The Äänit Prize supports initiatives that can deliver positive social impact for Africa’s most marginalised populations. The competition is open to alumni of the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship and the Rhodes Scholarship.
We seek businesses or non-profit projects that will deliver social impact, that are feasible and sustainable prospects, and that are run by people with the capability to succeed.See how to apply
“Nelson Mandela really believed in the potential of young people. He believed that if we invest in young people and their dreams and ideas, we will see an acceleration of the transformation of the continent. We are therefore so excited to be launching the Äänit Prize.”
— Judy Sikuza, CEO
Atherton Mutombwera, Jessica Ronaasen, Koaile Monaheng and Shantel Marekera are winners of the 2022 Äänit Prize, The Mandela Rhodes Foundation’s award for social impact. The young leaders are from three African countries – South Africa, Lesotho and Zimbabwe - and will each receive $19 500, or R343 400, towards their ventures.
Read the press release · Meet all the 2022 finalists
Hutano aims to save lives by developing better, faster testing technology for diagnosing dangerous diseases in resource-poor contexts.
The Do More Foundation brings the public and private sectors together to improve early childhood development outcomes.
Khantša Energy aims to “light up Lesotho” by bringing renewable energy to remote, impoverished areas.
Little Dreamers Foundation runs an affordable preschool in the under-serviced neighbourhoods of Budidiro Cabs, Zimbabwe.
Winner of the 2021 Äänit Prize
Rewoven diverts textile waste from landfill by collecting it from source and recycling it into new fabric. Rewoven's manufacturing process uses 99% less water and generates 50% less CO2 emissions than normal production processes. The fabric has the same look and quality as fabric made from virgin fibers.
Entrants must be Mandela Rhodes Alumni (any year from 2005 onwards) or Rhodes Scholar Alumni (from 2005 onwards).
Entrants must demonstrate that they are contributing (or will contribute) to one of the below impact areas in Africa.
Entrants must be founders, co-founders or members of the executive team of the business or organisation which they are entering.
Non-Profit and For-Profit initiatives are both eligible. Initiatives at different stages of development can apply.
Successful candidates will be expected to stay with their projects for two years from the time of the award.
We are interested in 10 impact areas which support the Sustainable Development Goals and are particularly important in the African context.
“It’s important to focus our minds on business being linked to society’s needs, instead of just being about profit regardless of whether the impact is positive or negative. We are moving to an era where business has to be part of the solution to our problems. That’s probably what Madiba would have told us to do.”
— Mo Ibrahim, Trustee
We consider initiatives at all stages. You will be asked to tell us which stage yours is in. Select the best fit. We will also ask whether you have any employees.
These 10 priority areas support the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa. If your project spans multiple areas, choose the one that is the best fit or the primary area of impact.
We do not expect you to provide a full application at this stage. We are looking for an elevator pitch: a short, clear, and compelling motivation. We are looking for:
THE APPLICATION CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT ON THE 30TH OF MAY. PLEASE NOTE THIS IS MIDNIGHT IN SOUTH AFRICA (GMT +2:00)
Submit a short motivation explaining why your project, business, or idea is socially impactful. Tell us how you plan to realise it and why you’re the perfect person/team that has what it takes to make it happen. Don’t self exclude — we’ve designed this part of the process to make applying quick, easy and approachable.
We will review all of the indications of interest and then invite 30 candidates to submit full applications. We will let you know if you are not successful.
Submit your application. This will include a written project statement, a project /business plan (maximum of 12 pages) and relevant supporting documents. The 30 applications will be evaluated by reviewers with relevant experience and expertise.
The longlisted candidates will be invited to an interview in the week of 22 August 2023, which will include a short pitch that builds on the value proposition of your written application.
The candidates who go through to the final round will receive written comments. They will have 48 hours to improve their proposals and record a two-minute pitch to submit.
The shortlisted candidates’ applications will be sent to an external, independent panel of judges. They will make a final decision on how many winners to choose, and how to allocate the prize money.
The winners will be informed and then announced publicly at a celebration on 16 September 2023.
“Our vision for entrepreneurship in Africa stems from our mandate to address inequality and contribute to the achievement of true equality. We know that innovative and creative individuals can make a significant difference to the lives of people across the continent.”
— Professor Njabulo S. Ndebele, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Äänit means “common work” or “joint effort” in the language Koalib, a minority language spoken in Sudan. This name speaks to our belief in coming together to take collective responsibility for Africa’s future. It was also chosen to highlight our continent’s linguistic diversity.
No. The project or initiative you are entering into the competition must be based in Africa.
The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship’s first Class was chosen in 2005. Limiting the number of Rhodes Scholars to those from 2005 onward contributes towards parity in the pool.
That’s okay! We accept entries from candidates at the ideation stage. Visit the “entry categories” section for more information.
The prize is a once-off award of up to $80 000.
Winners will be asked to identify monitoring and evaluation criteria for their projects and share them with the MRF bi-annually for a period of two years. The MRF can ask for an update on your project annually for up to five years.
None, other than the reporting requirements outlined above.
“I am delighted to hear about the Äänit Prize because I know that there are many talented young people in the Mandela Rhodes and Rhodes Scholar Alumni communities with brilliant ideas, who can make those ideas come to fruition with the right funding and support.”
— Graça Machal
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