Applications for 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition now open

Applications for the third annual edition of Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize competition are now open to applicants.

The ABH is a flagship philanthropic program of the Jack Ma Foundation that recognizes and celebrates entrepreneurship in Africa. The applications are open to all English and French “heroes” across the continent, especially those focused on UN SDGs. The platform allows African entrepreneurs to showcase their talent and grow their businesses. Each year, 10 finalists are awarded a share of a $1.5 million grant.

The theme for this year’s Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition is “It’s African Time”, a loud call to action for all talented entrepreneurs in Africa who are breaking the stereotypes associated with “African time” through their businesses. The platform will also allow these entrepreneurs to tell their stories of how they’ve challenged the stereotypes and driven change to their societies.

“As we open our third annual pitch competition, we want to recognize Africa’s extraordinary entrepreneurs, whose business ventures not only are successful and profitable but are generating a positive impact on their local communities,” Jason Pau, Executive Director of International, Jack Ma Foundation. “Despite the incredibly difficult condition faced by entrepreneurs and small businesses around the world over the past year, Africa’s entrepreneurship has been experiencing an incredible upward trajectory showing the magnitude of potential and opportunities yet to be seized. Therefore, Africa’s Business Heroes is excited to join partners to identify, spotlight, and support even more passionate, innovative, and determined entrepreneurs across Africa.”

ABH is part of the Jack Ma Foundation’s long-term commitment to support entrepreneurial growth in Africa to foster an inclusive African entrepreneurial ecosystem. The program which is set to run over the next 10 years will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and allocate grant funding to them. They will also have access to training, mentoring and learning programs, as well as networking with like-minded African business leaders.

At the grand finale later this year, the 10 finalists will be given a higher platform to do a presentation on their businesses before an esteemed panel of judges to win shares of the cash prize. The selection process to get the top 10 participants will include series of rounds of evaluations, with access to a community of industry experts, accelerators, investors, and international leaders. All participants will undergo several multi-disciplinary training sessions and boot camps.

Last year, ten outstanding African entrepreneurs were awarded in the competition. The finalists represented 8 African countries including Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, across various industries such as agriculture, education, fashion, financial services, healthcare, and renewable energy.

The overall winner, Chebet Lesan, Founder & CEO of BrightGreen Renewable Energy, from Kenya received $300,000. While Oluwasoga Oni from Nigeria and Ethel Mupambwa from Zimbabwe, who came in the 2nd and 3rd positions received $250,000 and $150,000, respectively.

“I am proud to have been named the winner of the 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes prize,” Lesan said. “The competition was an incredible journey. 2020 was a challenging year that made us refocus from profitability to survival. I hope my win inspires Africans to believe that we have what it takes to make an impact, no matter where we are.” The Prize is helping us scale our energy solution across East Africa, and we remain focused to change how Africa cooks, one kitchen at a time.”

Applications for the ABH will be opened through June 7, 2021, with semi-finalists announced in August, and the top ten finalists announced in September.

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