1. What is the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI)

The ANPI is a ten-year 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. The ANPI will host the “Africa's Business Heroes” show where ten finalists will compete in a pitch competition to win a share of $1.5 million USD in grant money.

2. Why did Jack Ma decide to establish ANPI?

In July 2017, Jack Ma visited Africa for the first time in his capacity as special adviser to UNCTAD. During his trip, Jack had the opportunity to engage with African entrepreneurs and hear their stories. He was inspired by the entrepreneurial energy in the young people he met with. He also recognized the same barriers to entrepreneurship in Africa that existed in China when he founded Alibaba in 1999. As a proponent of the power of entrepreneurship to drive positive change, Jack decided to establish the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) to inspire, train and support entrepreneurs in Africa to build inclusive businesses models that can create development and economic opportunity for the continent.

3. What does ANPI do?

ANPI aims to strengthen the African entrepreneur ecosystem by identifying spotlighting and supporting African entrepreneurs. We do this by running a rigorous competition, which selects and awards high-potential and impactful entrepreneurs. We also produce an educational and inspiring TV show: the Africa’s Business Heroes Show, which features our Top 10 finalists pitching and engaging with renowned business leaders. In addition, we offer training, mentorship and networking support to our finalists. Lastly, we work with our partners to create educational skills-building content – via webinars – to support entrepreneurs gain develop business management skills.

4. What is a Netpreneur?

A Netpreneur is an entrepreneur who leverages the internet and digital economy to drive growth. We believe that the future is digital and that the entrepreneurs will need to increasingly leverage and engage with the internet to meet the demands and realities of our century. However, a Netpreneur does not have to be an entrepreneur running a tech-based company. A farmer leveraging the internet to access market information, market their product and monitor crops/cycles is a Netpreneur too.

5. What is the difference between ANPI and Africa’s Business Heroes?

The Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) is the organizing entity that plans, manages and facilitates the Jack Ma Foundation’s entrepreneurship programs in Africa, this includes the Africa’s Business Heroes Competition and Show. “Africa’s Business Heroes” refers to the entrepreneurship competition and TV show that identifies and spotlights African entrepreneurs who are making an impact in their local communities and building a better, more inclusive future.

6. How does ANPI define a “Business Hero”?

We see business heroes as individuals who are passionate, bold, resilient, mission-driven, innovative, impact-oriented and is a visionary. Ultimately, we’re looking for individuals creating positive change in the communities they operate in and using innovative solutions to address challenging and pertinent problems, and specific market gaps.

7. Who is eligible to apply?

We are looking for African entrepreneur heroes creating impact in their communities and building a more inclusive economy for the future. Africans from all 54 African countries are eligible to apply irrespective of age, industry sector or gender. However, applicants have to meet a strict set of criteria:

  1. Applicant should be the Founder or Co-Founder of the company.
  2. Applicant is of African origin. You have/had African citizenship and/or a parent or grandparent has African citizenship.
  3. Company is Africa-Based. The business is registered and headquartered in an African country, and primarily operates in Africa.
  4. Company is post-Idea stage. Business is 3 years old or more and has at least 3 years of revenue history.

8. Is it free to apply?

Yes, it is free to apply! Just set up an account to begin: Apply Now.

9. How can I trust that my company’s data is secure?

We have a rigorous privacy policy to protect you. Please review it here: Privacy Policy

10. What happens after I submit my application?

After you submit your application, we have a review process where your application will be reviewed by judges with relevant industry and/or geographic expertise. We will compile all scores at the end of the review process to determine our Top 50 Candidates. If you make it to the Top 50 stage, we will contact you to arrange video interviews with our judges.

11. How is the grant shared among the top 10?

In 2020, the prize will be shared as follows:

1st Prize Winner


2nd Prize Winner


3rd Prize Winner


Other Top 10 Finalists (7)


Global Immersion Program (Hangzhou, San Francisco, South East Asia)


12. Beyond the grant funds, what are the benefits of this program to ANPI?

  1. The show is distributed via major television networks, which provides our finalists with significant publicity and exposure.
  2. Training: we offer our Heroes training at Alibaba’s headquarters via the prestigious eFounders fellowship training program. In addition, we are working with partners to develop bespoke training and accelerator services for our Top 10.
  3. Mentorship: we offer our Heroes the opportunity to be mentored by renowned business leaders including our Finale and Semi-Finale judges.
  4. Networking: we provide our heroes the opportunity to network at the ANPI summit, ANPI Business Heroes’ gatherings and deep-dives (e.g. China Trip), and through our Africa’s Business Heroes exclusive platform (to be released in 2021).

13. Can I partner with Alibaba through this Initative?

ANPI is the flagship philanthropic project spearheaded by the Jack Ma Foundation and is not related to Alibaba Group’s business. We cannot guarantee or offer partnership with Alibaba as part of this prize.

14. How can I become involved?

If you’re an SME looking for funding, please Apply Now.

If you’re an organization looking to partner and support the program, please email: partnerships@africabusinessheroes.org