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2020 Top10 Finalist
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 ABH to inspire, train and support entrepreneurs in Africa to build inclusive businesses models that can create development and economic opportunity for the continent.
We provide up to $300,000 in grant funds to our Top 10 finalists. Beyond the grant-funds, ABH provides finalists with several other benefits to enable them propel their business. These benefits include:

  1. Global recognition and increased visibility via the "Africa's Business Heroes" Show, which is distributed across Africa via major television network providers and also covered by globally renowned media houses.
  2. Mentorship: The Prize provides finalists with the opportunity to engage with and receive advice from highly accomplished business leaders and investors.
  3. Access to special training programs. We offer our Heroes training at Alibaba's headquarters via the prestigious eFounders fellowship training program.
  4. Networking opportunities: ABH attracts inspiring entrepreneurs from across all 54 African countries. Our finalists have the opportunity to connect with, learn and partner with other like-minded entrepreneurs and our community of judges.
You can watch reasons to apply here: 5 Reasons to Apply.
1st Prize Winner $300,000
2nd Prize Winner $250,000
3rd Prize Winner $150,000
Other Top 10 Finalists (7) $100,000
Global Immersion Program (Hangzhou, San Francisco, South East Asia) $100,000
Our finalists have used the funds to expand their teams, invest in technology and machinery and to expand their footprint locally and internationally.

For example, our 2019 Grand Prize winner – Temie Giwa-Tubuson - has leveraged the grant funds to expand Lifebank across Nigeria and launch in Kenya.

In addition, due to the exposure from the Prize, some of our finalists have gone on to secure investment due to the exposure from the show, attract top talent and engage with their country's senior leadership.

For example, thanks to the publicity from the Prize, Omar Sakr 2019 2nd Place winner raised $1 million in investment.

You can watch the Post-Prize stories of two of our finalists here:

Mahmud Johnson's Heroes Diary
Christelle Kwizera's Heroes Diary
Access to the Africa's Business Heroes (ABH) Network. Our finalists will also have the opportunity to become a part of the ABH Network where they can tap into valuable entrepreneurship resources such as mentorship, exclusive training resources – such as investment readiness coaching, and more. They will also have the opportunity to network with a wide range of business leaders and other likeminded entrepreneurs.

Feedback from Industry experts. Throughout the interview and evaluation process, our finalists will have the opportunity to engage with our highly-qualified judges who will offer finalists advice.

Publicity: We will provide our Top 50 and Top 20 finalists a platform to tell their stories through our website and social media channels. We also issue press releases on our Top 50 and 20 finalists to ensure their stories gain exposure across Africa and the world.
ABH 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.
Yes, it is free to apply!
  • An online written application.
  • Video introductions. You will be required to film and upload 3 separate videos, each 1 minute long: 1) Self & Company Introduction 2) Team Introduction &. Testimonial 3) Customer Testimonial .
  • A reference from a mentor, friend, teammate or partner. A reference should be someone who has worked with you and can provide a written testimonial on your character, work ethic, passion and drive.
We recommend you download the application and fill it offline and then upload the answers when it's convenient and before the application deadline: June 21st, 2021.
You can visit our livechat in the website from 8.00 am EAT to 8.00pm EAT, 7 days a week to ask questions to our support heroes. You can also email: or Whatsapp us at: +234 811 751 7720
No, we're looking for authentic and compelling stories. You can use your phone, personal camera or laptop to film it.

Just make sure your video is filmed horizontally, the audio is clear and is in one of our official languages: English or French. If you include local languages, please add subtitles.

You can watch this video for insights on how to shoot your video: How to shoot your video.
The protection of our candidates' data is a high priority for us. As such, our judges are required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement to ensure the confidentiality of our candidates. We also have a rigorous Privacy Policy that is designed to protect our candidates.

Lastly, our application is designed to understand your company and you as a Founder in holistic terms. We require you to provide enough details that allow judges to understand:

  • Who you are as a founder.
  • The problem your company aims to address & why it is important.
  • How you've created impact and solved the problem.
  • And an indication of how you plan to further amplify your impact.
  • You do not need to provide any commercially sensitive or any ideas that you plan to patent in order to submit a strong application.
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. You should have African citizenship and/or a parent or grandparent has African citizenship.
  2. Company is Africa-Based. The business is registered and headquartered in an African country, and primarily operates in Africa.
  3. Company is post-Idea stage. Business is 3 years old or more and has at least 3 years of revenue history.
No, unfortunately you are not eligible to apply. Only individuals of African origin may apply. In other words, you must either have African citizenship OR a parent/grandparent has African citizenship.
Although, we celebrate rapidly growing businesses you can only apply if your business is at least 3 years old. Given the application deadline of June 2021, eligible candidates for the 2021 application should have been registered/incorporated before June 2018. If your company was registered after this date, we encourage you to consider applying again at a later stage when your company is eligible. For more details on eligibility, please visit here.

