ABH is committed to being a fully inclusive and pan-African initiative and is aiming to have all of the countries and regions of Africa be well-represented in this year’s edition. ABH has received applications from nearly every African country and is looking for greater representation from applicants in Southern Africa, Francophone countries and North Africa. They are calling on entrepreneurs and small business owners to apply, especially those in Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Libya, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, and Zambia.
“We are gratified to have received such a positive response to our ongoing call for applications. Given the challenges over the past year, it has become even more important to enable as many talented entrepreneurs as possible. We want to give entrepreneurs from areas still underrepresented this opportunity to grow their businesses and tell their stories.” said Zahra Baitie-Boateng, Head of Partnerships and Programmes at ABH. “We are looking for people who are on a mission to build successful businesses that create jobs and solve challenges in their community.”
Although North and Central Africa have been underrepresented in number of applications, ABH has received excellent applications from those regions in past editions, with two entrepreneurs from North Africa making the Top 10 in 2019 and a Central African entrepreneur making it to the Top 10 in 2020. West Africa has also done well throughout the competition, with 11 of the top 20 winners in 2019 and 2020. To date, Zimbabwe has led the way in the Southern African region and East Africa is a region where women entrepreneurs have been particularly successful with five female top 10 finalists, including 2020’s first-place winner Chebet Lesan.
The central theme of this year’s competition, “It’s African Time”, is a bold call to action for entrepreneurs that are defying stereotypes and challenges to drive positive impact and growth through their businesses. The ABH prize competition is the flagship philanthropic program of the Jack Ma Foundation, and is open to all African business founders or co-founders of Africa-based businesses or social enterprises with a track record of three years or longer. African entrepreneurs from all sectors, age groups and genders are welcome.
In the long-term, ABH is committed to supporting and fostering a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa, and will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs over a ten-year period. Each year, 10 outstanding finalists will come together in a grand finale to pitch their businesses and share their stories with a distinguished judging panel of business legends. Finalists will gain access to the ABH network of entrepreneurs, investors and mentors, public attention, and expert advice and feedback. Each finalist will also receive a cash grant, the winnings are as follows:
- 1st Prize Winner: $300,000
- 2nd Prize Winner: $250,000
- 3rd Prize Winner: $150,000
- Other Top 10 Finalists (7): $100,000
- $100,000 will also be allocated for the finalists to participate in a global immersion program.
To learn more and apply to Africa’s Business Heroes 2021:
Applications will be open online until June 7 th and following a rigorous evaluation process, the semi-finalists will be announced in August. The top ten finalists for 2021 will be unveiled in September before they go on to compete for the top prize at the grand finale.
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