Google has awarded 10 finalists of its Africa Connected competition a total of $175 million at a ceremony, which held Tuesday in Nairobi, Kenya. Five of the finalists were declared winners of the competition and they went home with $25,000 each while the remaining five got $10,000 each, which was a surprise gift from Google. Two of the five winners are Nigerians namely Eseoghene Odiete and Eric Obuh. The others are: Sitawa Wafula (Kenya), Christopher Panford (Ghana) and Eunice Namirembe (Uganda).
The winners will have the opportunity to work with a Google sponsor over a six-month period to further their online success.
After graduating from university, Odiete learned how to create handbags using Google Search and YouTube. With the help of contacts found via Search, over 100 blogs have featured her vibrant designs.
She dreams of building an international brand that promotes African designs. Odiete also runs training classes for other women who want to start businesses.
On the other hand, Obuh, used to be a dump site scavenger, in order to pay for studio time to record his music. After being discovered by the BBC in ‘Welcome to Lagos’, he became known around the world. Since then, he has recorded songs which he shares with new audiences on YouTube. He also uses Google+ and YouTube to raise awareness about underprivileged youngsters in the slums of Lagos, helping to raise scholarship money, and encouraging kids to stay in school.
In an effort to invest in the future success of all the finalists, Google also surprised the remaining five success stories by awarding them $10,000 each to help grow their ventures and initiatives for greater social and economic impact. Recipients included; Tim McGuire (South Africa), Nqobizitha Mlilo (Zimbabwe), Mayowa Adegbile (Nigeria), Lamine Mbengue (Senegal) and Steve Kyenze (Kenya).
Africa Connected is an initiative of Google, aimed at discovering and promoting amazing successes achieved on the web across Africa. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to educate and inspire many more people to get connected on the web to achieve their own success.
The competition was launched in August 2013, calling entrepreneurs, creatives, innovators and web-lovers to share stories of how the web has transformed their lives and work. Ten finalists were selected from over 2,200 entries from 35 countries, by a panel of judges as well as public voters.