Jack Ma Foundation announces finalists for Africa's Busines

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The Jack Ma Foundation's Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative on Monday announced the top 10 finalists of its Africa business heroes contest, who will pitch at the competition's grand finale on Nov 13 and 14 for a chance to win a share of a $1.5 million prize pool.

The 10 finalists were selected from over 22,000 applications across all 54 African countries, following several rounds of rigorous evaluation.

With an average age of 34 years, the top 10 represents 8 African countries including Cameroon, C te d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Their businesses span key industries such as agriculture, fashion, education, healthcare, renewable energy and financial services.

"I continue to be amazed by the passion, resilience, and vision of Africa's entrepreneurs, and I look forward to meeting these 10 extraordinary businesswomen and businessmen at the finale," Jack Ma, founder of the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Group, said in a statement. "I am excited to learn more about how they are driving positive change and progress across the continent."

Bethlehem Alemu, one of the African Business Hero semi-finale judges and founder of soleRebels, an Ethiopia-based handcrafted shoe-making company, said the 2020 competition was incredible.

"The quality of the entrepreneurs and their ideas has been exceptional and this is a testament to the talent that exists across the continent. I am extremely excited to follow the rest of the competition and see who will come on top as the 2020 African Business Hero," Alemu said.

During the online grand finale pitch, the top 10 heroes will present their business ventures, as well as their vision and leadership profile, to a finale judging panel that includes: Jack Ma; Ibukun Awosika, founder of the Chair Centre Group, a Nigerian company dealing with office furniture and banking security systems company; Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet Group, a pan-African telecommunications company and Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of the Alibaba Group.