/ 31 August 2023

Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition 2023

Fblogo En


The Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Prize Competition (www.africabusinessheroes.org) is a philanthropic initiative sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy. It aims to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs across all sectors and build a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future of the continent.

Over a 10-year period, ABH will recognise 100 African entrepreneurs and commit to allocating grant funding, training programmes and support for the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation, created the prize after he made his first trip to Africa in 2017 and was inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial potential of the young people he met.

Every year since the first edition in 2019, entrepreneurs from across Africa apply for the competition and go through several rounds of rigorous evaluation conducted by ABH judges. The finalists are selected after demonstrating that they are visionary entrepreneurs who embody innovation, resilience, growth potential and impact on Africa. ABH aims at honouring entrepreneurs that are not only building successful businesses but are also running mission-driven organisations that generate growth for their local communities. 


ABH strives to be an inclusive initiative for African entrepreneurs. Applications are open in English and French to entrepreneurs from all African countries, all sectors and all ages.

Every year, 10 finalists are selected to compete in the ABH Grand Finale, which is broadcast online and across the continent, for a share of $1.5 million in grant money. They have the opportunity to not only showcase their talent and business ideas but also inspire others to pursue entrepreneurship as a career option. The winner receives $300 000, the first runner-up $250 000 and the second runner-up $150 000. The other seven of the top 10 finalists each receive $100 000, and the remaining $100 000 is split among all finalists for additional training programs after the competition.


Every year, ABH spotlights outstanding participants through traditional media and social media channels, including providing significant exposure to the top 10 finalists through a series known as the ABH Show. The show captures the best moments of the annual ABH competition to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs across Africa to pursue their business dreams. It showcases the top 10 finalists of each previous edition on their exciting journey to the Grand Finale, including their on-stage pitches as well as behind-the-scenes moments from the competition. 

The show also provides a masterclass in entrepreneurship as the audience can see first-hand how some of the top entrepreneurs from across Africa refined their final pitches and faced tough questions from legendary business figures.

This year’s edition, which follows the ABH journey of the 2022 top 10 finalists and delves into their entrepreneurial stories, will take the form of eight-minute episodes that will be broadcast online and across the continent in more than 40 countries. The first episode and the 2022 Hero profiles of the series are already released and available here.



  • This year, ABH marked the official opening of applications on 3 March and also organised several information sessions in different locations across Africa — Kigali, Rwanda; Cairo, Egypt; Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa; Kampala, Uganda; Dakar, Senegal; Rabat, Morocco; Accra, Ghana; Nairobi, Kenya; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; plus, Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria. 
  • 27 267 applications were received from across all 54 African countries, with the most diverse applicant pool yet in terms of geographic, gender and age distribution.
  • The top 50 finalists were announced on June 27 and the top 20 on July 24. The top 10 will be announced on September 2, after the conclusion of the semi-finale pitching.
  • This year’s top 20 finalists represent nine African countries including Benin (1), Egypt (5), Ghana (2), Kenya (3), Morocco (1), Nigeria (3), Rwanda (1), South Africa (3) and Zambia (1). The top three winners will be unveiled on 24 November during the Grand Finale to be held in Kigali, Rwanda.
  • See more in press releases here: English; French; Arabic; Portuguese


ABH 2022

  • Over 21 000 applications were received from across all 54 African countries.
  • The top 10 finalists represented eight African countries, including Egypt (2), South Africa (2), Cameron (1), Tanzania (1), Kenya (1), Rwanda (1), Ethiopia (1) and Ghana (1).
  • Their businesses span key industries such as agriculture, healthcare, ICT, Retail, consulting, energy, and environmental protection. 
  • The 2022 top three “Africa’s Business Heroes” were:
    • Elia Timotheo, Founder and CEO of  East Africa Fruits Co. (Tanzania) – First Place, winning $300 000
    • Tesh Mbaabu, Co-Founder and CEO of Marketforce Technologies (Kenya) – Second Place, winning $250 000
    • Nadia Gamal El Din, Founder and CEO of Rahet Bally (Egypt) – Third Place, winning $150 000
  • The other finalists each received $100 000 in prize funding and an additional $10 000 was allocated to each finalist for training programmes.

