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Patterns designed by Diarrablu
2020 Top10 Finalist
INTRODUCTION
The 2021 ABH Competition application period ran from March 29th to June 21st, 2021. Once again, due to the challenges of COVID-19, the ABH team leveraged digital platforms as the competition remained fully virtual. The culmination of the competition saw the team create an incredible virtual exhibition hall for our Top 10 heroes and an exciting grand finale set on an immersive stage with over ~2000 attendees.

Our anchor partners RiseUp, African Leadership Group and the SA Innovation Summit helped us directly engage with talented entrepreneurs to help uncover some of Africa’s hidden heroes.
ABH 2021 ANCHOR PARTNERS
Based on the combined efforts from our partners to help amplify our call for application, in 2021 we saw ~12,000 applications submitted on the ABH online portal.
KEY STATS
~12,000
applications received during the application period
12%
of our applications were submitted by Francophone African’s
54
African countries were represented by the applicant pool, covering the entire continent
34.5
was the average age of all applicants who ranged from 18 to 71 years old
16
sectors were represented by our Top 50 finalists ranging from beauty to manufacturing
50%
of our Top 10 Finalists were female
7
countries were represented in our Top 10
2021 SELECTION PROCESS
Once applications had been submitted, they underwent a rigorous internal review and
selection process before they were shortlisted for judging.
Round 1 – Online Review of Applications
From 30th June to 14th July 2021, over 800 shortlisted applications were reviewed by a diverse group of over 100 ABH Round 1 Judges ranging from business professionals to investors and fellow entrepreneurs.

Each application was reviewed by 2 Judges who each independently used ABH’s criteria and scoring matrix to evaluate the strength of the application. Based on average scores and internal calibration, the Top 50 finalists were identified.
Round 2 – Video Call Interviews
Between 26th July to the 9th August, the Top 50 finalists each had a 1.5 hour in-depth video-call interview with two of our carefully selected Round 2 Judges who are a collection of senior executives, investors/VCs and successful business professionals. The Judges evaluated their business and scored them to identify the 20 most promising heroes in the cohort. These heroes then went through a rigorous due diligence process conducted by PwC before they were officially named the Top 20.
Round 3 - Semi-Finale Pitches
On the 24th and 25th September, our Top 20 heroes pitched to our illustrious panel of judges including Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard – Founder and Chairman of APO Group – and Birame N. Sock – Founder and CEO of Kwely Inc. and Founder 5, Inc – among other leading entrepreneurs, investors, and business professionals.

After careful deliberation, our panel of judges identified our Top 10 heroes
Final Round: The Grand Finale
On the 17th December, our Top 10 heroes all stepped onto our virtual stage to pitch to our panel of celebrated business legends: Ibukun Awosika – Found of The Chair Centre Group, Joe Tsai – Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group and Victor Williams – CEO of NBA Africa.

The heroes participated in a 2-round Finale. Round 1 saw all 10 heroes pitch the judges and answer some challenging business questions. The Judges then deliberated to select the Top 3 heroes to progress to the second, and final round – a round table where the Judges dug deep into our heroes’ businesses. The final three were: Navalayo Osembo, Khadija ElBedweihy and Ikenna Nzewi.
Following the round table the Judges deliberated for a final time before they crowned the Grand Prize Winner, Khadija ElBedweihy.
WATCH A VIDEO RECAP OF THE MOST EXCITING MOMENTS
OF THE 2021 GRAND FINALE:
2021 ABH TRAINING PROGRAMS
Africa’s Business Heroes aims to inspire and assist African entrepreneurs by exposing them to tool and a platform which they can use to enhance their business and connect with likeminded, entrepreneurs. This means that at each stage of the competition we continually provide our heroes with feedback from our diverse group of judges including industry experts, venture capitalists and fellow entrepreneurs.
Top 50 Bootcamp
Our Top 50 heroes engaged in an interactive virtual boot camp where they got to meet their fellow finalists, receive feedback on the Round 1 interviews and gain insights into how best to prepare for Round 2. Speakers included Eddy Gicheru Oketch – CEO of Anywair and Inutu Zaloumis – Owner of Pam Golding Properties, Zambia
Top 20 Bootcamp
Our Top 20 heroes got to meet the diverse group of professionals they would get to interact with as they prepared for the Semi-finale. This included presentations from Andrea Opoku-Dwamenah – Manager, Africa Diversity & Inclusion at PwC – and Buntu Majaja – Director of Entrepreneurship Ecosystem and Digital Innovation at SA Innovation Summit – who introduced the finalists to the Due Diligence Process and Mentorship Program respectively.
Mentorship Program
Each of the Top 20 heroes was given access to two mentors who held sessions with them to refine their pitch and business moving forward, and to help them prepare for the Semi-Finale. During these sessions heroes received invaluable advice and guidance to help them grow their business and refine their thinking.
1 on 1 Coaching
Our Top 10 Heroes had the opportunity to receive 1 on 1 coaching with Anita Erskine – an award winning professional compère, actress and broadcaster - who supported the Top 10 Heroes improve their stage presence and pitch performance.
In addition to this, we’ve connected our Finalists with various mentors as well as with venture capitalist firms such as Janngo Capital and Otundi with more connections to come.
OUR 2021 TOP 10 HEROES & PRIZE DISTRIBUTION
Our 2021 Top 10 Heroes come from 7 countries, are 50% female and represent 9 sectors. They are:
1
st
PRIZE
WINNER
Khadija ElBedweihy
Co-founder & CEO of
PraxiLabs
$300,000
MORE
2
nd
PRIZE
WINNER
Ikenna Nzewi
Co-founder & CEO of
Releaf
$250,000
MORE
3
rd
PRIZE
WINNER
Navalayo Osembo
Founder & CEO of
Enda
$150,000
MORE
OTHER FINALISTS
Ghirmay Abraham
Founder & CEO of Aptech Africa Ltd
MORE
Oghenetega Iortim
Co-founder & CEO of Gricd
MORE
Yvette Ishimwe
Founder & CEO of Iriba Water Group Ltd
MORE
Charlot Magayi
Founder & CEO of Mukuru Clean Stives
MORE
Chidi Nwaogu
Co-founder & CEO of Publiseer
MORE
Violet Amoabeng
Founder & CEO of Skin Gourmet
MORE
Ketshephaone Jacob
Founder & CEO of
The Bulb World (Pty) Ltd
MORE
All other finalists received $100,000
I must honestly say that ABH was not like anything else I have participated in. We have been asked to give it our best, excel, do not give up, and ask for help. Getting feedback after every iteration and learning from the best was the norm during the whole period, not to mention the huge and prestigious global recognition we got, as a result of being not just a winner, but even as a participant in ABH. This foundation is doing an extraordinary job in shining a spotlight on and empowering us, the founders, and the youth of Africa to lead our countries to get to where we are supposed to be.
Khadija ElBedweihy
Co-founder & CEO of PraxiLabs
2021 ABH Winner