Pioneers Of Prosperity Awards US $350,000 To Africa’s Entrepreneurs

Core Facts: The winners of The Pioneers of Prosperity Africa Awards 2008 have been announced. This year's US$100,000 Grand Prize was awarded to Superflux International, a Nigerian-based print specialist. The co-founders, S.E.VEN Fund, Templeton, Legatum and OTF Group, also gave away $50, 000 to the five runners-up; AAR Health (Kenya); Safi Cleaning (Uganda); Africa Polysack Industries (Uganda); Gahaya Links (Rwanda) and Integr8 Group (South Africa)

The Pioneers of Prosperity Africa Awards 2008 is a two day event, which started on 19 November, 2008 and took place in Kigali, Rwanda – the land of a thousand hills. Part of the Pioneers of Prosperity Award Programme, developed by Michael Fairbanks, it brings together top African businesses, investors, presidents, policymakers, the press, and NGOs to celebrate and recognise torch-bearing companies in Africa.

This year's awards involved ten finalists, which included four female entrepreneurs, competing in a 'Dragon's Den' style pitch to four expert judges, for the life changing Grand Prize of $100,000. Judging the competition was: Andreas Widmer, co-founder of S.E.VEN Fund; Alan McCormick, managing director of Legatum; Malik Fal, business marketing and operations group lead for west-east-central Africa at Microsoft; and Ariff Shamji, CEO of AAA Growers – 2007's Pioneers of Prosperity Africa Awards Grand Prize Winner.

Businesses were judged using the COW-F framework for good business practice. The winner, Superflux International, provides secure print solutions, including print communication, document management and envelope manufacturing. Superflux International works across a breadth of sectors, including: government, manufacturing, entertainment and is the preferred supplier of cheques to major banks in Nigeria.

The awards were presented by His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, at a ceremony dedicated to the late Sir John Templeton. The ceremony was also attended by H.E. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. The long-term aim of Pioneers of Prosperity is to turn these companies into powerful role models that will inspire the next-generation of African business leaders and COW-F entrepreneurs.

This year's Awards program was open to entrepreneurs from ten African countries including Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda. For 2009 the Pioneers of Prosperity Award Programme will expand to include Central America and the Caribbean

Approved Quotes:
Michael Fairbanks, co-founder of the S.E.VEN Fund and founder of the OTF Group, said: "The Pioneers of Prosperity Africa Awards 2008 was an historic event, with two Presidents coming together, not to be honored by citizens and businessmen of Africa, but to honor entrepreneurs who are building great companies, employing people, and eradicating poverty.

"In the era of total global competition for scarce resources, where ethnic groups are at war, and the rich are getting richer, where values are being tested and transformed faster than we may reflect upon them, indeed, overwhelming the sensibility of mankind; enterprise and technology solutions to poverty represent, perhaps, the best hope for poor nations."

Andreas Widmer, co-founder of S.E.VEN Fund and competition judge, said: "It was a difficult decision to choose the Pioneers of Prosperity prize winners from among these 10 great companies. What inspired me about Superflux International is that they have overcome huge obstacles in their history. They compete and win with a high quality product and strong ethical practices in an industry with tremendous domestic and international competition."

Alan McCormick, Legatum managing director and Pioneers of Prosperity panel judge, said: "We congratulate the 2008 Award winners and each of the finalists who all represent a dynamic new wave of African entrepreneurs shaping the continent's future. Each of them demonstrated the level of excellence, leadership and vision required to grow their businesses regionally and internationally. They are an inspiration to anyone in Africa who may be wondering if they can succeed in business. The answer is: yes, you can.

Mr. Eric Kacou, OTF managing director, said: "The 2008 Legatum Pioneers of Prosperity Africa Awards has been a great success with 1,400 submissions received this year, growing from 450 in 2007. This year's winners and finalists truly represent the business excellence and entrepreneurial spirit that are keys to the continent's future prosperity."

The COW-F Framework: COW-F is a framework developed by Michael Fairbanks to identify the entrepreneurs that could serve as inspiration for young people considering careers in business. There are four constituents to any business model: customers, owners, workers, and future generations. The standard definition of an entrepreneur is one who assumes the risk of a business venture; but Michael asserts that this alone is insufficient to unleash the potential of entrepreneurship to build prosperity for African nations.

A COW-F entrepreneur goes beyond this to provide a superior product to a demanding Customer; provide an above average return on investment for Owners; improve the lives of Workers through a high and rising wage; and make an investment in the public good for Future generations. Each of the ten firms selected as finalists are living examples of this framework in action in their communities and countries.

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