3 Kenyan startups get share of Sh160m from Jack Ma charity


Co-founder of China’s Alibaba Jack Ma. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Three Kenyan entrepreneurs have been shortlisted in line for a slice of the Sh161.6 million ($1.5 million) funding from the Jack Ma Foundation.

Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative selected 50 candidates who will go through two more rounds of interviews and pitches for a chance at the prize money.

The initiative saw over 22,000 applications received from all 54 African nations in the fields of agriculture, AI, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare, renewable energy and ICT.

The three Kenyans are Chebet Lesan of BrightGreen Renewable Energy — a firm creating eco-friendly heating fuels such as briquettes, John Magiro of Magiro Mini Hydro Power — a firm providing off-grid access to electricity in Murang’a county — and Karl Murage of MamaSafi.

The selection process for the 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes finalists include round two interviews and the semi-finale pitch.

The top 20 and top 10 finalists will be announced in August and September respectively. The top 10 finalists will take the stage to pitch to business legends – including Jack Ma (below) – for a chance to win their share of a $1.5 million prize pool.

Over the past month, a panel of 140 judges reviewed the submissions, evaluating applicants’ leadership and vision, their ability to translate their innovations and ideas into sustainable and robust business models, and their commitment to create positive impact to uplift their communities.

The 50 selected will be invited to join an exclusive virtual boot camp hosted by the Africa’s Business Heroes team on July 28.