Health, agriculture, e-learning lead Africa’s future at 5th ABH Prize Competition

Doaa A.Moneim from Kigali, Rwanda, Saturday 25 Nov 2023

Ayman Bazaraa, CEO and co-Founder of Egypt-based e-learning and training solutions provider Sprints, won third place at the fifth edition of Africa's Business Heroes (ABH) Prize Competition, which concluded on Friday in the Rwandan capital Kigali.



Sprint is an end-to-end service with a mission to bridge the tech talent gap. The company assesses and pairs talent with top-paying jobs, delivers customized learning journeys, and supports its clients' career growth.

Another Egyptian contestant, Mohamed Ali, CEO and founder of I Lock, also made it into the top 10 list.

I Lock, known previously as Power Lock, is an electrical safety company with a global presence and a range of products, including electrical accessories, multi sockets, and cables.

Over two days, 10 innovative entrepreneurs pitched their businesses’ core mission and described how they contribute to changing lives in the communities where they work.

ABH’s top 10 finalists have achieved remarkable milestones, collectively raising over $153 million in investment, serving over 37.5 million customers and users, receiving $7 million in prize money, operating in 52 countries across Africa, creating over 123,000 direct and indirect jobs, and reporting revenues exceeding $252 million.

“Sprint believes itself to be the only social enterprise in the Middle East and Africa that offers guaranteed hiring programmes where graduates only pay upon successful hiring, in zero percent interest payments over three years. In four years, it delivered more than 50,000 learning experiences, graduated more than 15,000 learners, and delivered over 1.3 million learning hours in the 13 most-in-demand technology fields. Based on the programme’s objectives and duration, the company’s prices range from $50 up to $400," Bazaraa told Ahram Online.

I Lock’s Ali told Ahram Online that it has plans to expand its business into other African countries. Egypt is suffering severe economic challenges, especially the weakness of the local currency, that put pressure on local entrepreneurs and startup owners, he added.

Yet, expansion can help these businesses overcome these challenges to grow, according to Ali.

The first-place winner was Ikpeme Neto, CEO and founder of health insurance service provider Wellahealth Technologies, from Nigeria.

Wellahealth works to increase affordable healthcare access across Africa using technology. They have created a network of 2,000 healthcare providers linked to 27 insurance companies, leading banks, telcos, and a network of sales agents, solving the problem of healthcare fragmentation.

Wellahealth has served over 130,000 patients, and it makes over $100,000 a month.

The second-place winner was Thomas Njeru, CEO and co-founder of Kenya's agriculture insurance provider Pula Advisors Limited.

It utilizes innovative technology to assess damages quickly and provides digital tools and advice to improve farming practices. It leverages partnerships with governments, insurers, and reinsurers to foster better cooperation.

Pula also forms insurance consortiums for risk transfer to global markets. It aims to enable all African farmers to access insurance and achieve yields similar to those of developed economies, sustaining their livelihoods.

The remaining seven entrepreneurs include Ismael Belkhayat, CEO and founder of Chari from Morocco.

Chari helps traditional local businesses cope with competition from large and medium-sized stores. Chari digitalizes points of sale by allowing them to source online, benefit from payment terms, and offer financial services to their end consumers. Chari delivers for free and in less than 24 hours to the points of sale, whatever their location, in town or the countryside. Chari educates points of sale to better understand and use technology and contributes to their digital and financial inclusion.

The list also involves Nthabiseng Mosia, CMO and co-founder of Easy Solar company from South Africa.

The company finances high-quality solar systems and appliances for those with limited or no access to the conventional grid. Customers can pay in weekly or monthly installments via cash or mobile payment.

Easy Solar has reached one million people and distributes through its extensive network of more than 400 agents and outlets across Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Christina Gyisun is the CEO and co-founder of Sommalife Limited from Ghana.

Sommalife uses its cutting-edge TreeSyt software to connect over 50,000 rural smallholder farmers to global food and cosmetic manufacturers, who pay premium prices for their commodities (shea nuts, shea butter, and soybeans).

Bola Bardet is the CEO and co-founder of the online healthcare services application Susu from Benin.

Susu provides digitally enhanced, full-service, and innovative healthcare solutions for the African diaspora’s families back home by allowing health insurance and care to be financed from anywhere in the world.

Its care packages are specifically designed to help vulnerable persons deal with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and pregnancy. It offers a yearly subscription, paid monthly, for a predictable and affordable cost.

Albert Munyabugingo is the CEO and co-founder of Rwanda-based retail services provider Vuba Vuba.

Vuba Vuba is a Rwandan mobile app that provides a convenient solution for Kigali, Musanze, and Rubavu residents to order meals and daily essentials to their homes or offices. Since 2020, its team of 31 full-time employees, 100 delivery riders, and 50 part-time workers have delivered over a million orders and continues to reach an average of 1,000 deliveries per day.

Vuba Vuba stands out in the market by not charging extra fees on top of the regular prices of products, only adding a delivery fee of $1.

Theo Baloyi is the CEO and founder of Bathu, one of South Africa’s leading sneaker brands. The idea for Bathu shoes came to Baloyi when he realized that Africa had no sneaker brand that authentically told the African story.

Bathu employs over 400 people in 35 stores across the county. The Bathu Care initiative has distributed over 50,000 pairs of school shoes and aims to increase that number to one million over the next 10 years.

The ten finalists are awarded a total of $1.5 million in grant funding. The winner secures $300,000, the first runner-up $250,000, and the second runner-up $150,000. The remaining seven finalists each receive $100,000; the remaining $100,000 is distributed among all finalists for additional training programmes post-competition.

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