After two days of fierce competition among 2o Africa innovators and disruptors at the just concluded Africa’s Business Heroes Semi-Finals in the green city of Kigali, three female-led startups emerged among the top 10 finalists. They are Bola Bardet, CEO and Co-Founder of Susu (Ivory Coast), Christina Gyisun, CEO and Co-Founder of Sommalife Limited (Ghana), and Nthabiseng Mosia, CMO and Co-Founder of Easy Solar (Sierra Leone).
These three women operate in healthcare, agriculture and energy and will compete with seven other founders at the ABH Grand Finale. They represent 30 percent of the female gender inclusion in this year’s top ten and are operating unique business models that make them disruptors in their various industries and countries.
Bola Bardet is making healthcare accessible and affordable for Africans through Susu. Her company provides a combination of healthcare packages and insurance that can be financed by Africans in the diaspora for relatives back home. Currently, Susu operates in three francophone African countries: Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Gabon. Bardet is from Benin Republic, but her business operates primarily from Cote d’Ivoire.
Ghana’s Christina Gyisun is using cutting-edge technology to create value for smallholder farmers and the stakeholders who engage them through Sommalife. The company resources rural smallholder farmers to increase the quality and quantity of their commodities and connects them to global food and cosmetic manufacturers, who pay premium prices.
Nthabiseng Mosia’s Easy Solar provides financing on high-quality solar systems and appliances for those with limited or no access to the conventional grid in Sierra Leone. Customers can finance their purchases over time by paying in weekly or monthly instalments, with the option to pay via cash or mobile payment. Mosia is South African but operates Easy Solar in Sierra Leone.
Other innovators who made it to the top 10 list include Ayman Bazaraa, CEO and Co-Founder of Sprints (Egypt), Andrew Takyi-Appiah, Founder of Zeepay Ghana Limited (Ghana), Thomas Njeru, CEO and Co-Founder of Pula Advisors Limited (Kenya), Ismael Belkhayat, CEO and Founder of Chari (Morocco), Ikpeme Neto, CEO and Founder of Wellahealth Technologies (Nigeria), Munyabugingo, CEO and Co-Founder of Vuba Vuba Africa Ltd (Rwanda) and Theo Baloyi, CEO and Founder of Bathu (South Africa).
As it is the culture, this year’s top 10 finalists will go head-to-head at the ABH Grand Finale for a share of $1.5 million in grant money in Kigali come November 2023. While the winner takes home $300,000, the first runner-up leaves with$250,000 and the second runner-up $150,000. The remaining seven finalists would each receive $100,000, and the remaining $100,000 is split among all finalists for additional training programs after the competition.
About Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH)
Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) is the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program in Africa to support entrepreneurs. In 2019, the Jack Ma Foundation established the first ABH Prize Competition, a charitable initiative that annually identifies, trains and supports outstanding African entrepreneurs with a $1.5 million grant.
Over a 10-year period, the program will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and provide grant funding, training programs and other support for the broad African entrepreneurial ecosystem. Jack Ma, the Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation, created the prize after he made his first trip to Africa in 2017 and was inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial potential of the young people he met.