In the meantime, we encourage you to subscribe to the ABH newsletter here to learn about other opportunities that may be relevant to you.
Yes, companies need to be formally registered in order to apply. This means that you have registered with the relevant government authority and have a license to operate. Please note that you will be required to submit your business license as proof.
NGOs can apply. However, like other applicants, you will need to demonstrate financial sustainability and show that you have customers/users. Please note that your clients can be government, development agencies and others. You must also show that you have generated revenue for at least 3 years. Kindly note, you can classify a grant as revenue.
Unfortunately, this competition is open to only post-idea stage companies (businesses with at least a 3-year operational track-record) so you can't apply with just an idea.

However, the competition will run till 2029 so you can apply when you're eligible! In the meantime, we encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media for updates! Facebook & Instagram: @africabusinessheroes and Twitter: @africa_heroes.
  1. Business is 3 years old or more. Your business registration date must be before 14th June 2018.
  2. Has 3 years of revenue history. Your business must have made revenue in 3 distinct years.
  3. Position of Applicant & Nationality of Applicant: We disqualify candidates who are not the Founder or Co-Founder of the business, and who are not African nationals.
  4. Fully completed application. Applicants who do not answer all mandatory questions will be disqualified. Mandatory questions will be marked with an Asterix.
  5. Independent Reference. We will disqualify any applicant who provide their own reference rather than getting a mentor, friend, spouse or colleague to submit it.
  6. Video Content followed our guidelines: We will disqualify applicants who submit inappropriate content and/or which do not include information about the candidate, team member and/or customer.
  1. Mission, Vision, Values: ABH judges look out for applicant who are driven by passion and clear, impact-oriented goals.
  2. Problem/Need: Our judges evaluate whether the problem or need being addressed by the applicant is significant. We're looking for businesses that are solving pain points for customers or addressing unfulfilled needs.
  3. Solution: ABH judges assess how the business is addressing the problem/need they've identified and whether the solution is unique and has a competitive advantage.
  4. Market Traction: our judges look out for whether there is demand for the business' product/service. We place emphasis on solutions that have customers and where there is demonstrated demand for the solution.
  5. Financial Sustainability: ABH judges evaluate the financial status and prospects of businesses. We place emphasis on revenue models that show scalability and that have generated income.
  6. Team: our judges assess how well candidates engage & motivate teams and whether the team members buy-in to the vision of the business. We believe in the power of teamwork and we're looking for entrepreneurs who have strong teams.
  7. References: ABH judges evaluate what others have to say about you and whether you are a good fit to the Prize based on reference's testimonial of you and your business.
    Overall, we're looking for passionate, mission-driven, impact-oriented, resilient and bold entrepreneurs who are leveraging business to create sustainable change in their communities.
We see business heroes as individuals who are passionate, bold, resilient, mission-driven, innovative, impact-oriented and 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.

You can learn more about the type of entrepreneurs we seek by learning about our 2019 Top Heroes and 2020 Top 10 Heroes.
Round 1: After you submit your application, your application will be reviewed by two Round 1 judges. We will compile all scores at the end of the review process to determine our Top 50 Candidates.

Round 2: If you make it to the Top 50 stage, we will contact you to arrange video interviews with our Round 2 Judges. All applicants who are not successful will receive notification on their status as well submit feedback on their application.

To learn more about what happens when you click submit, watch this video: what happens when you submit.
Applications close on June 21st 2021. We will begin notifying applicants of their status in mid-July. If you're successful, you will be contacted via email and/or telephone.

If you're unsuccessful, you will receive an email informing you that you've not been admitted into the next round. You will also receive feedback on your application.
ABH judges are true leaders in their industries and communities, and bring diverse backgrounds, accomplishments, and skillsets to the table.

They are selected based on referrals from our partners, and based on our evaluation of their business, investment and or professional experience as well as their alignment with ABH's values. Importantly, there are all highly qualified with experience in building, managing and/or investing in successful companies.
Prior to the Grand Finale, we have 3 rounds that provides us with several opportunities to thoroughly assess candidates.

Round 1 & Round 2: Each application is assessed by two independent judges. We work to ensure that judges are matched to applicants based on sector expertise and language ability. In addition, through our matching system, we also ensure that applications referred by partners are not assessed by judges referred through the same partner.

Semi-Finale: we have a panel of distinguished judges drawn from diverse sectors and geographies to ensure diversity in opinion and expertise to fairly assess candidates.

Due Diligence: finally, all our short-listed finalists go through rigorous due diligence by PwC before we select them as Africa's Business Heroes.
We're aware that it's not business as usual for many entrepreneurs and that many SMEs are pivoting in order to both remain viable and address the challenges of the current period.

Our judging process will allow us to understand you – your vision, mission and values and your business in a holistic sense and over a period of time. We will consider the impact of the crisis on your business – both from a financial perspective and also your future plans.

During Round 2 and the Semi-Finale, you'll also have the opportunity to directly engage with Judges and you'll have the opportunity to share both how your business is responding to the crisis and its impact on you and your team. We believe that crisis brings out the opportunity for leadership and innovation and we'll be looking out for this.
We will closely monitor the COVID-19 situation on the ground and choose the safest option. Our 2020 competition was successfully held online and we're confident that if we are.
Yes, we will ensure that we are able to create and film the 2021 Africa's Business Heroes Show. We are committed to ensuring that our finalists are able to tell their stories to Africa and the world.