The Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) series for 2019, will conclude with an “Africa Business Heroes” televised gala in Accra, Ghana in November where ten finalist entrepreneurs will pitch Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Strive Masiyiwa and other judges.
The overall Netpreneur winner will get a grant prize of $250,000, the second place one receives $150,000, with $100,000 to the third place one. These are among the largest financial prizes offered to African entrepreneurs and the other finalists will also receive financial grants.
Applications for this year’s ANPI opened on March 27 and over 10,000 entries were received from entrepreneur applicants. These were narrowed down by different evaluators through a vetting process and this week twenty finalists, drawn from across Africa, are doing interviews with, a panel of expert judges at the Nailab in Nairobi. Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Fatoumata Ba, Fred Swaniker, Hasan Haider, Marième Diop, Peter Orth, and René Parker form the semi-finalist judging panel for this year’s ANPI.
This all comes two years after Jack Ma’s first visit to Africa as a UN special advisor for youth entrepreneurship and small business. Dr Mukhisa Kituyi suggested that he visits Kenya as one of the countries he toured and he became inspired by a team of entrepreneurs he met at the Nailab. He then decided to support African entrepreneurs through his Jack Ma Foundation.
This is the Foundation’s first project outside of China the Prize has a mission to shine a spotlight on African entrepreneurs to be leaders of their societies in the future. It is especially focused on traditional, informal and agricultural industries and sectors, and encourages women to participate. This is a deviation from other sectors like digital, fintech, and mobile that have attracted a lot of attention and funding on the continent. ANPI hopes to find and support 100 entrepreneurs over the next decade to be leaders across Africa.
If you want to sell goods to China, African entrepreneurs should work together. The demographic dividend won't pay if its 54 countries doing their own thing – so we are keen on how #AfCFTA policies will work -Jason Pau, @foundation_ma @AFNetpreneurs #ANPI pic.twitter.com/X8e8XuGhif
— Bankelele (@bankelele) August 16, 2019
Through the program, they offer training at the Alibaba headquarters in Hangzhou, China, free of charge and several entrepreneurs, through the Nailab, have made that trip there. The ANPI competition remains to open to entrepreneurs in all 54 African countries, including Northern African and Western (Francophone regions). Jack Ma is expected to continue his philanthropic efforts, through the foundation, even after he steps down from being Alibaba’s Executive Chairman in October 2019.