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10 African entrepreneurs earn prizes from Alibaba

By EDITH MUTETHYA | China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-19 09:23

People walk past an Alibaba Group sign in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, on May 10, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Temie Giwa-Tubosum's observations of mothers giving birth under hazardous circumstances, along with her own traumatic delivery experience five years go, planted an idea for reducing maternal deaths. She founded Life Bank Nigeria, a medical logistics company shortly afterward.

The company helps hospitals find critical medical supplies such as blood products, oxygen and vaccines and to receive them on time and in good condition. The company said it has so far saved almost 6,000 lives.

She plans to use the money to expand the business to save thousands of lives in several cities across Nigeria.

Giwa-Tubosum's dream to save more lives got a shot in the arm last week when her company received a $250,000 prize. Life Bank Nigeria surfaced as the top startup in the Africa Netpreneur Initiative during the Africa Business Heroes show held in Ghana's capital Accra.

Omar Shoukry Sakr, the founder of Nawah Scientific, an Egyptian multidisciplinary research center serving the natural and medical sciences, was the second-placed prizewinner, walking away with $150,000.

Christelle Kwazera, at 25, the youngest finalist, was awarded $100,000. Kwazera runs Water Access Rwanda, a social enterprise committed to eradicating water scarcity by providing technologies for easier access to water.

The other seven finalists each went home with $65,000 which they said they will use to scale their businesses.

Kwazera thanked Jack Ma, the founder of the African Netprenuer Prize, for not only providing a platform for African entrepreneurs to grow their business but also for letting them use his name to build their credibility.

Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, said in choosing the top winner, judges looked for a business that was simple, had impact and was profitable.

Ma said the business models of the winners could serve as model startups for others.

He challenged the winners to stay focused, noting that entrepreneurs often tend to get distracted when they are successful.

"Don't worry about competitors, it's not the way you run but the way you stay good. Entrepreneurs don't cry. They make competitors cry," he said.

The Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative is Ma's flagship entrepreneur program in Africa, led by the Jack Ma Foundation. The competition aims to award $10 million to 100 African entrepreneurs over the next 10 years.

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