Jack Ma picks Nailab to run Sh1bn Africa grant

Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma
Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma has picked Kenya’s start-up incubator Nailab to run a Sh1 billion African entrepreneurs funding programme.

The plan targets innovators churning out digital solutions that address challenges and strengthen the continent’s digital economy.

Nailab is set to work closely with the Jack Ma Foundation team and other innovation hubs in rolling out the “Netpreneur Prize” across the continent. Nailab will also help identify other critical partners on the continent that will help roll out the program. The Chinese business magnate and Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma launched the fund on Wednesday during a conference in South Africa.

The Sh1 billion kitty will award 100 African entrepreneurs over the next 10 years.

The Jack Ma Foundation will from next year host annual pitch competition for the shortlisted 10 best business ideas.

The best business idea will take home Sh100 million in prize money with the rest receiving grant funding from the foundation and have access to Netpreneur’s network of business leaders.

"This is one of those opportunities that we believe and know will create a network of entrepreneurs that not only showcase the African startups but will help tell the African startup stories as they drive change in the continent," said Nailab Founder and chief executive officer, Sam Gichuru.