Nigerian blood delivery startup LifeBank wins Jack Ma’s Netpreneur Prize

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Nigerian blood delivery startup LifeBank has secured US$250,000 in grant funding after winning the Netpreneur Prize run by the Jack Ma Foundation.

The Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) was created by Alibaba founder Jack Ma after his first trip to Africa in 2017, and aims to support the next generation of African entrepreneurs.

Ten finalists were named last month for the competition after it received applications from nearly 10,000 entrepreneurs from 50 countries to secure a share of US$1 million in prize money. These finalists pitched their solutions in front of a judging panel comprised of Ma, Econet Group’s Strive Masiyiwa, First Bank Nigeria chairman Ibukun Awosika and Alibaba executive vice chairman Joe Tsai at an event in Accra, Ghana, last week.

Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of LifeBank, was named in first place, taking home US$250,000 in prize money. Founded in 2016, the Lagos-based startup offers an online platform that connects hospitals with blood banks, and blood banks with donors. Having until now used motorcycles, LifeBank announced at the event it had now added drones as a delivery option on its platform.

“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,” said Giwa-Tubosun.

Second place went to Dr Omar Sakr, founder and CEO of research platform Nawah-Scientific, who took home US$150,000, while third place went to Christelle Kwizera, founder of Water Access Rwanda, who secured US$100,000.

The remaining finalists, each receiving US$65,000, were Mumm (Egypt), Thrive Agric (Nigeria, J-Palm (Liberia), UZURI K&Y (Rwanda), Black Swan (Nigeria), DrugStoc (Nigeria), and Afrikrea (Ivory Coast).

Ma said all the finalists should be an inspiration for Africa and for the world. 

“Each of these entrepreneurs looked at big challenges facing their communities, and saw them as opportunities,” he said. “It is my strong belief that entrepreneur heroes, like these finalists, will change the world – creating companies that drive inclusive growth and opportunity for the continent. Everyone is a winner tonight.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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