Nigerian entrepreneur Ikpeme Neto clinched the 2023 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize during the grand finale held in the Rwandan capital of Kigali on Friday evening.
The founder and chief executive officer of WellaHealth, a healthcare technology firm that enhances healthcare access in Africa through innovative care pathways and cost-effective technology, impressed the panel of judges with his entrepreneurial journey and WellaHealth’s impactful role in increasing healthcare accessibility and improving lives across the continent.
Reflecting on his journey, Ikpeme, who originally trained as a doctor, emphasized his commitment to addressing healthcare challenges in Africa. “Our future is that of saving tens of millions of Africans with great access to healthcare. We are currently in Nigeria, but we aim to expand across Africa to ensure everyone has good access to healthcare.”
In a piece of advice to fellow entrepreneurs, Ikpeme emphasized resilience. “The only time you fail as an entrepreneur is when you give up. You can switch businesses, tactics, channels, but the real trick to success is just never giving up,” he said.
In second place was Kenyan national Thomas Njeru, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Pula Advisors Limited. His agricultural insure-tech company provides comprehensive coverage based on yield performance, safeguarding smallholder farmers against various perils such as drought, frost, floods, hurricanes, plant diseases, and pests.
Claiming the third position was Ayman Bazaraa, an Egyptian entrepreneur and the co-founder and chief executive officer of Sprints. Sprints offers an end-to-end solution to bridge the tech talent gap, encompassing talent assessment, customized learning journeys, job placement, and ongoing support for career growth.
The top three finalists emerged from a pool of 10 contenders, selected through rigorous semi-final business pitches and judging events. These entrepreneurs not only showcased their talent and business ideas but also served as inspiration for others considering entrepreneurship as a viable career option.
The finalists were selected from over 27,000 applicants across 54 African nations. Their start-ups span various sectors, including agriculture, education, energy, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.
The ABH competition, initiated in 2019, aims to identify, support, and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs dedicated to making a positive impact in their local communities, addressing pressing challenges, and contributing to building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future.