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2020 Top10 Finalist
In July 2017, Jack Ma visited Africa for the first time in his capacity as special adviser to UNCTAD. During his trip, Jack had the opportunity to engage with African entrepreneurs and hear their stories. He was inspired by the entrepreneurial energy of the young people he met with. He also recognized the same barriers to entrepreneurship in Africa that existed in China when he founded Alibaba in 1999. As a proponent of the power of entrepreneurship to drive positive change, Jack decided to establish ABH to inspire, train, and support entrepreneurs in Africa to build inclusive businesses models that can create development and economic opportunity for the continent.
We provide up to $300,000 in grant funds to our Top 10 finalists. Beyond the grant-funds, ABH provides finalists with several other benefits to enable them to propel their business. These benefits include:

  1. Learn about yourself and your business: The ABH application form has been designed to ask questions that help you critically think about your business as you answer them. Simply taking the time to complete the application it will help you look at your business in detail and identify areas you can already start improving on.
  2. Receive invaluable feedback: At each step of the application process, you will receive feedback and guidance from carefully selected judges. This feedback will be specific to your business.
  3. Develop skills to tell your story: ABH is interested in not only your business, but in your personal story too. Throughout the competition, you will be given guidance on how to improve the way you tell your story which you can apply to pitching investors and growing your business beyond the competition.
  4. Join an entrepreneurship ecosystem: ABH attracts inspiring entrepreneurs from across all 54 African countries, and ecosystem partners from across the globe. Our finalists have the opportunity to connect with, learn, and partner with other like-minded entrepreneurs and our community of judges.
  5. Access exclusive mentorship and training: The Prize provides finalists with the opportunity to engage with and receive advice from highly accomplished business leaders and investors via mentorship and access to masterclasses by leading business professionals and inspiring peers.
  6. Global recognition and increased visibility through extensive PR opportunities including radio, TV, and print.
1st Prize Winner $300,000
2nd Prize Winner $250,000
3rd Prize Winner $150,000
Other Top 10 Finalists (7) $100,000
Training Opportunities $100,000
Our finalists have used the funds to expand their teams, invest in technology and machinery, and to expand their footprint locally and internationally.

For example, our 2019 Grand Prize winner – Temie Giwa-Tubuson - has leveraged the grant funds to expand Lifebank across Nigeria and launch in Kenya.

In addition, due to the exposure from the competition, some of our finalists have gone on to secure investment due to the exposure they received, attract top talent, and engage with their country's senior leadership.

For example, thanks to the publicity received through the competition, Omar Sakr 2019 first runner-up raised $1 million in investment.

Some finalists have also used the feedback they gained during the competition to pivot their business models.
For example, following the feedback from the finale judges, Moulaye Taboure 2019 Top 10 hero raised a $6.2 million pre-Series A round while rebranding his company Afrikrea to ANKA. The investment has helped him build out a SaaS mobile infrastructure and further product development. ANKA also plans to hire talent across tech, finance, sales, and marketing to join its 30-person team across four continents.

Lastly, some of our finalists have entered into new partnerships since the competition.

Oghenetega Iortim, 2021 Top 10 hero, recently partnered with HaulTrac one of Nigeria’s leading logistics companies, to support the delivery of essential healthcare commodities to all 36 states of the country for USAID. The partnership is an indefinite quantity agreement that includes the delivery of commodities such as medicines, rapid diagnostic test kits, laboratory reagents and consumables. You can learn more about our past Top 10 Heroes here.

You can watch the Post-Prize stories of two of our finalists here:

Mahmud Johnson’s Heroes Diary
Christelle Kwizera’s Heroes Diary
Access to the ABH Network. Our finalists will also have the opportunity to become a part of the ABH Network where they can tap into valuable entrepreneurship resources such as mentorship, exclusive training resources – such as investment readiness coaching, and more. They will also have the opportunity to network with a wide range of business leaders and other like-minded entrepreneurs and be given access to exclusive ABH events tailored to help them refine and grow their businesses.

Feedback from Industry experts. Throughout the interview and evaluation process, our finalists will have the opportunity to engage with our highly-qualified judges who will offer finalists advice.

