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Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) has announced the top 10 finalists for its grand finale event which takes place in Accra, Ghana on 16 November.
The ANPI said in a statement on Monday (14 October) that after months of judging and deliberation, 10 finalists have been shortlisted and will now go on to pitch their business directly to four finale judges.
The finalists were chosen from among nearly 10 000 applicants from 50 African countries.
Judging will take place during a televised finale event called “Africa’s Business Heroes” and the winners will each receive a share of the $1-million grant prize pool.
The 10 Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative finalists were chosen from nearly 10 000 applicants from 50 African countries
ANPI said “Africa’s Business Heroes” will air on 29 November. More details of how to tune in to the program will be released in the coming weeks.
The four judges are Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa, First Bank of Nigeria chairman Ibukun Awosika and Alibaba executive vice chairman Joe Tsai
The Jack Ma Foundation will host a full-day Africa Netpreneur Summit — an invitation-only conference where African and global entrepreneurs, investors, educators, and leaders will convene to discuss how best to enable entrepreneurship and the digital economy across the continent.
Guest speakers at the conference will include Ban Ki-moon, Former UN Secretary General and co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. The conference will be followed by the “Africa’s Business Heroes” event in the evening.
Commenting in the same statement Ma said: “We launched the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative to identify top entrepreneurs from across the continent, not only to reward them but to inspire a whole new generation of potential gamechangers for Africa.
“I have been inspired by the entrepreneurs I met in Africa, many of whom are dealing with the same challenges we faced when we started Alibaba years ago. I truly believe the potential of Africa’s business heroes is limitless”.
The 10 finalists are:
Waleed Abd El Rahman, CEO, Mumm (Egypt): Mumm is a virtual cafeteria for businesses, harnessing the power of shared economy through technology, cloud kitchens and an online marketplace for home-based entrepreneurial cooks. Waleed is a seasoned entrepreneur with over 12 years in food tech. He is also the former founding managing director of MIT Technology Review-Middle East and a member of the Advisory Committee of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community.
Ayodeji Arikawe, co-founder, Thrive Agric (Nigeria): Thrive Agric is an agricultural technology-enabled company that works with smallholder farmers to enable them to gain greater access to finance, as well as improve their income and harvest distribution. Today, Thrive Agric works with 22 000 farmers in Nigeria, but the company is aiming to build the largest network of farmers in Africa. They are on a mission to “build an Africa that feeds the world and Itself.” Ayodeji is an accomplished software engineer and serves as both co-founder and CTO for Thrive Agric. The startup was part of Google Launchpad Africa’s first cohort held in 2018 (see this story).
Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder and CEO, LifeBank (Nigeria): LifeBank is a medical distribution company that uses data and technology to help health workers discover critical medical products. The company has saved over 5,300 lives in Nigeria. Founder Temie has over 10 years of health-management experience with Department for International Development, the World Health Organization, the UN Development Programme and Lagos State. In 2014, BBC listed her as one of the 100 women changing the world. She was also recognized by Quartz and the World Economic Forum. Earlier this month the startup was selected by African funding platform VC4A as one of 12 companies for its 2019 Series-A Venture Showcase which takes place next month (see this story). And in May last year LifeBank confirmed that it had closed a $200 000 seed round which was led by EchoVC Pan-Africa fund (see this story).
Mahmud Johnson, founder and CEO, J-Palm (Liberia): J-Palm Liberia (JPL) was founded with the goal of making premium consumer goods while creating income-earning and employment opportunities through sustainable palm-oil production. When JPL was first founded, palm oil kernels had been going to waste in Liberia, but founder and CEO Mahmud Johnson found a way to innovate productive uses for this overlooked natural resource. Today, JPL has created a range of beauty and clean-energy products, built a robust network of partnerships across the country, and helped to create jobs for hundreds of Liberians. Mahmud holds a degree in economics from Dartmouth College and is a 2017 recipient of the Order of the Star of Africa conferred by the President of Liberia.
Kevine Kagirimpundu, co-founder and CEO, Uzuri K&Y (Rwanda): Uzuri K&Y is an African-inspired ecofriendly shoe brand established in Rwanda. Kagirimpundu is passionate about ending global waste while also leveraging her creativity to create employment opportunities for her community. Uzuri claims it has made a direct impact on more than 750 people through employment and skills training. In addition to obtaining her degree in creative design, she has participated in numerous entrepreneurship programs to enhance her skills in business development. In 2017, she was recognised as the winner of the Made in Rwanda Enterprise of the Year.
Christelle Kwizera, founder, Water Access Rwanda (Rwanda): Water Access Rwanda pioneered Inuma, a Safe Water Microgrid that reclaims broken boreholes and transforms them into state-of-the-art solar-powered water kiosks and pipelines. The water is sold for $1 per every 1000 litres and creates off-farm jobs for youth. Currently, Water Access Rwanda employs 68 people, and allows over 47 000 customers to access water daily across 86 stations. Kwizera is a mechanical engineer and was named Inco’s woman entrepreneur of the year in 2019, among other high-profile awards.
Dr Tosan J. Mogbeyiteren, founder, Black Swan (Nigeria): WeMunize by Black Swan Tech Ltd is helping to solve Nigeria’s public-health challenges by deploying an automated scheduling, GPS-enabled software-as-a-service that uses a combination of digital record keeping and community engagement to increase birth registration and early childhood immunisations. Black Swan is working with USAID Nigeria to expand WeMunize coverage in northern Nigeria. Tosan is a public-health specialist with more than 13 years of experience in deploying technology to solve development challenges in Nigeria.
Chibuzo Opara, co-founder, DrugStoc (Nigeria): DrugStoc is a cloud-based pharmaceutical IT and logistics platform focused on eliminating counterfeit drugs, expanding access to pharmaceutical products and improving transparency in pricing for healthcare providers and the product supply chain. Chibuzo is a health economist and medical doctor with over 12 years of experience in the health sector. He has worked with the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the International Finance Corporation. In June the startup announced that it had received an undisclosed amount in investment from Nigerian social innovation fund Growth Capital (see this story).
Dr. Omar Sakr, founder and CEO, Nawah-Scientific (Egypt): Nawah-Scientific is the first private research centre in the MENA region focused on natural and biomedical sciences that offers analytical and scientific services online and on-demand. Dr. Sakr has 13 years of pharmaceutical experience, has worked as an adjunct assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Zewail City of Science and Technology, and holds scientific and business awards for innovative product design.
Moulaye Taboure, co-founder and CEO, Afrikrea (Cote D’Ivoire): Afrikrea.com is the leading “Made of Africa” fashion, art and handicraft online marketplace. The marketplace has processed more than $4-million in sales across 101 countries and supports merchants from all over the world. After growing up in Mali and working for companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers and Alstom, Moulaye now dedicates his time to building the global infrastructure for African culture.
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Featured image: Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative 2019 finalists (Supplied)