By Ajong Mbapndah L
The 2021 edition of the Africa’s Business the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize, a flagship philanthropic program established by the Jack Ma Foundation moved closer to the finishing act with the recent announcement of this year’s top 10 finalists. Expected to take the stage at the grand finale in November for their final pitch to win a share of a US$1.5 million prize pool, the ten finalists paint a picture-perfect portrait of the continent.
In a continent increasingly waking up to the need and modern-day realities of shirking off stereotypical gender roles, the super rigorous selection process resulted in an even split of the top ten finalists-five men and five women.
The ten entrepreneurs were selected from over 12,000 applications across all 54 African nations and passed multiple stages of judging and evaluation. With an average age of 32 years, the top ten represent businesses primarily operating in 7 African countries: Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda. Their businesses span key industries such as agriculture, beauty, education, energy, food & beverage, logistics, manufacturing, media & entertainment, and retail. 80% of the finalists operate their businesses in rural areas. Through their ventures, these outstanding entrepreneurs are generating positive impact and creating opportunities for their communities.
Francophone Africa and the Central African sub region is missing from the top ten selection which may not come as a surprise to many who follow development trends across the continent.
“It’s African time! We have been continuously impressed with all of our 2021 Top 10 finalists, especially their diversity and strength of their businesses. The Top 10 are truly inspiring and are a testament to the talent, resilience, innovation, and passion of African entrepreneurs. In the midst of unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we remain steadfast in our efforts to identify, support and shine a spotlight on African entrepreneurs that are driving positive growth for their communities,” said Jason Pau, Executive Director of International, Jack Ma Foundation.
“This is my 3rd year as a semi-final judge and therefore, I have seen a total of 60 entrepreneurs pitch. In my opinion they are all already heroes just by reaching this stage. Every year the competition gets tougher for the entrepreneurs, but it also makes it harder for us judges to choose our top 10. I wish the Top 10 of 2021 well on the next phase of the competition and congratulations to our Heroes,” commented Rene Parker, Director at R Labs and a semi-finale judge of ABH.
“It was an absolute pleasure to judge the ABH semi-finals again this year. The quality of the semi-finalists continues to be high. It was extremely difficult to shortlist the final 10 because each entrepreneur was so inspiring. They demonstrated the resilience, passion, imagination and traction that we need in our entrepreneurs here in Africa. I can’t wait to follow their success!” added Fred Swaniker, Founder of ALU and a semi-finale judge of ABH.
The Ten Finalists are Ghirmay Abraham, Founder, Aptech Africa , (Uganda),
–Navalayo Osembo-Ombati, Co-Founder and CEO, Enda Athletic, (Kenya),
-Oghenetega Iortim, Founder, Gricd , (Nigeria),
-Yvette Ishimwe, Founder and CEO, IRIBA Water Group, (Rwanda),
-Charlot Magayi, Founder and CEO, Mukuru Clean Stoves, (Kenya),
-Khadija Mohamed Elbedweihy, Founder, PraxiLabs (Egypt),
-Chidi Nwaogu, Co-founder and CEO, Publiseer (Nigeria),
-Ikenna Nzewi, Co-founder and CEO, Releaf Marketplace Nigeria (Nigeria),
-Violet Amoabeng, Founder and CEO, Skin Gourmet (Ghana), and
– Ketsheaphone Jacob, Founder and CEO, The Bulb World (Botswana)
PAV shares interviews with some of the finalists in this special report.
*Culled From November Issue of PAV Magazine