Publicity: We will provide our Top 50 and Top 20 finalists a platform to tell their stories through our website and social media channels. We also issue press releases on our Top 50 and 20 finalists to ensure their stories gain exposure across Africa and the world.
ABH is the flagship philanthropic project spearheaded by the Jack Ma Foundation and is not related to Alibaba Group's business. We cannot guarantee or offer partnership with Alibaba as part of this prize.
Yes, it is free to apply! You can create a free profile and begin your application here.
  • Complete and submit ALL mandatory questions in the online ABH application in either English or French.
  • A video introduction including yourself and a customer testimonial video that is a maximum of 1 minute 30 seconds.
  • A reference from a 3rd party (for example, a mentor, colleague, or supplier) who can provide details on your character, leadership, and achievements.
  1. Start early! It’s an extensive application so work on the easy questions first, skip the hard questions, and return to them later. Some of our strongest applications came from applicants who started the application early and submitted it early.
  2. Be prepared. Check the eligibility criteria and get familiar with the application. There are 6 sections in total, and all compulsory questions need to be completed or your application will be disqualified. This includes the video testimonial.
  3. Be concise. ABH has strict word limits, stick to the limits. If you do go over the word limits indicated your responses will not be recorded.
  4. Be memorable & bold. The more compelling you are, the more compelling your application will be. Judges are reading through several applications so do your best to articulate the key factors that make your business stand out.
  5. Be persuasive with examples & data. Back up your points with data, and cite sources where possible to add legitimacy to your application.
  6. Leverage all ABH resources. You can download the application to work on it offline, click on the info icon throughout the application for extra guidance, attend application support workshops, sign-up for office hours, or chat with an ABH support hero if you have any uncertainty.

You can find a Do’s and Dont’s presentation here for extra tips and guidance.
We recommend you download the application and fill it in offline and then upload the answers when it's convenient, before the application deadline: 9th June 2024.
You can visit our live chat on the website from 9:00 am CAT to 5:00 pm CAT, Monday to Friday to ask our support heroes any questions you might. You can also email or WhatsApp us at +250 792 575 614 during office hours.
No, we’re looking for authentic and compelling stories. You can use your phone, personal camera, or laptop to film it.

Just make sure your video is filmed horizontally, the audio is clear, and is in one of our official languages: English or French. If you include local languages, please add subtitles or translate them into either English or French.

You can watch this video for insights on how to shoot your video: How to shoot your video.
The protection of our candidates’ data is a high priority for us. As such, all our judges are required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement to ensure the confidentiality of our candidates. We also have a rigorous Privacy Policy that is designed to protect our candidates.

Lastly, our application is designed to understand your company and you as a Founder in holistic terms. We require you to provide enough details that allow judges to understand:

  • Who you are as a founder/co-founder.
  • The problem your company aims to address and why it is important.
  • How you’ve created impact and solved the problem.
  • An indication of how you plan to further amplify your impact.
  • You do not need to provide any commercially sensitive information or any ideas that you plan to patent to submit a strong application.
We are looking for African entrepreneurial heroes creating an impact in their communities and building a more inclusive economy for the future. Africans from all 54 African countries are eligible to apply irrespective of age, industry sector or gender. However, applicants have to meet a strict set of criteria:

  1. Applicant is of African origin. You should have African citizenship and/or a parent or grandparent has African citizenship.
  2. Company is legally registered. The business should be registered with the government in at least 1 African country. It should have a business license to operate.
  3. Company is Africa-Based. The business is headquartered in an African country, and primarily operates in Africa.
  4. Company is post-Idea stage.The business has been operational for at least 3 years and has at least 3 years of revenue history that can be provided.
No, unfortunately, you are not eligible to apply. Only individuals of African origin or African decent may apply. In other words, you must either have African citizenship OR a parent/grandparent has African citizenship.
Although, we celebrate rapidly growing businesses you can only apply if your business is at least 3 years old. You will need to have a registration document showing that you are a legally registered company as well as submit proof that you have been operating for at least 3 years. If your company is not legally registered and is less than 3 years old, we encourage you to consider applying again at a later stage when your company is eligible. For more details on eligibility, please visit here.

In the meantime, we encourage you to subscribe to the ABH newsletter here to learn about other opportunities that may be relevant to you.
Yes, companies need to be formally registered to apply. This means that you need to be registered with the relevant government authority and have a license to operate. Please note that you will be required to submit your business license as proof of eligibility.
NGOs can apply. However, like other applicants, you will need to demonstrate financial sustainability and show that you have customers/users. Please note that your clients can be government, development agencies, and others. You must also show that you have generated revenue for at least 3 years. Kindly note, that you can classify a grant as revenue.
Unfortunately, this competition is only open to post-idea stage companies (businesses with at least a 3-year operational track record) so you can't apply with just an idea.

