took it home in 2013.” The statement read.
In her acceptance speech of the Grand Prize, Bime told her audience, “Today, I stand here to represent every young girl out there that just has her dreams…I stand here to represent this amazing group of entrepreneurs that I am a part of. With these people, the future of Africa is very bright. We are going to change this continent.”
The organisers of the award scheme, say Melissa was selected from among 20 finalists during a ceremony on October 23, which was live-streamed to over 3,000 viewers across the Continent.
Other winners also include 18-year-old Alhaji Siraj Bah, first runner up, who received US$15,000 in prize money. He is the founder of Rugsal Trading in Sierra Leone, a company that produces handcrafted paper bags as well as briquettes for cooking fuel. He plans to use his prize money to expand and impact 7.5 million Sierra Leonians’ lives.
Joan Nalubega, 21, came in as the second-runner up. She co-founded Uganics, which produces mosquito-repellent soap to combat malaria in Uganda. With her US$12,500 Prize money, she plans to conduct a certification study for the company’s products and prepare Uganics for export to neighbouring countries to help in the fight against malaria.
The keynote speaker, at the ceremony, Sim Shagaya, expressed hope that the problems faced by the continent could be solved by its young entrepreneurs. “You must lead!” he told them.
The 20 finalists of the competition are said to have spent 10 days in a business accelerator camp strengthening their business fundamentals before presenting their ventures to a panel of judges that included Ntuthuko Shezi, Bita Diamomande, Saran Kaba Jones, and Polo Leteka. They join a pool of more than 85 Anzisha Fellows and a network of support that includes access to mentors, experts, and networking. Each returns home with a US$2,500.