BY DAYO ADESULU
The Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative has chosen APO Group Founder and Chairman Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard as a semi-final judge for this year’s prestigious competition “Africa’s Business Heroes”.
The ANPI organises Africa’s Business Heroes – now in its second year – a grassroots competition looking to spotlight and give a platform to entrepreneurs all over Africa, to showcase their business ideas and inspire others to do so.
The Jack Ma Foundation is committed to fostering African entrepreneurship and has brought in some of the continent’s most esteemed businesspeople and investors to help the search for Africa’s Business Heroes. Nicolas will be part of a select seven-judge panel who will interview candidates from a semi-final shortlist of 20 entrepreneurs based all over Africa.
In earlier qualification rounds, more than 150 prominent African business leaders acted as initial judges to whittle down more than 20,000 applicants to the final 50.
In the online semi-final, held on August 28th and 29th 2020, Nicolas will help to identify the ten finalists who will go forward to compete in a ‘pitch finale’ in front of Jack Ma himself, among others.
Nicolas has spent more than a decade at the forefront of African business. In 2007, he founded APO Group from his own living room using his own savings, and he has seen it grow into the leading pan-African communications and business consultancy, providing strategic advice to multinational organizations in diverse industries.
Now, in his role as Chairman of APO Group, Nicolas has committed to supporting the next generation of African entrepreneurs. In 2019, he embarked upon a series of conferences in some of Africa’s most prominent universities. He spoke about entrepreneurship, business and journalism to students in Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Ethiopia, and South Africa.
Nicolas is also a member of several Advisory Boards, including: the African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/), an organization that drives collaboration between African governments and the private sector in all areas of the energy industry; the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) (https://www.AHIF.com/), the premier hotel investment conference in Africa; and the EurAfrican Forum (https://www.EurAfricanForum.org/), an action-oriented platform that aims to foster stronger collaboration between Europe and Africa.
The ANPI prize launched last year, and the competition in 2020 is even bigger and better. The prize fund has increased from $1million to $1.5million, with each of the ten finalists receiving a share of it. The value of the Prize goes far beyond mere financial gain and represents an extraordinary platform where all participants, and not just the winners, have benefited from expertise and insights garnered within the ANPI community of business leaders.
More than 22,000 applicants representing all 54 African countries applied for the chance to be the next African Business Hero – more than double the number of entries in 2019.
In another change from last year, applicants were also able to submit their applications and hold selection interviews in French, further proof of the inclusive and pan-African spirit of the initiative. As a self-made Franco-Gabonese entrepreneur, Nicolas is well placed to help identify the very best of Francophone African start-ups and innovators.
“Jack Ma is at the very pinnacle of global entrepreneurship, so it is an honour to have been asked to judge this year’s semi-final of the ANPI competition,” said Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and Chairman of APO Group. “It is fantastic to see the Jack Ma Foundation investing so much energy into African entrepreneurship, and I am delighted to see such a high level of talent from this year’s applicants as we get ready to crown the next African Business Heroes.”