After many exchanges, boot camp, mentorship, and evaluation by the judges, the healthy rivalry among African youths entrepreneurs in the travel and tourism space took another level as the Top Three winners emerged in the entrepreneurship challenge.
The budding entrepreneurs emerged from a pool of 8 equally good tourism start-ups at the 5th edition of the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge (AYTIS) 2023, which was held at MTC Dome in Swakopmund, Namibia.
The Top 3 winners are Cornelius Ugwunwa, from Nigeria; Ntshabo Lehong, from South Africa and Gloria kisilu, from Kenya.
At the final pitching on the second day of the summit, Cornelius Ugwunwa, impressed the team of judges consisting of technology, travel and tourism experts, with his tech travel solution app presentation, which enthralled the audience as well, while Gloria Kisilu, through detailed presentation, convinced the judges that her Shaba Craft brand is investable. But Ntshabo Lehong got the votes of mystery adjudicators to make the Top 3 finalists with her hospitality and wellness tech app.
The overall winner will emerge at the African Tourism Leadership Forum in Gaborone, Botswana in October and will go home with the prize money of $USD1000, though African Tourism Partners, the organizers of the challenge, promised that the other winners will smile to the bank as well.
However, Nigeria had three out of the eight finalists including; Ibukunoluwa Salau, who is based in the United Kingdom, Mustapha Tijjani, and Cornelius Ugwunwa, who made it to the Top 3 finalists.
Speaking at the event, Barry Clemens, CEO, of Hospitality EQ, Kenya, chairman of the judging panel, noted that they found it difficult choosing the Top 3 as all the 8 contestants presented solution-based innovations and are considered winners despite that one winner will take home the $USD1000 prize money, for being the best tourism technology talent revelation in Africa for the year 2023.
All the top contenders were awarded certificates of honour from Africa Tourism Partners.
Expressing his excitement at the quality of entries in the 5th edition of the challenge and the painstaking adjudication by the panel of judges, Kwakye Donkor, CEO, of Africa Tourism Partners, organizers of the event, commended African youths for taking on entrepreneurship in tourism and travel sector and most importantly, offering solution-based products and services.
He urged them not to relent, while calling on many out there to step into the challenging world of entrepreneurship at a young age, summing up courage from the success stories of the participants at the summit this year.