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Africa’s Business Heroes Unveils Winners of its 2023 Prize Competition

The top three winners were selected through multiple stages of interviews and evaluations from a staggering 27,267 applications spanning all 54 African nations.

Ten (10) entrepreneurs in Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition gathered in Kigali, Rwanda for a final pitch in this year’s competition. The 10 entrepreneurs from Egypt, Benin, Ghana, Rwanda, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, South Africa, and Kenya presented their businesses to a panel of judges that included; Diane Karusisi; CEO of Bank of Kigali, Ibukun Awosika; Founder of The Chair Center Group, and Joe Tsai; Chairman, of Alibaba Group.

Out of the 10, only three (3) were selected as the top winners. Ikpeme Neto (from Nigeria) emerged as the overall winner while Thomas Njeru (from Kenya), and Ayman Bazaraa (from Egypt) came in as 1st and 2nd runners-up respectively.

Ikpeme received a cash prize of USD$300,000, Njeru received USD$250,000 and Bazaraa received USD$150,000. PC Tech Magazine is aware that the value of the prize goes beyond financial gain. All participants, including the winners and the finalists, will benefit from the expertise and insights garnered by Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) community of business leaders.

The top three winners were selected through multiple stages of interviews and evaluations from a staggering 27,267 applications spanning all 54 African nations. They demonstrated exceptional ingenuity and tenacity, substantially impacting their communities and beyond.

The seven (7) finalists shared USD$100,000 cash prize each receiving USD$10,000. The extra USD$10,000 was allocated to each of the top 10 finalists for post-competition training programs.

Theo Baloyi
Theo Baloyi

“The winners of this year’s ABH competition embody bold ambition and innovation, exemplifying the true essence of entrepreneurial spirit and a deep commitment to addressing societal challenges,” said Jason Pau, Executive Director of International Programs, at Jack Ma Foundation.

Pau further added, “The judges recognized them for their remarkable ability to turn challenges into opportunities, unwavering commitment to community betterment, and innovative approaches to solving pressing issues.” “Their resilience, passion, and impactful contributions make them not just business leaders, but true champions of change.”

The overall winner Dr. Ikpeme Neto founded Wellahealth Technologies — which strives to make healthcare affordable and accessible by facilitating easy access to insurance through the provision of one-dollar plans and offering care for common health conditions.

Ikpeme Neto (from Nigeria) emerged as the overall winner in the 2023 Africa Business Heroes' prize competition. Pictured, receiving his accolade from Joe Tsai; Chairman, of Alibaba Group.
Ikpeme Neto (from Nigeria) emerged as the overall winner in the 2023 Africa Business Heroes prize competition. Pictured, receiving his accolade from Joe Tsai; Chairman, of Alibaba Group.

“I am deeply honored to be named this year’s Africa’s Business Heroes overall winner,” said Ikpeme. “This award energizes my commitment to driving positive change through innovation and I am excited for the recognition of Wellahealth Technologies’ work and grateful for my team, family, and the ABH team for making this impact in healthcare across Africa possible.”

The 1st runners-up Thomas Njeru co-founded Pula Advisors Limited, an agricultural insurance and technology company that designs and delivers innovative agricultural insurance and digital products. These offerings aim to assist smallholder farmers in managing yield risks, improving farming practices, and ultimately increasing their incomes over time.

The 2nd runners-up Ayman Bazaraa co-founded Sprints, a pioneering initiative addressing the tech talent gap in Africa. Sprint’s journey starts with a talent assessment, then it creates specialized learning paths. This approach ensures high-paying job placements and provides unwavering support for the career growth of their alumni.

2023 sees the 5th anniversary of ABH, marking the halfway point in the prize competition program. To commemorate this milestone, a celebratory summit spanning two days from November 23 to 24 was held in conjunction with the Grand Finale. Themed “AI: African Insight, Innovation, Impact,” the ABH Summit and Grand Finale brought together more than 1,750 entrepreneurial ecosystem players and aspiring entrepreneurs from across Africa in the largest physical event in ABH’s history.

“In commemorating our five-year journey, we extend our gratitude to all the judges, volunteers, and partners who have worked hand-in-hand together on this remarkable journey,” said Pau. “Looking back, we find strength in the tenacity of the entrepreneurs we have supported together.”

Since 2019, grant recipients of the ABH Prize Competition have achieved remarkable milestones, collectively raising over USD$153 million in investments and serving a vast base of over 37.5 million customers or users. Collectively, these entrepreneurs have received USD$7 million in prize money, facilitating their operations in 52 African countries.

Notably, their endeavors have led to the creation of over 123,000 direct and indirect jobs, contributing to the region’s economic development. With a combined reported revenue exceeding USD$252 million, ABH grant recipients continue to exemplify the transformative power of entrepreneurship in fostering growth, innovation, and socio-economic impact across the African continent.

Over the past five years, ABH has received immense support from investors, entrepreneurs, and business professionals from across the globe. A total of 903 volunteers have collectively devoted over 15,280 hours to judging, mentoring, and supporting thousands of contestants, underscoring the powerful spirit of collaboration that fuels the success of the competition.

The Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition strives to foster an inclusive and dynamic entrepreneurial landscape in Africa. In its fifth year, this annual competition continues to spotlight the remarkable talents of African entrepreneurs dedicated to effecting positive change within their communities. What sets ABH apart is its grassroots orientation, coupled with its age, gender, and sector-agnostic approach.

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