J-Palm CEO among 10 Finalists for Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative

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Among the 10 finalists is multiple award-winning Liberian entrepreneur, Mahmud Johnson (top, far right), Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of J-Palm.

The Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) has identified the top 10 finalists for its grand finale event taking place in Accra, Ghana on 16 November 2019. According to an ANPI release, the finalists were chosen from nearly 10,000 applicants from 50 African countries. During the grand finale, the ten finalists will compete in a pitch competition to win a share of $1 million USD in grant money.

Among the 10 finalists is multiple award-winning Liberian entrepreneur, Mahmud Johnson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of J-Palm.

J-Palm Liberia (JPL) was founded with the goal of making premium consumer goods while creating income-earning and employment opportunities through sustainable palm-oil production. When JPL was first founded, palm oil kernels had been going to waste in Liberia, but founder and CEO Mahmud Johnson found a way to innovate productive uses for this overlooked natural resource. Today, JPL has created a range of beauty and clean-energy products, built a robust network of partnerships across the country, and helped to create jobs for hundreds of Liberians. Mahmud holds a degree in economics from Dartmouth College and is a 2017 recipient of the Order of the Star of Africa conferred by the President of Liberia.

After months of judging and deliberation, the finalists were shortlisted and will now go on to pitch their business directly to four finale judges – Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation; Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group; Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and Founder/CEO of The Chair Centre Group; and Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group – during a televised finale event called “Africa’s Business Heroes”. The winners will receive a share of the $1 million USD grant prize pool.

The ANPI is a philanthropic initiative spearheaded by the Jack Ma Foundation aimed at supporting and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs across all sectors, who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future of the continent. For the next ten years, the ANPI will host the “Africa Business Heroes” show where ten finalists will compete in a pitch competition to win a share of $1 million USD in grant money.

The Jack Ma Foundation will host a full-day Africa Netpreneur Summit, an invitation-only conference where African and global entrepreneurs, investors, educators, and leaders will convene to discuss how best to enable entrepreneurship and the digital economy across the continent. Guest speakers at the conference will include Ban Ki-moon, Former UN Secretary General and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. The conference will be followed by the “Africa’s Business Heroes” event in the evening.

“We launched the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative to identify top entrepreneurs from across the continent, not only to reward them but to inspire a whole new generation of potential gamechangers for Africa. I have been inspired by the entrepreneurs I met in Africa, many of whom are dealing with the same challenges we faced when we started Alibaba years ago. I truly believe the potential of Africa’s business heroes is limitless,” said Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation.

“Africa’s Business Heroes” will air on November 29. More details of how to tune in to the program will be released in the coming weeks. Highlights from the Africa Netpreneur Summit will also be shared via ANPI social media handles. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The diverse group of 10 finalists represent a range of industries and experience.

Waleed Abd El Rahman is CEO of Mumm (Egypt), a virtual cafeteria for businesses, harnessing the power of shared economy through technology, cloud kitchens and an online marketplace for home-based entrepreneurial cooks. Waleed is a seasoned entrepreneur with 12+ years in food tech. He is also the former founding managing director of MIT Technology Review-Middle East and a member of the Advisory Committee of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community.

Ayodeji Arikawe is co-founder of Thrive Agric (Nigeria) an agricultural technology-enabled company that works with smallholder farmers to enable them with greater access to finance, as well as improve their income and harvest distribution. Today, Thrive Agric works with 22,000 farmers in Nigeria, but the company is aiming to build the largest network of farmers in Africa. They are on a mission to “build an Africa that feeds the world and Itself.” Ayodeji is an accomplished software engineer and serves as both co-founder and CTO for Thrive Agric.

Temie Giwa-Tubosun is the founder and CEO of LifeBank (Nigeria), a medical distribution company that uses data and technology to help health workers discover critical medical products. The company has saved over 5,300 lives in Nigeria. Founder Temie has over 10 years of health-management experience with Department for International Development, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and Lagos State. In 2014, BBC listed her as one of the 100 women changing the world. She was also recognized by Quartz and the World Economic Forum.

Kevine Kagirimpundu is co-founder and CEO of UZURI K&Y (Rwanda) an African-inspired ecofriendly shoe brand established in Rwanda. Kevine is the co-founder and CEO of UZURI K&Y, and she is passionate about ending global waste while also leveraging her creativity to create employment opportunities for her community. UZURI has made a direct impact on more than 750 people through employment and skills training. In addition to obtaining her degree in creative design, she has participated in numerous entrepreneurship programs to enhance her skills in business development. In 2017, she was recognized as the winner of the Made in Rwanda Enterprise of the Year.

Other finalists include Christelle Kwizera, founder, Water Access Rwanda (Rwanda); Dr. Tosan J. Mogbeyiteren, founder, Black Swan (Nigeria); Chibuzo Opara, co-founder, DrugStoc (Nigeria); Dr. Omar Sakr, founder and CEO, Nawah-Scientific (Egypt) and Moulaye Taboure, co-founder and CEO, Afrikrea (Cote D’Ivoire).

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