In a momentous Grand Finale held in Kigali on Friday, November 24, Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) celebrated its fifth anniversary by revealing the triumphant entrepreneurs who secured the 2023 grants. This charitable initiative, sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy, showcased ten innovators who had advanced to the semi-finals in September, each set to share a collective sum of $1.5 billion.
Clinching the grand prize of $300,000 is Dr. Ikpeme Neto, the CEO and founder of Wellahealth Technologies, hailing from Nigeria. Thomas Njeru, CEO and co-founder of Kenyan agriculture company Pula Advisors Limited, claimed the first runner-up position, securing $250,000. Ayman Bazaraa, CEO and co-founder of Egyptian education and training company Sprints, emerged as the second runner-up with a well-deserved $150,000.
Among the seven other innovators awarded $100,000 each, one notable recipient is Rwandan entrepreneur Albert Munyabugingo, a co-founder of the delivery company VubaVuba Africa. The diverse list of winners also includes Bola Bardet, CEO and co-founder of Susu, a Beninese healthcare company; Ismael Belkhayat, CEO and founder of the Moroccan fintech company Chari; and Mohammed Ali, founder and CEO of the Egyptian electrical company iLock.
Additional victors comprise Sierra Leonean Nthabiseng Mosia, co-founder of the energy distribution company Easy Solar; Theo Baloyi, CEO and founder of the South African retail company Bathu; and Christina Mawuse Gyisun, CEO and co-founder of Sommalife, a Ghanaian agriculture enterprise.
These top 10 finalists emerged from a pool of more than 27,000 applicants across the African continent. Since 2019, four Rwandan entrepreneurs have collectively secured $385,000 (over Rwf460 million) in funding from the Alibaba initiative. This illustrious group includes Francine Munyaneza, founder of Munyax Eco; Yvette Ishimwe, founder and CEO of IRIBA Water Group; Christelle Kwizera, founder of Water Access Rwanda; and Kevine Kagirimpundu, co-founder and CEO of UZURI K&Y.