Winners of Alibaba-Backed “Africa’s Business Heroes” Entrepreneurship Contest Announced

The Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Prize Competition, a charitable initiative sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy, announced this year’s winners during a livestreamed Grand Finale held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In its fourth year, this competition aims to foster an inclusive and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa. It shines a spotlight on talented African entrepreneurs working to make a difference in their communities and helping build a more sustainable, inclusive future. This year’s official competition slogan, “It’s African Time,” is a bold call to action for talented entrepreneurs to redefine stereotypes.

Elia Timotheo from Tanzania, Tesh Mbaabu from Kenya and Nadia Gamal El Din from Egypt were named as the first, second and third prize winners, respectively. They were chosen from an initial pool of over 21,000 applications from all 54 African countries after six months of rigorous evaluation by over 300 judges. The first-prize winner received a $300,000 grant to accelerate his business growth further.

Group photo of the top 10 finalists and the ABH team (Source: ABH)

Elia Timotheo is the 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. Its clients include international hotel chain Ramada and American restaurant franchise Subway.

“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,” said Timotheo in a statement following the award ceremony, which was watched by more than 7,000 people across the world.

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Tesh Mbaabu, the second-prize winner and co-founder and CEO of Marketforce Technologies, was also chosen as the winner of the “People’s Choice” award, which was introduced this year to encourage audiences to support their favorite hero among the top 10 finalists through online voting.

“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,” said Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba.