Alibaba founder Jack Ma on Friday launched the Jack Ma Foundation ‘Netpreneur’ Prize.
The new program is created to support and fund African entrepreneurs who are working to address Africa’s most important challenges and further its digital economy through local entrepreneurship.
The prize was announced at the “Netpreneurs: The Rise of Africa’s Digital Lions” conference.
The Netpreneur Prize will award $10 million (R133 million) to 100 African entrepreneurs over the next 10 years.
Starting in 2019, the Jack Ma Foundation will host an annual pitch competition, with ten finalists selected from across the continent to
showcase their talent and business ideas and compete for $1 Million in prize money.
While the competition will be open to entrepreneurs in all industries, Ma expects many of the applicants to be founders of businesses that are internet-driven given the open and inclusive impact technology can have on local economies.
Applications for the first pitch competition will be open from January 2019 until April 2019, and the finalist pitch competition will be held and broadcast across Africa in the second half of 2019. The program will be offered across the continent through a lead continental partner, Nailab, and other regional hub partners.
“As a fellow entrepreneur, I understand the importance of getting support during the early days. This prize demonstrates our support of the next generation of young entrepreneurs across Africa who are paving the way for a better future and imparting
“I am inspired and encouraged by these entrepreneurs who, together, will help build a sustainable, inclusive economy for Africa and for the world.”
The Netpreneur Prize is the second initiative launched by Jack Ma to support African entrepreneurs.
Last year, Alibaba Business School and UNCTAD announced the
Fellowship Initiative, a program that will train 1,000 entrepreneurs from emerging markets, 200 of whom will come from Africa, with the purpose of building a community of young entrepreneurs committed to creating digital platforms to build more inclusive economies.
This program supports the aims of the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring no one is left behind in the digital economy. To date, 52 African entrepreneurs have participated in this two-week fellowship at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China