LifeBank, ThriveAgric, DrugStoc and Black Swan were among the 10 finalists of the maiden edition of the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative  (ANPI) organized by Jack Ma Foundation (JMF).

The four Nigerian startups received a share of ANPI's $1 million (₦362.5 million) prize-money. LifeBank, which came top in the first position, received $250,000 (₦90.6 million), while the other three Nigerian startups were given $65,000 (₦23.5 million) each.

Similarly, the second place winner, Nawah-Scientific (Egypt), received $150,000, and Water Access Rwanda, which clinched the third place received $100,000. The other startups that complete the 2019 ANPI 10 finalists were Mumm (Egypt), J-Palm (Liberia), Uzuri K&Y (Rwanda) and Afrikrea (Ivory Coast); they all received $65,000 each.

The ANPI is a flagship project of the JMF, which is owned by Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba Group and Founder of JMF. The aim of the ANPI is to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future.

Through the ANPI competition, JMF will be awarding $1 million grant to 10 African entrepreneurs over the next nine years (2028). For its just-concluded inaugural edition, about 10,000 entrepreneurs from 50 African countries applied.

It was an incredible honor to be named Africa’s Business Hero. I was truly inspired by my fellow winners at today’s Netpreneur Summit. The Africa Netpreneur Prize will give me the resources to grow LifeBank and expand our presence in Nigeria and throughout the rest of Africa. I look forward to continuing my journey to solve problems and make a significant impact on the future of Africa.

Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Founder and CEO of LifeBank

According to Temie, LifeBank will start delivering blood through drones, AKA Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), across African countries including Nigeria. Last month, LifeBank had ran a drone delivery test in Ethiopia, in partnership with the Information Network Security Agency.

The grand finale of this year's competition was tagged, "Africa's Business Heroes", and it took place in Accra, Ghana. The 10 finalists pitched their businesses to a jury comprising of Jack Ma; Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group; Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria; and Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba.

Entries for the next year ANPI's prize will be opened in the first half of 2020. All African entrepreneurs are eligible to apply.

It is my strong belief that entrepreneur heroes, like these finalists, will change the world – creating companies that drive inclusive growth and opportunity for the continent. Everyone is a winner.

Jack Ma, Founder of JMF and former Chairman of Alibaba Group

Prior to attending the Africa's Business Heroes, Jack Ma was in Nigeria briefly. He met with different Nigerian techpreneurs and the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

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Speaking at the event on Saturday, Strive Masiyiwa said, "This competition demonstrates the overwhelming entrepreneurial talent that exists across Africa. I’m very excited about the future of industry and entrepreneurship for this continent. The top 10 truly show the limitless potential of African business."

What really struck me about the finalists was that they each addressed specific African problems with a specific African solution in a fresh way, leveraging technology that wasn’t available previously. If this is an indication of the future of entrepreneurship on the continent, then Africa’s future looks bright.

Ibukun Awosika, Founder/CEO of The Chair Centre Group

Later in December 13 and 14, 2019, "Africa’s Business Heroes" will be televised across Africa in a two-hour special report. The journeys of the finalists, their pitches and business insights from the judges will all be included in the series. You can watch it on these channels:

  • ROK 3 on DSTV - December 13, 2019
  • NOVELA and Sports Focus on StarTimes - December 14, 2019.