Nthabiseng Mosia, CMO of Easy Solar, and Theo Baloyi, CEO of Bathu, recognised for their efforts
The top 10 Africa’s Business Heroes finalists were announced on 2 September, after the conclusion of the semi-finale pitching. The top 50 finalists were announced on 27 June and the top 20 on 24 July. Two South Africans were among the top 10 finalists: Nthabiseng Mosia, CMO and Co-Founder of Easy Solar, and Theo Baloyi, CEO and Founder of Bathu. There’s some big prize money coming to them.
Founded in 2015, Bathu is one of South Africa’s leading sneaker brands. The idea of Bathu sneakers came to CEO and founder Theo Baloyi in 2015, when he realised that Africa had no sneaker brand that authentically tells the African story. After months of feasibility studies, and being rejected by 13 different shoe factories, his perseverance paid off and the Mesh Edition Sneaker was born.
Bathu bought its first delivery vehicle and opened its first physical store in Newtown Junction Mall in Johannesburg in 2020. Part of Baloyi’s pillars for Bathu from the start was to create 100 meaningful jobs, which was achieved three years ago. Since then he has launched 100 pairs of shoes for people in Alexandra, Soweto, Midrand and Tembisa, and Bathu has opened multiple stores across South Africa. It also sells a range of sneaker care products called Bathu Care.
Bathu is about fostering an environment that encourages breaking barriers in what is possible. It now employs over 400 people at its 35 retail stores across the county. It does this while caring for its communities, as is evident through the Walk Your Journey initiative, which has distributed over 50 000 pairs of school shoes to local schools. Ultimately, Baloyi aims to donate one million pairs of shoes to schools across the country over the next decade.
Nthabiseng Mosia, CMO and Co-Founder of Easy Solar, hails from South Africa and now heads up one of the top 10 fastest-growing companies in Africa. To date, Easy Solar has reached a million people, employs over 1 000 people and distributes through an extensive network of more than 400 agents and outlets across Sierra Leone and Liberia. Nearly 90% of the Sierra Leone population has no electricity, and in the rural areas only 1% has access, but Mosia is determined to harness solar technology and make affordable energy solutions available to them.
Easy Solar one of leading energy distribution companies 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. The company sells solar lanterns, solar home kits, power solutions, appliances, cellphones and cooking stoves.
Mosia was named one of South Africa’s 100 most influential young people in 2017 by Avance Media. She believes that access to reliable energy changes the world of Africans, and that a whole commercial ecosystem can be organised around renewable energy.
The other eight finalists
- Bola Bardet, CEO and Co-Founder, Susu (Benin). Susu is a dynamic company that provides digitally enhanced, full-service and innovative healthcare solutions for the African diaspora’s families back home.
- Ayman Bazaraa, CEO and Co-Founder, Sprints (Egypt). 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 graduates only pay upon successful hiring in 0% interest payments over three years.
- Andrew Takyi-appiah, Founder, Zeepay Ghana Limited (Ghana). Zeepay is an award-winning fintech company with a core business in 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.
- Christina Gyisun, CEO and Co-Founder, Sommalife Limited (Ghana). Sommalife is a social enterprise that uses cutting-edge software technology to create value for smallholder farmers and the stakeholders who engage them. Sommalife connects them to global food and cosmetic manufacturers, who pay premium prices for their commodities.
- Thomas Njeru, CEO and Co-Founder, Pula Advisors Limited (Kenya). 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.
- Ismael Belkhayat, CEO and Founder, Chari (Morocco). Chari helps traditional local businesses to cope with competition from large and medium-sized stores. Chari digitises points of sale by allowing them to source online, benefit from payment terms and offer financial services to their end consumers. It delivers for free and in less than 24 hours to the points of sale.
- Ikpeme Neto, CEO and Founder, Wellahealth Technologies (Nigeria). 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. From just $1 a month, patients can get high-quality care easily.
- Albert Munyabugingo, CEO and Co-Founder, Vuba Vuba Africa LTD (Rwanda). 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, it has successfully delivered over a million orders and 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.
The Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Prize Competition 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. 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.
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. 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 whose mission-driven organisations generate growth for their local communities.
Each 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.
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 and 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.
This year, there were 27 267 applications received from across all 54 African countries, with the most diverse applicant pool yet in terms of geographic, gender and age distribution. On November 23 and 24, 2023, Africa’s Business Heroes will host a 5th Anniversary Summit and 2023 Competition Grand Finale in Kigali, Rwanda.
For more information, please visit Africa’s Business Heroes official website. Follow ABH on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook.