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Gambia: Vista Bank Limited is the new name of FIBank
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments
Simon Tiemtore, Chairman of Vista Group
Simon Tiemtore, Chairman of Vista Group

Vista Group is pleased to announce that the Central Bank of The Gambia has formally approved the rebranding of First International Bank (Gambia) Limited to Vista Bank (Gambia) Limited. A formal launch of the new Brand shall be announced in due course.

Simon Tiemtore, Chairman of Vista Group said: “This rebranding is a milestone in Vista’s declared intent of establishing a world class pan-African financial institution promoting financial inclusion and contributing to socio-economic development in The Gambia. It further expands Vista Bank’s existing operations in Guinea and Sierra Leone, which we will be augmenting through our impending purchase of La Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie de la Guinée (BICIGUI) in Guinea and Banque Internationale pour le Commerce l’Industrie et l’Agriculture du Burkina (BICIAB) in Burkina Faso, from BNP Paribas.

“Gambian citizens, SMEs and Corporates will shortly be benefitting from our digital, branch and agency distribution strategy, with an intensely customer-centric focus, a huge emphasis on quality customer service, cutting edge digital functionality and the provision of convenient, innovative banking products to meet their needs”.

The Vista Group, which is owned by Lilium Holdings, a U.S owned Investment Firm, supports customers by providing full range of accessible banking facilities to everyone. We intend to drive financial inclusion, engender socio-economic growth and national prosperity by meeting the needs of the Gambians and their businesses in our quest to become their bank of choice.

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AFRICA’S FIRST AFRICA-FOCUSED BRAND LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
February 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
Brand Africa founder, Thebe Ikalafeng
Brand Africa founder, Thebe Ikalafeng

Johannesburg, South Africa – 10 February 2021:  Brand Africa founder, Thebe Ikalafeng, today announced the launch of the Africa Brand Leadership Academy (ABLA), the first Africa-focused specialist brand leadership academy aimed at sharpening the minds that build brands that build Africa.

Every year since 2010, Brand Africa has researched and ranked the best brands in Africa.  The Brand Africa 100:  Africa’s Best Brands research is conducted independently by Geopoll, Kantar and Brand Leadership.  The research, conducted in at least 25 countries, which cover all African economic regions and collectively account for over 80% of the continent’s GDP and population.  It is the most comprehensive and objective metric on brands and is published globally every year by African Business around Africa Day, 25 May.Over the past decade, the survey has established that on average, African brands account for only 20% of the brands that Africans admire. 

Recognizing the need to remedy this challenge, ABLA aims to sharpen the brand leadership capability of established and the next generation of executives and entrepreneurs in Africa to build meaningful, distinctive, sustainable and competitive brands that will transform Africa’s competitiveness and inspire the world.

Through a cross disciplinary curriculum, ABLA blends traditional strategic brand leadership, intellectual property management, go-to-market strategies with content and immersion in African conditions, culture and creativity to inspire authentic and relevant Africa outcomes.

ABLA’s flagship programmes are the Post Graduate Diploma in African Brand Leadership (PGDABL) focused on the next generation of brand builders who want to accelerate their career with relevant brand leadership skills and deep immersion in the continental context; the African Brand Leadership Executive Programme (ABLE) to immerse, inspire and empower executives leading brands in Africa to understand African consumers and marketplaces, and the challenges and opportunities that will grow their brands and businesses, and Brand Leadership for Entrepreneurs to enable entrepreneurs to navigate the challenges of transforming their good products and ideas into great sustainable brands and to strategically and profitably manage their personal, organisational and product brands. These programmes are complemented by a range of short-term Short Learning Programmes for individuals who need short-term learning interventions to sharpen their skills, in inter alia, Responsible Branding; Brands, Boards and the Bottom-Line and Leadership Branding and Public Sector Branding.

“For Africa to compete globally and attain sustainable economic independence, it will have to complement its entrepreneurial skills with brand leadership to transform its many commoditized products into world-class brands,” says Ikalafeng. “Throughout history, brands have proven to be a powerful vector of the image, identity and competitiveness of people, products and nations.  There are several exemplary brands such as Nigeria’s Dangote, South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Mpesa among several African brands challenging non-African brands in Africa and transformed the image of their nations.  With the imminent implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is aimed at boosting intra-African trade, it will be an epic tragedy if in the long-term, the majority of goods and services moving across African borders are not made in Africa.”

ABLA has a global African faculty network of respected specialist practitioners, thought leaders and academics and institutional partnerships which collectively bring a rich blend of deep insights on the continent and building brands in Africa.

ABLA leadership and governance is based on sound and best practice principles for organizing and managing a higher education institution with a pan-African focus and reach. Renowned Ethiopian thought leader and business woman, Dr. Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin who founded the highly acclaimed Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) is the founding Chancellor/President, retired Namibian academic, Professor Tjama Tjivikua, the founding principal of the Namibia University of Science and Technology, is the founding Council chairman and ABLA founder, Thebe Ikalafeng, is the founding principal.  This team is led by a Council of diverse and respected Africans who are responsible for the good order and overall governance of ABLA. ABLA is operating out of its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa

About the Africa Brand Leadership Academy

The Africa Brand Leadership Academy is the first Africa-focused and specialist brand leadership academy.  ABLA aims to sharpen the brand leadership capability of established and the next generation of brand builders and entrepreneurs in Africa to build Africa meaningful, distinctive, sustainable and competitive brands in Africa, that will transform Africa’s competitiveness and image and inspire the world.  www.abla.academy

About Brand Africa

Brand Africa is a non-profit initiative to inspire a great Africa through promoting a positive image of the continent, celebrating its diversity and driving its competitiveness. It is a brand-led movement which recognizes that in the 21st century, brands are an asset and a vector of image, reputation and competitiveness of nations.

