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Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition Announces 2022 Winners

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 21, 2022/ — The Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Prize Competition, a philanthropic initiative sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy, announced this year’s winners during a hybrid Grand Finale held in Johannesburg, South Africa that was live broadcasted to a global audience. Elia Timotheo from Tanzania, Tesh Mbaabu from Kenya and Nadia Gamal El Din from Egypt were named first, second and third prize winners, respectively. The first prize winner received a US$300,000 grant to accelerate his business growth further.

The top three Africa’s Business Heroes for 2022 are:

1st – winning $300,000 – Elia Timotheo, Founder and CEO of East Africa Fruits Co. (Tanzania)

2nd – winning $250,000 – Tesh Mbaabu, Co-Founder and CEO of Marketforce Technologies (Kenya)

3rd – winning $150,000 – Nadia Gamal El Din, Founder and CEO of Rahet Bally (Egypt)

“I’d like to thank the ABH team for working with us along the journey, and my fellow Heroes for being there for me. I especially want to bring this victory back to my team as I would not have been where I am now without them. More significantly, the award is meant to demonstrate to my fellow Tanzanians that entrepreneurship is the way forward and that food sustainability is attainable for all young Africans if we have the courage to make things happen,” says Elia Timotheo, Founder and CEO of East Africa Fruits Co., a food distributor that leverages data and technology to create efficiencies for farmers and consumers while reducing food waste.

Tesh Mbaabu was also chosen as the winner of the “People’s Choice” award, which was newly introduced this year to encourage audiences to support their favorite Hero among the top ten finalists through online voting.

“The winners of the 2022 Africa’s Business Heroes competition embody the incredible entrepreneurial spirit in the region. The judges recognized them for their leadership, passion, and ability to drive positive impact across Africa through their businesses. Despite the unprecedented challenges of the past two years, these entrepreneurs have inspired us all with their resilience and unwavering commitment to their businesses and communities,” said Jason Pau, Executive Director of International Programs, Jack Ma Foundation.

The finalists other than the top three will each receive US$100,000 in prize funding, and an additional US$10,000 will be allocated to each of the top ten finalists for immersive training program(s) and community gathering activities.

The ten finalists of this year’s competition were chosen from an initial pool of over 21,000 applications from all 54 African countries after six months’ rigorous evaluation by over 300 judges.

Over 7,000 viewers from across the globe watched the Grand Finale live online, following the finalists as they pitched their businesses to a final panel of esteemed judges: Ibukun Awosika, Founder and CEO of The Chair Centre Group, Victor Williams, CEO of NBA Africa, and Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group.

The Grand Finale judges were impressed with the caliber of the finalists and their businesses, commenting:

“Congratulations to all the finalists and winners of this year’s ABH competition. Once again, I am privileged to take part in the judging panel and to be able to put a spotlight on the important work being done by trailblazing entrepreneurs on the African continent. We hope to see the businesses of these outstanding entrepreneurs flourish into bigger and better enterprises that will stimulate socio-economic development beyond their local markets,” said Ibukun Awosika, Founder and CEO of The Chair Centre Group.

“Congratulations to all the finalists and the winners of this year’s ABH competition. Entrepreneurship is more than just building a successful business; it takes true grit and passion to create and seize opportunities where they don’t always exist. These exceptional entrepreneurs are all worthy winners and I’m excited to see how they will continue to drive progress in their respective markets, and across the African continent,” said Victor Williams, CEO of NBA Africa.

“The ABH competition is an incredible opportunity to see the vigorous entrepreneurship taking place on the African continent. This year’s winners are role models of entrepreneurship from the standpoint of changing people’s lives and creating opportunities for people to transform society with the use of technology. We believe their contribution will be huge if they can inspire more entrepreneurialism across the continent,” said Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group.

The Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition aims to help foster an inclusive and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa. The annual competition, now in its fourth year, shines a spotlight on talented African entrepreneurs working to make a difference in their communities and helping build a more sustainable, inclusive future. The ABH competition is grassroots oriented as well as age, gender and sector agnostic.

This year’s official competition slogan, “It’s African Time,” was a bold call to action for talented African entrepreneurs to redefine stereotypes associated with “African time” as creating local impact and building a better, more inclusive future through their businesses.

The latest edition of Africa’s Business Heroes TV show will air in 2023. The show will follow the finalists in their exciting journey to the 2022 ABH Grand Finale and features their on-stage pitches and behind-the-scenes moments from the Competition. The full video playback of the 2022 ABH Grand Finale is currently available on ABH’s official YouTube (https://bit.ly/3hTqFA5) channel.

Pre-registration for the 2023 ABH prize will open in December 2022 and the 2023 ABH application will open in early 2023. 

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