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Top 50 finalists announced for Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize 2020 competition

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Jack Ma Foundation
Source: Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH)
  • The 50 finalists were selected from over 22,000 applications all over Africa, representing twenty-one African countries, half are female, and work in 18 sectors like agriculture, AI, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare, renewable energy and ICT

Top 50 finalists were selected from over 22,000 applications across all 54 African nations; The finalists represent 21 African countries, half are female, and work in 18 sectors like agriculture, AI, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare, renewable energy and ICT; Finalists will advance to the next round of selection and will participate in an exclusive virtual boot camp on July 28.

The 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize competition, a flagship philanthropic program established by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), has shortlisted the top 50 finalists from stage one of the selection process.

The fifty entrepreneurs will continue their journey in the competition, for a chance to become one of the ten entrepreneurs that will compete in the grand finale later this year.

The top 50 finalists were selected from a pool of over 22,000 applications received from all 54 African nations.

The diversity of the finalist roster reflects the aim of Africa’s Business Heroes to be inclusive and grassroots, providing entrepreneurs from all over Africa with a platform to showcase their talent and business ideas, regardless of nationality, industry, age or gender.

The 2020 top fifty finalists come from twenty-one countries (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, Zimbabwe) and eighteen sectors, such as: agriculture, AI, Big Data, business services, construction, education, engineering, e-commerce, fashion, financial services, healthcare, ICT, logistics, manufacturing, management services, retail, renewable energy, and transportation.

The average age of the cohort is 37 with the youngest candidate aged 22 and the eldest aged 64. 50% of the candidates are female – a 24% increase from the debut competition last year, and 32% are francophone, reflecting this year’s competition opening applications in French for the first time.

Over the past month, a panel of 140 highly skilled and experienced judges reviewed the submissions, evaluating applicants’ leadership and vision, their ability to translate their innovations and ideas into sustainable and robust business models, and their commitment to create positive impact to uplift their communities. Judges, whose unrivalled knowledge and industry expertise has brought immense added value to the selection process, represented a variety of key sectors in Africa, such as agriculture, tech, retail and e-commerce, education, healthcare, finance, logistics, and tourism.

Before stepping into the second round of selection, which will determine the top 20 finalists, the fifty selected entrepreneurs will be invited to join an exclusive virtual boot camp hosted by the Africa’s Business Heroes team on July 28th.

The boot camp represents a further opportunity for aspiring candidates to access unparalleled knowledge and insights from across the ABH 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.

During the boot camp, they will have the chance to receive feedback from round 1 judges such as Rafeh Saleh, Director of the Founder Institute and Omolara Awoyemi, Senior Program Manager at Facebook. Participants will also have the opportunity to attend interactive workshops with industry and business leaders, who have been partnering with ABH this year, including Abdelhameed Sharara, Founder & CEO of RiseUp; Patrick Awuah, Founder & President of Ashesi University, and Sebastien Nony, General Partner of Janngo Capital. It will also feature a few of the 2019 finalists who will provide advice and insights on their own journeys.

The selection process to spotlight the 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes finalists will continue throughout the summer. Following round 2 interviews and the semi-finale pitch, the top 20 and top 10 finalists will be announced in August and September respectively.

ABH will culminate in a grand finale show later this year, where the top 10 finalists will take the stage to pitch business legends – including Jack Ma – for a chance to win their share of a US$1.5 million prize pool.

A number of round 1 judges commented on their experience with Africa’s Business Heroes, noting:

“I am thrilled to have served as a judge for the Africa’s Business Heroes competition. It’s been an honour to help identify business heroes from Africa that are genuinely committed to changing the game in their respective industries. In these challenging times, getting to discover how the ABH 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.” said the Team Lead at Agence Française de Développement, Isadora Bigourdan Bryden.

“Driven by the spirit of entrepreneurship, the tangible benefits of social good, and a strong sense of community pride, this startup competition is special – showcasing many promising ideas and a diverse group of African startups. It’s been inspirational to see these founders, deeply rooted and passionate, create change in their world.” commented a Silicon Valley Startup Advisor, Triane Chang.

“It is truly 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.” added the Manager, Group Strategy at Philips, Firas Ezzeddine.

StartUPs

LSETF relaunches Idea Hub for tech startups

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Idea Hub
Executive Secretary/CEO, LSETF, Mrs. Teju Abisoye

In line with its mandate to provide entrepreneurship solutions, training, and upskilling opportunities to innovative entrepreneurs and start-ups in the Lagos tech ecosystem, the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) has re-designed the Idea Hub Programme, under its Lagos Innovates Programme

 

The Lagos Innovates Idea Hub Programme is a 12-week incubation programme designed to support tech-enabled businesses with relevant skills, networking opportunities and mentorship from seasoned industry experts; geared towards building a competitive and sustainable brand.

 

It is expected that the programme would afford budding entrepreneurs with tech solution with the necessary leverage to grow their ideas.

 

The benefits include business incubation and coaching by Lagos Innovates experienced and seasoned Mentors; an opportunity to pitch for Lagos Innovates Workspace Vouchers for 6 or 12 months (valued between ₦120,000 – ₦1,800,000); and access to Lagos Innovates network including Government, corporates, start-ups, local and international investors, etc.

 

In her remarks on the initiative, the Executive Secretary/CEO, LSETF, Mrs. Teju Abisoye said; “The Lagos Innovates Idea Hub is a programme under one of our delivery mechanism tagged Tech Start-ups (Lagos Innovates), primarily responsible for cementing Lagos’ position as the leading destination for tech and innovation in Africa. With the recent global economic challenges due to the pandemic, we believe technology will be critical in proffering recovery and adaptive solutions as the world embraces the new normal.

