Nigeria’s LifeBank Bank Wins $250,000 in Jack Ma’s Netpreneur Africa Prize

LifeBank, a Nigerian health technology start-up that supplies blood and other essential medical supplies to hospitals, received $250,000 after being named the winner of the first Africa Netpreneur Award.

The prize is an initiative of Alibaba’s founder and former executive chairman, Jack Ma, and will provide $10 million to 100 African entrepreneurs over the next 10 years. It aims to support small business growth, grassroots innovation and women founders (see this story).

As part of the initiative, the Jack Ma Foundation will each year host an annual pitch competition, with 10 finalists selected from across the continent to showcase their talent and business ideas and compete for $1-million in prize money.

LifeBank founder Temie Tubosun was also awarded the Africa Business Hero Award

LifeBank, which was founded in 2016 by Temie Tubosun (pictured above), was last Saturday (16 November) named the winner of the initiative’s inaugural pitching competition at an event held in Accra, Ghana.

Tubosun was also awarded the Africa Business Hero Award.

Egypt’s Nawah-Scientific and Water Access Rwanda were placed second and third, taking home $150 000 and $100 000, respectively.

The other seven finalists were each awarded $65 000. They are MummThrive AgricJ-PalmUzuri K&YBlack SwanDrugStoc, and Afrikrea (see this story for more on the finalists).

The winners were selected by a panel of judges that included Ma, Alibaba executive vice-chairman Joe Tsai, Econet Group founder and executive chairman Strive Masiyiwa and The Chair Centre Group founder and CEO as well as First Bank of Nigeria chairman Ibukun Awosika.

“It was an incredible honor to be named Africa’s Business Hero. I was truly inspired by my fellow winners at today’s Netpreneur Summit. The Africa Netpreneur Prize will give me the resources to grow LifeBank and expand our presence in Nigeria and throughout the rest of Africa. I look forward to continuing my journey to solve problems and make a significant impact on the future of Africa,” she said.

LifeBank founder Temie Giwa-Tubosun during her pitch to judges at the Africa Netpreneur Prize finale in Accra, Ghana, on Nov. 16, 2019.

Giwa-Tubosun decided to launch LifeBank after a difficult child birth while visiting her parents in the U.S., in 2014. A postpartum hemorrhage caused extensive blood loss, a condition that may have killed her in her native Nigeria. That realization prompted her to build a business that would deliver blood – as well as oxygen, platelets, plasma and vaccines – to hospitals to help reduce these risks for other patients.

“LifeBank is really about delivering critical medical supplies when they’re needed. We like to say that we stand in between death and quite a lot of people in Nigeria,” she said. “So, this [prize] is just validation for the critical work that we do.”

Ma was inspired to create the contest during his first trip to Africa, in 2017, after meeting entrepreneurs who he said had the same energy and passion that he had when launching Alibaba nearly 20 years before. While few people were willing or able to help Ma and his team in 1999, he said that he was now in a position to help Africa’s entrepreneurs and committed to doing so.

READ MORE:Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative Announces Its Ten Finalists for the $1m Prize

Contestants in the Africa Netpreneur Prize finale faced tough questions from the judges, which included Jack Ma, Alibaba Group Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai, Econet Group founder and Executive Chairman Strive Masiyiwa and First Bank of Nigeria Chairman and The Chair Centre Group founder Ibukun Awosika.

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