Founder Who Got Lion Share Of Jack Ma’s First-Ever Netpreneur Prize Touches The Skies, Literally

By  |  November 18, 2019

At the maiden edition of Jack Ma’s annual Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), Nigeria’s Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder and CEO, LifeBank, took home the lion share of the USD 1 Mn prize set aside by the Chinese billionaire to reward enterprising Africans who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future.

Last month, it became apparent that Nigerians are the favourites to clinch most of the spoils in the first-ever Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative. This was after four Nigerians were shortlisted among the 10 finalists in the competition.

And true to that, Giwa-Tubosun took home USD 250 K after coming in first place on a night when the Nigerian founder also revealed that medical logistics startup will be adding drone delivery to its methods of transportation. And that was before LifeBank made an official announcement via Twitter that it had completed its maiden drone flight in Ethiopia.

Going by the announcement, the startup is also the first African-led company to implement Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) flights for healthcare logistics.

Differing from Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) flights where the pilot has to see their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones at every point in time, BVLOS flights are big on drones going beyond the sight of the pilot without human interference. 

This means more reach into remote and previously inaccessible areas; an important feature for LifeBank which is focused on saving lives by providing hospitals with blood and medical lifesaving medical products on demand. And with last night’s freshly-minted USD 250 K in the kitty, the startup seems well placed to continue on that path.

The ANPI is a flagship initiative of the Jack Ma Foundation, created by Jack Ma after his first trip to Africa in 2017. The aim of the Prize is to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future. The Jack Ma Foundation has committed to running the competition for 10 years.

This year may have only been its first year but it still drew applications from up to 10,000 entrepreneurs from 50 countries across the continent.

The finale event, called “Africa’s Business Heroes,” was held in Accra, Ghana, where the top 10 finalists pitched their businesses directly to four prestigious judges including 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.

“It was an incredible honour to be named Africa’s Business Hero. I was truly inspired by my fellow winners at today’s Netpreneur Summit. The Africa Netpreneur Prize will give me the resources to grow LifeBank and expand our presence in Nigeria and throughout the rest of Africa. I look forward to continuing my journey to solve problems and make a significant impact on the future of Africa,” said Giwa-Tubosun, Founder and CEO of LifeBank after clinching the top prize.

Giwa-Tubosun may have carried the day but she won’t be the only African entrepreneur smiling to the bank. 

Dr. Omar Sakr, founder and CEO, Nawah-Scientific (Egypt) took home a cheque of USD 150 K after coming in second place. Christelle Kwizera of Rwanda’s Water Access came in third place, winning USD 100 K. The seven other finalists were each rewarded with USD 65 K for their efforts.

Jack Ma’s ANPI will host a pitch competition where 10 finalists from across the continent will compete for a share of USD 1 Mn in total prize money every year through 2028.

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