Building narratives: Akayi announces Entrepreneur of the Year in inaugural contest

Akayi Co-founders Chido Dzinotyiwei and Farai Chikumba

Akayi — a first-class business support organisation committed to empowering and enabling entrepreneurs in the local ecosystems, recently announced the winners of its entrepreneur of the year competition which ran from April 14 to June 14 this year.

A brainchild of Chido Dzinotyiwei and Farai Chikumba, Akayi has hosted gatherings with young entrepreneurs to share their experience with them and to also give them advice on how to run a successful startup business.

The organisation has, within a short period of its formation, conducted three cohorts of its business development program coupled with four quarterly meet-ups, with the latest SME’s pitch contest being one of its latest projects.

The inaugural competition was conducted to display innovative entrepreneurial ideas that have impact on the community and the rest of the country at large and is a platform to foster collaborations between startups whilst celebrating the innovative spirit which drives economic growth and development in Zimbabwe.

Through the entrepreneur of the year competition, Akayi tries to recognise the hard work and dedication of African entrepreneurs thereby supporting entrepreneurs in their quest to contribute to the Zimbabwean economy whilst offering them support in the form of connections to network with and grow their businesses.

The competition included businesses from different sectors ranging from agriculture to tech start-ups. The company also has a program called Biz Build which is a free six-week business development program that takes startup businesses through training sessions in strategy, finance, advertising and more.

In the competition’s first category, Stephene Nhire of Evvo Solar Projects emerged as the winner of the $2 000 winning prize aimed at expanding the winning business under the small to medium enterprise category. Nhire’s pitch centred around Evvo Solar Project’s determination and dedication to developing and contributing to Zimbabwe’s sustainable development efforts with Evvo Solar Projects emphasising its intention to reduce the country’s reliance on non-renewable energy sources and alleviate the impact on climate change.

The second category recognised the start-up of the year with Afroseek grabbing the limelight and emerging as the winner with its revolutionary mobile application meant to transform the travel industry in Africa.  The company’s pitch simplified the travel experience for tourist by providing a platform which allows service providers to advertise and manage their products effectively. Afroseek has a futuristic aim as it reduces some of the challenges of the tourism sector in Zimbabwe and other countries.

Makomborero Pashapa of Afroseek said his experiences had been characterised by both highs and lows which had helped and shaped him into the young man he had become.

 “I’m a firm believer in the power of perseverance and learning. I recognise the value of making mistakes, which have enabled me to navigate a challenging rough path and terrain filled with so many obstacles,” Pashapa said.

“I strongly believe in the bootstrapping and lean approach to starting a business, where you use what you have to build a successful start-up.”

The competition included the contestants pitching their businesses to a panel of judges who then selected the winners based on the viability of the business, the potential for growth and the impact they are making in their communities.

The adjudicating panel for both categories comprised of veteran experts drawn from various professions and industry experts including renowned accountant Duduzile Nyirongo, corporate finance guru Caleb Bhosha, entrepreneur Namatirai Zinyohwera and education evangelist Edzai Zvobwo.

Akayi extended its heartfelt congratulations to Evvo Solar Projects and Afroseek:

“Their success not only showcased their entrepreneurial talent but also highlighted the immense potential of Zimbabwe’s businesses to the community,” Akayi said in a statement.

Akayi added that the competition had been an intense one with remarkable entrepreneurs pitching several state-of-the-art business ideas.

Founded in 2022 — Akayi believes in empowering entrepreneurs by providing them with necessary tools, resources and support to succeed. The organisation strives to create an environment where entrepreneurs can thrive, learn from one another and unlock their full potential whilst recognising the power of collaborations and value of building strong networks within the business community. By facilitating connections and fostering collaborations among entrepreneurs–their aim is to create a vibrant ecosystem where ideas flourish and partnerships thrive.

*This article was coordinated by Atrishya Gondo. The writer Fungayi Antony Sox works at TisuMazwi — a public relations and communication-centered social enterprise specialising in books, education, IELTS, and storytelling projects. He writes in his personal capacity. For feedback contact him on 0776 030 949, connect with him on LinkedIn on Fungayi Antony Sox, or follow him on Twitter @AntonySox.

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