The Brand Africa 100:  Africa’s Best Brands is a Brand Africa initiative to survey, rank and recognize the best brands in Africa.

Brand Africa is an independent Non-Profit Organisation registered in the Republic of South Africa (NPC 2013/146300/08) and a signatory to the Independent Code of Governance for Non-Profit Organisations in Africa.  www.brand.africa.

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A Lifetime Experience for Me -2nd Runner Up Ethel Mupambwa from Zimbabwe
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

It was a lifetime experience, a set legacy for my kids and the upcoming generation in Zimbabwe,says Ethel Mupambwa .
It was a lifetime experience, a set legacy for my kids and the upcoming generation in Zimbabwe, says Ethel Mupambwa .

Having grown in a patriarch rural area, the inspiration behind MoneyMart was that I wanted a business which could help women uplift their small projects says Ethel Mupambwa, from Zimbabwe who emerged as the 2nd runner up. It was a lifetime experience for me, and our clients will see change, says Mupamwa.

Our clients are going to receive an excellent service without delays like they would experience in the past due to constrained cash shortages. MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software,” said Ethel Mupamwa of plans going forward.

Ethel Mupambwa recently emerged 2nd Runner up in the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Awards sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation with cash prize of $150,000, what was your reaction to this news?

I was thrilled to say the least. I could not believe that seriously, my name is in the Top 3. It was a lifetime experience, a set legacy for my kids and the Zimbabwean upcoming generation.

How did you hear about the ABH and what motivated you to this a shot, your instincts or the conviction that you had the potential of making a winning proposition or pitch?

I found about ABH through emails from Funds For NGOs updates. When l went through the requirements for participation, I got the conviction that I had the winning proposition as l am consciously contributing to specific Sustainable Development Goals.

You are Co-Founder and Executive Director of Moneymart, can you shed some light on the company and what pushed you into micro finance?

Having grown in a patriarch rural area, the inspiration behind MoneyMart was that I wanted a business which could help women uplift their small projects- I wanted to help ANY project, no matter how small, even something as small as a tomato-vendor by the road side in her location. I desire to see women everywhere become the Proverbs 31 woman who is empowered to take care of her own family, a woman who “considers a piece of land and buys it herself’- a financially empowered woman. I believe that EVERYONE WINS when women have equal access to economic opportunity. As a young woman growing in Zimbabwe, I have always been challenged to step into the gap to create the future that l want to see because l realized am one of those our nation has been waiting for to change the lives of our societies. MoneyMart is a leading microfinance institution on a mission to transform people’s lives by creating sustainable wealth through the provision of unique, well researched financial solutions.

May we know what impact initiatives like Moneymart have on the economy in Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe has been marred by economic strife over the past two decades such that, 84% of the working population is        in the informal sector, with 53% of business owners being women. The biggest challenge these businesses face is lack of formal financial services and limited financial knowledge. And to realize our economic growth, there is a need to introduce financing vehicles that can help realize these entrepreneurs grow as they contribute a significant percentage to the GDP and promote decent work. MoneyMart Finance is innovatively making sure that micro-entrepreneurs are being financially included.

In addition, we entered the renewable energy space with a primary objective to distribute quality Solar-Home-Systems (Solar-Lighting-Kits) on credit to people living off the power grid. MMF plans to distribute over 10,000 units to households and businesses in rural areas and peri-urban areas which are off the power grid.

What are some of the challenges Moneymart has faced over the years and with regards to 2020, how did COVID 19 affect your activities?

The biggest challenge over the years was ability to raise patient capital for the business in consideration to the hyperinflationary environment we were operating in, more so being a financial institution. The biggest impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were difficulties in disbursements, collection of reimbursements and meeting with clients face-to-face, and reorganizing internal systems and flow of work. In addition, the impact also extended to our clients with the country lockdown; many micro-entrepreneurs not being able to report for their day-to-day duties.

In what way could the government in Zimbabwe be more helpful in supporting the kind of services offered by Moneymart and others?

In my opinion, Zimbabwe has suffered more because of inconsistent policies. I believe if our government continue to be consistent, it could be more helpful especially for the upcoming entrepreneurs as long-term plans could be made and acted upon. However, I also want to applaud the Government for the support it gives to women in the country to the extent of opening a Women’s Bank. It shows how much they believe in women entrepreneurs and this gives so much support to services offered by MoneyMart as it thrives to make sure women are financially included.

With $150,000 in prize money, what is going to change for Ethel Mupambwa and Moneymart?

It is the change that is going to happen to our clients rather. Our clients are going to receive an excellent service without delays like they would experience in the past due to constrained cash shortages. MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software.

There are many young people in Zimbabwe who now look up to you as a model, what advise do you have for them in challenging times the country is going through economically?

My advice to young people has always been that “Fortune favours the Brave.” Be a solution provider to the people around you. Challenging times have vast opportunities that they come with; those challenges need a young generation to solve them. The first step is to just start!

MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software says, Ethel
MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software says, Ethel

Speaking broadly, what role do you think initiatives like the ABH could play in moving Africa forward?

These initiatives play a fundamental role in moving Africa forward. Exposure of new things and networking with other experienced and world-renowned entrepreneurs catapults one’s ideas to unimaginable heights. The journey becomes bearable if you are cheered up by a great people who have been on the journey before, who will be giving you confidence that it truly can be achieved. The assistance in financial resource goes a long way in making sure ideas are swiftly implemented.

We are doing this interview at a time the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCTA has entered its operational phase, do you share in the optimism it has generated and any opportunities you see in it for Moneymart?

