Accra: In its third year, the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize competition gives African entrepreneurs a unique platform to showcase their talent and grow their businesses; ABH, which is the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program in Africa, annually awards 10 outstanding finalists with a share of a US$1.5 million grant; Applications are now open in English and French for “heroes” across all sectors and African countries, with special emphasis on those working to achieve the UN SDGs.
The “Africa’s Business Heroes” (ABH) prize competition (www.AfricaBusinessHeroes.org), the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program spotlighting and celebrating Africa’s entrepreneurial talent, opened applications for its third annual edition.
Entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries, across every sector, age group, and gender will now be able to submit their applications, in either French and English, for a chance to compete for a spot among the Top 10 finalists. The central theme of this year’s competition, “It’s African Time”, is a bold call to action for all talented African entrepreneurs who are challenging stereotypes associated with “African time” through their businesses, to leverage the ABH prize to scale their efforts as well as share their stories of how they’ve driven change and solutions.
ABH is part of the Jack Ma Foundation’s long-term commitment to help support and foster an inclusive and strong Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. ABH will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs over a ten-year period and allocate grant funding alongside training, mentoring and learning programmes, as well as access to a community of like-minded African business leaders.
At the grand finale later this year, ten finalists will take the stage to present their businesses and share their visions to an esteemed panel of judges, to win a share of the US$1.5 million grant. The journey to the Finale will include several rounds of rigorous evaluation panels, as well as access to a community of international leaders and innovators, industry experts, investors and accelerators, through a number of multi-disciplinary bootcamps and training sessions.
In 2020, the ten outstanding finalists (https://bit.ly/3wlDA0G) – half of whom were female – were selected from over 22,000 applicants across all 54 African nations. They represented eight African countries – Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and Zimbabwe – and various industries including agriculture, fashion, education, healthcare, renewable energy, and financial services.
“I am proud to have been named the winner of the 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes prize. 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,” said Chebet Lesan, Founder and CEO at BrightGreen Renewable Energy.
The journeys of Chebet and her fellow finalists will be featured in the televised ABH show, which will air in four episodes across Africa and online, later this year. The show will give exclusive access to the 2020 edition, following the finalists as they go head to head in the pitch to the finale judges. With the show, ABH hopes to provide a masterclass in entrepreneurship and inspire aspiring entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses across Africa to pursue their business dreams. The 2019 documentary “Looking for Africa’s Heroes (https://bit.ly/3wjNTlZ)” featuring the first edition of ABH was recently shortlisted by global film festivals including RapidLion – The South African International Film Festival and AmDocs – the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival.
“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 positive impact on their local communities. Despite the incredibly difficult conditions 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 forces with our partners to identify, spotlight and support even more passionate, innovative, and determined entrepreneurs across Africa.” said Jason Pau, Executive Director of International, Jack Ma Foundation.
Global leaders Graca Machel, Chair of the Graca Machel Trust Board and Ban Ki-moon, Former UN Secretary-General and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens serve on the ABH advisory board. In addition, Anita Erskine, UN SDG Advocate and Founder of the STEM Woman Project, will continue to serve as the official host of “Africa’s Business Heroes” program. This year, ABH will continue to work with its Anchor Partners across the continent – African Leadership Group (www.ALGroup.org), Ashesi (www.Ashesi.edu.gh), Dalberg (www.Dalberg.com), Janngo (www.Janngo.com), and RiseUp (www.RiseUp.co), with more to be announced in due course.
Applications will be open online until June 7 with semi-finalists announced in August, and the top ten finalists for 2021 unveiled in September. To apply and for more information about ABH, please visit: www.AfricaBusinessHeroes.org and follow us on Twitter (https://bit.ly/3ddXou2), LinkedIn (https://bit.ly/31trJiD), Instagram (https://bit.ly/3sCcz6C) and Facebook (https://bit.ly/3rv6g3H).