Who are top 10 finalists for Africa’s Business Heroes 2022

On 4 October 2022 at 02:53

The Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Prize Competition 2022, a philanthropic initiative sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy which is now in its fourth edition, has announced this year’s top 10 finalists following an intense round of semi-finale business pitches and judging held on September 30 at the Kigali Convention Centre.

The top 10 finalists include Mr. Flavien Kouatcha Simo, Managing Partner of Save Our Agriculture Sarl (Cameroon); Ms. Amena Elsaie, Co-Founder of Helm Consulting (Egypt); Ms. Nadia Gamal El Din, Founder and CEO of Rahet Bally (Egypt); Mr. Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-Founder of Gebeya Inc. (Ethiopia) and Mr. Prince Agbata, Co-Founder and CEO of Coliba Waste Management Services Limited (Ghana).

Others include Mr. Tesh Mbaabu, Co-Founder and CEO of Marketforce Technologies (Kenya); Rwandan Francine Munyaneza, Founder of Munyax Eco; Ms. Shona Mcdonald, Founder and Executive Director of Shonaquip Social Enterprise (South Africa); Ms. Elmarie Pereira, Chief Operations Executive, Co-Founder & Acting CEO of Memeza Shout (PTY) Ltd (South Africa) and Tanzanian Mr. Elia Timotheo, Founder and CEO of East Africa Fruits Co.

The result was announced at a Gala Dinner on October 1 to an audience of around 100 attendees from all over the African continent, consisting of current and past ABH participants, judges, investors and other key stakeholders in Africa’s entrepreneurial landscape.

These top 10 finalists will take the stage at the competition’s grand finale in November 2022 for their final pitch to win a share of a US$1.5 million prize pool. The winner of the first prize will walk home with a US$300,000 grant to fuel their further business growth.

The 10 entrepreneurs were selected through multiple stages of interviews and evaluation from over 21,000 applications across all 54 African nations. They hail from eight African countries including Cameron, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania. Their start-ups have been drawn from a wide variety of industries including agriculture, consulting, energy, environmental protection, healthcare, information & communication technology (ICT), and retail.

These outstanding entrepreneurs share a common trait of having a deep commitment to creating a positive impact on their communities, such as empowering disadvantaged groups, increasing access to digital commerce for businesses in Africa and leveraging technology to improve agricultural efficiency for small-holder farmers.

“ABH remains steadfast in its efforts to identify, support and shine a spotlight on African entrepreneurs that are driving positive growth for their communities. Now in the fourth year of the ABH competition, we are impressed with the increasing diversity of our participants and the impact they are making especially in supporting post-pandemic economic recovery. These top 10 finalists are sources of inspiration for other entrepreneurs in Africa,” says Jason Pau, Executive Director of International Programs, Jack Ma Foundation. “We wish all of them the very best of luck for the final pitch in November.”

“Entrepreneurship is a huge driver for social and economic development in Africa. The ABH Prize Competition provides a platform for outstanding start-ups to showcase targeted solutions that tackle problems in an impactful, competitive, sustainable and value-adding way. This year’s Heroes – as with other years – continued to demonstrate the resilience, passion, imagination, and traction that we need in our entrepreneurs here in Africa,” says Birame Sock, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kwely Inc, one of the judges in the semi-finale round.

Along with the unveiling of the top 10 finalists in this year’s competition, ABH has also announced its launch of a local team in Kigali to better serve and engage its growing African entrepreneur community of over 100,000 members.

“As ABH enters its fourth year, we are humbled by the incredible support from African entrepreneurs and key stakeholders which has made it possible for our ABH community to reach its current scale,” says Zahra Baitie-Boateng, Head of Partnerships & Programs at Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition.

“Now with our base in Kigali, a city brimming with vitality and innovation, we are closer than ever to the African entrepreneurs that we serve and better positioned to help create a cohesive local start-up community leveraging our global network and experience. We are particularly excited to be based at Norrsken House, which is home to a vibrant ecosystem of incubators, accelerators and start-ups. We believe being a part of Norrsken will help strengthen our efforts to collaborate with key stakeholders in Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

The ABH Prize Competition aims to identify, support and empower entrepreneurial talent from across Africa. The official competition slogan “It’s African Time” is a bold call to action to all African entrepreneurs who are challenging stereotypes associated with “African time” – creating local impact and building a better, more inclusive future through their businesses.

About Africa’s Business Heroes

The Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition is a philanthropic initiative sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy. It aims to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs across all sectors who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future of the continent.

Over a 10-year period, ABH will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and commit to allocating grant funding, training programs, and support for the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Each year, the ABH Prize Competition and show feature 10 finalists as they pitch their business to win a share of US$1.5 million in grant money.

Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation, created the prize after he made his first trip to Africa in 2017 and was inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial potential of the young people he met with there.

Profile of top ten finalists

Flavien Kouatcha Simo, Managing Partner of Save Our Agriculture Sarl

Industry: Agriculture

Kouatcha, a Cameroonian engineer by training, runs an agricultural company that designs and manufactures aquaponic units for individuals and professionals wishing to produce large-volume organic food as close as possible to sales areas.