I share in the optimism AfCTA has generated. For MoneyMart Finance, it means a broader market in Africa. Its biggest goal for inclusive and sustainable development in Africa is what we all have been waiting for as an upcoming generation.

*Culled from February Issue of PAV Magazine

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The ABH Experience Was Both Challenging And Gratifying- Oluwasoga Oni from Nigeria, 1st Runner Up.
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Our vision is to shift African healthcare from sick care to more personalized, continuous, and preventative healthcare for Africa's next billion, says Oluwasoga Oni.
Our vision is to shift African healthcare from sick care to more personalized, continuous, and preventative healthcare for Africa’s next billion, says Oluwasoga Oni.

The competition had so many talented entrepreneurs in it and it is a privilege to be one of the Top 3 winners, says Oluwasoga Oni, who emerged as 1st runner up. Describing the experience as both challenging and gratifying, Oluwasoga Oni says he enjoyed interacting with judges at every stage of the competition and intends to keep in touch with many of them.

The CEO & Co-Founder, MDaas Globalsays their big vision is to shift African healthcare from sick care to more personalized, continuous, and preventative healthcare for Africa’s next billion.

“Being an organization that builds tech enabled diagnostic centers, we are going to use these funds to build at least 3 or four additional diagnostic centers in tier 2 to tier 3 cities in Nigeria. More of these in additional locations will bring high quality diagnostics to the underserved communities,” says Oluwasoga Oni on plans for MDaaS Global going forward.

Oluwasoga Oni is CEO & Co-Founder, MDaaS Global could we start this interview with an introduction of MDaaS Global, and the vision that led to its creation?

MDaaS Global builds and operates diagnostic facilities in clinically underserved communities in Nigeria. Our centers provide high quality diagnostic services such as radiology (ultrasound & x ray), pathology and cardiology (ECHO, ECG) and serve as the centralized diagnostic department for many small and medium sized hospitals and clinics around the communities we operate in. Our vision is providing high quality and affordable healthcare for African’s next billion by building critical health infrastructure and services in places that need it the most. We launched our first facility in Ibadan, Nigeria in 2017 and have since expanded to 4 more locations in Lagos, Ilorin, Osogbo and Abuja.

When was it created and what impact has it had on the healthcare sector in Nigeria, any numbers or statistics that you want to share?

We launched originally in 2016 as a medical equipment provider before eventually pivoting to a diagnostic service provider in 2017. Since our pivot and launch in Ibadan, we have served over 33,000 patients across four states. About 70% of our patient population are women and about 55% of women of reproductive age.

How expensive is the technology that you use in running your operations and where has your funding come from?

A lot of technology we used in running our centers are open sourced and/or off the shelf technology platforms. We are also currently using building an internal diagnostic management platform to effectively manage our centers. We raised investment from a variety of sources. In the initial stage, it was mostly family and friends, but we have since raised venture capital for prominent African’s VCs such as Consonance Investment Managers Ventures Platform, Future Africa Fund and Flying Doctors Investment Company and as well as international organizations such as Techstars, FINCA Ventures etc.

You operate in a country where power is an issue, what impact has the power crisis had on your operations?

Getting constant power supply from the grid is almost impossible at the moment in Nigeria. As a result, we have had to supplement our grid power with power generators which of course increase our cost of operations. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many Nigerian businesses like ours.

You recently emerged as 1st Runner Up in the 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Awards sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation, how was this news received by Oluwasoga Oni?

I was very excited to be one of the winners of the competition out of over 22,000 contestants who applied across the continent. It is quite exhilarating to be one of the top finalists, particularly given how competitive it was. The ABH experience was both challenging and gratifying. The competition had so many talented entrepreneurs in it and it is a privilege to be one of the Top 3 winners. I also really enjoyed interacting with the judges at every single stage of the competition and intend to keep in touch with many of them.

How did you hear about the ABH and was emerging as runner up with $250,000 cash prize an outcome you envisaged?

The winner of the competition last year (Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Founder & CEO of LifeBank) was Nigerian and also worked in healthcare. It was all over the news when she won. Seeing that made me aware of the competition and of course, Jack Ma is one of the best entrepreneurs in the world and I really wanted a chance to talk and learn from him and I did.

With the hefty cash prize and newfound fame, what is going to change for Oluwasoga Oni and the MDaaS Global?

The funds from the competition are being put towards furthering our mission and vision at MDaaS Global which is building more diagnostics facilities in clinically underserved areas across Nigeria. Being an organization that builds tech enabled diagnostic centers, we are going to use these funds to build at least 3 or four additional diagnostic centers in tier 2 to tier 3 cities in Nigeria. More of these in additional locations will bring high quality diagnostics to the underserved communities. We also plan to find more communities that need the kind of diagnostics that we provide. Our big vision at MDaaS is to shift African healthcare from sick care to more personalized, continuous, and preventative healthcare for Africa’s next billion. Additionally, the ABH competition came with great learning lessons as well which we will definitely draw from as we continue to reach out across Nigeria.

When you juxtapose the challenges facing Nigeria and Africa with the quality of the business initiatives that were pitched by you and others, what future do you see for the continent?

Just looking at the quantity and quality of entrepreneurs in this competition, I am very excited about the future of Africa. There are a lot of young people building businesses that are solving important challenges across the length and breadth of the continent, from healthcare to education and youth development. It is inspiring to see, and I should say the sky is the limit, given the ABH competition, which is running a 10-year commitment to inspire, train and support entrepreneurs in Africa, to build inclusive businesses models that can create jobs and economic opportunity for the continent.

