South Africa, 15th April 2021 –The “Africa’s Business Heroes” (ABH) prize competition, the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program spotlighting and celebrating Africa’s entrepreneurial talent, opened applications for its third annual edition. As ABH’s Anchor Partner for 2021 in the Southern Africa region, the SA Innovation Summit will support the search for the next “Africa’s Business Heroes”.

Entrepreneurs are the heroes of the Africa Rising story, and it is now African Time – Time for Africa. Entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries, across every sector, age group, and gender are able to submit their applications, in either French and English, for a chance to compete for a spot among the Top 10 finalists.

The SA Innovation Summit is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs expand their horizons on the highest platforms from Africa to the world. Their focus will be:

  • Searching for high potential entrepreneurs in the ecosystem and encouraging them to apply.
  • Raising awareness about the prestigious competition and the opportunity it poses for entrepreneurs.
  • Hosting application clinics in April 2021 and May 2021 to support entrepreneurs put their best foot forward for the judges.
  • Facilitating mentorship and preparation for the top 20 finalists.
  • Being a strategic pillar for the program about the regional ecosystem.

Over the next few weeks, they will be sharing information about how going through the competition can transform a business’s growth as well as running webinars on how to make the most of it. You can follow them on all their social media accounts.

ABH will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and allocate, over a ten-year period, grant funds, alongside training, mentoring, and learning programmes, as well as access to a community of like-minded African business leaders.

At the grand finale later this year, ten finalists will take the stage to present their businesses and share their visions to an esteemed panel of judges, to win a share of the US$1.5 million grant. The journey to the Finale will include several rounds of rigorous evaluation panels, as well as access to a community of international leaders and innovators, industry experts, investors, and accelerators, through a number of multi-disciplinary bootcamps and training sessions.

In 2020, the ten outstanding finalists – half of whom were female – were selected from over 22,000 applicants across all 54 African nations. They represented eight African countries - Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and Zimbabwe - and various industries including agriculture, fashion, education, healthcare, renewable energy, and financial services.

“I am proud to be a 2020 Africa’s Business Hero winner. The competition was an incredible journey. 2020 was a challenging year that made us refocus from profitability to survival. I hope my win inspires Africans to believe that we have what it takes to make an impact, no matter where we are. The Prize is helping us scale our energy solution across East Africa, and we remain focused to change how Africa cooks, one kitchen at a time.” said Chebet Lesan, Founder and CEO at BrightGreen Renewable Energy.

“As we open our third annual pitch competition, we want to acknowledge the huge inspiration coming from Africa’s extraordinary entrepreneurs, whose business ventures not only are successful and profitable but can generate a positive impact on their local communities. Despite the incredibly difficult conditions faced by entrepreneurs and small businesses around the world over the past year, Africa’s entrepreneurship has been experiencing an incredible upward trajectory, showing the magnitude of its potential and the opportunities yet to be seized. Therefore, Africa’s Business Heroes is excited to join forces with our partners to identify, spotlight and support even more passionate, innovative, and determined entrepreneurs across Africa.” said Jason Pau, Executive Director of International, Jack Ma Foundation 

“This programme represents a great investment into the future of Africa through its entrepreneurs. In recent years, we see the Southern African ecosystem consolidating and being more represented within the ranks of emerging world-class businesses on the continent. The partnership with Africa’s Business Heroes will allow us to continue contributing to this trend” – Buntu Majaja, Director of Ecosystem at the SA Innovation Summit

For more information and to apply, please see the Prize Overview by following this link:

Please note that applications close on June 7th 2021.

About Africa’s Business Heroes 
Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition is the flagship philanthropic initiative spearheaded by the Jack Ma Foundation 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 ten-year period, ABH will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and commit to allocating grant funding, training programs, and support for the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Each year, the ABH prize competition and show will feature ten finalists as they pitch their business to win a share of $1.5 million in grant money. Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation, created the prize after he made his first trip to Africa in 2017 and was inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial potential of the young people he met with.

About the SA Innovation Summit: 
The SA Innovation Summit is the biggest start-up gathering in Africa that provides a platform for nurturing and showcasing African innovation while facilitating access to funding, new markets and partnerships and business support. Created to support and promote innovation and facilitate collaboration, the event brings together entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, academia, and policymakers from over 30 countries to accelerate innovation and inspire sustained economic growth across Africa.

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The SA Innovation Summit is the largest startup event in Africa. The Summit provides various platforms for developing and showcasing African innovation, as well as facilitating thought-leadership. We bring together top entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, policy makers and thought leaders to support startups and inspire sustained economic growth across Africa.