Startups from Nigeria and Kenya, were among the top 50 finalists selected to compete for this year’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative.
The 50 entrepreneurs will continue their journey in the competition, for a chance to become one of the ten entrepreneurs that will compete in the grand finale later this year.
The diversity of the finalist roster reflects the aim of Africa’s Business Heroes to be inclusive and grassroots, providing entrepreneurs from all over Africa with a platform to showcase their talent and business ideas, regardless of nationality, industry, age or gender.
The 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize competition, is a flagship philanthropic program established by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI).
Sponsored by Jack Ma Foundation, the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), which is in its second year, seeks to empower top ten startups with innovative ideas that could boost Africa’s development in today’s digital era. The Foundation, last year, gave out $1 million to ten startups in Africa, where Nigeria came first, but this year, the Foundation increased the prize money to $1.5 million for the final 10 that will emerge winners of the competition.
The 2020 top fifty finalists come from 21 countries, which include Nigeria, Kenya, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and 18 sectors, such as: Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Business services, Construction, Education, Engineering, e-Commerce, Fashion, Financial services, Healthcare, ICT, Logistics, Manufacturing, Management services, Retail, Renewable energy, and Transportation.
The 50 finalists were selected from over 22,000 applications all over Africa, representing 21 African countries, with half of them being female.
The average age of the cohort is 37 with the youngest candidate aged 22 and the eldest aged 64.
50 per cent of the candidates are female – a 24 per cent increase from the debut competition last year, and 32 per cent are francophone, reflecting this year’s competition opening applications in French for the first time.
Over the past month, a panel of 140 highly skilled and experienced judges reviewed the submissions, evaluating applicants’ leadership and vision, their ability to translate their innovations and ideas into sustainable and robust business models, and their commitment to create positive impact to uplift their communities. Judges, whose unrivalled knowledge and industry expertise has brought immense added value to the selection process, represented a variety of key sectors in Africa, such as agriculture, tech, retail and e-commerce, education, healthcare, finance, logistics, and tourism.
Before stepping into the second round of selection, which will determine the top 20 finalists, the fifty selected entrepreneurs will be invited to join an exclusive virtual boot camp hosted by the Africa’s Business Heroes team.
A number of round one judges commented on their experience with Africa’s Business Heroes.
Team Lead at Agence Française de Développement, Isadora Bigourdan Bryden, said:
“I am thrilled to have served as a judge for the Africa’s Business Heroes competition. It’s been an honour to help identify business heroes from Africa that are genuinely committed to changing the game in their respective industries. In these challenging times, getting to discover how the ABH applicants manage to turn challenges into opportunities, with a real sense of purpose and dedication to improve the conditions of people in their communities strengthens my belief in the promise of entrepreneurship in Africa.”