ABH 2021

  • Received over 20 288 applications across all 54 countries in Africa.
  • The top 10 (50% of which were female) represented seven African countries: Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda.
  • Their businesses span key industries such as agriculture, beauty, education, energy, food & beverage, logistics, manufacturing, media & entertainment and retail; 80% of the finalists operate their businesses in rural areas. 
  • The 2021 top three “Africa’s Business Heroes” were:
    • Khadija Mohamed Elbedweihy, Founder, PraxiLabs (Egypt) – First Place, winning $300 000
    • Ikenna Nzewi, Co-founder and CEO, Releaf (Nigeria) – Second Place, winning $250 000
    • Navalayo Osembo-Ombati, Co-founder and CEO, Enda Athletic (Kenya) – Third Place, winning $150 000
  • The other finalists each received $100 000 in prize funding and an additional $10 000 was allocated to each finalist for training programmes.

ABH 2020

  • Received over 22 000 applications across all 54 African nations.
  • The top 50 (50% of which were female) represented 10 African countries: Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
  • Their businesses spanned key industries including agriculture, fashion, education, healthcare, renewable energy, financial services and retail.
  • The 2020 top three “Africa’s Business Heroes” were:
    • Chebet Lesan, Founder and CEO, BrightGreen Renewable Energy (Kenya) – First Place, winning $300 000
    • Oluwasoga Oni, CEO and Co-Founder, Mdaas Global (Nigeria) – Second Place, winning $250 000
    • Ethel Mupambwa, Co-founder and Executive Director, Moneymart (Zimbabwe) – Third Place, winning $150 000
  • The other finalists each received $100 000 in prize funding including:

ABH 2019

  • Received nearly 10 000 applications from 50 African countries. 
  • The finale event was held in Accra, Ghana, where the top 10 finalists pitched their businesses directly to four prestigious judges including Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation; Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group; Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group; and Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and Founder and CEO of The Chair Centre Group.
  • The 2019 top three “Africa’s Business Heroes” were:
  • Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Founder and CEO, LifeBank (Nigeria) – First Place, winning $250 000
  • Dr. Omar Sakr, Founder and CEO, Nawah-Scientific (Egypt) – Second Place, winning $150 000
  • Christelle Kwizera, Founder, Water Access Rwanda (Rwanda) – Third Place, winning $100 000
  • The other finalists listed below each received $65 000:
    • Ayodeji Arikawe, Co-founder, Thrive Agric (Nigeria)
    • Mahmud Johnson, Founder and CEO, J-Palm (Liberia)
    • Kevine Kagirimpundu, Co-founder and CEO, UZURI K&Y (Rwanda)
    • Chibuzo Opara, Co-founder, DrugStoc (Nigeria)
    • Waleed Abd El Rahman, CEO, Mumm (Egypt)
    • Moulaye Tabouré, Co-founder and CEO, Afrikrea (Côte d’Ivoire)
    • Dr. Tosan Joseph M, Founder, Black Swan Tech Ltd (Nigeria)

For more information, please visit Africa’s Business Heroes official website. Follow ABH on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook.


*In alphabetical order, by country

Ms. Bola Bardet, CEO and Co-Founder, Susu (Benin)

Industry: Healthcare

Susu is a dynamic company that provides digitally enhanced, full-service and innovative healthcare solutions for the African diaspora’s families back home. Africans abroad send $20 billion each year to finance their loved ones’ healthcare, but simply sending money is not enough: one doesn’t know what the money is being used for and it doesn’t translate into better health outcomes. That’s where SUSU comes in to provide a combination of health insurance and care packages that can be financed by family and relatives anywhere in the world. Its care packages are specifically designed to help vulnerable persons deal with conditions like diabetes, hypertension and pregnancy. It offers a yearly subscription, paid monthly, for a predictable and affordable cost.

Mr. Mohamed Ali, CEO and Founder, Power Lock (Egypt)

Industry: Manufacturing

Power Lock is revolutionising electrical safety with a range of products including electrical accessories, multi sockets and cables. Its mission is to protect individuals and machines from electric hazards and create innovative solutions that meet current needs and surpass electrical industry standards. With a dedicated team of 80 employees, Power Lock offers 50 different products and has established a strong distribution network, covering 50% of the Egyptian market. Its sales have reached 3 230 000 units. Through licensing its patented electrical safety technology to other companies like Electraline, the company is also expanding its global presence and seeking to revolutionise electrical safety on a larger scale.

Mr. Ayman Bazaraa, CEO and Co-Founder, Sprints (Egypt) 

Industry: Education & Training

Sprints is an end-to-end solution to bridge the tech talent gap, starting from assessing talent, delivering a customised learning journey, pairing talent with a top-paying job, to supporting its alumni’s career growth. Sprints believes itself to be the only social enterprise in MEA that offers guaranteed hiring programs where graduates only pay upon successful hiring in 0% interest payments over three years. In four years, it delivered more than 50 000 learning experiences, graduated more than 15 000 learners and delivered over 1.3 million learning hours in the 13 most demanded technology fields. Based on the learning programme’s objective and duration, the company’s price ranges from $50 up to $400.

Mr. Mohamed Moustafa, CEO and Co-Founder, Shezlong (Egypt)

Industry: Healthcare

Shezlong is the first innovative online mental wellness platform in the MENA region and Africa that provides comprehensive and affordable mental healthcare services accessible to everyone, regardless of location or income level. It eliminates the obstacles to mental health care delivery like poverty, lack of awareness, stigma and lack of access to service providers by utilising advanced technology to connect patients with mental health professionals in a convenient and cost-effective way. The company’s systems and secure data encryption safeguards the quality and reliability of its service, making Shezlong the go-to mental health care provider for anyone seeking a meaningful life.

Mr. Mostafa Ali, CEO and Co-Founder, iSpark Egypt (Egypt)

Industry: Education & Training

iSpark provides youth with career guidance and developmental opportunities with a focus on career coaching, employment skills and entrepreneurship education. With reports revealing that an increased number of youths either are unable to make a career decision or want to change career paths, iSpark aims to solve this problem through its human-centred approach to design innovative learning solutions. It works with more than 50 schools, over 30 universities and over 10 developmental organisations to provide assistance: more than 4,000 people with career guidance and coaching; more than 2,000 start-ups in various entrepreneurship programmes attended and achieved job placement for more than 1 000 people.

Mr. Omar Hagrass, CEO and Co-Founder, Trella (Egypt)

Industry: Transportation

Trella is a platform that connects shippers to carriers via a digital interface. Using technology, Trella matches specific carriers’ capabilities with shippers’ requirements to provide market-leading reliability and availability at a fraction of the market price. Trella even allows shippers to track shipments in real time and report key insights on transportation trends and performance. Trella’s goals are simple — seamless, efficient and fast freight.

Mr. Andrew Takyi-appiah, Founder, Zeepay Ghana Limited (Ghana)

Industry: Financial Services

Zeepay is an award-winning fintech company whose core business is remittances, transferring remittances from their partner mobile transfer operators to mobile money wallets (Zeepay wallet inclusive), ATMs, bank accounts and visa cards across 20 African countries. Zeepay wallet is device and network agnostic, meaning it can be accessed on the most basic phone and is independent of a mobile network. As a financial inclusion company, Zeepay works to facilitate access to financial services by the last mile. It has provided jobs to over 60 000 women and youth across Ghana. Currently, it serves 20 African markets and has a customer base of 1.3 million.

Ms. Christina Gyisun, CEO and Co-Founder, Sommalife Limited (Ghana)

Industry: Agriculture

Sommalife is a social enterprise that uses cutting-edge software technology to create value for smallholder farmers and the stakeholders who engage them. Sommalife resources rural smallholder farmers to increase the quality and quantity of their commodities and connects them to global food and cosmetic manufacturers, who pay premium prices for their commodities. Sommalife’s software “TreeSyt” tracks all engagements with the company’s beneficiaries (suppliers) and manufacturers (clients) to enhance transparency and traceability. Sommalife generates revenue through the sales margins they place on quality and traceable commodities (shea nuts, shea butter and soybeans) sourced from over 50 000 digitised farmers.

Mr. Alexander Odhiambo, CEO and Founder, Solutech Limited (Kenya)

Industry: ICT

Solutech is a profitable tech innovation company based in Kenya, focused on field sales automation. Its applications provide FMCG companies and distributors with timely and accurate data for operational and strategic decision-making. Field salespeople sell more efficiently using Solutech’s powerful insights on the go, while sales managers and data analysts get real-time visibility of their field teams. Solutech generates revenue from setup fees and monthly user subscriptions. Its services are used by more than 70 companies across eight African countries, with over 5 000 daily users. It has created 35 direct and over 2,000 indirect jobs, helping its customers achieve up to 150% revenue growth.

