In its seventh year since establishment, AAE is today the most distinguished Africa-focused awards programme, that each year gives over USD 200,000 prize money to outstanding African entrepreneurs who demonstrate business excellence and social impact. The AAE Gala Ceremony was held as part of the ALN Annual Gathering, currently taking place at the One & Only Le St. Geran Resort in Mauritius. Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives, is sponsoring the awards for the fourth consecutive year.
This year's winners are an impressive mix of companies from four African countries with business operations in economic sectors including manufacturing, technology, FMCG, agriculture, automotive and social development. By category, these are:
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Manilal Premchand Chandaria, OBE, EBS is the winner for this year's award. One of the most accomplished industrialists and entrepreneurs in Africa, Dr. Chandaria is the chairman and CEO of Comcraft Group, a billion dollar industrial sector conglomerate with business operations in over 40 countries.
- Transformational Business Award: Interswitch Limited (Nigeria) is an integrated payment and transaction processing company that provides technology integration, advisory services, transaction-processing and payment infrastructure to government, banks and corporate organisations -www.www.interswitchng.com
- Outstanding Mature Business Award:QuantumNet (Gambia), Gambia's first and largest Internet Service Provider (ISP), leading distributor of global technology brands and luxury vehicles, with business operations in Gambia and Sierra Leone (www.gbos.gm)
- Outstanding Small and Growing Business Award: Guanomad (Madagascar), a company that produces and supplies natural fertilizers and organic manures from bat droppings in Madagascar's caves for use in organic agriculture - www.guanomad.com
- Outstanding Social Entrepreneur Award: Sustainable Development For All (Kenya), a company that aims to improve livelihoods and education in areas without electricity, by providing households with solar energy -www.sustainabledevelopmentforall.org
"ALN's single mission is to promote prosperity in Africa by promoting entrepreneurship, and these winners represent the very avant garde of dynamic African entrepreneurs across the continent, who each day unveil a confident, affirming and prosperous future for the continent. By spotlighting them through the AAE, we aim to position them as role models to inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs and accelerate Africa's take-off."
Since its inception in 2007, the awards recognise entrepreneurs who demonstrate business excellence, innovation and profitability. The awards have since attracted more than 7,000 applications from African businesses and awarded prizes of over USD 1.5 million to 30 leading companies.
Commenting on the announcement of the finalists, Malik Fal, managing director of Omidyar Network Africa, says:
"We are honoured to support the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship and to celebrate this year's winners, each demonstrating the courage and determination needed to create positive change on the continent. While a culture of entrepreneurship is growing in Africa, the value of role models such as these cannot be underestimated. At Omidyar Network we believe entrepreneurs are central to driving prosperity. It is very encouraging to see these powerful examples of high-potential, innovation-driven entrepreneurs who are shaping a more promising future."
The 12 finalists were arrived at after a rigorous screening process focused on the soundness of the business model, financial health, integrity of business practices, and the contribution to socio-economic development by a panel of judges, made of five eminent business leaders.
This year's judges were Kofo Akinkugbe, managing director and CEO, Secure ID Nigeria and winner of the 2012 AAE Outstanding Mature Business Award; Tunde Folawiyo, managing director of Yinka Folawiyo Power; Robyn Calder, director, Programme Development at Elma Philanthropies; and Michael Larbie, head of Africa Investment Banking and Coverage, Rand Merchant Bank, and CEO RMB West Africa, who chaired the panel of judges.