Jack Ma foundation searches for Africa’s business heroes

Initiative aims to allocate US$100m in grant funding, training programmes and support to develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Jack Ma's foundation in search of African entrepreneurs. Image: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg.

Jack Ma’s foundation has announced it is taking applications for the second edition of Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) competition for entrepreneurs across the continent.

ABH made its debut last year and aims to identify, support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their local communities, working to solve the most pressing problems and building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future.

The ABH competition and show are organised by the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic programme in Africa. Ten finalists pitch their business to win a share of $1.5 million in grant money.

The foundation’s Senior Advisor for International Programs, Jason Pau, says globally it’s in unprecedented and extraordinary times.

“Now, more than ever, we need entrepreneurs with courage, initiative, and vision to do what they do best – solve problems for society.

“With this prize competition, we are looking to inspire and reward African business heroes in all sectors and encourage any aspiring applicants to seize this opportunity to break through barriers and create hope for the future,” Pau says.

Over a ten-year period, ANPI will recognise 100 African entrepreneurs and commit to allocating US$100 million in grant funding, training programmes, and support for the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

LifeBank Founder and CEO Temie Giwa-Tubosun, who was a winner last year, says the prize enabled him to expand to multiple states in Nigeria and develop a truly pan-Nigerian business.

“I was truly inspired by my experience and by all my fellow winners. I am looking forward to serving as an ambassador for this year’s prize and to seeing the next group of entrepreneurs come forward to showcase the best of Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit and strength,” Giwa-Tubosun says.

Last year, the prize received nearly 10 000 applications from 50 African countries. The 2019 top ten finalists pitched their business ideas to a prominent judging panel during a televised grand-finale show in Accra, Ghana. The finalists represented a variety of industries – including cloud kitchens, tech agribusiness, healthcare and pharma, e-commerce, consumer goods, and water supply solutions.

Applications for 2020 will be open online from April 6 to June 9, with semi-finalists announced in August, and the top ten finalists unveiled in September.

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