Their system is a solution to climate change, the land challenge of young African farmers, and the increased use of agricultural chemicals.

Amena Elsaie, Co-Founder of Helm Consulting

Industry: Consulting

Amena is a multiple award-winning entrepreneur. Created in 2014, Helm supports more than 4,000 persons with disabilities and promotes their social inclusion, serving more than 200 entities and working with top-notch experts from 16 countries.

In addition to sponsorships and grants, Helm is the first provider of localized and customized inclusion solutions in the region, awarded multiple times as innovative global best practices and successful business models by Zero project, JICA and Rise Egypt among others.

Nadia Gamal El Din, Founder and CEO of Rahet Bally

Industry: Healthcare

Gamal studied finance at the American University in Cairo, after which she started her professional career as an assistant brand manager at Procter & Gamble.

She became a mother at the age of 24 and realized there was a huge market gap when it comes to supporting new moms. Consequently, in 2015, she founded Rahet Bally, an all-inclusive platform to support Egyptian mothers financially, physically, emotionally and intellectually, both online and in person, on top of Rahet Bally Discount App for Moms, Rahet Bally Mama Fitness Programs, the Cloud by Rahet Bally, and Mumerz.com.

Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-Founder of Gebeya Inc.

Industry: ICT

Gebeya.com is a Pan-African freelance talent marketplace that identifies the best of African talent and matches them with cutting-edge projects from selective customers with a goal of solving one of Africa’s biggest challenges: employment.

Their tech-driven marketplace connects remote African tech talent with employers globally. The continent needs to generate 12 million new jobs every year to keep unemployment at bay. Start-ups, SMBs and corporations in industries like telecommunications and transportation rely on Gebeya to be a one-stop shop for talent capable of building new products and services to scale up their businesses.

Prince Agbata, Co-Founder and CEO of Coliba Waste Management Services Limited

Industry: Environmental Protection

Coliba is an award-winning and leading Ghanaian plastic waste recycling company operating in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Prince co-founded Coliba to address the issue of plastic pollution and to promote environmental sustainability.

Plastic waste is a serious problem in West Africa, and Prince decided to tackle this issue after losing his best friend in a flood disaster caused by plastic pollution. Coliba collects, sorts and recycles plastic and metal garbage. This initiative employs over 110 workers.

Tesh Mbaabu, Co-Founder and CEO of Marketforce Technologies

Industry: Retail
Tesh is an African serial technology entrepreneur who lives to blend commerce and technology. MarketForce is a B2B commerce platform that empowers over 200,000 neighbourhood merchants across five African markets to source, order and pay for inventory, access financing and earn more by reselling financial services in their communities.

Francine Munyaneza, Founder of Munyax Eco

Industry: Energy

Growing up as a refugee, Francine had no access to electricity. She founded Munyax Eco to solve Africa’s recurring problem – lack of access to electricity – and Rwanda’s energy challenges in rural and urban areas by providing solar equipment adapted and tested for the African continent.

Francine is well known for her gender-oriented recruitment and sales strategy which is to bring women into the fight against climate change while empowering them economically. To date, over 10,000 people across Rwanda, DRC and Burundi have access to clean energy, thanks to Munyax Eco’s women-led and focused solutions.

Shona Mcdonald, Founder and Executive Director of Shonaquip Social Enterprise

Industry: Healthcare

Shona founded her company to address the challenges of children with mobile disabilities living in peri-urban and rural areas of South Africa. Shonaquip’s range of tailor-made mobility products and health services can be assembled and maintained even in conditions with limited resources.

Their inclusive early childhood education training, social services, advocacy and research directly impacts nearly 20,000 individuals with disabilities and their families annually.

Elmarie Pereira, Chief Operations Executive, Co-Founder & Acting CEO of Memeza Shout (PTY) Ltd

Industry: ICT

Elmarie is on a mission to make South Africa safer. Memeza is an ICT social enterprise providing affordable innovative safety technology and monitoring services to lower-income communities who do not have access to private security, as well as assisting government and corporates with specialized community-based project deployment services.

To date, Memeza has created over 2,700 income opportunities for youth, and reduced GBV by 67% in low-income communities focusing on solving social ills.

Elia Timotheo, Founder and CEO of East Africa Fruits Co.

Industry: Agriculture

Elia has grown East Africa Fruits Co into the largest food distributor or aggregator in Tanzania by modernizing systems never implemented in East Africa before.

By distributing fresh produce directly from farms to Business to Business (B2B) customers, they ensure no brokerages and less waste.

The software resolves market inefficiencies by pairing crops with market demand, boosting efficiency, and yielding 60% more earnings for farmers as they tackle Africa’s 4-billion-dollar problem of post-harvest food wastage.

The top ten finalists were announced at a Gala Dinner on October 1 to an audience of around 100 attendees from all over the African continent.