Jack Ma Creates $10m Prize for African Entrepreneurs
Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma has launched a Netpreneur Prize for African entrepreneurs worth $10 million. The aim of the prize is to promote African entrepreneurs that are making efforts towards solving the challenges Africans are facing. The funds will be disbursed through the Jack Ma Foundation which focuses on health, education, and innovation.
The announcement was made at a conference dubbed Netpreneurs: The Rise of Africa’s Digital Lions” held in South Africa. The prize will target small businesses, women founders, and grassroots innovation. The prize will disburse $10 million to 100 African entrepreneurs over the next decade.
“As a fellow entrepreneur, I understand the importance of getting support during the early days. This prize demonstrates our support of the next generation of young entrepreneurs across Africa who are paving the way for a better future and imparting a positive change in their communities. I am inspired and encouraged by these entrepreneurs who, together, will help build a sustainable, inclusive economy for Africa and for the world,” said Jack Ma.
Ban Ki-moon, Former UN Secretary General and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Center for Global Citizens, said, “With the rapid development of the global digital economy and the availability of technology, the next century belongs to Africa. I am excited to join the advisory board of the Africa Netpreneur Prize. Through this prize, we aim to support African entrepreneurs to build a more inclusive and prosperous Africa and dramatically shape the future prospects of the continent for the better.”
Jack decided to create the prize after his visit to Africa in 2017 where he “was inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial potential of the young people he met.” The entrepreneur
The Netpreneur Prize
From 2019, the Jack Ma Foundation will host pitch competition yearly where ten finalists will be chosen from across the continent and compete for $1 million. The ten finalists will also get grant funding from the foundation and access to the Netpreneur community of African business leaders. Jack Ma expects the participants to be founders of businesses that are internet-driven.
Applications for the first pitch will be accepted from January to April 2019. Finalists will be chosen from five regions across the continent. The initiative will be provided across Africa in partnership with Nailab, the lead continental partner.
Last year, the Alibaba Business School and UNCTAD announced the eFounders fellowship Initiative making this the second project Jack Ma is spearheading to support African entrepreneurs. The two-week Fellowship trains from emerging markets with the aim of establishing a community of young entrepreneurs. So far, there are 52 African entrepreneurs that have participated in the initiative.