Africa’s best recognised at 5th AABLA awards

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The overall winners of the 5th All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) in Partnership with CNBC Africa Grand Final were revealed at a gala dinner held in Sandton, South Africa on November 13.

Renowned for identifying excellence in business on the African continent, the AABLA Awards recognise the challenges and diversity of the African business arena, and the All Africa awards celebrate the overall champions of business who have shaped the continents business landscape.

The event started with a special recognition by media partner Forbes Woman Africa, who, having awarded Wendy Appelbaum the Forbes Woman Africa Business Woman of the Year award in September, went on to recognise her as the Forbes Woman Africa Woman of the Year for 2015. Appelbaum is the only person in the history of Forbes Africa and Forbes Woman Africa to have appeared on both covers.

The evening commenced with awarding the All Africa Young Business Leader of the Year to Edha Nahdi, CEO of Amsons Group. Nteff Alain, Co-founder of The Gifted Mom and John Nicolakakis, CEO of Romans Pizza were also remarkable finalists in this category. In his thank you speech, Nahdi went on to thank his staff for their role in getting him to where he is now.

Jason Xenopoulos, CEO of NATIVE walked away as All Africa Entrepreneur of the Year Presented by Sea Harvest, contending fellow finalists Obinna Ekezie, Founder of Wakanow.com and Julian Kyula, CEO and Founder of Mode. In his thank you speech, Xenopoulos highlighted an observation by Brain Games host Jason Silva, whose #RedefineBillionaire campaign proposed that “Billionaire” should mean helping a billion people instead of making a billion in monetary terms.

The All Africa Business Leader of the Year Presented by Bosch saw three outstanding businessmen competing for the high-profile title, which was ultimately awarded to Segun Agbaje, CEO and Managing Director of GTBank. Agbaje was nominated in this category alongside Dr Johan van Zyl, Group Chief Executive of Sanlam and James Mworia, CEO of Centum Investment Company Limited. In his acceptance speech, Agbaje did not hold back in highlighting the blessings of being born in Africa and the potential of the continent as a global player.

The title of All Africa Business Woman of the Year went to Louisa Mojela and Gloria Serobe of WIPHOLD. They competed against Adepeju Adebajo, Managing Director of WAPCO Operations, Lafarge Africa Plc and Gina Din-Kariuki, Chair of Gina Din Group. Accepting the joint-award on behalf of Serobe, Mojela highlighted the importance of women in business and on the continent.

Wendy Ackerman of The Ackerman Foundation received the All Africa Philanthropist of the Year – one of two new awards added to the line-up. The category was introduced at the 2015 AABLA to recognise those who seek to promote the welfare of others and to encourage more benevolence on the continent. Ackerman was nominated alongside Fred Swaniker, Founder of the African Leadership Academy and Tanzanian businessman, Mohammed Dewji, Group CEO of MeTL Group.

In her thank you speech, Ackerman noted: “The future, I’m quite sure, is Africa.”

Aliko Dangote, Chairman and CEO of the Dangote Group became the first in AABLA history to be named the All Africa Industrialist of the Year Presented by the IDC. In 2011, Dangote won Africa Business Leader of the Year and Africa Entrepreneur of the Year at the inaugural AABLA. As a new category to the AABLA, set on promoting beneficiation and manufacturing on the continent, the Industrialist category winner was selected by the judges as a key contributor to driving economic growth through a multitude of businesses. Rachmat Thomas of Chic Shoe Manufacturing and Dr. Benson Wairegi of Britam were nominated alongside Dangote.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the All Africa Lifetime Achievement Award in association with the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, awarded to Dr Christo Wiese, for his diverse achievements predominantly in the retail sector over the period of a lifetime.

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