Entrepreneurs at all levels should seize this amazing opportunity and consider taking part in the Africa’s Business Heroes competition this year and in the future.

The competition had so many talented entrepreneurs in it and it is a privilege to be one of the Top 3 winners,says Oluwasoga Oni
The competition had so many talented entrepreneurs in it and it is a privilege to be one of the Top 3 winners,says Oluwasoga Oni

Any word for the Jack Ma Foundation that created and funded this initiative and all those who worked in diverse phases of the 2020 ABH Awards?

The real MVP of the ABH competition was the Jack Ma Foundation Team who moved ahead with this competition despite the pandemic and all of the challenges that came with coordinating the competition across multiple African countries. I (and many other African’s entrepreneurs) are lucky to have such a superstar team dedicated to supporting African entrepreneurship. No proper words can express how grateful myself and my team are for the opportunity to be part of this initiative.

To many in Nigeria and Africa who now see in you a mentor and will like to emulate your success, what message for them, and any tips for future contestants of the ABH Awards?

The key advice I have for other African entrepreneurs is to learn how to own their narrative and tell their own story. I believe that this was key to our success in this competition. Every great idea needs believers and supporters and having a great story about “why it matters” is critical to getting others to believe in the vision and mission of the company. Africa is on the rise, existing and aspiring entrepreneurs across the continent must strive to gain knowledge, educate themselves and keep up with new trends to stay competitive. Research and innovation are key, and when backed up with the right knowledge, skills, and resources it is possible for any entrepreneur to thrive and bring real change to the continent, while inspiring the next generation.

*Culled from February Issue of PAV Magazine

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ABH Helps In Highlighting The Brilliance, Determination & Capabilities of Africans- Chebet Lesan from Kenya,2020 Winner.
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The hard work for us has been consistency, consistency in product development, customer satisfaction, growth and improvement, says Chebet Lesan
The hard work for us has been consistency, consistency in product development, customer satisfaction, growth and improvement, says Chebet Lesan

Our phones didn’t stop ringing for about two weeks with congratulatory messages, says Chebet Lesan who won the 2020 ABH awards. The Founder and CEO of BrightGreen Renewable Energy believes that the ABH program will help to highlight the brilliance , determination and capabilities of African people.

“The hard work for us has been consistency, consistency in product development, customer satisfaction, growth and improvement,” says Chebet.

“Cooking Energy Poverty is commonly experienced across several African countries, meaning that the opportunity for our growth is very big. Our focus is to increase our market share within the East African Community first, as we build longer term plans to enter the larger African Market,” Chebet said on plans going forward,

Chebet Lesan is Founder and CEO of BrightGreen Renewable Energy, could we start this interview with an introduction of the company?

BrightGreen Renewable Energy works to increase access to clean cooking energy to the most vulnerable populations across Africa. We recycle farm waste commonly known as biomass, into energy efficient fuel blocks, suitable for cooking and heating. Our product helps families to cook safer, cheaper and sustainably. We have started our work in Kenya and are looking to expand our impact across this region.

How did you conceive the idea of creating BrightGreen Renewable Energy and what were some of the challenges you faced?

Charcoal and firewood are heavily used fuels in many kitchens across the African continent, about 70%. It’s a challenge I experienced in my home, and one that I thought did not receive the kind of attention that it deserved. Starting and running BrightGreen has been a labour commitment, focus and determination to solve a problem in my community, and to be a voice to a widespread problem in our continent.

You recently emerged as the winner of the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) 2020 Awards sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation, with a cash prize $300,000, how did you receive the news?

We were very excited and humbled at the same time, it was a tough competition!

What was the reaction of your staff, family, and even the Kenyan government to this landmark achievement?

There was so much excitement and encouragement! Our phones didn’t stop ringing for about two weeks with congratulatory messages. As Top 10 Finalists in the competition, we had reached out to our community and asked them to support us to get to the top, and indeed we received great backing! Our community anxiously waited for the results, and when they were announced, they were overjoyed!

Your company has its base in Kenya, what prospects are there and with what possible timeline to expand to other countries in East Africa and the rest of Africa?

Cooking Energy Poverty is commonly experienced across several African countries, meaning that the opportunity for our growth is very big. Our focus is to increase our market share within the East African Community first, as we build longer term plans to enter the larger African Market.

What words of wisdom, what tips do you have for those other young people in Kenya and East Africa who look up to you as a model and will like to emulate your success story?

Hard work is an integral part to success. The hard work for us has been in consistency. Consistency in product development, in customer satisfaction, in growth, in improvement etc. We’re always looking around us to see what resources we have that can help us to be better, more impactful and more efficient in the work that we do. As young business, we have focused on building a strong business model, finding the right team to work with and taking care of the customers we have, even as we seek out for new ones. When starting a business, it’s absolutely okay to start small, with the resources you have, and give it time to grow.

 For Chebet and her team, the focus is to increase their market share within the East African Community first, and build longer term plans for the larger African Market.
For Chebet and her team, the focus is to increase their market share within the East African Community first, and build longer term plans for the larger African Market.

We end this interview with an opportunity for you to say a word to the Jack Ma Foundation and to others across Africa and the world with the potential for similar initiatives that could bring out the genius in many young Africans, what message to them?

 We are extremely grateful to the Jack Ma Foundation and the Africa Business Heroes Program, for recognizing the potential and amazing work that many African entrepreneurs are doing in this continent. I believe this program will help to highlight the brilliance, determination and capabilities of the African people.

