Entrepreneurship competition Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) announced its grand prize winner Elia Timotheo, founder of agri-tech startup East Africa Fruits Co, during a livestreamed grand finale in Johannesburg, South Africa, over the weekend.
In its fourth year, the competition, sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy, shines a spotlight on talented African entrepreneurs working to make a difference in their communities.
Timotheo, who hails from Tanzania in east Africa, received a $300,000 grant to grow his business following a final pitch showdown between the top ten finalists.
“…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,” said Timotheo in a statement following the award ceremony, which was watched by more than 7,000 people around the world.
East Africa Fruits Co combines agriculture and data analytics to create efficiencies for farmers and consumers while reducing food waste. Its clients include international hotel chain Ramada and American restaurant franchise Subway.
In second place, Tesh Mbaabu from Kenya received $250,000 to put towards his business, while placing third, Egypt’s Nadia Gamal El Din earned $150,000. The remaining top ten finalists received $100,000 each.
A public poll also handed Mbaabu the competition’s first “People’s Choice” award.
This year’s finalists were selected from a pool of over 21,000 applicants reviewed by more than 300 judges.
Time To Shine
This year’s official competition slogan, “It’s African Time,” called on entrepreneurs across the continent to redefine stereotypes and build a more inclusive future through their businesses.
The event reported a 300% increase in applications from last year, covering all 54 African countries, while applications from smaller countries like landlocked Eswatini increased by 1,350% year-on-year.
“These exceptional entrepreneurs are all worthy winners and I’m excited to see how they will continue to drive progress in their respective markets, and across the African continent,” Victor Williams, ABH judge and CEO of basketball athletic association NBA Africa, said in the statement.
Williams, Tsai and the other ABH judges and contestants will be featured in the competition’s behind-the-scenes TV show airing next year.
This season will follow the ten finalists in the run-up to the grand finale and give viewers a look at how they prepared their award-winning business pitches.