Has your life been changed by the Internet? Then you could stand the chance of winning $25 000 and the opportunity to work with a Google sponsor over a six-month period.

Google is calling on entrepreneurs, creatives, innovators and Web-lovers across Africa to share their stories of how the Web has transformed their lives and work. Whether you’re a photographer, an entrepreneur, a fashion designer or a community activist, if the Internet and Google tools have played an important role in your success, Google wants to hear from you.

In the next five years, seven out of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies are predicted to be in Africa, and the Internet is playing an important part in this. Google’s new initiative, ‘Africa Connected: Success stories powered by the Web’, aims to gather the largest collection of inspiring stories about ventures established online by Africans, in Africa. Five successful entrants will win $25 000 each, and will also have the opportunity to work with a Google sponsor over a six-month period.

“Google wants to hear from young, spirited entrepreneurial Web adopters in sub-Saharan Africa who have a healthy disregard for the impossible and who are using the Web and technology to do cool and extraordinary things to rise above their circumstances, change their world, and achieve success. We want to showcase the amazing achievements happening in the new Africa”, says Affiong Osuchukwu, Google Lead for the Africa Connected initiative.

Mdu Ntuli, animator of cultural icons that influence and inspire, is one such example. This South African artist grew up loving comics and trained himself as an animator using YouTube tutorials. He now owns a successful YouTube channel showcasing his animated films, some of which feature isiZulu and Xhosa content – two of these were amongst South Africa’s top viewed videos of 2012. Mdu also plans to teach animation to other enthusiasts and is currently working with an international broadcaster on an upcoming project.

Mdu says: “I started cartooning as a hobby and taught myself animation using Google and YouTube. My inspiration comes from South African people. I then took my work and put it on YouTube…YouTube has given me a platform to be seen, and that created opportunities for me. It feels great to hear and see people talk about my stuff, and it inspires me to do more. Once I’ve taught more people, I’ll be able to expand the business. If there was no Internet, I can’t imagine what things would be like!”

The owner and creator of Afrinolly, Chike Maduegbuna, based in Nigeria, is another online entrepreneur. Afrinolly is a popular mobile app, which lets people across the continent watch short videos on their mobile devices. This app has transformed Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry by creating a movie trailer platform for new audiences. With over 3-million downloads already since its launch in August 2011, Chike hopes this will create a platform that connects aspiring film professionals with global film industry veterans.

South African judge Adv Leslie Sedibe, CEO of Proudly South African, comments: “Research has shown that South Africans have a strong appetite for getting online. Whether you are in technology, agriculture, energy, fashion, education, or entertainment, if the Web has transformed your life, and you believe your venture can be scaled up, then the judging panel is looking forward to hearing your story.”

Categories for entries include Education; Entertainment/Arts/Sports; Technology; Community and NGOs; and Small Businesses. Twenty semi-finalists will be selected from initial entries to take part in an interview and to produce a short promotional video. A judging panel made up of Googlers and external judges will then determine the 10 finalists. The five winners, in whose lives the Web and Google have played a pivotal role, will then be selected by the online voting public.

Submissions are open from August 27 2013 to October 11 2013. The competition will run until February 2014 when the winners will be announced.

Google’s media partners in South Africa include the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and City Press. The South African representative joining the Africa Connected judging panel is Adv Leslie Sedibe, CEO of Proudly South African. Vusi Thembekwayo, global motivational speaker and MD at MOTIV8, has joined the African Connected initiative as a social media champion.
For more information and to enter the Africa Connected contest, visit www.africaconnected.com