BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ


Jack Ma Foundation has chosen SA Innovation Summit to scout for local innovators worthy of recognition. It will be the second time that the foundation identifies local talent for recognition.

Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) aims to support and recognize African entrepreneurs who are making an impact in their local communities and building a better, more inclusive future.

The programme is open to entrepreneurs of all ages, from all sectors, and across all 54 African countries. ABH aims to recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and allocate, over a ten-year period [2019-2029], grant funds, alongside training, mentoring and learning programmes, as well as access to a community of like-minded African business leaders. It will award a pool of $1.5 million in grant money to ten finalists who are working to solve critical issues in their local communities and who demonstrate core values such as resilience, innovation, and leadership.

SA Innovation Summit newly appointed CEO speaking about the initiative had this to say:

“We believe that entrepreneurs build the African continent and we are proud to work with partners like the Africa Business Heroes competition, to connect the entrepreneurs to resources that scale their businesses. Over the last couple of years, we have seen that the growth and opportunities that have come out of this competition for its applicants, finalists and winners have been phenomenal. We want every eligible African entrepreneur to know about it.”

ABH is looking for tenacious, innovative, bold and courageous entrepreneurs from all sectors and industries across Africa.

“I was beyond proud to have been named the winner of the 2021 ABH competition. I hope that my win inspires many people across Africa to feel that they can make a difference and be impactful. I learned so much throughout the competition and will take those learnings to continue growing PraxiLabs. We will remain focused and determined to change how Africa learns and teaches science, one virtual lab at a time,” Khadija Mohamed Elbedweihy, Founder, PraxiLabs (

ABH is open to SMEs who are legally registered with 3 years of operation from all sectors and industries. ABH aims to be as inclusive as possible and we welcome applications regardless of the gender.

Since 2019, ABH has received over 40,000 applications across all 54 African nations. The finalists’ businesses span key industries including agriculture, fashion, education, healthcare, renewable energy, financial services, and retail. The diversity of the finalists’ profiles, skill sets, and demographics reflect the inclusive and grassroots DNA of the competition.

“Entrepreneurship in Africa is experiencing a strong upward trajectory and it is so encouraging to see. But there are still so many entrepreneurs whose inspiring stories and impactful businesses need a spotlight, and who could benefit from additional support. The Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition is encouraging extraordinarily talented entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries, across every single sector, age group, and gender to apply in either English or French for a chance to win their share of a $1.5 million grant, access to training, mentorship, and more. We want to enable entrepreneurs that are not only building successful businesses, but who are also running mission driven organizations that generate growth for their local communities across Africa. If this sounds like you, join the Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition today. It’s African Time,” said Zahra Baitie, Head of Partnerships & Programs, ABH.

At the grand finale later this year, ten finalists will take the stage to present their businesses and share their visions to an esteemed panel of judges, to win a share of the US$1.5 million grant. The journey to the Finale will include several rounds of rigorous evaluation panels, as well as access to a community of international leaders and innovators, industry experts, investors, and accelerators, through a number of multi-disciplinary bootcamps and training sessions. The ten finalists will also have the opportunity to pitch their businesses and engage with iconic business legends in a competition show that will be broadcast online globally and across Africa via major television networks.