Welcome to our series of introductions to African Leadership Academy’s 2018 cohort – and meet ALA’s newest Anzisha Fellow…
‘If you follow the normal ways you will end on a normal destination but if you decide to take a new way you will end up in your new desired destination.’
Students are introduced to African Leadership Academy through our various networks: some experience it vicariously through relatives and friends, others through our many additional program offerings, such as our Global Summer Programs, ALAMAU, BUILD In A Box boot camps, and the annual Anzisha Prize.
Edgar is one of the latter, having made it to the finals of ALA’s prestigious entrepreneurial program sponsored by the Mastercard Foundation. He emerged as First Runner Up for his innovative recycling business, Green Venture (see below).
“Through Anzisha Prize I was able to get a scale up capital, and through the Anzisha boot camp – which I think it was the most meaningful – I was able to get skills that I went on to apply in my business. The network I have created helped me to grow my business too; I won other competitions, such as Global Children Climate prize in Sweden, and the Youth Financial Inclusion award in Saudi Arabia. The media coverage that we got, such as BBC World documentaries and being recognised as Forbes Africa Disrupters of 2030, enabled us to expand our growth,” notes Edgar.
It’s also led to this young student, who hails from Arusha in Tanzania, appearing on the international stage: a day before the 2018 Anzisha Prize Gala, Edgar returned from participating in the One Young World summit in The Hague.
“My overall experience with One Young World was great! Being among the AUDI scholars enable me to visit the Audi electric car factory in Brussels, Belgium – and this was such an eye opening experience into both technological and environmental conservation. It also enabled me to hear from among the world’s most influential people, including Nobel Prize winners, musicians and global activists. It was such an incredible opportunity to deliver my speech to more than 2 000 people from the about 190 countries that attended,” he reflects.
This young social entrepreneur already had a strong environmental profile, honed at school as a member of Africamoja, where he participated in various environmental activities and programs organised by Africamoja Youth Society. He also founded his former school’s environmental club which, he says, was “aimed at reducing the carbon footprints generated on campus, and to also enable our fellow students to get involved in creating awareness on environmental conservation, and create initiatives”.
Edgar’s achievements prove Anzisha’s philosophy that age is no deterrent to success, and the younger one starts on an entrepreneurial journey, the better. “I started early – I started my business at just 15 – and this gives enough time to grow, evaluate myself and fix my mistakes. I also get inspired seeing other young people taking initiatives, since it’s a sign that everything is possible, regardless of the age and financial position. If you follow the normal ways you will end on a normal destination but if you decide to take a new way you will end up in your new desired destination,” he maintains.
Given Edgar’s incredible entrepreneurial journey, and his decision to enhance it by studying at ALA, his destination seems clear. “I was really impressed with the ALA curriculum that is based on Entrepreneurial Leadership, and I think this is the key toward solving the common problems of the continent. I also believe it is great to interact and share ideas with classmates from around the continent, which results in a great network.”
Edgar’s Entrepreneurial Highights
- Anzisha Prize 2017: First runner up
- Children’s Climate Prize 2017: Grand Prize Winner
- International Eco Hero: Outstanding Innovator, 2017
- Tanzania Youth Innovation 2017: Plastic Recycling
- Forbes Africa Disrupters of 2030
- One Young World delegate, The Hague, 2018
About Green Venture
Green Venture recycles plastic waste into affordable building products such as paving blocks and roof tiles – thereby not only enabling people to build homes more affordably, but also reducing waste and promoting environmental sustainability.
Edgar was only 15 when he turned adversity into opportunity in 2015, after severe rains and flooding left hundreds? homeless. “Most people lost their homes in the floods because they could not afford cement products for construction, and at the same time there was vast plastic pollution, and due to this I came up with a single solution, and that was to use plastics to create building materials,” he explains.
The company benefits the community in one more important aspect: it creates income opportunities for others. “Over the past few years I have been able to create 6 full time jobs, and more than 100 people work as part-time plastic waste collectors and this really means a lot to me and my community – seeing people earning their living from the small initiative I started really gives me the courage to push on every day,” says Edgar.
WATCH: Green Venture highlighted in a BBC World Documentary