The Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Prize Competition, a philanthropic initiative sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy, announced this year’s winners during a hybrid Grand Finale held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Elia Timotheo from Tanzania, Tesh Mbaabu from Kenya and Nadia Gamal El-Din from Egypt were named first, second and third prize winners, respectively. The first prize winner received a US$300,000 grant to accelerate his business growth further.

The Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition aims to help foster an inclusive and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa. The annual competition, now in its fourth year, shines a spotlight on talented African entrepreneurs working to make a difference in their communities and helping build a more sustainable, inclusive future. Africa’s Business Heroes competition is grassroots oriented as well as age, gender and sector agnostic.

The top three Africa’s Business Heroes for 2022 are:

1st – winning $300,000 – Elia Timotheo, Founder and CEO of East Africa Fruits Co. (Tanzania)

2nd – winning $250,000 – Tesh Mbaabu, Co-Founder and CEO of Marketforce Technologies (Kenya)

3rd – winning $150,000 – Nadia Gamal El-Din, Founder and CEO of Rahet Bally (Egypt)

“I’d like to thank the Africa’s Business Heroes team for working with us along the journey, and my fellow Heroes for being there for me. I especially want to bring this victory back to my team as I would not have been where I am now without them.

“More significantly, the award is meant to demonstrate to my fellow Tanzanians that entrepreneurship is the way forward and that food sustainability is attainable for all young Africans if we have the courage to make things happen,” says Elia Timotheo, Founder and CEO of East Africa Fruits Co., a food distributor that leverages data and technology to create efficiencies for farmers and consumers while reducing food waste.

Tesh Mbaabu was also chosen as the winner of the “People’s Choice” award, which was newly introduced this year to encourage audiences to support their favourite Hero among the top ten finalists through online voting.

“The winners of the 2022 Africa’s Business Heroes competition embody the incredible entrepreneurial spirit in the region. The judges recognized them for their leadership, passion, and ability to drive a positive impact across Africa through their businesses. Despite the unprecedented challenges of the past two years, these entrepreneurs have inspired us all with their resilience and unwavering commitment to their businesses and communities,” said Jason Pau, Executive Director of International Programs, at the Jack Ma Foundation.

The finalists other than the top three will each receive US$100,000 in prize funding, and an additional US$10,000 will be allocated to each of the top ten finalists for the immersive training program(s) and community gathering activities.

The ten finalists of this year’s competition were chosen from an initial pool of over 21,000 applications from all 54 African countries after six months of rigorous evaluation by over 300 judges.

Over 7,000 viewers from across the globe watched the Grand Finale live online, following the finalists as they pitched their businesses to a final panel of esteemed judges: Ibukun Awosika, Founder and CEO of The Chair Centre Group, Victor Williams, CEO of NBA Africa, and Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group.

The Grand Finale judges were impressed with the calibre of the finalists and their businesses, commenting:

“The ABH competition is an incredible opportunity to see the vigorous entrepreneurship taking place on the African continent. This year’s winners are role models of entrepreneurship from the standpoint of changing people’s lives and creating opportunities for people to transform society with the use of technology. We believe their contribution will be huge if they can inspire more entrepreneurialism across the continent,” said Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group.

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Musa Suleiman
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