Jack Ma of China’s Alibaba Group Holding. Photo: (Xinhua/Martin Zabala) (ma) (da) (axy)
NAIROBI – The Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (APNI) on Monday announced that applications for its flagship competition for digital entrepreneurs in the continent funded by Jack Ma Foundation, will start in March. 

APNI said in a statement released in Nairobi it will be hosting an annual contest for Africa's technology-based enterprises in the next decade where 10 finalists will compete for 100 million shillings in total prize money. 

"The Netpreneur Prize Initiative has brought together a strong ecosystem of players to support both technology driven and traditional businesses," said Sam Gichuru, Founder and chief executive of Nairobi-based innovation hub Nailab. 

"We look forward to unveiling the full slate of regional partners and to receiving applications from promising African entrepreneurs in the coming weeks," he said. 

The Jack Ma's funded contest worth $10 million is primarily focused on empowering the next generation of African technology-based start-ups whose founders are either women or youth. 

The 10 finalists are expected to receive grant funding from Jack Ma Foundation alongside access to the Netpreneur community of African business leaders to help leverage on shared expertise, best practices and resources. 

"By 2030, we hope to identify and shine the spotlight on 100 African entrepreneur heroes who will inspire the continent. From day one, our approach has been community-based and focused on inclusiveness, to be true for Africans and by Africans," said Beth of APNI. 

"To realize these goals, we are excited to work with Nailab as our implementing partner in Africa and multiple African partners across the continent," she added. The African digital entrepreneurs' prize is open to innovators and start-up founders across all industry sectors in the continent's 54 countries. 

Female and young entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for the prize before the June deadline to be followed by an announcement of top 50 regional finalists in August and final 10 finalists in October. 

The grand finale pitch event will be held in November when the overall winner of Africa's technology entrepreneur prize contest will be announced.