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2020 Top10 Finalist
THE PRIZE
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. Learn about yourself and business: The ABH application form has been designed to ask questions that help you critically think about your business as you answer them. By simply taking the time to complete the application it will help you look at your business in detail and identify areas you can already start improving on.
  2. Receive invaluable feedback: At each step of the application process, you will receive feedback and guidance from carefully selected judges. This feedback will be specific to your business.
  3. Develop skills to tell your story: ABH is interested in not only your business, but your personal story too. Throughout the competition you will be given guidance on how to improve the way you tell your story which you can apply to pitching investors and growing your business beyond the competition.
  4. Join an entrepreneurship ecosystem: 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.
  5. Access exclusive mentorship and training: The Prize provides finalists with the opportunity to engage with and receive advice from highly accomplished business leaders and investors. It also includes access to a range of highly practical training programs with ABH’s partners. Training programs include:

    • An Investment Readiness Program with VC4A
    • Management Development Program from African Management Institute
    • Financial Management Training from South Africa Innovation Summit

  6. 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.
  7. Access to special training programs. We offer our Heroes training at Alibaba's headquarters via the prestigious eFounders fellowship training program.
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.

Some finalists have also used the feedback they gained during the competition to pivot their business models.
For example, following the feedback on the finale judges, Moulaye Taboure 2019 Top 10 finalist raised a $6.2 million pre-Series A round while rebranding his company Afrikrea to ANKA. The investment will help it build out its SaaS mobile infrastructure and further product development. ANKA also plans to hire talent across tech, finance, sales and marketing to join its 30-person team across four continents.

Lastly, some of our finalists have entered into new partnerships since the competition.

Oghenetega Iortim, 2021 Top 10 finalist, recently partnered with HaulTrac one of Nigeria’s leading logistics companies, to support the delivery of essential healthcare commodities to all 36 states of the country for USAID. The partnership is an indefinite quantity agreement that includes the delivery of commodities such as medicines, rapid diagnostic test kits, laboratory reagents and consumables. You can learn more about our past Top 10 Heroes here.

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 and be given access to exclusive ABH events tailored to help them refine and grow their businesses.

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. Our Top 10 heroes get featured in our ABH Show which highlights their stories and chronicles their journey to the finale, the Show is broadcast across the continent on top TV stations.
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.
GENERAL APPLICATION QUESTIONS
Yes, it is free to apply! You can register your interest till the applications open here.
  • A Written application.
  • Video introductions. You will be required to film and upload 2 separate videos, each 1 minute long: 1) Self & Company Introduction 2) Customer Testimonial .
  • A list of references who may be contacted if you progress in the competition. References can include mentors, friends, teammates or partners.
  1. Start early! It’s an extensive application so work on the easy questions first, skip the hard questions and return to them later. Some of our strongest applications came from applicants who started the application early and submitted it early.
  2. Be prepared. Check the eligibility criteria and get familiar with the application. There are 6 sections in total, and all compulsory questions need to be completed or your application will be disqualified.
  3. Be concise. ABH has strict word limits, stick to the limits as otherwise you won’t be able to proceed.
  4. Be memorable & bold. The more compelling you are, the more compelling your application will be. Judges are reading through several applications, articulate the key factors that make your business stand out.
  5. Be persuasive with examples & data. Back up your points with data, cite sources where possible to add legitimacy to your points.
  6. Leverage all ABH resources. You can download the application to work on it offline, click on the info icon throughout the application for extra guidance, attend application support workshops or chat to an ABH support hero if you have any uncertainty.

You can find a Do’s and Dont’s presentation here for extra tips and guidance.
We recommend you download the application and fill it in offline and then upload the answers when it's convenient, before the application deadline: June 6th, 2022.
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: info@africabusinessheroes.org 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.
  • An indication of how you plan to further amplify your impact.
  • You do not need to provide any commercially sensitive information or any ideas that you plan to patent in order to submit a strong application.
ELIGIBILITY
We are looking for African entrepreneurial heroes creating an 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 is of African origin. You should have African citizenship and/or a parent or grandparent has African citizenship.
  2. Company is legally registered. The business should be registered with the government in at least 1 African country. It should have a business license to operate.
  3. Company is Africa-Based. The business headquartered in an African country, and primarily operates in Africa.
  4. Company is post-Idea stage. Business has been operational for at least 3 years and has 3 years of revenue history to provide.
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. You will need to have a registration document showing that you are a legally registered company as well as submit proof that you have been operating for at least 3 years. If your company is not legally registered and is less than 3 years old, 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 need to be 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 of eligibility.
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 only open to 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.
SELECTION PROCESS
  1. Business is legally registered You must have a business license issued by the government.
  2. Has 3 years of revenue history. Your business must have made revenue in 3 distinct years. You will need to be able to prove this during due diligence.
  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 or of African descent (at least one of their parents/grandparents is an African national).
  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 provides their own details in the reference section rather than listing 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 each 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 and motivate their teams. They also look at 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 2020 Top 10 Heroes and 2021 Top 10 Heroes.
You will receive a badge for your profile photo which you can upload to social media to show you have successfully completed the application.

Round 1: After you submit your application, your application will undergo a screening process to ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria. If you successfully pass the eligibility check, your application will be reviewed by three Round 1 Judges. We will then compile all scores at the end of the review process and cross-check the scoring to ensure all judges have been fair before we determine our Top 50 Candidates.

Round 2: If you make it to the Top 50 stage, we will contact you to arrange a video interview with two of our Round 2 Judges. All applicants who are not successful will receive a notification on their status as well as 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 6th 2022. 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 which you will be able to access by logging back into the application portal later this year.
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 to three 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. We perform an additional quality control and internal calibration after each round of judging to ensure judges are scoring applications fairly.

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. The same panel assesses each of our Top 20 and they then deliberate on who the Top 10 finalists are.

Due Diligence: Finally, all our short-listed finalists go through a rigorous due diligence by PwC before we select them as Africa’s Business Heroes.
IMPACT OF COVID-19
We’re aware that it has not been business as usual for many entrepreneurs since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and that many SMEs have pivoted 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, the Semi-Finale, and the 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. Both our 2020 and 2021 competition’s were successfully held online.
Yes, we will ensure that we are able to broadcast the 2022 Africa's Business Heroes Finale. We are committed to ensuring that our finalists are able to tell their stories to Africa and the world and after the live event, we will upload the finale and the pitches to our YouTube channel where they can be viewed by anyone.