Rwandan Munyabugingo among top ten finalists to share $1.5m from Jack Ma’s philanthropy

On 3 September 2023 at 11:37

Rwandan Albert Munyabugingo, the CEO and co-founder of the delivery company VubaVuba Africa Ltd, has been selected as one of the ten African entrepreneurs who will collectively share $1.5 million (equivalent to over Rwf1.7 billion) in funding through Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH), philanthropic initiative of Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy.

Munyabugingo is among the 20 entrepreneurs who presented their projects during the ABH 2023 semi-finals that took place in Kigali from September 1-2. The announcement of the top 10 finalists, who stood out from a pool of more than 27,000 applicants from across the African continent, was made on Saturday night.

Munyabugingo becomes the fifth Rwandan entrepreneur to secure funding from Alibaba since 2019, when the initiative by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma was launched.

He has emphasized that this competition provides exposure and has encouraged fellow Rwandans to expand their horizons, marketing their businesses beyond the domestic market to compete globally.

He further highlighted that the contest serves as an ideal platform for entrepreneurs with impactful projects aimed at addressing various challenges in Africa, fostering innovation, making a societal impact, and contributing to food sufficiency, among other goals.

In an exclusive interview with IGIHE recently, Munyabugingo shared that Vuba Vuba contributes to reducing poverty by empowering entrepreneurs at the grassroots level in Rwanda, enabling them to scale their businesses.

The company collaborates with more than 10 startups registered as restaurant businesses in Rwanda, which primarily focus on food preparation and delivery through Vuba Vuba, eliminating the need for dining space.

Since its establishment in January 2020, Vuba Vuba has grown to include a team of 31 full-time employees, 100 delivery riders, and 50 casual workers. Together, they have facilitated the successful delivery of over 1,000,000 orders, maintaining an impressive daily average of 1,000 deliveries. Vuba Vuba Africa Ltd was founded in January 2020, with Munyabugingo’s aim being to develop a robust local technological solution for e-commerce.

Also among the top 10 finalists is Mawuse Christina Gyisun, CEO and co-founder of Sommalife, a Ghanaian agricultural enterprise. The remaining entrepreneurs include Bola Bardet, CEO and co-founder of Susu, a Beninese healthcare company; Ayman Bazaraa, CEO and co-founder of Egyptian education and training company Sprints; and Andrew Takyi-Appiah, founder of Ghanaian fintech company Zeepay.

Additionally, the list features Thomas Njeru, CEO and co-founder of Kenyan agricultural company Pula Advisors Limited; Ismael Belkhayat, CEO and founder of Moroccan fintech company Chari; and Ikpeme Neto, CEO and founder of Nigerian healthcare solution provider Wellahealth Technologies.

The roster of winners also includes Nthabiseng Mosia, co-founder of Easy Solar, a South African energy distribution company, and Theo Baloyi, CEO and founder of the South African retail company Bathu.

In November, African’s Business Heroes will unveil the allocation of the $1.5 million prize pool. The highest-earning entrepreneur will receive $300,000, the first runner-up $250,000, and the second runner-up $150,000.

The remaining seven of the top 10 finalists will each be granted $100,000, while the remaining $100,000 will be distributed among all finalists for supplementary training programs.

Since 2019, four Rwandan entrepreneurs have secured a total of $385,000 (equivalent to over Rwf460 million) in funding from the Alibaba initiative. These entrepreneurs include Francine Munyaneza, founder of Munyax Eco; Yvette Ishimwe, founder and CEO of IRIBA Water Group; Christelle Kwizera, founder of Water Access Rwanda; and Kevine Kagirimpundu, co-founder and CEO of UZURI K&Y.

Related article: Exploring impactful innovation and entrepreneurship: A conversation with co-founder of Vuba Vuba Africa Ltd

Munyabugingo pitching his project to judges during semi-finals in Kigali.