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Jack Ma’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Selects 7 Icons as 2019 Judges

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Jack Ma’s Africa Netpreneur Prize, a prize competition for African entrepreneurs has selected 7 esteemed entrepreneurs, investors, and businesspeople from across the continent to evaluate the semi-finalists and select the top ten startup finalists for the ANPI.

The Africa Netpreneur Prize judges include Fred Swaniker, Marième Diop, Bethlehem Tilahun, Fatoumata Ba, Hasan Haider, Peter Orth and René Parker.

These 7 judges will pick the 10 startup finalists will go on to pitch Jack Ma and other influential judges for the chance to receive a share of the $1 million grand prize money to be given at finale event in Accra, Ghana this November.

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According to Jason Pau, Senior Advisor for International Programs for the Jack Ma Foundation, “Our goal when selecting the roster of judges for the ANPI was to find true representatives of the diverse entrepreneurial and business landscape in Africa. The judges we have selected are true leaders in their industries, and bring vastly different backgrounds, accomplishments, and skillsets to the table.”

Meet the Judges

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Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is a globally acclaimed serial entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of soleRebels, the world’s fastest-growing African footwear brand. Bethlehem is also the founder of  premium coffee brand Garden of Coffee, which launched in July 2016. Following the success of the brand across Ethiopia, Bethlehem is now in the process of opening 100 Garden of Coffee roastery cafes across China. Bethlehem also founded Perimeter Consulting, a strategic consulting service housing Made By Ethiopia, a public-private partnership with the Footwear Distribution and Retailers of America that enables some of the world’s top brands to manufacture their footwear in Ethiopia. Most recently, Bethlehem launched GIZA digital, a payment and ecommerce platform and NoodFoods, a franchise business that uses locally sourced fruits and vegetables to create snacks. Bethlehem is recognised as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Expert Network and was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 by The World Economic Forum. She is also a Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women and one of CNN’s Top 12 Women Entrepreneurs of The Last Century.

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Fatoumata Ba

Fatoumata Ba is a technology entrepreneur and venture capital investor currently serving as the Founder and Executive Chair of Janngo and Managing Partner of Janngo Capital. Janngo builds, grows and invests in pan-African ‘tech for good’ champions and is backed by top-tier African and international strategic and financial investors; including the Mulliez Family, Clipperton Finance and African HNWI. Additionally, in Ivory Coast she served as Founder and CEO, as well as Managing Director in Nigeria and Member of the Executive Committee at the Africa level of Jumia, the leading tech unicorn in Africa now listed on the NYSE. She is passionate about leapfrogging development through technology in Africa, with a particular focus on women, SMEs, healthcare and education. She has been awarded several distinctions including The World Economic Forum ‘Young Global Leader’, Choiseul 100 Africa ‘Economic Leaders of Tomorrow’, Forbes Africa ‘30 under 30’ and the Aenne Burda Award for visionary leadership, optimism and courage alongside Marissa Mayer, Arianna Huffington and Viviane Reding. She serves on the Board of SouthBridge Investment Bank, on the Board and Investment Committee of Creadev Africa, on the Council of Women in Africa and on the Global Future Council on the New Economic Agenda of the World Economic Forum.

Marième Diop

Marième Diop currently serves as an Investment Manager at Orange Digital Ventures Africa – Orange Group’s €50 million venture capital fund dedicated to African startups. Through this role, she’s actively involved in launching and scaling investment vehicles and direct investments targeted at technology startups across Africa. Marième is passionate about supporting founder teams of early stage technology companies in building Africa’s next business champions. In 2018, Marième also founded an angel network for francophone startups called the Dakar Network Angels (DNA). Her focus over seven years has been technology and innovation and she has occupied different roles of responsibility with a team leadership role and international exposure. Marième is a Fellow of President Obama’s flagship program ‘Young African Leaders Initiative’, World Economic Forum Global Shaper, and member of the GSMA Programme Leadership Group “PLG.”

Hasan Haider

Hasan Haider is a Partner at 500 Startups, the most active Venture Capital firm in the world, based in Silicon Valley, with more than 2,000 investments in more than 50 countries and $400 million in AuM. Hasan heads up the firms practice in the MENA region, with the Arabic speaking market being a core area of focus. 500 Startups has invested in over 100 startups in the region over the course of the last 4 years, including Wuzzuf, Jamalon and fetchr. Hasan was the Co-founder and CEO of Tenmou, the first business angel’s organization in Bahrain and one of the first in the MENA region. Hasan’s work in developing angel investment in emerging markets through Tenmou has been picked up as a case study by the World Bank and is taught to Entrepreneurship Policy makers at Babson College.

Peter Orth

Peter Orth is a founder and Managing Partner of 4DX Ventures, an Africa focused venture capital fund. Prior to founding 4DX Ventures, Peter was an investor for over a decade, with work spanning global macro investing, public and private equity investing, as well as overall portfolio and risk management strategy design. Orth has held investment roles at Bridgewater Associates (Emerging Markets Research and Lead China Analyst), Adakin Capital (public and private equity investing at an NYC-based family office), and JPMorgan (investment banking). In addition, he ran strategy and business development at Mirror Labs, a venture-backed business in the Blockchain space. He graduated from Tufts University in 2007 with degrees in Quantitative Economics and International Relations. 

René Parker

René Parker is the Managing Director and CEO of RLabs, a global social enterprise with a strong focus on community-driven innovation and social change. RLabs currently has activities in Africa, United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and North and South America impacting more than 10 million people across 23 countries. She has played a leading role in transforming RLabs into an award winning global social enterprise from the humble beginnings of a community project in Cape Town. She served as a board member of the Living Labs in Southern Africa (LLiSA) network where she fulfilled the portfolio of capacity building, community development and communications. She is a founding member of the Western Cape government youth development network currently focused on driving youth economic empowerment through technology, entrepreneurship and innovation. Rene is also the co-founder of RLabs Women, an organisation that aims to build technology and innovation capacity amongst women in marginalised communities. She also serves in an advisory capacity to several international universities and has done extensive work with organisations such as the Finnish Foreign Ministry, GIZ, AfriLabs, i4Policy, UNWomen, Naspers, NedBank and Accenture.

Fred Swaniker

Fred Swaniker is on a mission to bring better leadership to Africa and the world. He is the founder of the African Leadership Group — an ecosystem of organisations that collectively aims to develop three million entrepreneurial leaders for Africa by 2035. Swaniker previously worked as a McKinsey consultant in South Africa before earning an MBA from Stanford and becoming an entrepreneur. In 2019, he was recognized by TIME magazine on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Swaniker has also been recognized as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader; an Echoing Green Fellow; a Fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network; a TED Fellow; and was named one of Forbes Magazine’s top ten young ‘power men’ in Africa in 2011. In addition to his MBA from Stanford, Fred has an undergraduate degree from Macalester College and honorary doctorates from Middlebury College, Macalester College, and Nelson Mandela University. Fred sits on several boards and advisory boards—including the Graca Machel Trust, AGRA and Andela. He also sits on Nestle’s Creating Shared Value Council.

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