The 2023 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Prize Competition has announced the top 50 selected candidates for this year’s event. ABH, a philanthropic initiative sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy to recognize and uplift African entrepreneurs, had a remarkable 27,267 applications, and this year has seen the highest number of submissions since its inception in 2019, reflecting the growing entrepreneurial spirit in Africa.
ABH continues to garner a remarkable level of reach and engagement across Africa, with applicants hailing from all 54 African countries this year. West Africa emerged as the frontrunner, representing 43% of the total applications received. Francophone countries accounted for 27% of all applications, the highest in ABH’s history.
Following an intense round of assessment by 256 judges from more than 40 countries, the top 50 finalists have been selected from 20 countries across 13 different industries, led by agriculture, education and training, and healthcare. The finalists are aged 36 on average, with 38% of them being female and 62% male. Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa account for the most top 50 candidates and, for the first time, applicants from Sierra Leone are represented in the top 50, which to date cover 33 out of 54 African countries. A panel of over 50 round-two judges will now embark on interviewing these candidates to select the top 20.
“We would like to express our sincere appreciation to all the entrepreneurs and judges who participated in this edition of the Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition. We are honored to see the overwhelming response, which is a testament to the rising potential of Africa’s entrepreneur ecosystem,” said Jason Pau, Executive Director of International Programs, Jack Ma Foundation. “The top 50 finalists represent the incredible potential and talent that exists in Africa, and we believe there are more surprises underway for this edition. As our judging process moves forward and our fifth anniversary event series unfolds, we invite all our supporters to stay connected and follow ABH closely.”
This year, all the top 50 finalists will be invited to join the Alibaba Netpreneur Masterclass Global Edition 2023 to be conducted online by Alibaba Global Initiatives (AGI) from late July to late August, to acquire insights into how to harness digital technology to drive their business growth.
The top 20 finalists of ABH 2023 will be announced in July and the top 10 finalists in September. The return of a large-scale Grand Finale and Summit, during which the top 10 candidates will pitch live to global business legends to secure their share of the final award, is slated to take place in Kigali, Rwanda on November 23-24, 2023.
Every year, ABH spotlights outstanding participants through traditional media and social media channels, including providing significant exposure to the top 10 finalists via the ABH Show, which features the ABH journey of the previous edition’s top 10 finalists and their entrepreneurial stories. The first episode of the 2023 ABH Show was recently released and is available here (https://apo-opa.info/3Mf3nBB).
As part of reaching its five-year milestone this year, ABH will be publishing a fifth-anniversary impact report to showcase the growth and impact of the prize competition on African entrepreneurs over the years, and reflect on the applicants, winners and stakeholders who have been integral to its success.