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Jack Ma Foundation selects 50 Netpreneur finalists

By , ITWeb
Africa , 27 Jul 2020

Fifty finalists from 22,000 applications across Africa, representing 21 nations, have been selected by the Jack Ma Foundation to compete for a place at the grand finale of the 2020 Africa Business Heroes (ABH) competition.

According to the organisers half of the applications are female and work in sectors including agriculture, AI, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare, renewable energy and ICT.

A statement from the organisers reads: “Over the past month, a panel of 140 highly skilled and experienced judges reviewed the submissions, evaluating applicants’ leadership and vision, their ability to translate their innovations and ideas into sustainable and robust business models, and their commitment to create positive impact to uplift their communities.”

They add: “The 2020 top fifty finalists come from twenty-one countries (Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe) and eighteen sectors, such as: agriculture, AI, Big Data, business services, construction, education, engineering, e-commerce, fashion, financial services, healthcare, ICT, logistics, manufacturing, management services, retail, renewable energy, and transportation.”

The average age of the cohort is 37 with the youngest candidate aged 22 and the eldest aged 64. 50% of the candidates are female – a 24% increase from the debut competition last year, and 32% are Francophone, reflecting this year’s competition opening applications in French for the first time.

Finalists will advance to the next round of selection and will participate in an exclusive virtual boot camp on 28 July 2020.

Boot camp

The boot camp represents a further opportunity for aspiring candidates receive feedback from first round judges such as Rafeh Saleh, Director of the Founder Institute and Omolara Awoyemi, Senior Program Manager at Facebook.

Participants will also have the opportunity to attend interactive workshops with industry and business leaders, who have been partnering with ABH this year, including Abdelhameed Sharara, Founder & CEO of RiseUp; Patrick Awuah, Founder & President of Ashesi University, and Sebastien Nony, General Partner of Janngo Capital. It will also feature a few of the 2019 finalists who will provide advice and insights on their own journeys.

Following round 2 interviews and the semi-finale pitch, the top 20 and top 10 finalists will be announced in August and September respectively.

ABH will culminate in a grand finale show later this year, where the top ten finalists will take the stage to pitch to Jack Ma and other well-known entrepreneurs for a chance to win their share of a US$1.5 million prize pool.

A number of first round judges commented on their experience with Africa’s Business Heroes, noting:

“I am thrilled to have served as a judge for the Africa's Business Heroes competition. It's been an honour to help identify business heroes from Africa that are genuinely committed to changing the game in their respective industries. In these challenging times, getting to discover how the ABH applicants manage to turn challenges into opportunities, with a real sense of purpose and dedication to improve the conditions of people in their communities strengthens my belief in the promise of entrepreneurship in Africa." said Isadora Bigourdan Bryden, Team Lead at Agence Française de Développement.

“Driven by the spirit of entrepreneurship, the tangible benefits of social good, and a strong sense of community pride, this startup competition is special - showcasing many promising ideas and a diverse group of African startups. It's been inspirational to see these founders, deeply rooted and passionate, create change in their world.” commented Triane Chang, Silicon Valley Startup Advisor.

“It is truly heart-warming to see that so many young entrepreneurs are working passionately to drive high-impact social projects across the African continent. The judging process was not an easy task as all participants submitted very high-quality applications with compelling business propositions. As the competition progresses, I look forward to following the finalists' journey and how they will use their talent and skills to generate positive change in their communities and beyond.” added Firas Ezzeddine, Manager, Group Strategy at Philips.

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