 

“I am confident that with the Idea Hub initiative providing the institutional support, our young innovators in Lagos would be able to pivot toward this paradigm. We encourage growing entrepreneurs in the digital and tech space to take advantage of this programme to create compelling solutions that would accelerate the Lagos economic, business and lifestyle recovery trajectory”, she added.

 

Some of the seasoned mentors and industry experts of the programme are Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, Founder,~We-Cyclers, and DG, Lagos State Records and Archives; Olu Akanmu, Executive Director Retail Banking, FCMB; Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho, CEO, Future Software Resources Ltd; Ponmile Osibo, Partner, Platform Capital; Wale Ajiboye, Associate Director, Acumen; Oluwatoyin Oshinowo, Co-founder and VP Product, Field Insights; Dr Olanrewaju Phillips, Enterprise Account Manager, HP, Central Africa, and Odunayo Eweniyi, Co-Founder and COO, Piggyvest.

 

Other mentors are Olutosin Oni, Principal, Echo VC; Damilola Thompson, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Echo VC; Oluwatoyin Emmanuel-Olubake, Associate Director of Portfolio, Acumen; Dayo Kolewole, Partner Microtraction, and Simeon Ononobi, Co-founder/CEO, Thank U Cash.

 

Interested applicants must run an early-stage start-up with viable and solution-driven ideas; technology must be the core or the enabler of the enterprise, and the founder must reside in Lagos State.

How to APPLY

Applicants should visit Here to apply before the deadline date, Sunday 16th August 2020.

 

What you should know Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF)

 

Established in 2016, LSETF‘s vision is to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to reduce unemployment in Lagos State.

LSETF focuses on promoting entrepreneurship by improving access to finance, strengthening the institutional capacity of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), formulating policies and actively intervening to improve the business environment. The Fund also trains and places unemployed Lagos residents in jobs, while driving innovation within the Lagos ecosystem. 

 

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HouseAfrica.io partners NMRC to deploy blockchain tech for property title authentication, verification

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HouseAfrica.io logo

HouseAfrica.io, a blockchain startup focusing on real estate, on Wednesday signed a partnership agreement with Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), to deploy a digital land/property title authentication and verification system called Propvat.com.

The system will make it possible for individuals and organizations – including Financial Institutions – to authenticate, validate or confirm the value of any Property or Land across Nigeria and ultimately improve the amount of mortgage financing transactions in Nigeria.

NMRC made the announcement on Twitter ahead of the Virtual Abuja International Housing Show.

Speaking on the partnership, Taofeeq Olatinwo who is head of ICT and Business Process Operations at NMRC said, “NMRC is delighted to partner with HouseAfrica in solving  the land titling issues to strengthen the housing market in Nigeria.”

Also speaking on the Partnership, Nnamdi Uba, Co-founder and CEO of HouseAfrica.io, explained that the partnership will unlock a lot of opportunities for Nigerians.

The partnership will help to unlock trapped assets and capital in residential real estate valued at over 300-900billion USD. and then wealth creation through increased access to credit and growth in mortgage penetration by as much as 3% – 5% of GDP over a 5-10-year period (subject to increased adoption and user rates).

HouseAfrica

HouseAfrica and NMRC officials during the MoU signing

On his part, Ndifreke ikpoku, Co-Founder and COO at HouseAfrica said “The partnership is another milestone for us, the Nigerian real estate space and blockchain family.

The company is currently onboarding Lawyers and Estate Valuers on the portal at Propvat.com.

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Facebook backs leading mental health NGO in Nigeria, She Writes Woman for 2020 accelerator programme

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She Writes Woman (community)
She Writes Woman (community)

BY: Chisom ADA

She Writes Woman (SWW) ​Safe Place community has been selected for the 2020 Facebook Accelerator, a six-month program focused on helping impactful communities to grow.

A total number of 77 communities across six regions have been selected to participate.

The selected startups for Facebook Accelerator programme 2020

Up to $3 million total will be awarded to program participants globally.

The selected participants will each receive up to $30k to execute their growth plans during the 6-month program and could be eligible to receive part of the $500K additional funding available at the end of the program to further grow their communities and impact

Safe Place Nigeria started as a first of its kind women-only support group initiated in October 2016. Hauwa Ojeifo, the Executive Director, created Safe Place Nigeria to provide a stigma and judgment-free space for young people to talk about mental health-related issues.

It has become a community for young people to learn, feel connected, get support and feel a sense of belonging. Its 22,000+ members have benefitted from free telephone counselling, support groups and mental health resources.

​She Writes Woman’s initiative, Safe Place Nigeria, is focused on building a dedicated online community for the growing number of mental health-conscious Nigerians, especially now with restrictions in accessing physical spaces While we have directly supported over 900 beneficiaries in the last 2 years, this Accelerator offers us an unprecedented opportunity to scale access to mental healthcare, self-care tools and wellness resources”, said the Executive Director of She Writes Woman, Hauwa Ojeifo.

This is a six-month program aimed at helping these community leaders quickly and strategically achieve their growth goals.

The Community Accelerator provides training, support and funding to enable great communities to make an even greater positive impact in the world.

It is focused more specifically on communities that are already established, have a business model, and are looking to grow their community through Facebook’s family of apps.

What you should know about She Writes Woman (SWW)

She Writes Woman is a women-led movement of love, hope and support that gives mental health a voice in Nigeria. The organization was founded in April 2016 by Hauwa Ojeifo, following a double diagnosis of bipolar and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Since inception, Ojeifo’s work has received the 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders Award, 2019 Obama Africa Leader, 2018 Viacom MTV EMA Generation Change and Women Deliver 2020, among others.

She is currently a One Young World ambassador and has spoken at the United Nations several times.

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