R22m up for grabs in Africa Business Heroes challenge

The search is on for African entrepreneurs who are boosting their communities through the use of innovation.

The SA Innovation Summit has partnered with the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation to unveil the Africa Business Heroes (ABH) 2022 competition.

ABH is an initiative spearheaded by the Jack Ma Foundation, which aims to support and recognise African entrepreneurs who are helping to build a better, more inclusive digital economy in their local communities.

The programme is open to entrepreneurs of all ages, from all sectors, and across all 54 African countries.

ABH aims to recognise 100 African entrepreneurs and allocate, over a 10-year period (2019-2029), grant funds, alongside training, mentorship and learning programmes, as well as access to a community of like-minded African business leaders.

It will award a pool of $1.5 million( R22 million) in grant money to 10 finalists who are working to solve critical issues in their local communities and who demonstrate core values, such as resilience, innovation and leadership.

The SA Innovation Summit will offer financial management training to ABH finalists and application support workshops.

“We believe that entrepreneurs build the African continent and we are proud to work with partners like the Africa Business Heroes competition, to connect the entrepreneurs to resources that scale their businesses,” says Buntu Majaja, CEO of SA Innovation Summit.

“Over the last couple of years, we have seen the growth and opportunities that have come out of this competition for its applicants, finalists and winners have been phenomenal. We want every eligible African entrepreneur to know about it.”

ABH is open to SMEs that are legally registered, with three years of operation, from all sectors and industries.

It has received over 40 000 applications across all 54 African nations since 2019.

“Entrepreneurship in Africa is experiencing a strong upward trajectory and it is so encouraging to see. But there are still so many entrepreneurs whose inspiring stories and impactful businesses need a spotlight, and who could benefit from additional support,” says Zahra Baitie, head of partnerships and programmes at ABH.

“We want to enable entrepreneurs that are not only building successful businesses, but who are also running mission-driven organisations that generate growth for their local communities across Africa.”

At the finale later this year, 10 finalists will take to the stage to present their businesses and share their vision to the panel of judges.

The journey to the finale will include several rounds of evaluation panels, as well as access to a community of international leaders and innovators, industry experts, investors and accelerators, through a number of multi-disciplinary boot camps and training sessions.

Applications close on 6 June. For information on how to apply, visit the website.

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