- They stand a chance to win up to $300,000 in grant funding
- Ketshephaone Jacob of The Bulb World made into the Top 10 in 2021
Two Batswana entrepreneurs have made it into the top 50 of the Africa Business Heroes (ABH), a charitable initiative of the Jack Ma Foundation founded by Chinese business magnate, investor and philanthropist, Jack Ma Yun.
Co-Founder of Conexus Proprietary Limited (Botswana), Melissa Tafila, and Founder of Deaftronics (Pty) Ltd (Botswana), Tendekayi Katsiga, are the two outstanding businesspeople who will represent Botswana alongside other entrepreneurs from other African countries.
The two were selected from a pool of 21,000 applications from across all 54 African countries who applied for the grant this year. Katsiga runs a company that assembles and provides solar rechargeable hearing aids and accessories and provides support services such as training and repairs. The goal is to make total hearing health a reality for underserved communities in the developing world.
Deaftronics developed the first rechargeable hearing aid battery, which lasts for two to three years and can be used in 80 percent of hearing aids on the market today. It is solar powered and can be charged via the sun, household light, or a cell phone plug. The company has also developed mobile application, which allows for hearing screening assessments known as mDREET.
At Conexus Tafila aims to improve the quality of education in Botswana and beyond. The company specialises in technology-driven educational products and services and has since collaborated with Orange Botswana to introduce ATLEGA Mobile Education. ATLEGA is a student-centred inclusive learning environment that addresses the need for continuous access to learning materials. In addition to the two Batswana entrepreneurs Botswana, other countries are represented as follows: Nigeria 13, Egypt 10, South Africa 4, Kenya 4, Tanzania 3, Somalia 2, Ethiopia 2, Uganda 1, Rwanda 1, Malawi 1, Madagascar 1, Guinea 1, Ghana 1, Cameroon 1, Burundi 1, Burkina Faso 1, and Benin 1.
Now in its 4th edition, the ABH annually awards grant funding to 10 outstanding African startup founders as follows: the winner receives $300,000, the 1st Runner-Up receives $250,000, the 2nd Runner-Up receives $150,000 while 7 others in the Top 10 each receives $100,000. The remaining $100,000 is split among all the top 10 finalists on top of other business connections and support. ABH aims at enabling entrepreneurs to not only build successful businesses but to also run mission-driven organisations that generate growth for their local communities across Africa.
The 50 entrepreneurs are currently undergoing several rounds of evaluation panels leading up to the Grand Finale in November where 10 outstanding finalists will share the grant of US$1.5 million in addition to training, mentorship and access to a community of international leaders and innovators, industry experts, investors and accelerators. In 2021, Ketshephaone Jacob, Founder and CEO of The Bulb World, a Selebi-Phikwe-based LED light manufacturing company, made into the top 10 of the competition.