However, the competition will run till 2029 so you can apply when you're eligible! In the meantime, we encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media for updates! Facebook & Instagram: @africabusinessheroes and X: @africa_heroes.
  1. The business is legally registered You must have a business license issued by the government.
  2. The business has 3 years of revenue history. Your business must have made revenue in 3 distinct years. You will need to be able to prove this during due diligence.
  3. The applicant is either the founder or co-founder of the business and is either African or of African descent: We disqualify candidates who are not the Founder or Co-Founder of the business, and who are not African nationals or of African descent (at least one of their parents/grandparents is an African national).
  4. All mandatory questions of the application have been answered. Applicants who do not answer all mandatory questions will be disqualified. Mandatory questions will be clearly marked with an Asterix (*) and you will not be able to submit your application if any mandatory questions are incomplete.
  5. An independent reference has been provided. We will disqualify any applicant who provides their own details in the reference section rather than listing a mentor, friend, supplier, or colleague.
  6. Appropriateness of Video Content: We disqualify applicants who submit inappropriate content and/or are not about the requested topic: a self-introduction and testimonial from a customer.
  1. Fit to ABH: ABH judges look out for applicants who are not simply good businessmen or women but who are inspiring. They assess the candidate’s sense of purpose, vision, and leadership qualities.
  2. Problem/Need: Our judges evaluate whether the problem or need being addressed by the applicant is significant. We're looking for businesses that are solving pain points for customers or addressing unfulfilled needs.
  3. Solution: ABH judges assess how each business is addressing the problem/need they've identified and whether the solution is unique and has a competitive advantage.
  4. Market Traction: Our judges look out for whether there is demand for the business's product/service. We place emphasis on solutions that have customers and where there is demonstrated demand for the solution.
  5. Financial Sustainability: ABH judges evaluate the financial status and prospects of businesses. We place emphasis on revenue models that show sustainability, scalability, and that have generated income.
  6. Team: Our judges assess applicants' understanding of their teams including their key roles, strengths, weaknesses and their management approach. We believe in the power of teamwork and we’re looking for entrepreneurs who have strong teams.
  7. References: ABH judges evaluate your character, leadership potential, achievements, and impact based on what others say about you. The submitted reference and customer testimonial video are important tools to allow us to do this.
We see business heroes as individuals who are passionate, bold, resilient, mission-driven, innovative, impact-oriented, and visionary.

Ultimately, we’re looking for individuals creating positive change in the communities they operate in and using innovative solutions to address challenging and pertinent problems, and specific market gaps.

You can learn more about the type of entrepreneurs we seek by learning about our past Heroes here: 2019 Heroes, 2020 Heroes, 2021 Heroes, 2022 Heroes, 2023 Heroes.
You will receive a badge for your profile photo which you can upload to social media to show you have successfully completed the application.

Round 1: After you submit your application, your application will undergo a screening process to ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria. If you successfully pass the eligibility check, your application will be reviewed by three Round 1 Judges. We will then compile all scores at the end of the review process and cross-check the scoring to ensure all judges have been fair before we determine our Top 50 Candidates.

Round 2: If you make it to the Top 50 stage, we will contact you to arrange a video interview with three of our Round 2 Judges. All applicants who are not successful will receive a notification on their status as well as feedback on their application.

To learn more about what happens when you click submit, watch this video: what happens when you submit.
Applications close on 9th June 2024. We will begin notifying applicants of their status in early July. If you’re successful, you will be contacted via email and we will share key information to help you prepare for the next phase of the competition.

If you’re unsuccessful, you will receive an email informing you that you’ve not been admitted into the next round. You will also receive feedback on your application which you will be able to access by logging back into the application portal later this year.
ABH judges are true leaders in their industries and communities. They bring diverse backgrounds, accomplishments, and skillsets to the table.

They are selected based on referrals from our partners, judges, and community members and based on our evaluation of their business, investment, and or professional experience as well as their alignment with ABH’s values. Importantly, they there are all highly qualified with experience in building, managing, and/or investing in successful companies.
Prior to the Grand Finale, we have 3 rounds that provides us with several opportunities to thoroughly assess candidates.

Round 1 & Round 2: Each application is assessed by three independent judges. We work to ensure that judges are matched to applicants based on sector expertise and language ability. In addition, through our matching system, we also ensure that applications referred by partners are not assessed by judges referred through the same partner. We perform additional quality control and internal calibration after each round of judging to ensure judges are scoring applications fairly.

Due Diligence: All our short-listed Top 20 go through rigorous due diligence by an external party before they progress to the semi-final.

Semi-Finale: We have a panel of distinguished judges drawn from diverse sectors and geographies to ensure diversity in opinion and expertise to fairly assess candidates. The same panel assesses each of our Top 20 and they then deliberate on who the Top 10 finalists are.