Established in 2018 by Ma, the co-founder and former executive chair of the Alibaba Group, after his first trip to Africa, ANPI provides support to African entrepreneurs working to build more sustainable and inclusive economies across the continent. In the first year of the competition, nearly ten thousand entrepreneurs from fifty countries applied. The foundation has committed to running the competition through 2028.
Winners were announced after an event in which the top ten finalists pitched their businesses to a panel of judges that included Ma. The top three finalists were Temie Giwa-Tubosun of LifeBank (Nigeria), who won $250,000; Omar Sakr of Nawah-Scientific (Egypt), who will received $150,000; and Christelle Kwizera of Water Access Rwanda (Rwanda), who was awarded $100,000. The remaining finalists all received awards of $65,000. They are Waleed Abd El Rahman of Mumm (Egypt); Ayodeji Arikawe of Thrive Agric (Nigeria); Mahmud Johnson of J-Palm (Liberia); Kevine Kagirimpundu of UZURI K&Y (Rwanda); Tosan J. Mogbeyiteren of Black Swan (Nigeria); Chibuzo Opara of DrugStoc (Nigeria); and Moulaye Taboure of Afrikrea (Cote D’Ivoire).
"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," said Ma. "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. Everyone is a winner tonight."
"What really struck me about the finalists was that they each addressed specific African problems with a specific African solution in a fresh way, leveraging technology that wasn't available previously," said Ibukun Awosika, chair of First Bank of Nigeria and founder/CEO of the Chair Centre Group. "If this is an indication of the future of entrepreneurship on the continent, then Africa's future looks bright."