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Africa’s talented entrepreneurs are called to act, challenge stereotypes to compete

By Clémentine Nyirangaruye.

Entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries, across every sector, age group, and gender are now able to submit their applications, in either French and English, for a chance to become one of the Top 10 finalists. The official slogan of the competition, “It’s African Time”, is a bold call to action to all talented African entrepreneurs who are challenging stereotypes associated with “African time” – creating local impact and building a better, more inclusive future through their businesses.

All those are through the Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition which is the flagship philanthropic initiative spearheaded by the Jack Ma Foundation aimed at supporting and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs across all sectors, who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future of the continent.

Over a ten-year period, ABH will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and commit to allocating grant funding, training programs, and support for the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Each year, the ABH prize competition and show will feature ten finalists as they pitch their business to win a share of $1.5 million in grant money. Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation, created the prize after he made his first trip to Africa in 2017 and was inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial potential of the young people he met.

At the grand finale later this year, 10 finalists will take the stage to present their businesses to a panel of business legends to win a share of the US$1.5 million grant. The journey to the Finale will also include access to a community of international leaders and innovators, industry experts, investors and accelerators, as well multi-disciplinary boot camps and training sessions to help the finalists take their businesses to the next level.

“I was beyond proud to have been named the winner of the 2021 ABH competition. I hope that my win inspires many people across Africa to feel that they can make a difference and be impactful.  I learned so much throughout the competition and will take those learnings to continue growing PraxiLabs. We will remain focused and determined to change how Africa learns and teaches science, one virtual lab at a time,” Khadija Mohamed Elbedweihy, Founder, PraxiLabs

“My advice to other entrepreneurs is to believe in themselves, believe in application and not to be scared to tell their stories and challenge stereotypes to compete because when you do not believe in yourself no one is going to believe in you.” Said Joan Rukundo Nalubega CEO and Founder,Uganics(Uganda)

Joan Rukundo Nalubega CEO and Founder, Uganics(Uganda)

“Entrepreneurship in Africa is experiencing a strong upward trajectory and it is so encouraging to see. But there are still so many entrepreneurs whose inspiring stories and impactful businesses need a spotlight, and who could benefit from additional support. The Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition is encouraging extraordinarily talented entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries, across every single sector, age group, and gender to apply in either English or French for a chance to win their share of a $1.5 million grant, access to training, mentorship, and more. We want to enable entrepreneurs that are not only building successful businesses, but who are also running mission driven organizations that generate growth for their local communities across Africa. If this sounds like you, join the Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition today. It’s African Time,” said Zahra Baitie, Head of Partnerships & Programs, ABH.

Applications will be open online until 6th June 2022 with semi-finalists announced in October and the top ten finalists for 2022 unveiled in November.

Throughout the year, ABH will be partnering with a wide range of organizations to drive the call for applications, support African entrepreneurs and to spotlight their inspiring work.

As part of an expanded suite of offerings to ABH Finalists, many of these partners will provide training programs aimed at supporting finalists to scale their businesses. For example, select finalists will have the opportunity to participate in AMI’s Management Development Program. They will also be able to participate in an Investment Readiness Program designed and facilitated by VC4A, access “The Room” and talent sourcing benefits as well as attend key entrepreneurship events on the continent such as the South Africa Innovation Summit and the RiseUp Summit.

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