*Culled from the February Issue of PAV Magazine

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We Hope To Spark A Movement Around Entrepreneurship In Africa-Zahra Baitie
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

We hope to spark a movement around entrepreneurship in Africa so that an entire ecosystem of stakeholders work hand in hand to create new opportunities together,says Zahra Baitie.
We hope to spark a movement around entrepreneurship in Africa so that an entire ecosystem of stakeholders work hand in hand to create new opportunities together,says Zahra Baitie.

“Our hope is that in 10 years, we will have identified, spotlighted and supported 100 entrepreneur heroes from Africa whose stories will inspire the continent and beyond,” says Zahra Baitie, Partnerships & Program Manager of Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) at Jack Ma Foundation.

Discussing the ABH Awards with PAV, Zahra says in two years the sum of $2.5 million has been disbursed in grant funds to 20 inspiring African entrepreneur heroes from 11 countries.

With plans underway for additional funds on training, to developing a platform to connect the circa 30000 entrepreneurs who have applied to the program with each other as well as with investors, service providers and mentors, the ABH awards are on course to make a profoundly consequential impact on the development and economic landscape in Africa.

“We hope to spark a movement around entrepreneurship in Africa so that an entire ecosystem of stakeholders work hand in hand to create new opportunities together,” says Zahra Baitie

Thanks for accepting to grant this interview, could you start by introducing Jack Ma Foundation and the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Awards for us?

It’s a pleasure – thank you for providing us the opportunity to introduce the Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition. The prize is the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship program in Africa and was launched in 2018 with the mission to spotlight entrepreneurs from across Africa to showcase their talent and businesses.

Every year, the competition identifies and awards grant funding to 10 entrepreneur heroes. Their stories and pitches are given a global platform in the finale, which is televised as the “Africa’s Business Heroes” Show and distributed across Africa via local and pan-African broadcasters such as StarTimes and DSTV and across the globe via YouTube & Youku. We hope this Show can serve as a learning opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs as they watch our top 10 pitch to legendary business leaders like Strive Masiyiwa and Ibukun Awosika first-hand.

Over the course of 10 years, we will recognize 100 outstanding African entrepreneurs and allocate US$100 million in grant funding, training programs, and support for the broad African entrepreneurial ecosystem. We are committed to give entrepreneurs across Africa a platform to develop their business ideas and inspire others to pursue entrepreneurship.

The ABH is in its second year now, may we know how much has gone out in prize money since its inception?

To date, we have disbursed $2.5 million in grant funds to 20 inspiring African entrepreneur heroes from 11 countries.

In our inaugural year, we awarded $1 million to our Top 10 Heroes. Following the success of our 2019 Grand Finale and ABH Show, we pledged additional funds to the ABH program bringing the total size of our fund to $100 million and increased the yearly prize pool for the Top 10 from $1 million to $1.5 million. Now, the 1st Place Hero wins a $300,000 grant; the 2nd place Hero wins $250,000, the third place Hero wins a $150,000 all other 7 Heroes gain a $100,000 in grant funds.

In addition, we will be investing additional funds on training for entrepreneurs and developing a platform to connect the ~30,000 entrepreneurs who have applied to our program to each other as well as to investors, service providers and mentors. We hope to spark a movement around entrepreneurship in Africa so that an entire ecosystem of stakeholders work hand in hand to create new opportunities together.

Can you walk us through what a typical selection process looks like, Africa has 54 countries, and how is the process carried out in a way that it reaches the length and breadth of the continent in a manner that is equitable?

Our judging process is comprised of 4 stages and is deliberately rigorous to ensure both fairness and quality in our assessment process. Round 1 is an online assessment of the written applications, from which we select our Top 50 finalists. In Round 2, our Top 50 finalists undergo in-depth online video call interviews with our judges who then determine our Top 20 finalists. Our Top 20 finalists subsequently undergo a due diligence process by Pricewaterhouse Coopers before proceeding to our Semi-Finale pitches where they pitch a 7-person panel comprised of industry leaders, investors and renowned entrepreneurs. This panel then identifies our Top 10 Heroes who go on to the Grand Finale.

Importantly, at every stage we work with our network of over 150 judges from across the globe and a range of industries to assess applicants with a scoring rubric, which allows for a standardized assessment process. We also ensure that in the earlier stages of the judging process, we match candidates to judges based on industry alignment and geographical relevance to ensure that local contexts are factored into the assessment process.

May we know the judges who made the final selection for this and are they the same each year or the Foundation appoints different members of the panel?

Our Grand Finale judging panel consists of global business legends who provide our finalists insightful feedback and ask them provoking questions. While the line-up may alternate throughout the years, the panel will always be comprised of renowned business leaders. In our 2020 edition, our Grand Finale judging panel consisted of:

  • Strive Masiyiwa – Founder & Chairman of Econet Group
  • Madam Ibukun Awosika – Chairwoman of the First Bank of Nigeria Limited & CEO of the Chair Centre group.
  • Joe Tsai – Executive Vice Chairman, Alibaba Group
  • Lucy Peng – Co-Founder & Partner of Alibaba Group and Executive Chairwoman of Lazada Group

What other follow up is done by the Foundation to support winners of the ABH awards in their entrepreneurial growth?

The ABH journey does not end at the Grand Finale or the moment we hand over the cheques. We work closely with the winners as they continue to grow and find success, and the program continues to run training, education and networking opportunities beyond the finale.

 Part of this means hosting regular community check-ins with our finalists to facilitate greater collaboration. As a result of the prize, we’ve already seen our heroes build partnerships and cooperation with each other across different markets. For example, two heroes from 2019, Kevine Kagrimpindu of Uzuri K&Y and Moulaye Taboure of Afrikrea worked together to launch an online store for Uzuri K&Y on Afrikrea, expanding her reach across the globe.

