KIGALI - A Kenyan-based horticulture company, AAA Growers, which processes and exports vegetables, has won the Legatum Pioneers of Prosperity Africa Award.
The award-giving ceremony was held at Serena Hotel, Kigali on Friday evening
Amid cheers from hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors that turned up for the ceremony, President Paul Kagame handed a cheque of $ 100,000 (Approx. Frw 54 million) to the Kenyan firm.
Rwandan entrepreneurs featured most in the finals of the competition that drew 450 companies from the East African region.
The competition saw only six companies awarded and a Rwandan enterprise, Enterprise Urwibutse, commonly known as Nyirangarama scooped the second position with an award of $50,000 (approx Frw 27.2 million).
Enterprise Urwibutse is a local company based in the Northern Province, and it produces and processes local raw materials mainly fruits and vegetables into juice, and hot pepper which are all on the international market.
Other winners included Good African Coffee from Uganda, KenCall (Kenya), Rwanda’s Digital System Television Service (DSTV) and mobile TV supplier Tele-10, and Virtual City from Kenya. They scooped $50,000 each.
President Kagame called on the winners to invest more in human capacity development across the region.
“I urge you (winners) to use the money in investing and expanding businesses and to employee more East Africans,” Kagame said.
“If I were to be asked to rate the winners I would say excellent to all,” he said
He challenged the Rwandan business community to think beyond the national and East Africa borders and start targeting the international market.
Sponsors included Legatum, a private firm that invests in capital markets and initiatives.
During the screening process, Legatum targeted outstanding small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) that serve as role models for innovation and successful entrepreneurship.Other sponsors of the awards are On The Frontier (OTF) and John Templeton Foundation.
The Managing Director of Legatum, Alan McCornmick said: “the awards mark the vibrancy of African entrepreneurs and demonstrates that Africa is open for business.”
He added: “Choosing a winner from such a talented and crowded field was not an easy task, we were looking for a world-class business led by a strong management, committed not only upholding highest standards of corporate behaviors, but also growing their business aggressively.”
Africa’s full of success stories are not yet told to the western world, McCornmick said.
The OTF regional Director, Eric Kacou said ingenuity and innovation form within Africa are the key to continent’s future prosperity.
A global jury led by investor Dr. Manu Chandaria who was thrice voted Africa’s most respected investor selected the winners. The jury chaired also had representatives of OTF, John Templeton Foundation, and Legatum.