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Entrepreneurs and small business owners across Africa have until Wednesday, 6 July to apply for Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH), a bold call to the movers and shakers who are creating local impact and building a better, more inclusive future.
ABH is one of the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic programmes. While the entry deadline is fast approaching, organisers have also announced that it has expanded its ecosystem of partners and judges for its fourth edition. With a more robust partner and judge network in place, it will be able to better fulfil its mission of spotlighting and supporting entrepreneurs from all industries across the continent.
ABH continues to deepen its partnership with anchor partners The Room, an initiative of African Leadership International, SA Innovation Summit, RiseUp, VC4A and Ashesi. Alongside its anchor partners, ABH will provide applicants with a range of training and talent development programmes.
Furthermore, ABH has also increased its pool of channel partners to influential stakeholders in Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. These partners will bolster the programme’s efforts in finding business heroes across Africa as well as providing participants with additional resources and support.
The channel partner pool now includes African Management Institute, African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum, AfriLabs, Briter Bridges, Disrupt Africa, ImpactHub Dakar, MEST Africa, Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Enterprise and Seedstars International.
Africa’s Business Heroes stimulate economies
AfricaLabs executive director Anna Ekeldo says, “AfriLabs is committed to supporting programmes and interventions targeted at enabling entrepreneurs, creating a conducive environment for ventures to thrive while stimulating economic growth and social development in Africa. Through this partnership with ABH, we will leverage our Pan-African community to scout business heroes from across the continent to stand a chance to be one of the finalists.”
“In partnering with Africa’s Business Heroes, MCISE aspires to convey one of the best international and African opportunities to its community and beyond,” adds Nafaa Hanane, communication and marketing manager of the Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Enterprise.
“This endeavour draws on the MCISE’s previous efforts since 2012 to foster social entrepreneurship in Morocco and provide an opportunity for Moroccan entrepreneurs to broaden their projects to a continental scale.”
This sentiment is shared by Lina Ng’inja, head of partnerships in Africa for Seedstars.
“At Seedstars, our mission has always been to create a positive impact in emerging markets, so this partnership with ABH is something our team is excited about. The African start-up ecosystem is beaming with opportunities and we’re thrilled to be one of the organizations helping further enable its growth.”
Ventureburn, Ventures Africa and AfterSchool Africa also supports ABH’s efforts in amplifying the ongoing call for applications. In addition, ABH is expanding its community of judges who will help narrow down applications received to the top 50, 20 and 10.
Want to join the ABH panel of judges?
ABH judges currently include senior professionals from companies such as Facebook, Mastercard, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, VC firms as well as established entrepreneurs such as Dr Anino Emuwa of Avandis Consulting and Rafeh Saleh of Cubit Ventures. Seasoned entrepreneurs, VCs, academics and business professionals from all sectors are invited to join the ABH community of judges.
“Being an ABH judge was an exciting, inspiring, and humbling experience for me. I learned a lot and it was a great opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with the applicants and my fellow judges. Most of all, it was an honour to watch and support such committed change-makers across the continent, they are all true heroes,” says Adaora Ikenze, head of public policy for West Africa at Facebook.
ABH is currently calling for all entrepreneurs, start-ups and business owners across the continent and every sector, age group, and gender to submit their application – in either French or English – for a chance to become one of the top 10 finalists.
Applicants for this year’s ABH competition stand a chance to win their share of the $1.5 million grant. To date, the competition has already attracted applications from all 54 African countries for the third consecutive year.
In addition to a cash grant, applicants will also gain access to mentoring, networking, and publicity opportunities for their ventures. All applicants also have access to training and scaling opportunities across a vast range of business disciplines in the form of webinars, presentations, and events.
They can also take advantage of the competition’s ABH Community Lead programme, which gives them access to heroes from the competition across the years.