Sponsored by Africa’s Business Heroes
Africa is home to unparalleled entrepreneurial innovation, disruption and growth. But while the continent has no shortage of talent and drive, Africa’s entrepreneurs face unique challenges accessing investment and training opportunities that can help them take their businesses to the next level.
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That is why the Jack Ma Foundation started the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize competition. Every year, ABH conducts a continent-wide search with its partners for the most talented, mission-driven entrepreneurs that are driving inclusive growth and creating positve impact for their communities.
10 outstanding heroes are selected every year to participate in a televised pitch event to a panel of global business legends. They share a grant of US$1.5 million as well as mentorship, networking, training, and a chance to raise their profiles.
Since being named as one of Africa’s Business Heroes, these entrepreneurs have made an incredible impact. To date, they have created more than 5,000 jobs across Africa and raised more than $77 million for their ventures. Importantly, they have also been able to expand their businesses and operate across new countries and new regions.
Take Moulaye Taboure of Afrikrea for example. In 2019, he was named a Top 10 finalist and since then, Afrikrea has expanded his team across the continent – creating 100 indirect jobs, growing its revenue 5x and becoming the biggest African exporter of e-commerce with DHL.
His experience with ABH also inspired him to pivot Afrikrea’s model from a pure marketplace that connects more than 7,000 sellers from 47 African countries with buyers from 170 countries around the world towards a SaaS fulfillment platform with the launch of Anka in 2021. Anka’s on-demand software solution gives merchants services spanning e-commerce, payment and logistics. Since launch, they’ve raised $6.2 million in a pre-Series A round.
Moulaye is now giving back to the ABH community and serves as the ABH Local Community Lead for Francophone West Africa from his home base of Cote D’Ivoire. He is leading efforts to foster greater connection and engagement between ABH finalists and applicants, especially in Francophone Africa.
He noted, “as the first francophone to ever be in the TOP10 (and the only at the time), I know for a fact that our region has just as much talented as Anglophone Africa. So, I am extremely proud and confident to help more heroes hail from Francophone Africa, watch out for us!”
The winner from 2021, Khadija Mohamed Elbedweihy from PraxiLabs, is also taking an active role in the ABH community. She is using her platform to build a strong entrepreneurial community as the Local Community Lead in North Africa.
PraxiLabs is a platform that delivers interactive, immersive online science labs for students that allow them to conduct experiments that may not be possible due to safety, time or funding constraints.
Since her win, PraxiLabs has been able to double its team and increase its partnership network in 6 new countries. She said, “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.”
The success that Africa’s Business Heroes have achieved at an individual level is impressive, but the impact they’ve created as a group and at scale is even more so. They have been a transformative force in creating economic opportunities and powering their local communities. They are an example of how entrepreneurship can build a better, more inclusive future.
The window to apply to the 4th annual ABH competition is open until the 20th of June and entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries, across every sector, age group, and gender are encouraged to apply in either English or French.
To date, the competition has seen entrants from all 54 African countries and across a wide spectrum of sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, ICT, Education, Fashion, Healthcare, Business Services, Media and Entertainment. More than 30% of the current applicants are women.
ABH is putting out a special call to entrepreneurs whose countries are still underrepresented – including Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire and Senegal – to apply to this year’s competition.
“ABH is committed to being a fully inclusive and pan-African initiative and it is heartening to have seen a tremendous response from entrepreneurs across Africa this year. We aim to have all of the countries and regions of Africa well-represented in this year’s edition and to have a truly diverse set of finalists. We encourage all talented and mission-driven entrepreneurs from underrepresented countries to seize this opportunity to tell their stories and grow their businesses,” says Zahra Baitie-Boateng, Head of Partnerships & Programs, ABH.
ABH is also expanding its community of Judges who will help narrow down applications received this year to the Top 50, Top 20 and Top 10. ABH judges are in a unique position to positively contribute to the growth of talented African start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Seasoned entrepreneurs, VCs, academics and business professionals from all sectors can join the ABH community of judges here.
This article is sponsored and supplied by Africa’s Business Heroes.