Mr. Taita Ngetich, CEO and Founder, Synnefa (Kenya)

Industry: Agriculture

Synnefa is a smart farming solutions provider dedicated to revolutionising agriculture. Synnefa products and services include smart greenhouses, FarmShield, FarmCloud and farm advisory services. They combine advanced technology and data-driven insights to optimise crop production and resource utilisation in the greenhouses, addressing the pressing challenges faced by smallholder farmers, including low productivity and vulnerability to climate change. Synnefa empowers farmers to increase productivity, reduce costs and minimise environmental impact. It has impacted over 34 000 livelihoods, generated $251 914 in 2022 revenue and created jobs for over 12 000 people on farms since its inception.

Mr. Thomas Njeru, CEO and Co-Founder, Pula Advisors Limited (Kenya)

Industry: Agriculture

Pula is an agricultural insure-tech company that offers comprehensive coverage based on yield performance, protecting smallholder farmers against multiple perils, including drought, frost, floods, hurricanes, plant diseases and pests. It uses innovative technology to assess damages quickly, provides digital tools and agronomy advisory services to improve farming practices and leverages partnerships with governments, insurers and reinsurers and other distribution channels, creating linkages and synergies for better cooperation. Pula forms insurance consortiums for risk transfer to global markets and aims to enable all farmers in Africa to access insurance and achieve yields similar to those of developed economies, sustaining their livelihoods.

Mr. Ismael Belkhayat, CEO and Founder, Chari (Morocco)

Industry: Financial Services

Chari helps traditional local businesses to cope with competition from large and medium-sized stores. Chari digitalizes points of sale by allowing them to source online, benefit from payment terms and offer financial services to their end consumers. Chari delivers for free and in less than 24 hours to the points of sale, whatever their location, in town or in the countryside. Chari educates points of sale to better understand and use technology and contributes to their digital and financial inclusion.

Mr. Ikpeme Neto, CEO and Founder, Wellahealth Technologies (Nigeria)

Industry: Healthcare

Wellahealth increases healthcare access in Africa via alternative care pathways and technology that reduces the cost and improves accessibility. They’ve created a technology-enabled network of over 2 000 health providers to solve the expensive problem of healthcare fragmentation and out-of-pocket payments. This network is digitally connected to over 27 insurance companies, leading banks, telcos and a network of sales agents to enable the efficient distribution of affordable healthcare services. From just $1 a month, patients can get high-quality care easily. Wellahealth has served over 130 000 patients and it makes over $100 000 in monthly revenue from fees charged to companies and individuals.

Ms. Funmi Adewara, CEO andFounder, Mobihealthcare Limited (Nigeria)

Industry: Healthcare

Mobihealthcare is a multi-award-winning, female-founded integrated digital health company leveraging technology to open up access to healthcare; harnessing global medical experts to bridge human capital shortages. Its platform, apps.mobihealthinternational.com, is accessible via mobile, computer, AI devices, solar and internet powered walk-in tele clinics. Users have convenient 24/7 access to multilingual medical experts in Nigeria, Africa and globally for consultations, prescriptions and medications, diagnostics, health education and home health services. Mobihealthcare has established 10 telehealth walk-in clinics across six states in Nigeria to complement their mobile-web application, helping to bridge the digital divide and driving last-mile access.

Mr. Bryan Mezue, CPO and Co-Founder, Lifestores Healthcare (Nigeria)

Industry: Healthcare

Lifestores is building the digital infrastructure needed to broaden access to quality and affordable healthcare. Its B2B digital pharma marketplace, OGApharmacy, has grown rapidly, registering 13% of pharmacies in Nigeria. It currently helps more than 850 pharmacies and clinics to access genuine medications at a price 10-20% lower than traditional wholesalers, eliminating the trade-off between cheap fake medications from open markets and more expensive genuine ones. The company also offers points of sale and embedded financing to healthcare providers and is currently developing a range of B2B2C initiatives to directly serve patients.

