Entrepreneur competition Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) opened for applications on Thursday as judges prepared to scour the continent for the next startup that will spark positive change in Africa and beyond.
Business founders from across 54 countries on the African continent can apply in English or French for a chance to become a Top 10 competition finalist and win a share of a $1.5 million grant.
The event entering its fourth year is backed by the Jack Ma Foundation. It has received entries in past years from agricultural ventures, tech startups and everything in between – all unique but united in a desire to improve the world through innovation.
“Our mission is to support entrepreneurs to do even better things,” said Jason Pau, international programs director at the Jack Ma Foundation, in his welcome address on Thursday.
ABH contenders face a challenging path through rounds of pitches and judging, helped along the way by special training sessions with international innovators, industry experts, investors and accelerators.
Applications will stay open until June 6, with semi-finalists announced in October and the top ten finalists unveiled in November.
Speaking to a virtual audience from 63 countries, Pau also announced the release of a three-episode television series documenting how last year’s finalists prepared in the months leading up to the grand finale.
“I learned so much throughout the competition and will take those learnings to continue growing PraxiLabs,” said Khadija Mohamed Elbedweihy, 2021 ABH winner and founder of virtual science lab startup PraxiLabs.
Audiences can learn how Elbedweihy earned her title in this masterclass in entrepreneurship, which airs on news channel CNBC Africa on Friday.
It’s Their Time
Beyond handing out grants and awards, ABH is working to build a sustainable and inclusive society across the continent.
The official slogan of the competition, “It’s African Time,” is a bold call to action to all talented African entrepreneurs who are challenging stereotypes, according to organizers.
“We want to enable entrepreneurs that are not only building successful businesses, but who are also running mission driven organizations that generate growth for their local communities across Africa,” said Zahra Baitie, head of partnerships at ABH.
As part of this initiative, the competition released a new logo ahead of the 2022 launch, portraying a hero as someone capable of driving change in the region.
This ethos is captured in interconnected lines representing the thousands of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and business community members involved in ABH — not to mention the many who could still benefit from being involved in the program.
“There are still so many entrepreneurs whose inspiring stories and impactful businesses need a spotlight, and who could benefit from additional support,” Baitie noted.
“If this sounds like you, join the Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition today.”