Home Startups Applications Open for Jack Ma’s 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition

Applications Open for Jack Ma’s 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition

by Milcah Lukhanyu
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Applications are open for the third annual Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize competition, which is the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program in Africa.

ABH annually awards 10 outstanding finalists with a share of a US$1.5 million grant. The AfricaBusinessHeroes is open to entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries, across every sector, age group, and gender will now be able to submit their applications, in either French and English, for a chance to compete for a spot among the Top 10 finalists.

The central theme of this year’s competition, “It’s African Time”, is a bold call to action for all talented African entrepreneurs who are challenging stereotypes associated with “African time” through their businesses, to leverage the ABH prize to scale their efforts as well as share their stories of how they’ve driven change and solutions.

ABH will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs over a ten-year period and allocate grant funding alongside training, mentoring and learning programmes, as well as access to a community of like-minded African business leaders. In 2020, Kenya’s Chebet Lesau of BrightGreen Renewable Energy beat nine finalists to emerge the winner of the 2020 competition where half of whom were female – were selected from over 22,000 applicants across all 54 African nations.

“I am proud to have been named the winner of the 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes prize. The competition was an incredible journey. 2020 was a challenging year that made us refocus from profitability to survival. I hope my win inspires Africans to believe that we have what it takes to make an impact, no matter where we are. The Prize is helping us scale our energy solution across East Africa, and we remain focused to change how Africa cooks, one kitchen at a time,” said Chebet Lesan, Founder and CEO at BrightGreen Renewable Energy.

The 2019 documentary “Looking for Africa’s Heroes (” featuring the first edition of ABH was recently shortlisted by global film festivals including RapidLion – The South African International Film Festival and AmDocs – the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival.

“As we open our third annual pitch competition, we want to recognize Africa’s extraordinary entrepreneurs, whose business ventures not only are successful and profitable but are generating positive impact on their local communities. Despite the incredibly difficult conditions faced by entrepreneurs and small businesses around the world over the past year, Africa’s entrepreneurship has been experiencing an incredible upward trajectory, showing the magnitude of potential and opportunities yet to be seized. Therefore, Africa’s Business Heroes is excited to join forces with our partners to identify, spotlight and support even more passionate, innovative, and determined entrepreneurs across Africa.” said Jason Pau, Executive Director of International, Jack Ma Foundation.

Global leaders Graca Machel, Chair of the Graca Machel Trust Board and Ban Ki-moon, Former UN Secretary-General and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens serve on the ABH advisory board. In addition, Anita Erskine, UN SDG Advocate and Founder of the STEM Woman Project, will continue to serve as the official host of “Africa’s Business Heroes” program. This year, ABH will continue to work with its Anchor Partners across the continent – African Leadership Group (, Ashesi (, Dalberg (, Janngo (, and RiseUp (, with more to be announced in due course.

Applications will be open online until June 7 with semi-finalists announced in August, and the top ten finalists for 2021 unveiled in September. To apply visit:

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