Jack Ma invites Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard to help choose Africa’s next Business Heroes


For the second consecutive year, Jack Ma has invited Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard to be a semi-final judge for the prestigious Africa’s Business Heroes 2021 competition.

Nicolas will join six other judges in the task of whittling 20 semi-finalists down to just ten – who will then go forward to take part in a televised ‘pitch finale’ to win a share of a prize pool worth $1.5m.

The Jack Ma Foundation launched Africa’s Business Heroes in 2019. Now in its third year, the competition’s mission is to inspire a new movement of African entrepreneurship by showcasing local men and women who are creating positive impact in their communities and beyond. The long-term vision of the Jack Ma Foundation is to provide grant funding, training programs, and broader support for more than 100 African entrepreneurs over the course of a decade. 

More than 12,000 candidates from all over Africa applied for this year’s competition, and the semi-final promises to be the most diverse ever, with 11 countries represented across a wide spectrum of key business sectors. 45% of the Top 20 are women, and the average age of the group is just 34. 

The semi-final judges will test each entrepreneur’s vision, business plan, and ability to clearly articulate how their businesses can generate positive impact for their local communities. 

Nicolas and APO Group share the Jack Ma Foundation’s commitment to championing Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs. In 2019, Nicolas 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 Canada-Africa Chamber of Business, an independent, not-for-profit organization with strong working links with both Canadian and African governments; the African Energy Chamber, an organization that fosters greater collaboration between African governments and the private sector in all areas of the energy industry; the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), the premier hotel investment conference in Africa; and the EurAfrican Forum, an action-oriented platform that aims to foster stronger collaboration between Europe and Africa.

APO Group was founded by Nicolas in 2007, and he has seen it grow from a tiny organization based in his living room, into the leading pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service, providing strategic advice to hundreds of multinational organizations in diverse industries.

“I have experienced first-hand how challenging it can be to thrive as an entrepreneur in Africa, but it is also exciting and extremely rewarding,” Nicolas said. “The Jack Ma Foundation is giving an unprecedented opportunity to talented entrepreneurs from all over our continent. Through this fantastic initiative, the finalists will get the chance to pitch their ideas to some of the best business brains on the planet. It is a privilege to be asked to be a part of the wonderful Africa’s Business Hero competition once again.”

For more information on the 2021 Top 20, please visit the ABH official website (