Top 50 finalists picked for Jack Ma Africa business heroes competition
The Jack Ma Foundation's Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative selected its top 50 finalists for the 2020 Africa's Business Heroes Competition from over 22,000 applications across all 54 African countries.
The finalists represent 21 African countries and work in 18 sectors, including agriculture, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare, renewable energy and information and communications technology.
The 50 entrepreneurs will continue their journey in the competition for a chance to become one of the 10 entrepreneurs who will compete in the grand final later this year.
The average age of the group is 37, with the youngest candidate aged 22 and the eldest aged 64.
Fifty percent of the candidates are female, a 24 percent increase from the debut competition last year, and 32 percent are French speakers, reflecting this year's competition opening applications in French for the first time.
Before stepping into the second round of selection, which will determine the top 20 finalists, the 50 selected entrepreneurs will be invited to join an exclusive virtual boot camp hosted by the Africa's Business Heroes team on Tuesday.
The boot camp represents a further opportunity for aspiring candidates to access unparalleled knowledge and insights from across the Africa's Business Heroes network.
It also aims to build up finalists' management and leadership capabilities and ultimately increase not only their chance of progressing to the next stages of the competition, but to further develop as entrepreneurs.
Isadora Bryden, the team leader at Agence Française de Développement, said she was thrilled to have served as a judge for the debut competition held last year.
"It's been an honor to help identify business heroes from Africa that are genuinely committed to changing the game in their respective industries," Bryden said.
"In these challenging times, getting to discover how Africa's Business Heroes applicants manage to turn challenges into opportunities, with a real sense of purpose and dedication to improve the conditions of people in their communities, strengthens my belief in the promise of entrepreneurship in Africa," she said.
Firas Ezzeddine, manager of group strategy at Philips, said it's heartwarming to see that so many young entrepreneurs are working passionately to drive high-impact social projects across the African continent.
"The judging process was not an easy task as all participants submitted very high-quality applications with compelling business propositions. As the competition progresses, I look forward to following the finalists' journey and how they will use their talent and skills to generate positive change in their communities and beyond."
The 21 countries where the 50 finalists hail from include Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.