Mr. Albert Munyabugingo, CEO and Co-Founder, Vuba Vuba Africa LTD (Rwanda)

Industry: Retail

Vuba Vuba is a Rwandan mobile app that provides a convenient solution for residents in Kigali, Musanze and Rubavu to order meals and daily essentials for delivery to their homes or offices. Since launching in January 2020, its team of 31 full-time employees, 100 delivery riders and 50 casual workers has successfully delivered over 1 000 000 orders and continues to reach an average of 1 000 deliveries per day. Vuba Vuba stands out in the market by not charging extra fees on top of the regular prices of products, only adding a delivery fee of $1. It strives to provide reliable delivery service to its customers.

Ms. Nthabiseng Mosia, CMO and Co-Founder, Easy Solar (South Africa)

Industry: Energy

Easy Solar is a leading energy distribution company in West Africa, providing financing on high-quality solar systems and appliances for those with limited or no access to the conventional grid. Customers can finance their purchase over time by paying in weekly or monthly instalments, with the option to pay via cash or mobile payment. To date, Easy Solar has reached one million people and it distributes through its extensive network of more than 400 agents and outlets across Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Mr. Theo Baloyi, CEO and Founder, Bathu (South Africa)

Industry: Retail

Theo Baloyi
Theo Baloyi of Bathu

Founded in 2015, Bathu is one of South Africa’s leading sneaker brands. The idea of Bathu shoes came to Theo Baloyi in 2015, when he realised that Africa had no sneaker brand that authentically tells the African story. He launched 100 pairs of shoes shortly thereafter for people in Alexandra, Soweto, Midrand and Tembisa. Since then, Bathu has opened multiple stores across South Africa. Bathu is about fostering an environment that encourages breaking barriers in what is possible. It employs over 400 people while managing 35 retail stores across the county. It does this whilst caring for its communities, as is evident and distinctly visible through the Bathu Care initiative, a CSR initiative that has distributed over 50 000 pairs of school shoes to local schools and ultimately aims to donate one million pairs of shoes to schools across the country over the next 10 years.

Mr. Gareth Thomson, CPO and Co-Founder, Resolute Education (South Africa)

Industry: Education & Training

Resolute Education is an ed-tech company that provides engaging courses in coding, engineering and data sciences. It makes learning interactive and enjoyable for students of all ages and grades, whether as part of their school curriculum or extramural activities, or as lessons offered through its online academy. Resolute Education’s courses combine hardware and software to challenge learners’ creativity and practical skills. Beyond teaching future technology, the company empowers students with employability skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, problem-solving ability, resilience and collaboration with a goal of shaping the youth for a future where they can thrive and succeed.

Mr. Sunday Silungwe, CEO and Co-Founder, Good Nature Agro (Zambia)

Industry: Agriculture

Good Nature Agro is a for-profit social enterprise that works with Africa’s bottom of the pyramid farmers to move them from poverty and into the middle-class. It has created answers to small-scale farmer’s essential questions on the lack of inputs, training, markets and access. Through the production of high-value legume seeds and commodities like soya beans, groundnuts, beans and cowpeas; Good Nature Agro farmers are hitting the income target of $600 per hectare compared to the traditional $113 on the same hectares of maize and other cereals. The company started with 40 farmers in 2014 and currently impacts over 30 000 households.

Michael Mang 

Project Director, Africa’s Business Heroes

Michael joined ABH in 2020 after accumulating around a decade of experience in business development, marketing and project management at Alibaba Group. Based in Hong Kong, China, he possesses an extensive background in cross-cultural roles, which has equipped him with a unique perspective on business strategy and a deep understanding of how to build successful partnerships.

Michael Mang is project director at Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH), a philanthropic initiative sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy with an aim to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs. He oversees the program’s mission to showcase and grow local talent who are creating a positive impact in their communities and beyond and inspire a movement of African entrepreneurship.


2023 is Africa’s Business Heroes’ 5th anniversary, a mid-way mark in ABH’s prize competition program. Join ABH to celebrate with the most diverse entrepreneurial community on the continent. On November 23 and 24, 2023, Africa’s Business Heroes will host a 5th Anniversary Summit and 2023 Competition Grand Finale in Kigali, Rwanda. During this exciting two-day event, you can expect:

  • A Pan-African entrepreneurial showcase
  • An entrepreneurship summit
  • Workshops
  • A live pitch competition
  • An award ceremony
  • After-party celebration

Here is the link where you can register for this event to secure your attendance: https://africabusinessheroes.org/en/the-community/2023-abh-grand-finale