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Despite tough economic times around the world, emerging small businesses in Africa are still enjoying unprecedented opportunity thanks to rapidly developing domestic and export markets, continued gross domestic product growth, and record levels of foreign direct investment. A new generation of African entrepreneurs are helping Africa move from a recipient of development aid to a mainstream economic player.
On Nov. 19, the winners of an annual contest to identify the continent's best small- to medium-size businesses were announced at a ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda. Winners of the 2008 Pioneers of Prosperity Africa Awards received cash grants to grow their businesses ($100,000 for the Grand Prize, $50,000 for the five other winners). The contest, sponsored by Dubai-based investment group Legatum and three other organizations drew more than 1,400 applicants this year from 10 African countries.
Click on to meet the 10 finalists and six winners, and the entrepreneurs behind the companies.