Founders from Tanzania, Kenya and Egypt have been named winners of the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) competition, a flagship philanthropic programme established by the Jack Ma Foundation to spotlight and support African entrepreneurs.
The Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition is aimed at supporting and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs across all sectors who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future of the continent.
Over a 10-year period, ABH will recognise 100 African entrepreneurs and commit to allocating grant funding, training programmes, and support for the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Each year, the ABH prize competition and show features 10 finalists as they pitch their business to win a share of US$1.5 million in grant money.
This year, the competition received more than 21,000 applications and saw applicants from across all 54 African countries. These applicants were eventually whittled down to 10 finalists, who then pitched at a hybrid Grand Finale held in Johannesburg, South Africa last week.
The overall winners were Elia Timotheo of Tanzanian agri-tech startup East Africa Fruits, who won US$300,000; Tesh Mbaabu of Kenyan retail-tech startup MarketForce, who won US$250,000; and Nadia Gamal El Din of Egyptian motherhood support platform Rahet Bally, who won US$150,000.
The finalists other than the top three will each receive US$100,000 in prize funding, and an additional US$10,000 will be allocated to each of the top 10 finalists for immersive training programmes and community gathering activities.
“I’d like to thank the ABH team for working with us along the journey, and my fellow Heroes for being there for me. I especially want to bring this victory back to my team as I would not have been where I am now without them. More significantly, the award is meant to demonstrate to my fellow Tanzanians that entrepreneurship is the way forward and that food sustainability is attainable for all young Africans if we have the courage to make things happen,” said Timotheo.
“The winners of the 2022 Africa’s Business Heroes competition embody the incredible entrepreneurial spirit in the region. The judges recognised them for their leadership, passion, and ability to drive positive impact across Africa through their businesses. Despite the unprecedented challenges of the past two years, these entrepreneurs have inspired us all with their resilience and unwavering commitment to their businesses and communities,” said Jason Pau, executive director of international programmes at the Jack Ma Foundation.