AFRICAAfrica’s Business Heroes (ABH), a flagship philanthropic programme established by the Jack Ma Foundation to help foster an inclusive and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa, has announced its winners for 2021 with US$1.5 million in grant funding awarded to the top 10 finalists.

The Top 10 represent seven African countries, with 80% operating businesses in rural areas and half of the finalists are female.

The top three Africa’s Business Heroes for 2021 were; Khadija Mohamed Elbedweihy – Founder, PraxiLabs (Egypt) who was 1st therefore winning US$300,000; Ikenna Nzewi – Co-founder and CEO, Releaf (Nigeria) came 2nd and went home with US$250,000; 3rd place was Navalayo Osembo-Ombati – Co-founder and CEO, Enda Athletic (Kenya) who won US$150,000.

“I’m very humbled to be named Africa’s Business Hero. This competition has been an incredible journey. I have learnt important lessons from each judge and from my fellow talented entrepreneurs,” said the winner, Khadija Mohamed Elbedweihy, Founder at PraxiLabs.

“I hope that this win inspires many young Africans to believe, that we have what it takes to make an impact where we are. It has been a challenging year for many businesses, but challenges are key to build our resilience.

“PraxiLabs is solving pressing issues around education and training, and we will remain focused and determined to change how Africa learns and teaches science, one virtual lab at a time”

The other finalists will each receive US$100,000 in prize funding, and additional US$10,000 will be allocated to each finalist for a training program to be hosted in Alibaba Group’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China.

“This is the third time I have been a Grand Finale judge for the Africa’s Business Heroes competition, meeting many exceptional businesswomen and men from across Africa,” said Ibukun Awosika, Founder and CEO of The Chair Centre Group.

“Each year, I’m struck by their sheer talent and the commitment to developing creative, innovative solutions to the challenges we face on the continent. It truly is ‘Africa’s time’ and these outstanding entrepreneurs are the ones who embody its future of growth and relevant solution-based innovation.”

The annual competition, now in its third year, shines a spotlight on talented African entrepreneurs who are working to make a difference in their communities and helping to build a more sustainable, inclusive future. The ABH competition is grassroots oriented as well as age, gender, language and sector agnostic.

“I want to congratulate the winners of this year’s Africa’s Business Heroes competition. Entrepreneurship – like sport – is a transformative force for positive social change and economic growth,” said Victor Williams, NBA Africa CEO.

“All of the Africa’s Business Heroes are inspiring leaders who are actively pursuing their passions and helping Africa take its rightful place on the world stage. I look forward to engaging with all of them as they continue their entrepreneurial journeys on the continent.”

Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group said that this year’s Top 10 finalists came from inspiring personal stories that is invaluable not only to their teams and communities, but to many would-be entrepreneurs across the continent who are thinking about pursuing this path.

“The kind of talent and passion I saw among this year’s Africa’s Business Heroes is unrivaled around the world. They are innovators and problem-solvers, but most importantly, they have a driving sense of mission and social impact. Congratulations to all of our winners and we look forward to seeing what you accomplish next,” he added.

This year, over 12,000 applications were received from all 54 countries in Africa. The finalists were chosen after several rounds of rigorous evaluation conducted by over 230 judges.

They were selected after demonstrating that they are visionary entrepreneurs who embodied innovation, resilience, growth potential and impact on Africa.

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