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SOUTH AFRICA - 30 Jul 2020

50 selected for Jack Ma Foundation’s entrepreneurship competition

Top 50 finalists have emerged in a Jack Ma Foundation competition, which supports African entrepreneurs.

This year’s prizes competition, dubbed, “Africa’s Business Heroes” is organized by Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program in the African continent, Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI).

The competition focuses on sectors like agriculture, business services, construction, education, engineering, e-commerce, fashion, financial services, healthcare, ICT logistics, manufacturing, management services, retail, renewable energy, among others.

According to a statement from the Foundation on Monday, the competition aims to identify, support, and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their local communities, working to solve the most pressing problems and building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future.

“It also aims to build up finalists’ management and leadership capabilities and ultimately increase not only their chance of progressing to the next stages of the competition but to further develop as entrepreneurs,” it added.

Over a 10-year period, the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative reportedly plans to recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and commit to allocating $100 million in grant funding and training programs for the broad African entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The top 10 finalists in the competition will share a prize pool of $1.5 million this year and gain access to the initiative’s community of business leaders to leverage its shared expertise, best practice, training, and resources.

“With this prize competition, we are looking to inspire and reward African business heroes in all sectors and encourage any aspiring applicants to seize this opportunity to break through barriers and create hope for the future,” said Jason Pau, senior adviser for international programs at Jack Ma Foundation.

Over 22,000 registrations from 54 African countries were received since the launch of the competition on April 6 until the close of the application on June 22, according to the Foundation’s statement.

The applicants, from a wide range of sectors, are aged between 19 and 82, and the average age of the top 50 finalists is 37, it said.

The 50 entrepreneurs emerging in the first round represent 21 African countries, including, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

According to the organizers, the top 20 finalists, who will be determined by established business leaders through video-call interviews, will be announced in early August, followed by semi-final pitches in mid-August that will determine the top 10 competitors.

The top 10 finalists are expected to be announced in September after they are selected through in-person pitches with a distinguished and experienced panel of investors, business leaders and professionals, according to the statement from the foundation.

Founded in 2014, Jack Ma Foundation has been focusing on education, entrepreneurship, women leadership, and the environment.