The “Africa’s Business Heroes” (ABH) prize competition, one of the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic programs spotlighting and celebrating Africa’s entrepreneurial talent, has opened applications for its fourth annual edition.
Entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries, across every sector, age group, and gender, are now able to submit their applications, in either French or 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” by creating local impact and building a better, more inclusive future through their businesses.
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 as multi-disciplinary boot camps and training sessions to help the finalists take their businesses to the next level.
Today also marks the television premiere of the 3-episode series for the ABH 2021 competition. The show follows the journeys of the top 10 finalists from 2021 as they gear up for the grand finale. The show aims to provide a masterclass in entrepreneurship, as audiences can see first-hand how the top entrepreneurs from across Africa refined their final pitches and faced tough questions from legendary business figures. It was filmed in 12 African countries and will premiere on CNBC Africa on March 25. It will also be broadcast across Africa on StarTimes, DSTV, VoxAfrica and a number of African local TV stations, including Rwanda Television. The show will also air on ABH’s official YouTube channel later this year.
“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.
“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. 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 Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition today. It’s African Time,” said Zahra Baitie, Head of Partnerships & Programs, ABH.
ABH is part of the Jack Ma Foundation’s long-term commitment to help support and foster an inclusive and strong African entrepreneurial ecosystem. Over a 10-year period, ABH will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs. This year, ABH has revamped its brand identity to better reflect its ethos. The new logo focuses on the concept of the “hero”, as they are the ones who drive changes on the continent. The interconnected lines capture a sense of connectedness, which reflects the goal of creating a community of African entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, trainers, and business service providers. The logo also aims to evoke a sense of dynamism, which reflects the inherent nature of true entrepreneurship and ABH’s own drive for innovation. Lastly, the logo features African geometric designs, which speak to ABH’s pan-African focus and goal of enabling the African entrepreneur ecosystem. ABH has also upgraded the application system by adding in-process tutorials such as former heroes’ sample videos and tips, streamlining the application process and adding in fun, interactive elements such as avatars, etc.
Applications will be open online until June 6, 2022, with semi-finalists to be announced in October and the top ten finalists for 2022 to be unveiled in November. To apply and for more information about ABH, click here, here, and follow on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.
ABH marked the official opening of applications with launch events on March 24 both online and in five locations across Africa: Kigali, Rwanda; Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Cairo, Egypt; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Lagos, Nigeria. More than 1,600 entrepreneurs from 63 countries and 21 industries registered to attend the launch events.
Throughout the year, ABH will be partnering with a wide range of organizations to drive the call for applications, support African entrepreneurs, and spotlight their inspiring work. Partners include the African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum, African Management Institute (AMI), Ashesi University, Briter Bridges, Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (MCISE), The Room– an initiative of African Leadership Group, RiseUp, VC4A and more.
As part of an expanded suite of offerings to ABH finalists, many of these partners will provide training programs aimed at supporting finalists as they 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.