Africa’s Business Heroes competition seeks shining stars

Applications for 2023 Africa’s Business Heroes Prize competition are now accepted. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn
Applications for 2023 Africa’s Business Heroes Prize competition are now accepted. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

The Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy have launched the fifth edition of the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) competition. It is a philanthropic initiative that aims to foster an inclusive and strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa.

This year, the competition calls for participation from all 54 African countries and across all sectors, gender, and age groups. The top ten entrepreneurs will be awarded a share of $1.5 million in grant money. The competition is inclusive, sector-agnostic and grassroots-oriented.

ABH creates a television show every year which follows the finalists of the previous year on their exciting journey to the grand finale, featuring their on-stage pitches as well as behind-the-scenes moments.

Apart from grant, mentorship and networking opportunities, the show provides a masterclass in entrepreneurship as audiences can see first-hand how Africa’s top entrepreneurs refined their final pitches and faced challenging questions from the judges.

Zahra Baitie-Boateng, head of partnerships and programmes of ABH, said, “At ABH, we have long recognised the potential of entrepreneurs as engines of economic and social growth. Now in the fifth year of the competition, we are encouraged to see that ABH has grown into a truly Pan-African initiative that is positively impacting the continent’s entrepreneurship landscape. We encourage entrepreneurs from all countries, especially those from smaller countries, to seize the opportunity of ABH 2023 to tell and inspire millions more with their unique stories.”

ABH is dedicated to recognising entrepreneurs striving to make a difference in their local communities. Over the past four years, ABH has recognised 40 African entrepreneurs, and in 2023, it aims to recognise ten more, making it a total of 50 African entrepreneurs.

Elia Timotheo, founder and CEO of East Africa Fruits Co., was the 2022 ABH first prize winner. He said, “My business represents my philosophy and my values, and I am thrilled that East Africa Fruits was recognised on the prestigious ABH platform.

“ABH has given homegrown African businesses like mine a tremendous opportunity to access learning and networking opportunities and benefit from media support. I hope that my story will inspire other entrepreneurs to feel that they too have the potential to make a difference and be part of ABH’s start-up community.”

This year, ABH will be hosting in-person information sessions across the continent during the application period to facilitate the application process for interested entrepreneurs. Sessions will be held in Ethiopia, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda in partnership with various local entrepreneur organisations and ABH local connect leads.

The ABH initiative is designed to not only offer funding and resources for entrepreneurs, but it is also committed to recognising the hard work and dedication of entrepreneurs across the African continent.

ABH’s success is in part due to its wide-ranging partnerships with key ecosystem partners. This year, the 2023 Anchor partners include Afrilabs, RiseUp, SA Innovation Summit, The Room, an initiative of African Leadership Group, and VC4A.

ABH recognises that entrepreneurs are engines of economic and social growth in Africa. The initiative is creating an inclusive and strong entrepreneurial ecosystem that helps African entrepreneurs access learning, networking, mentorship, media support and other opportunities to take their businesses to the next level.

African entrepreneurs are encouraged to take part in the ABH competition to tell their stories and inspire millions more. Click here to apply and to get more information about ABH.

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