Race On for $1.5 Million Jack Ma Foundation’s “Africa’s Business Heroes” prize competition

By Samuel Ouma

Jason Pau, Executive Director (International) at the Jack Ma Foundation

On Monday, March 29, 2021, Jack Ma Foundation launched the 3rd edition of Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition.

The initiative aims to identify, support, and inspire African entrepreneurs who are at the forefront to make a difference in their local community, working tirelessly to offer solutions to pressing issues building a sustainable and inclusive economy for future.

Entrepreneurs from entire Africa drawn from all sectors of the economy and demographics have until June 7 to submit their applications online.

“I hope everyone is ready for an amazing 2021 and I think as this year’s competition starts, it really needs resilience, determination and vision…” said Jason Pau, the Executive Director (International) at the Jack Ma Foundation, during an online event to present the 2021 prize, while insisting on the power of storytelling.

The applicants must be of African descent, founders/co-founders of the businesses, and their companies must be registered in Africa, have revenues, and have been in existence for at least three years.

“The application form consists of a few different sections; the first one is the eligibility check where an applicant confirms that he or she meets all the required criteria. We have a reference section where you choose a mentor, colleague, or partner who can tell who you are, your character, and your skills. Next is the founder profile, and in this section, we ask you to provide information on who you are as an individual and an entrepreneur, your motivations, and your achievements. Following this section is the business profile which is your opportunity to give our judges a basic understanding of your company.

“Once you are done providing us with the information on who you are as an entrepreneur and your general company, we asked that you deep dive and provide us with the key details about your business in the Business Deep Dive section. This is the opportunity to share impacts you are creating, why you are doing it and how you are doing it. We asked the question about your revenue model, financial history, competitiveness of your solution and your team,” said Zahra Baitie, the Head of Partnership and Programs at the Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition.

She continued, “Lastly, we have a video introduction section and this is a chance for you to bring some of your own characters, vision and passion to the application. You can bring your story to life and ensure you take a video of yourself, a team member and a customer. The video provides our judges with a chance to really understand you, your business and your team a bit better. “

According to Zahra, the judges will be looking for bold, resilient, and visionary entrepreneurs. They will also be looking for the significant problem in your community and the solution, market traction, financial sustainability, testimonials from references, and teamwork.

Zahra Baitie, Head of Partnership and Programs at the ABH Prize Competition

To increase their chances to submit a successful application, applicants should aim to finalise their entry as early as possible and also be consistent, clear, and concise in their narration. Consequently, it is important to provide proof points and evidence to back up answers, make them personal and authentic and carry out a thorough review before hitting the submit button.

Later this year, following multiple judging rounds, the ten finalists selected by the judges will compete in a finale pitch competition, which will be broadcast online across the continent, besides sharing the prize money of USD1.5 million.

The first two editions of ABH in 2019 and 2020 saw a strong female representation during the competition and up to the Grand Finale: 1st prize winner in 2019 was by Ms. Christelle Kwizera, Founder of Water Access (Rwanda), while last year a Kenyan, Ms. Chebet Lesan, Founder and CEO of BrightGreen Renewable Energy came first in the competition.

Applications are open online from March 29 to June 7,2021, with semi-finalists announced in August, and the top ten finalists for 2021 unveiled in September. For more information about the ABH and how to apply, please visit: africabusinessheroes.org  and follow ABH on TwitterLinkedinInstagram and Facebook .

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  1. It’s a great opportunity to develop Africa continent through one’s business. I’m a founder of ESPACE INFO@SERVICES, a small Business Center in N’djamena (Chad Republic), I was so glad when I knew about Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH). I’m applying right now and already dream on what I can do with this huge prize. May God give you very long life time. Thanks a lot!

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