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Africa Startup Tech: Three Nigerian Firms Get $480,000 Jack Ma Funding

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Jack Ma has been off the grid for over two months

As Africa Startup Tech companies continue to get global funding, three Nigerian firms have won $480,000 Jack Ma Funding.

The Nigerian firms are among the startup tech companies that got funding from the Chinese billionaire.

The funding is for the startup tech companies who provide solutions to the various problems facing the continent and the world.

Among the startup tech companies are firms from Kenya and Egypt who dominated the top three positions.

The Startup firms from Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria dominated the top three after making the top 10.

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Cumulatively, the top ten finalists received a total of US$1.5 million in grant funding.

Also, while half of the finalists are females, the top 10 represent seven African countries, with 80% business operation in rural areas.

The Nigerian startup companies:

The three Nigerian startup companies who made the top ten finalists to secur the funding are Releaf,  Gricd and Publiseer.

Releaf is a Lagos-based food processing company and it received $250,000 from the billionaire for coming second in the contest.

Similarly, Gricd and Publiseer, who came among the top 10 finalists, will also receive $100,000 each in prize funding.

In the contest, an extra $10,000 will go to each finalist for a training program.

Alibaba Group’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China, will host the programme.

Meanwhile, Egypt-based startup, Praxilab, emerged grand winner of the contest, winning $300,000.

The Programme:

Jack Ma’s 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) is the Chinese billionaire’s flagship philanthropic programme.

The annual funding competition is a programme to help nurture growing startup businesses in Africa.

Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma who Founded Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation, launched the programme.

He created the funding competition programme after making his first trip to Africa in 2017.

Jack Ma got inspiration from the energetic, budding and entrepreneurial spirit of the young Africans that he met.

This year’s round spotlights African budding entrepreneurs helping to build a more sustainable and inclusive future.

Meanwhile, the ABH competition considers age, gender, language and sector agnostic as criteria for qualification.

ABH will recognize 100 African startup entrepreneurs in the course of 10 years.

Also, during the period, it will provide grant funding, trainings, and support for the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Each year, businesses will compete among themselves for a $1.5 million grant prize slice.

Volume of applications:

The competition received over 12,000 applications from all 54 countries in Africa.

Out of the applications, ten finalists emerged after several rounds of rigorous evaluations.

Over 230 judges selected the ten startups who proved to be more innovative, visionary and impactful on Africa.

Among the judges are Ibukun Awosika, Founder and CEO of The Chair Centre Group; Victor Williams, NBA Africa CEO; and Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group.

Also, following a virtual exhibition, the finalists showcased their innovative businesses providing solutions to problems in unique styles.

The top three Africa’s Business Heroes for 2021 are:

1st – winning $300,000 – Khadija Mohamed Elbedweihy – Founder, PraxiLabs (www.praxilabs.com) (Egypt).

2nd – winning $250,000 – Ikenna Nzewi – Co-founder and CEO, Releaf (www.releaf.africa) (Nigeria).

3rd – winning $150,000 – Navalayo Osembo-Ombati (Kenya) – Co-founder and CEO, Enda Athletic (www.EndaSportswear.com)

The other finalists includes as follows:

Ghirmay Abraham (Uganda) – Founder, Aptech Africa (aptechafrica.com).

Oghenetega Iortim (Nigeria) – Founder, Gricd (Gricd.com).

Yvette Ishimwe (Rwanda) – Founder and CEO, IRIBA Water Group (www.IRIBWaterGroup.com).

Also, others include, Charlot Magayi (Kenya) – Founder and CEO, Mukuru Clean Stoves (mukurustoves.org).

Chidi Nwaogu  (Nigeria) – Co-founder and CEO, Publiseer (Publiseer.net).

Violet Amoabeng (Ghana) – Founder and CEO, Skin Gourmet (SkinGourmet.com).

Ketshephaone Jacob (Botswana) – Founder and CEO, The Bulb World (https://bit.ly/3Fu2nU4).

Winners speak:

Meanwhile, expressing joy over the win, Founder at PraxiLabs, Khadija Mohamed Elbedweihy said thus:

“I’m very humbled to be named Africa’s Business Hero. This competition has been an incredible journey.

“I have learnt important lessons from each judge and from my fellow talented entrepreneurs.

“I hope that this win inspires many young Africans to believe that we have what it takes to make an impact where we are.

Also he said, “It has been a challenging year for many businesses, but challenges are key to build our resilience.

“PraxiLabs is solving pressing issues around education and training.

“And we will remain focused and determined to change how Africa learns and teaches science, one virtual lab at a time.”

Similarly, Founder and CEO of The Chair Centre Group, Ibukun Awosika said thus:

“This is the third time I have been a Grand Finale judge for the Africa’s Business Heroes competition, meeting many exceptional business women and men from across Africa.

“Each year, I’m struck by their sheer talent and the commitment to developing creative, innovative solutions to the challenges we face on the continent.

Likewise, he  said “It truly is “Africa’s time” and these outstanding entrepreneurs are the ones who embody its future of growth and relevant solution-based innovation.”

Also speaking, NBA Africa CEO, Victor Williams said thus:

“I want to congratulate the winners of this year’s Africa’s Business Heroes competition. Entrepreneurship – like sport – is a transformative force for positive social change and economic growth.

“All of the Africa’s Business Heroes are inspiring leaders who are actively pursuing their passions and helping Africa take its rightful place on the world stage.

Also, he said, “I look forward to engaging with all of them as they continue their entrepreneurial journeys on the continent.”

“This year’s Top 10 finalists came from inspiring personal stories that is invaluable not only to their teams and communities, but to many would-be entrepreneurs across the continent who are thinking about pursuing this path. The kind of talent and passion I saw among this year’s Africa’s Business Heroes is unrivaled around the world. They are innovators and problem-solvers, but most importantly, they have a driving sense of mission and social impact. Congratulations to all of our winners and we look forward to seeing what you accomplish next,” said Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group.

Also, note that the Africa’s Business Heroes TV show will air in 2022.

It will spotlight the African entrepreneurial startup finalists.

Implications:

Nigerian startups tech and other budding companies are in the forefront of providing innovative solutions to several challenges.

Anthony Chinonso Ogbonna is the editor of Techuncode media. He is a seasoned journalist whose stint cuts across broadcast, print and, especially, the online media. A graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Anthony holds a Masters Degree in Multimedia Journalism. He aligns his belief with those of world tech communities, holding tenaciously that the world is solely driven and can only be best with tech. Furthermore, Anthony believes that technology is simple, fun and is not what one, especially Africans, should be scared of, hence, his passion for telling compelling stories about tech in ways relatable to the ordinary user. He has his hobbies in reading and designing (new hobby though.)

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