Ten African entrepreneurs have been named finalists of the first Netpreneur Prize, which will see them share a prize pool of US$1 million after pitching to judges at the final event.
Netpreneur Prize is aimed at empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs. The prize will see US$10 million in grant funding distributed by the Jack Ma Foundation to 100 entrepreneurs over the next 10 years.
Nearly 10,000 applications were received for the first edition of the prize, with 10 finalists now selected to take part in the grand final in Accra, Ghana, next month. There, they will pitch in front of four judges – Ma himself, Econet Group founder Strive Masiyiwa, First Bank of Nigeria chairman Ibukun Awosika, and Alibaba Group executive vice chairman Joe Tsai – who will decide what share of the US$1 million prize pool each entrepreneur secures.
Four of the selected entrepreneurs are from Nigeria: Ayodeji Arikawe of agri-tech startup Thrive Agric, Temie Giwa-Tubosun of blood delivery service LifeBank, Chibuzo Opara of cloud-based pharmaceuticals platform DrugStoc, and Dr Tosan Mogbeyi Teren of early childhood health startup Black Swan.
Two are from Egypt – Waleed Abd El Rahman of food delivery startup Mumm and Dr Omar Sakr of bio-science startup Nawah-Scientific – and another two from Rwanda, namely Kevine Kagirimpundu of eco-friendly shoe brand UZURI K&Y and Christelle Kwizera of safe water microgrid developer Water Access Rwanda.
“We launched the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative to identify top entrepreneurs from across the continent, not only to reward them but to inspire a whole new generation of potential game-changers for Africa,” said Ma.
“I have been inspired by the entrepreneurs I met in Africa, many of whom are dealing with the same challenges we faced when we started Alibaba years ago. I truly believe the potential of Africa’s business heroes is limitless.”