The program also provides learning opportunities via the Alibaba e-founders fellowship course, which several of our Heroes have indicated has been pivotal to their business development. Beyond this, we also look to provide our finalists with a spotlight to ensure their stories are spotlighted and shared with global audiences. Lastly, we also aim to connect our finalists with investors where possible and have already made promising introductions between our finalists and Venture Capital firms. We look to do more of this in the years to come especially as we develop an online platform to bring different stakeholders together.

The second year of the awards coincided as well with the shock of COVID 19, how did this affect the smooth functioning of the ABH?

The COVID-19 pandemic threw us some challenges but also presented novel opportunities to us. It forced us to go fully digital. For example, we had to pivot from a physical roadshow across a few African countries to a completely online launch.

With this online launch we were able to engage with over 4,000 entrepreneurs from across Africa. We also had to transition from an in-person Semi-Finale and Grand Finale to create online experiences that were rich and dynamic. Our Grand Finale connected 13 locations from around the world. We also created in-country studios and leveraged a custom-built platform on DingTalk to ensure that the experience went beyond your regular online event.

What kind of change does the Jack Ma Foundation hope to see in Africa after ten years that the Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) is designed for?

Our hope is that in 10 years, we will have identified, spotlighted and supported 100 entrepreneur heroes from Africa – heroes whose stories will inspire the continent and beyond. We hope to create a network of changemakers who can inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs to make a difference in their local communities and are working to solve the most pressing problems, as well as building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future. Ultimately, we hope to see these Heroes working together to create pan-African solutions and digital ecosystems that help Africa to chart a new path and circumvent some of the development challenges it faces.

In two years the sum of $2.5 million has been disbursed in grant funds to 20 inspiring African entrepreneur heroes from 11 countries, says Zahra
In two years the sum of $2.5 million has been disbursed in grant funds to 20 inspiring African entrepreneur heroes from 11 countries, says Zahra

May we know the kind of feedback the Foundation has received and cooperation it is getting from African countries?

We are encouraged to have received widespread support from across Africa. Firstly, we received applications from all 54 African countries. Secondly, we are very grateful to have received support from various heads of state and governments from across Africa from our inception to now including Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast.

For those who read this interview and hear about the ABH for the first time, how can they try their luck, any information available on the third edition?

We welcome African entrepreneurs from all sectors that have businesses that are at least 3 years old and legally registered to try their luck! As one our Semi-Finale judges said at our 2020 Launch, “fortune favors the bold.”

We want to make sure the prize is as inclusive as possible, and applications will be open in English as well as French to African entrepreneurs regardless of sector, age or gender. Aspiring applicants can visit our website: africabusinessheroes.org and our social media accounts: @africa_heroes (Twitter) & @africabusinessheroes (Instagram, Facebook & LinkedIn) for information and to sign up to receive updates.

We will launch our 2021 applications in March, and we’ll notify all subscribers to our newsletter and our social media accounts once it opens. In the meantime, I encourage all interested applicants to learn about our past Heroes on our website and social media accounts to gain inspiration.

*Culled From February Issue of PAV Magazine

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A Lifeline for African Entrepreneurs from the Jack Ma Foundation ABH Awards
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

For a continent full of potentials but limited in opportunities, the African Business Heroes -ABH prize competition and show organized by the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program in Africa, is proving to be a veritable lifeline for many Africans.

With the aim of identifying, supporting and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs making a difference in their community, the ABH awards have generated tremendous excitement across the continent.  From $1 million in the inaugural edition in 2019, the laureates of the second edition in 2020 shared a total of $1.5 million in prize money.

Open to entrepreneurs across all sectors and African countries, the ABH awards have a special focus on those building up their local communities and working to solve the most pressing problems.

From three different countries, in three different regions, two females and one male, with projects ranging from renewable energy, health and micro finances, the top three laureates of the second edition sum up the challenges and hopes of a continent on the move.

PAV revisits the 2020 edition with exclusive interviews of Zahra Baitie Partnerships & Program Manager, Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) at the Jack Ma Foundation, winner of the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) 2020 Awards  Chebet Lesan from Kenya, 1st Runner Up Oluwasoga Oni from Nigeria, and Ethel Mupambwa 2nd Runner up from Zimbabwe..

*Culled From February Issue of PAV Magazine

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Safaricom in bid to enter the Ethiopian market
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Safaricom has stepped up its effort to join Ethiopia’s market as the Ethiopian government tries to end monopoly in the communication sector and liberalize the country’s economy.

Ethiopia’s telecom sector transformation has Ethio Telecom, the leading supplier of telecom services in the country, and the Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA).

The firm is among the six companies that have been shortlisted from the 12 that had expressed interest in entering the Ethiopian market by the authority.

The companies were invited to buy a 40 percent stake in Ethio Telecom as part of Ethiopia’s homegrown economic reform agenda launched in 2019.

ECA is seeking to award two foreign companies telecommunication licenses to operate within the country.

In partnership with Vodafone Group Plc and Vodacom Group Limited, the telco expressed its interest to join Ethiopia’s vast market. The three firms signed a deal to borrow up to Sh500 million (US$55.7 billion) from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) for the project, which is expected to top the Sh111 billion mark.

“There are about five to six consortia who are qualified to bid. Bids are due to be submitted in April. We are working towards the final submission around March/April,” said Safaricom Chairman Michael Joseph.

Safaricom stated that they are ready to adhere to the Ethiopian government’s conditions to have access to Ethiopia’s huge population, which is about 110 million.

Other firms that had expressed interest are Etisalat, Axian, MTN, Orange, Saudi Telecom Company, Telkom SA, Liquid Telecom, Snail Mobile, and the two non-telecom operators, Kandu Global Telecommunications and Electromecha International Projects.

