By Samuel Ouma
All pentagons of Africa, North, South, East, and Central, have been well represented in Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize competition, the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program that spotlight and support entrepreneurs.
In the last two editions, the competition attracted applications across all 54 African countries from all sectors of the economy. For instance, in 2020, more than 22,000 applications from all regions were submitted.
Over the first two editions in 2019 and 2020, the competition’s top ten finalists have reflected the face of the continent because at least all regions have been represented.
In 2019, Temie Giwa-Tubosun, CEO of LifeBank from Nigeria, bagged the top prize worth $250,000. Her company, LifeBank, uses data and technology to supply health workers and hospitals with critical medical products.
“I learned so much from ABH that I often find myself watching the ABH Grand Finale show, and my pitch, to remind myself of the key lessons, and the importance of not growing too quickly.” she said.
The second and third prize winners were Dr. Omar Shoukry Sakr and Christelle Kwizera, respectively. Shoukry is an Egyptian, whereas Kwizera is from Rwanda. The former walked away with $150,000 and the latter $100,000.
Other finalists were Kevine Kagirimpundu (Rwanda), Waleed Abdi El Rahman (Egypt), Dr. Tosan Joseph M. (Nigeria), Chibuzo Opara (Nigeria), Ayodeji Arikawe (Nigeria), Mahmud Johnson (Liberia), and Moulaye Taboure (Ivory Coast). All were awarded $65,000 each. The finalists were from the West, North, and Central part of the continent.
On the other hand, the top ten finalists in 2020 represented eight African countries, including Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
Chebet Lesan, a Nairobi-based industrial designer, emerged as 1st prize winner last year as she took home $300,000. She is the founder of BrightGreen Renewable Energy that produces life-saving fuel bricks that reduce cooking costs for underserved communities across Africa and save forests.
“The competition was an incredible journey. The 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 Lesan.
Oluwasoga Oni, the CEO&Co-Founder of Mdaas Global in Nigeria, came second, and Ethel Mupambwa, the Co-Founder and CEO of Moneymart from Zimbabwe, emerged third.
Other finalists included Abdulai A Dasana (Ghana), Mame Diarra Bousso Gueye (Senegal), Cyrille Nkontchou (Cameroon), Aboubakar Karim (Ivory Coast), Axel Emmanuel Gbaou (Ivory Coast), Dr. Emma Naluyima Mugerwa (Uganda), and Joan Rukundo Nalubega (Uganda).
The third edition applications are ongoing ahead of June 7, 2021 deadline. Africans whose businesses are registered and operated in the continent for at least three years are encouraged to apply. Applications can be submitted in French and English.
For details or to apply visit https://africabusinessheroes.org/en/the-prize/overview