Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) recently celebrated its fifth anniversary and fifth year of hosting its annual prize competition. This philanthropic initiative run by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy is dedicated to identifying, spotlighting, funding, and empowering innovative African entrepreneurs with the aim of strengthening the African entrepreneurial ecosystem. The foundation has made a 10-year commitment to this goal and in the past five years it has given away $7 million in prize money and amplified the work of remarkable African entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs spanning the length and breadth of Africa have also gone on to raise over $153 million in investments and created over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs. By empowering audacious entrepreneurs, ABH is fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, and socio-economic development on the African continent.

The 2023 ABH Prize saw the participation of entrepreneurs from Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Benin, and Morocco, and an increase in participation from francophone African countries. Overall, the top ten were selected after thorough vetting of over 27,267 applications from all 54 African nations. These top ten entrepreneurs represented a wide array of industries from agriculture to energy services. The top three finalists were picked from this pool of 10 after each participant pitched their idea to a panel of judges in an AR-enabled stage at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda. This ABH grand finale and fifth anniversary was a 2-day event witnessed by over 1,700 investors, tech enthusiasts, business leaders, and global audiences live and virtually. This event included live pitching sessions, speeches, workshops, and an afterparty to celebrate the initiative’s 5th anniversary.

The top three Africa’s Business Heroes for 2023 are:

First place winner, Ikpeme Neto is the CEO of Wellahealth which provides affordable healthcare coverage to Nigerians. Speaking of this win he states “I am honored to be named the winner of Africa’s Business Heroes this year. This award strengthens my commitment to driving positive change through innovation. I extend sincere gratitude to ABH for empowering entrepreneurs like me, and I am devoted to shaping a brighter future for our continent through entrepreneurship. I am thrilled for the recognition of Wellahealth Technologies’ work and thankful to my team, family, and the ABH team for enabling this impact in healthcare across Africa,” According to him this $300,000 grand prize will go towards helping the company achieve its goals faster.

The second and third-place winners were gifted $250,000 and $150,000 respectively. The remaining seven heroes each got $100,000 in business grants, plus each of the 10 finalists received an additional $10,000 for further training programs. The top three winners were selected through multiple stages of interviews and pitches to a panel of judges consisting of industry juggernauts Dr. Diane Karusisi, CEO of Bank of Kigali; Ibukun Awosika, Founder and CEO of The Chair Centre Group; and Joe Tsai, Chairman of Alibaba Group.

Over the past five years, ABH has spotlighted passionate African entrepreneurs making impactful contributions to their community. The competition has helped usher them to the world stage and provide support from investors and business professionals from across the globe. The next five years promise to be even more remarkable as the competition continues to nurture and foster the growth of the entrepreneurial spirit across the 54 nations on the African continent.

Applications for the 2024 edition will open soon this year. Keep up with Africa’s Business Heroes as it makes its impact across Africa here

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