The Ethiopian Communications Authority has not disclosed the names of the shortlisted companies.

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OPPO to unveil Reno5 and Reno5 F in Kenya
February 15, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Smartphone brand OPPO next week will launch its latest devices, Reno5 and Reno5 F, in the Kenyan market.

According to the management, Reno5 is set to introduce an industry first feature the AI Mixed Portrait, the first double exposure video effect for smartphones and AI Highlight Video which uses intelligent light detection to combine OPPO’s advanced Ultra Night Video Algorithms and Live HDR Algorithms to significantly enhance video quality in dim and backlit scenes.

The new device will come in two colors that are Fantasy Silver and the Starry Black.

The customers will also witness the ultra-fast 50W flash charging that will charged the device to up to 100 per cent in less than one hour, just is 48 minutes only.

The Reno5 will also come installed with OPPO’s Color OS 11.1 out of the box as well as providing rich UI customization, greater efficiency, unparalleled smoothness, and strengthened privacy.

“Today’s smartphone is not just a tool to record our memories-it is a partner that empowers our own image unique way of storytelling, and archives the unforgettable stories we share with our friends and family,” reiterated Muthoni Wachira, Head of Communications and Projects at OPPO Kenya.

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African Energy Chamber’s Energy Transition Committee Advocates for a Unique Energy Mix for African Countries
February 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Committee’s discussion unpacked the complex intertwined issues around energy production, access to energy, energy poverty and global equity

The African Energy Chamber’s (www.EnergyChamber.org) Energy Transition Committee held its first meeting of the year, to discuss the pressing issues surrounding the global trend towards energy transition, from the viewpoint of African countries. The energy transition phenomenon has gained significant traction as a direct result of the coronavirus shutting down economies and growing concerns for the devastating effects of climate change. Countries and companies around the world are increasingly investing into renewable and low carbon projects, while simultaneously divesting and putting a stop to traditional fossil fuel projects. Some companies are even changing their names to reflect this trend: Total just recently launched its new name, Total Energies; Statoil has become Equinor; Savannah Petroleum has become Savannah Energy. What does this mean for the African continent, which emits just under 3% of the world’s carbon emissions and still has close to 700 million people without access to power?

The Committee’s discussion unpacked the complex intertwined issues around energy production, access to energy, energy poverty and global equity. As the African Energy Chamber, representing a wide range of stakeholders in the industry, it is imperative that we must continue to critique the rhetoric of energy transition and bring out a nuanced viewpoint on how this applies to the incredibly diverse African continent. For instance, should we agree to Africa’s transition mirroring that of more developed regions like North America and Western Europe? The premise implies that there is an existing embedded and established energy infrastructure in Africa, similar to Western Europe, from which the continent will transition from. The reality on the ground is that the average citizen across Africa lacks reliable, affordable, easily accessible energy to be able to pursue opportunities and live a dignified life. Therefore, we at the African Energy Chamber cannot embrace a one size fits all narrative, pushing the energy transition agenda where it is not in fact fit for purpose.

Akinwole Omoboriowo II, Chairman and CEO of Genesis Energy Holding, Board Member with the Chamber emphasised: “The African continent will continue to require a balanced energy mix to meet its needs. In the short-term, that’s to say the next 30 to 50 years – we must continue to industrialise on the continent. Gas will play a critical role in making that happen and renewable energy, where appropriate also has a role to play.”

Moreover, fellow Committee Member Rémi Mouchel, Director of Operations and Chairman of the Executive Board at IFP Training and Chamber Board Member went on to add: “Part of the energy transition for African countries will include looking at ways to apply technology to produce cleaner fossil fuel energy. We must extend the perimeter of this energy transition discourse.”

Indeed, while projects on the African continent represent a mere 6% of International Oil Companies’ global footprint, since the start of the pandemic, project after project has been delayed or cancelled, heralding a change in investment priorities. This has had devastating effects on hundreds of millions of Africans. From loss of jobs, to lost revenue for governments and the increase of dependency on imported energy. Millions of people living across Africa need reliable, affordable and easily accessible energy to be able build businesses. That much is not up for debate.

Climate change is real and must be addressed. The African Energy Chamber, with the support of its members and Advisory Board will continue to champion a sensible path towards energy transition in Africa. We believe, that the realities of the millions of Africans who rightfully aspire for affordable and reliable energy must be an integral part of the global energy transition discourse. We shall continue to strongly advocate for that, even when it goes against the grain. We must showcase the bold, innovative and enterprising projects that require funding, we must push for using Africa’s energy resources to bring about socio-economic development and prosperity for all.

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber

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African Development Bank and Mozambique LNG Area 1 Project win Multilateral Deal of the Year Award for $24 billion global syndicated finance
February 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Mozambique Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Area 1 Project and the African Development Bank have jointly received the prestigious Global Multilateral Deal of the Year 2020 award by the print and online publication Project Finance International (PFI).

The project, the single largest foreign direct investment in Africa to date with a value of over $24 billion, will exploit Mozambique’s immense offshore natural gas reserves, which can potentially transform global energy markets. The African Development Bank signed an agreement for a $400 million senior loan to finance the project in July 2020.

In signing the loan agreement, the African Development Bank joined a global syndication of commercial banks and export credit agencies that are providing financing. This financing includes direct loans as well as export credit agency-covered loans with 16- and 18-year tenors. The project is implemented by an international consortium of energy developers and operators led by Total as the operator of the project. It includes Mitsui, Oil India, Bharat Petroleum, PTTEP, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Mozambique’s national oil and gas company, Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH).  The consortium is providing the balance of financing through equity. Financial closing on the project is expected in 2021.

