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Alibaba, Jack Ma Foundations invest hugely in African entrepreneurs

Africa’s thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem, filled with ambitious youths using technology to create businesses that provide solution to some of the continent’s most disturbing problems, has been recognised and rewarded at the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI2019).

 The event organised by the Jack Ma foundation and Alibaba foundation, which took place in Accra, Ghana at the weekend awarded a total of US $1million to the top 10 finalists from across Africa, as Nigeria’s Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder of LifeBank, a medical distribution company that uses data and technology to help health workers discover critical medical products such as blood, as quickly as possible, and recently launched its first drone delivery for blood, emerged in first place, winning $250,000 in grant prize.

 The final event called ‘Africa’s Business Heroes’ saw the top 10 entrepreneurs pitching their business to four prestigious judges including Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group and Jack Ma foundation, Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman, Econet Group, Ibukun Awosika, chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and founder of the Chair Centre Group, and Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba.

 Speaking on her win, Temie-Giwa Tubosun of LifeBank said; “It is an incredible honour to be named Africa’s Business Hero. I was truly inspired by my fellow winners at today’s Netprener Summit. The funds will give me resources to grow LifeBank and expand our presence in Nigeria and throughout the rest of Africa. I look forward to continuing my journey to solve problems and make a significant impact on the future of Africa.”

 Omar Sakr, founder and CEO of Nawah-Scientific from Egypt pitched his business which is the first private research centre in the MENA region focused on natural and biomedical sciences, offering analytical and scientific services online and on demand, and came out in second place winning $150,000 in grant.

 While 25-year-old Christelle Kwizera, founder of Water Access Rwanda came third after pitching her life changing business, a safe water micro grid that reclaims broken boreholes and transforms them into solar powered water kiosks and pipelines, so as to provide clean, safe to drink water, to rural communities in Rwanda. Kwizera won $100,000 in grant prize from the Alibaba and Jack Ma foundations.

 Other contestants who were given $65,000 each include; Waleed Abd El Rahman, CEO of Mumm in Egypt, Ayodeji Arikawe, co-founder of Thrive Agric from Nigeria, Mahmud Johnson, founder of J-Palm from Liberia, Tosan Mogbeyiteren, founder of black Swan from Nigeria, Chibuzor Opara, co-founder, Drugstoc Nigeria and Moulaye Taboure, co-founder and CEO of Afrikrea from Cote D’Ivore.


According to Jack Ma, “the finalists who competed in Africa’s Business Heroes, should be an inspiration for Africa and for the world. Each of these entrepreneurs looked at big challenges facing their communities, and saw them as opportunities.”


“It is my strong belief that entrepreneur heroes like these finalists, will change the world – creating companies that drive inclusive growth and opportunity for the continent,” he said.


Ibukun Awosika said she was truly amazed by the wealth of creative talent and intelligence on the continent.


“What really struck me about the finalists was that they each addressed specific problems with a specific African solution in a fresh way, leveraging technology that wasn’t available previously. If this is an indication of the future of entrepreneurship on the continent, then Africa’s future looks bright,” Awosika said.

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