The Batonga Foundation - founded in 2006 by Grammy Award-winning singer and UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador, Angélique Kidjo - has won the Pan-African Award for Entrepreneurship in Education.
Backed by the Saville Foundation, the Pan-African Awards reward the very best projects that use enterprise and entrepreneurship to innovate in the field of education.
Ms. Kidjo, who was born and raised in Bénin, says the most important gift she ever received was access to education. At a time when few girls made it to secondary school, Kidjo's parents fought for her to continue attending school, which in turn inspired Kidjo to provide more girls with access to education and employability skills.
Batonga's "Girls' Club" programme, which started last year, helps female youth develop entrepreneurial and life skills through business start-up mentorship, training and a financial literacy curriculum. The Foundation has already recruited over 1,600 girls into these clubs.
The Foundation plans on using the prize money in Bénin to support their data-driven recruitment and community mapping activities, as well as train local female mentors and fund the activities of their Girls Clubs. "This award means that Batonga can continue to go beyond the paved road, reach more vulnerable girls, serve more distant villages and create more safe spaces for girls and young women to learn and grow," says Kidjo.
Runner up prizes went to:
Dare to Innovate which, since 2012, has trained over 4,000 young people through intensive entrepreneurship fellowships and training programs across West Africa. They have also fostered 78 young African entrepreneurs who have gone on to create more than 270 jobs for their peers.
Livingstone Tanzania Trust - UK-based, and partnering with local organisations to deliver agricultural business training. Throughout Tanzania, it is commonplace for students to not progress to secondary school. By delivering business training programmes to students while they are still in primary school, the Trust ensures that more students are gaining entrepreneurial and leadership skills.
IDEA4Africa - winners of the Future Partner Prize, will be working alongside a School Enterprise Challenge team to bring educational programs to more schools in Rwanda. IDEA4Africa will also receive $5,000, which it plans to apply towards growing their network of high schools and high school entrepreneurship educators in Rwanda.