In celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship, the fifth edition of Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) concluded with Dr. Ikpeme Neto, the CEO and Founder of Wellahealth Technologies from Nigeria, clinching the coveted first place. ABH, a philanthropic initiative driven by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy, aims to empower African entrepreneurs by identifying, funding, and amplifying their work.
Over the past five years, ABH has made significant strides in contributing to the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, giving away $7 million in prize money. The foundation has successfully supported remarkable African entrepreneurs, resulting in over $153 million in investments and the creation of more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The 2023 ABH Prize attracted entrepreneurs from various African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Benin, and Morocco. Notably, there was increased participation from francophone African nations. The rigorous selection process involved vetting over 27,267 applications from all 54 African countries, with the top ten entrepreneurs representing diverse industries such as agriculture and energy services.
The top three finalists emerged after each participant pitched their innovative ideas to a panel of judges on an augmented reality-enabled stage at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda. The grand finale, a two-day event witnessed by over 1,700 investors, tech enthusiasts, business leaders, and a global audience, featured live pitching sessions, speeches, workshops, and an anniversary afterparty.
The distinguished winners of the 2023 ABH Prize are:
- Dr. Ikpeme Neto, CEO and Founder of WellaHealth Technologies (Nigeria),
- Thomas Njeru, CEO and co-founder of Pula Advisors Limited (Kenya),
- Ayman Bazaraa, CEO and Co-Founder of Sprints (Egypt)
Expressing his gratitude, Dr. Ikpeme Neto, the first-place winner, highlighted the honor of being named Africa’s business hero. He emphasized his commitment to driving positive change through innovation and expressed thanks to ABH for empowering entrepreneurs. The $300,000 grand prize is set to expedite Wellahealth Technologies' mission of providing affordable healthcare coverage in Nigeria.
The second and third-place winners received $250,000 and $150,000, respectively. Additionally, the remaining seven finalists were granted $100,000 each in business grants, with an extra $10,000 allocated for further training programs.
The judging panel comprised industry leaders, including Dr. Diane Karusisi (CEO of Bank of Kigali), Ibukun Awosika (Founder and CEO of The Chair Centre Group), and Joe Tsai (Chairman of Alibaba Group).
ABH has successfully propelled passionate African entrepreneurs onto the global stage, garnering support from investors and business professionals worldwide. The competition's impact over the past five years has been profound, nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit across the 54 nations of the African continent.
As ABH looks ahead to its next five years, its commitment to fostering growth and innovation in the African entrepreneurial landscape remains unwavering. Applications for the 2024 edition are set to open soon, promising another chapter in the journey of Africa’s business heroes. Stay updated on ABH's impact across Africa for future opportunities and successes.