My Journey to Becoming one of Africa’s Business Heroes

Africas Business Heroes

Africas Business Heroes (ABH) Competition has kicked off for 2023! This program, supported by the Jack Ma Foundation, means so much to me personally. I was humbled to have been selected from more than 21,000 applicants from across all 54 African countries last year. Gebeya is not—and has never been—about one individual. Rather the collective efforts of hundreds of talents, team members, investors, and supporters are dedicated to transforming the whole continent and making it globally competitive. 

I must admit that at first, I was uncertain when the opportunity of Africa’s Business Heroes presented itself. I am not one to run to the spotlight. And the moniker of “Hero” invokes a vision of a cape and superhuman abilities. But with time, I understood that the intent behind ABH is less about putting select individuals on a podium; rather it is meant to inspire Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs and influencers.

Being selected as one of Africas Business Heroes is a reflection of three things: character, motivation, and influence. Each person who progressed through the selection process with me possessed qualities like perseverance, humility, and a clear personal drive to make a difference. Each innovative solution they helmed was driven to transform industries as diverse as agriculture to fintech. 

I am pleased to share that Africas Business Heroes is a gift that has kept on giving. As an alumnus of ABH, I was recently selected as Local Connect Lead for East Africa. Through this, I had the opportunity to host a workshop in Gebeya’s headquarters city: the vibrant Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Here are some of the tips I shared with the audience of eager attendees and would-be Heroes.

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Should I apply to Africas Business Heroes?

Check your eligibility against the clear, concise eligibility guidelines that ABH has provided, including:  

  • Being of African origin;
  • Being a Founder or Co-founder of a legally-registered company;
  • Company is headquartered in Africa;
  • Company has 3 years of experience and revenue.

The selection process is sector-agnostic; so do not hesitate to apply if you meet the above criteria. However, if your company is only at the idea stage, or has fewer than years of revenue; it’s best to wait for a future application cycle. The great news is that the Competition will continue until 2029. If you qualify, you should definitely apply to this, because you will learn from every stage of the process. Applications are due May 12.

Why apply for Africas Business Heroes?

There are several benefits to applying for ABH, the financial prizes being an obvious one. 

  • ABH creates networking and investment opportunities for applicants, as the visibility and marketing support is outstanding throughout3.
  • Networking opportunities with fellow entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors.  
  • The top 10 winners each receive a cut of $1.5 million USD grant money, from $100,000 up to $300,000. 

ABH was not only about the money for me. I started reading about this Competition and it piqued my interest. I wanted Gebeya’s brand to travel across the continent. I saw that Alibaba is one of the world’s largest marketplaces; Gebeya is a SaaS-enabled Marketplace. I met some incredible entrepreneurs. I got to meet Jack Ma. In the end, once I won the $100,000, I was thrilled and so was my team. Read more about the benefits of the 2023 ABH Prize Competition.

What is the Africas Business Heroes application process like?

This is the first hurdle. The initial application for Africas Business Heroes process is no joke, and sets the stage for a thorough, multi-stage vetting process. Prepare to dedicate a lot of time to the application. I wish I had ChatGPT at that time! I would train ChatGPT to learn everything about the winners of Africa’s Business Heroes. 

  • Round 1 Judging: Top 50 selected
    • Detail your vision, business model, and future plans
    • Include a Customer Testimonial video & reference
  • Round 2 Video Call Interviews: Top 20 selected
    • Prepare for a 90-minute assessment by two experienced business leaders who will grill and drill you
  • Round 3 Due Diligence
    • Financial audit conducted by a third party, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
  • Round 4 In-person Semi-finals (Kigali, Rwanda): Top 10 selected
    • Pitch your story in front of a panel of investors and business professionals
  • In-person Grand Finale & Summit: Top 3 selected
    • All 10 Finalists pitch again to a panel of Judges and the world, as the event is broadcast live

If you are considering applying for Africa’s Business Heroes Competition, I strongly encourage you to go for it. Do your research. Prepare to put in a lot of hard work. Take the risk and don’t fear potential rejection. Learn from the experience, and consider it an opportunity to share your vision. 

That’s really what the Africas Business Heroes application is about: articulating where you have come from and where you want to go. Where do you want to go?  The clock is ticking. Applications are due May 12. #ItsTime

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