The 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize, a flagship philanthropic program created by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), has selected the top 10 finalists, who will pitch at the competition’s grand finale in November, for a chance to win a share of a US$1.5 million prize pool.
The ten outstanding entrepreneurs – half of whom are female – have been selected from over 22,000 applications across all 54 African nations, following several rounds of rigorous evaluation. With an average age of 34 years, the top ten represent eight African countries: Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, and their businesses span key industries such as agriculture, fashion, education, healthcare, renewable energy, and financial services.
“I continue to be amazed by the passion, resilience, and vision of Africa’s entrepreneurs, and I look forward to meeting these ten extraordinary businesswomen and businessmen at the finale. I am excited to learn more about how they are driving positive change and progress across the continent,” said Jack Ma, Founder of the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Group.
Meet the Top 10 finalists:
Abdulai A Dasana, CEO & COO, Amaati Company Limited (Ghana) “We nourish the world” – Amaati is a social enterprise whose mission is to build sustainable communities through the use of an extinct and neglected crop called Fonio. The company is led by Abdulai A. Dasana, an agricultural technologist with a decade of experience in finance, banking and SMEs, and with a vision to revolutionize the agriculture sector to benefit the most vulnerable.
Aboubakar Karim, CEO & Founder, INVESTIV (Côte d’Ivoire)
“Technology and passion for agriculture” – INVESTIV is an Ivorian company whose mission is to help build the future of African agriculture by leveraging innovative technologies to support smallholder farmers throughout Côte d’Ivoire and West Africa. The company is led by Aboubakar Karim, a 25 years old agro-economist.
Axel Emmanuel Gbaou, CEO & Founder, Le Chocolatier Ivorien (Côte d’Ivoire)
“Cocoa revolution in progress” – Le Chocolatier Ivorien manufactures and offers Africa-made, handcrafted and quality chocolate, promoting sustainable cultivation techniques and a fairer distribution of income in the cocoa chain through a direct partnership with female growers. The founder Axel, who started his career as a banker and established the company in his mother’s kitchen, holds a degree in International Public Law, and a Master’s in Taxation.
Chebet Lesan, Founder & CEO, Bright Green R. Energy (Kenya)
“Revolutionizing Africa’s kitchens” – BrightGreen Energy produces life-saving fuel bricks that reduce the cost of cooking for underserved communities across Africa and save forests. The company is led by Chebet Lesan who has a background in Leadership from The University of Cambridge, Product Design from The University of Nairobi, Supply Chain Management from Rutgers School of Business and a Business-Design Fellowship from Massachusetts Institute of Technology D-lab.
Cyrille Nkontchou, Founder & Chairman, Enko Education (Cameroon)
“Your launchpad to the best universities” – Enko Education operates the largest single network of private schools in Africa that teaches the International Baccalaureate curriculum to democratize access to quality international education for African youth. The company was founded by Cyrille Nkontchou, an economist by training with extensive experience as a fund manager, a banker and a consultant.
Ethel Mupambwa, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Moneymart (Zimbabwe)
“Creating wealth; changing lives”- Moneymart is a Zimbawean based microfinance institution that offers tailor-made business loans to MSMEs and individuals who live off the power grid to access quality solar-lighting-kits. The company is co-led by Ethel Mupambwa, who has nine years of experience in finance and is a Level 2 Chartered Financial Analyst Candidate.
Dr. Emma Naluyima Mugerwa, Founder, MST Junior School (Uganda)
“Little seeds, big dreams” – MST Junior School is a Primary School with a unique approach and learning model. It aims to equip the pupils with unique skills to solve agriculture issues such as food insecurity, waste mismanagement and malnutrition. The school was established by Dr. Emma Naluyima, a vet, farmer and educator with a desire to train young people and change their lives through Modern and Purposeful Farming.
Joan Rukundo Nalubega, CEO & Founder, Uganics (Uganda)
“Buy a soap – save lives” – Uganics is a social business that manufactures life-saving organic anti-malaria soap to address malaria, which kills millions of people every year, and sells around the world at a high profit margin to subsidize sales to poor populations at the same price as regular soap. The company is led by Joan Rukundo Nalubega, a Malaria survivor and a social entrepreneur with a vision to fight Malaria.
Mame Diarra Bousso Gueye, CEO & Founder, Diarrablu (Senegal)
“Artisans & algorithms for a conscious lifestyle” – Diarrablu is a Senegalese fashion tech company merging African artisan traditions with technology to empower African artisans and build an ethical and sustainable fashion future centered around ancestral African craftsmanship. The company is led by Diarra Gueye who has experience in finance, mathematics, and design and recently completed her Master’s at Stanford University with a focus on creative mathematics.
Oluwasoga Oni, CEO & Co-Founder, Mdaas Global (Nigeria)
“Unlocking diagnostics for Africa’s next billion” – MDaaS Global builds and operates modern, tech-enabled diagnostic centers in clinically-underserved communities starting in Nigeria to provide a world-class patient experience at highly-affordable prices. The company is led by Oluwasoga Oni, an MIT-trained system engineer.