Mozambique is expected to become one of the world’s largest LNG exporters. Its gas represents an important source of LNG supply diversification. The project will boost the country’s ability to meet energy demand through gas-fired electricity and will support its ambitious goal to provide universal access to energy to its citizens by 2030. The project can also potentially feed downstream industries that use natural gas, such as fertilizer and electricity producers. It can thus become an engine for agricultural development and trade across the Southern African Development Corporation region. 

PFI is the leading source of intelligence on global project finance. In its award announcement, it noted that the project had faced many challenges in securing financing, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I still find it remarkable how so many project financings were transacted this year,” including the Mozambique LNG deal, said PFI’s Editor Rod Morrison.

“The multilaterals played a key role in getting the project financed,” Morrison said. In addition to the African Development Bank, PFI cited the participation of United States Export Import Bank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation as critical.     

In addition to loan financing, the Bank played a lead role in ensuring the project’s compliance with strict environmental and social standards. It also invested in strengthening the capacity of small and medium enterprises to enter the project’s supply chains and promote good standards of governance and transparency in Mozambique.

Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, said: “I am delighted with the award of the Global Multilateral Deal of the Year 2020 to the African Development Bank and the Government of Mozambique LNG Area 1 Project, by Project Finance International. This great recognition reinforces the African Development Bank’s leadership and role in helping to structure financing and attract investments to Africa. The $24 billion project, which was structured at the Bank’s Africa Investment Forum, is Africa’s largest foreign direct investment. We will work with all partners to ensure that this project helps to unlock greater economic growth for Mozambique and benefits millions of people in the country, while building climate resilience.”

Overall, the project aligns with a number of the African Development Bank’s strategic goals and its country strategy for Mozambique and for Southern Africa. These goals include boosting employment, expanding universal electricity access and leveraging natural resource development for investment in sustainable infrastructure.

Fernando Balderrama, Chief Investment Officer with the Bank, said: “We are excited about the growth and industrialization opportunities created through this project for the Mozambican population.” He added: “The African Development Bank will continue to play a convening role to facilitate and assist with the suitable implementation of this investment, advocating for international best practice, small and medium enterprise development and diversification, women’s empowerment, job creation, and other critically important considerations.”

*AfDB

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Mauritius Commercial Bank Taps Windward’s AI Solution to Optimize Trade Finance and Compliance Processes
February 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

MCB will integrate Windward’s Predictive Intelligence solution to increase efficiency across its trading practices, empowering MCB to continue to trade with confidence in an era of rapidly increasing risks.

Zaahir Sulliman

Today, Windward  the Predictive Intelligence company applying AI to transform global maritime trade, and Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd  the longest-standing and leading banking institution in Mauritius, announced a long-term, multi-year partnership to enhance MCB’s due diligence and monitoring processes linked to its commodity trade finance business. Windward’s AI-powered solution will increase efficiency across MCB’s maritime trade finance practices and strengthen compliance and trade-based money laundering screening processes.  

Financial institutions in both Mauritius and around the world are under increased pressure by both national and international compliance regulators to implement extensive due-diligence processes, especially in light of new sanctions advisories by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in the US and the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) in the UK. To this end, forward-thinking financial institutions are turning to AI systems to bolster effectiveness, streamline lengthy processes, and gain insights into deceptive practices used to facilitate financial crimes.

“Windward’s platform was the natural choice when we were looking to boost efficiency of our due diligence and Know Your Vessel processes,” said Zaahir Sulliman, Head of Specialized Finance at Mauritius Commercial Bank. “As maritime trade becomes increasingly complex to navigate, our partnership with Windward enables us to more effectively meet regulatory expectations and enhances our efforts to improve business operations, reduce risks, and improve compliance across our commodity finance business.”

This partnership comes on the heels of Windward’s announcement of a partnership with Danske Bank  in November 2020. Windward’s powerful AI-based dynamic risk solution provides financial institutions with a state-of-the-art platform to effectively streamline the risk management journey. Windward’s Predictive Intelligence is powered by advanced maritime AI technology which is based on 300 behavioral analytics models and over 10 billion data points.

“We pride ourselves on partnering with best-in-class financial institutions,” said Ami Daniel, CEO and Co-Founder of Windward. “As trade finance becomes more complex due to increased regulation, it is essential for banks to enhance their compliance processes and to be better informed on the entities they conduct business with. We are proud to push the digital transformation of the industry forward by providing Mauritius Commercial Bank with the highest level of comprehensive risk-based analysis of maritime trade.” 

About Windward:
Windward  is the leading Predictive Intelligence company fusing AI and big data to digitalize the global maritime industry, enabling organizations to achieve business and operational readiness. Windward’s AI-powered solution allows stakeholders including banks, commodity traders, insurers, and major energy and shipping companies to make real-time, predictive intelligence-driven decisions, providing a 360° view of the maritime ecosystem and its broader impact on safety, security, finance, and business.

About Mauritius Commercial Bank:
With its 181-year history, The Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd (MCB)  has evolved to an integrated bank and financial services institution, which offers tailored and innovative solutions to a diversified client base, ranging from retail to corporate and institutions. MCB’s rich history, commitment to customer service and excellence, innovative culture, and high-quality employees have underpinned its solid franchise and long track record of sustainable profitability and financial soundness. MCB has also established a physical presence in 10 countries overseas, via its subsidiaries in Madagascar, Seychelles, and Maldives, its representative offices in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Paris, and Dubai, as well as its associates, Société Générale Moçambique and Banque Française Commerciale Océan Indien (BFCOI – operating in Réunion Island, Mayotte, and Paris).

*SOURCE The Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd (MCB)

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