Public voting in Google’s Africa Connected competition begins

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BY EMEKA AGINAM

As public voting to pick $25,000 star prize winner in in Google’s Africa Connected competition, three Nigerians have made it to the top 10 finalists in Google’s Africa Connected competition as announced yesterday.

The three Nigerian finalists will include Eric Obuh, a social crusader; Eseoghene Odiete, a fashion designer; and Mayowa Adegbile, a philanthropist.

The competition launched in August last year called entrepreneurs, creatives, innovators and web-lovers to share stories of how the web has transformed their lives and work. The 10 finalists were selected by a panel of judges from over 2,200 entries from 35 countries.

Five successful winners from among the finalists will now be selected by the online voting public. The winners will bag $25,000 each, and will also have the opportunity to work with a Google sponsor over a six-month period to further their online business success.

The competition categories included Education; Entertainment/Arts/Sports; Technology; Community and NGOs; and Small Businesses.

Eric Obuh a.k.a. Vocal Slender is a musician who used YouTube to distribute his content and Google+ to interact with his fans.

His music and online popularity have led him to become earn a living from concerts and appearances. He uses his earnings to raise awareness about underprivileged youngsters in the slums of Lagos where he comes from, thereby providing financial aid for the scholars and encouraging school attendance.

Eseoghene Odiete runs Hesey Designs (http://www.heseydesigns.com/), a women’s apparel and accessories line with pieces ranging from handmade accessories to shoes, slippers, journals, bags, purses and jewelries, all inspired by the African culture. He used Google Products to promote her brand as a young entrepreneur, creating international awareness for her fashion label. She now runs workshops to train other women how to generate an income from designing fashion accessories.

Mayowa Adegbile initially used YouTube to post an appeal in order to raise funds for her initiative, a business school for widowed mothers, giving them the tools to make a living and support their families. Because of the getting online she is helping to change lives and give the people who need it a second chance in life.

Commenting on the competition, Affiong Osuchukwu, Google Lead for the Africa Connected initiative said that, “Africa Connected is a competition that has run for over six months and we are thrilled at the number of amazing stories that have been collected from across Africa. Today we are excited to announce the top 10 finalists who have been selected by our judges’ panel.
The diversity of their ventures – from providing clean drinking water to preserving culture – shows how the web can truly drive positive change in the lives of many people and their communities. We look forward to seeing who the voting public choose as the winners – the top five most inspiring success stories from across our continent.”

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