Three Nigerians have made the podium of the 2021 African Business Heroes to be awarded in November in collaboration with the Jack Ma Foundation.
The dynamic entrepreneurs will take the stage at the grand finale in November for their final pitch to win a share of a US$1.5 million prize pool.
The ten entrepreneurs – half of whom are female – operate in businesses which span key industries such as agriculture, beauty, education, energy, food & beverage, logistics, manufacturing, media & entertainment, and retail.
Announcing the finalists, Jason Pau, Executive Director of the Jack Ma Foundation, said:
“It’s African time! We have been continuously impressed with all of our 2021 Top 10 finalists, especially their diversity and strength of their businesses. The Top 10 are truly inspiring and are a testament to the talent, resilience, innovation, and passion of African entrepreneurs. In the midst of unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we remain steadfast in our efforts to identify, support and shine a spotlight on African entrepreneurs that are driving positive growth for their communities.”
As the finalists finesse their pitches and leverage the in-depth training, learnings and insights that they have gathered during their ABH journey, we take a look as their business journey’s so far.
Ghirmay Abraham, Founder, Aptech Africa (https://AptechAfrica.com) (Uganda)
Ghirmay was born in Eritrea and studied mechanical engineering at the University of Asmara before starting work in the renewable energy sector. He started Aptech Africa with only a $20,000 investment. Working to bring electricity and water to people across Africa, Aptech has grown to be a multinational business operating in seven African countries.
Navalayo Osembo-Ombati, Co-Founder and CEO, Enda Athletic (https://Endasportswear.com) (Kenya)
Navalayo is from a town in Kenya that has produced generations of the world’s greatest distance runners. To maximize social impact in Kenya through sports, Navalayo founded Enda Athletic, a made-in-Kenya running shoe brand that creates jobs, invests in local communities, and spurs economic development through exports. She is a graduate of the London School of Economics.
Oghenetega Iortim, Founder, Gricd (https://Gricd.com) (Nigeria)
Oghenetega is an Information Communications Engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from Covenant University. Oghenetega has been dedicated to solving health and food accessibility challenges through technology. Through his startup, Gricd, he is building cold-chain facilities to address storage pitfalls in the agricultural and healthcare sectors.
Yvette Ishimwe, Founder and CEO, IRIBA Water Group (https://IRIBAWaterGroup.com) (Rwanda)
IRIBA Water Group is a social enterprise that offers innovative drinking water solutions. Its founder Yvette holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Southern New Hampshire University. She is a YALI Mandela Washington Fellow and has been awarded by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in recognition of the impact IRIBA has brought to the community.
Charlot Magayi, Founder and CEO, Mukuru Clean Stoves (https://MukuruStoves.org) (Kenya)
When Charlot’s two-year-old daughter suffered a severe burn caused by a traditional stove, Charlot was moved to provide safer cooking technologies. She founded Mukuru to help keep children safe, as well as reduce fuel consumption and household air pollution. Charlot is an Echoing Green Fellow and has been recognized by Global Citizen, World Bank and AWIEF.
Khadija Mohamed Elbedweihy, Founder, PraxiLabs (https://Praxilabs.com) (Egypt)
Khadija received her PhD from the University of Sheffield studying human-computer interaction and user experience. With her belief in adopting technology for improving education and enabling equal opportunities, Khadija founded and is currently managing PraxiLabs, which makes virtual science labs accessible for educational institutions and schools.
Chidi Nwaogu, Co-founder and CEO, Publiseer (https://Publiseer.net) (Nigeria)
Chidi Nwaogu is a tech entrepreneur and software developer. He is the CEO of Publiseer, a digital content distribution company that helps independent and underserved African creatives earn a living. He is the winner of the 2020 Migration Entrepreneurship Prize from the Swiss Government, and is also an Acumen Fellow, Alibaba eFounders Fellow, Westerwelle Fellow, and French-African Young Leader.
Ikenna Nzewi, Co-founder and CEO, Releaf Marketplace Nigeria (https://Releaf.africa) (Nigeria)
Ikenna graduated from Yale University in 2017 with a Bachelors in Computer Science and co-founded Releaf while he was still at university. Releaf is an agriculture technology company that develops hardware and software solutions to drive industrialisation of food processing in Africa.
Violet Amoabeng, Founder and CEO, Skin Gourmet (https://SkinGourmet.com) (Ghana)
Violet attained both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Business Administration – specializing in marketing, supply chain management and accounting. In 2014, Violet created Skin Gourmet with GHS 145 (US $ 45.00). Skin Gourmet is now distributed in over 17 different countries and Violet has been featured in Glitz and EMY Magazine as an emerging industry leader.
Ketsheaphone Jacob, Founder and CEO, The Bulb World (https://bit.ly/3FgGU1u) (Botswana)
Ketsheaphone is the Founder and CEO of The Bulb World, an LED light manufacturing company. Ketshephaone is passionate about helping youth startups and also giving back to communities through The Bulb World’s CSR Initiative which sets out to light up public boarding schools to give learners a brighter learning environment.
The Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition is spearheaded by the Jack Ma Foundation, aimed at supporting and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs.
Each year, the ABH prize competition and show will feature ten finalists as they pitch their business to win a share of $1.5 million in grant money.
Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation, created the prize after he made his first trip to Africa in 2017 and was inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial potential of the young people he met.