The Jack Ma Foundation’s $10 million Netpreneur Prize in Africa has added three new local partners to help mobilize contestants in their respective regions, the Foundation said Monday.
NINE from Nigeria, Egypt’s RiseUp and 22 OnSloane in South Africa will be the official Western, Northern, and Southern Africa regional partners, respectively. The regional partners, along with previously announced eastern Africa partner Nailab, will work to draw participation from entrepreneurs across Africa through grassroots outreach, the Foundation said.
“We are excited to work with these reputable and mission-aligned partners who will help us bring the Prize to all corners of Africa, as well as discover and spotlight a new generation of entrepreneurs from across the continent,” Nailab founder and CEO Sam Gichuru said.
NINE is Nigeria’s largest network of startup incubators, while RiseUp connects startups with resources from across Africa. The organization also holds the Middle East and North Africa’s largest entrepreneurship conference, the RiseUp Summit. 22 On Sloane is a legacy project of the Global Entrepreneurship Network Africa and home to the largest startup campus on the continent. Similarly, Nailab is an entrepreneurship accelerator, offering training to African company founders.
RiseUP CEO Abdelhameed Sharara said that his organization was looking for “against-the-grain entrepreneurs” who have innovative solutions to important challenges facing the world today.
“We define an entrepreneur as anyone who’s willing to take on innovation and challenge the norm,” he said. “This Prize will be an important catalyst to support budding entrepreneurs from across the continent and give them a platform for effective innovation.”
Graca Machel, well-known humanitarian and a board member of the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative, said the regional partners would help to support the Prize’s inclusive and community-based approach and emphasized the Prize’s strong focus on women entrepreneurs.
“There are so many undiscovered entrepreneurial heroes, women and men alike, who once unearthed can become game-changers of the African entrepreneurship landscape,” Machel said. “I am happy the Africa Netpreneur Prize has decided to make women a priority.”
The Netpreneur Prize will award $1 million a year for the next 10 years to support the small businesses, grassroots communities and women-founded enterprises that are growing the continent’s nascent digital economy. The Foundation and Nailab will hold an annual pitch competition, with all 10 finalists receiving grant funding and access to the Netpreneur community of African business leaders for mentorship and other resources. Submissions for the Netpreneur Prize begin March 27 and run through June 30.