These Ten Ugandan Startups Have Been Selected To Pitch At This Year’s Seedstars Kampala

Determined To Reform Egypt’s Art Scene – This Young Team Is Creating An eCommerce Platform For Artwork

Nzekwe Henry July 10

From a historical and archaeological perspective, Egypt’s reputation as the cradle of civilization can be considered to be both unrivaled and unmatched in a lot of respects. From the revered Sphinx, to the famous pyramids, to fine pieces of arts, and even the much-vaunted trapdoors and tunnels leading up to scores of Mummy-laden tombs believed to hold the remains of ancient Pharaohs, the North African nation’s ascent to the helm of global affairs, at certain points in history, appear to have been enmeshed with some flawless displays of artistry and architecture.

But fast-forward a few hundred years down the line from the era of ancient Egyptian dominance, and out went the “Art-Decor era.” In its stead, in came a chain of historical events; most notably, The Renaissance Era, The First Industrial Revolution, The Oil Boom, The Second Industrial Revolution, The New Millenium, and most recently, the Era of Globalization and Digitization. A lot appears to have changed since Alexander The Great and Cleopatra, but Egypt’s culture remains rooted in arts and crafts. And three young Egyptian entrepreneurs, straight out of college, are making headway towards exploring the potential of arts in putting the country back in contention for global reckoning and recognition (in an era where economic, infrastructural and social development is the yardstick).

This time around, the approach is different. Nothing outlandish or ostentatious; no gigantic Sphinx, no enormous pyramids, hardly any hidden trap doors or intricate nexus of tunnels that lead up to tombs or treasure chests. The current paradigm, as pioneered by these prodigious talents, is looking to incorporate entrepreneurship via arts, as a means to empower individuals and improve the country’s economy.

Their creation, Flareinn, could be considered as one of the first of its kind in the country and it represents a break from the norm. Founded in 2017, the e-commerce platform is looking to become Egypt’s go-to online marketplace for art. Flareinn targets young artists and provides artworks to customers at decent bargains. The platform provides artists with personalized accounts, which act as a shopping gallery for their pieces. The artists that are registered on the platform have the creative control over the pricing with the help of the pricing guide featured on the website. Flareinn does the job of ensuring the quality of the art pieces by subjecting them to thorough scrutiny before featuring them on the platform. The startup also charges between 20-35% commission on every artwork sale. With features which supports the easy showcase, convenient purchase, and doorstep delivery of the finest pieces of art from some of the country’s most promising artists, it is tailored to meet the needs of the creators, curators, and collectors of art. And it could not have come at a better time.

In recent times, entrepreneurship has been identified as a veritable tool for triggering people-oriented impact and development amongst people living in the developing parts of the world, and this is highlighted by a recent report published by the United Nations Development Project (UNDP), in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AFDB). As pointed out in the report, the African entrepreneurial scene has witnessed a lot of activity in the past decade, with a number of enterprises debuting in the startup ecosystem. This trend appears to have been helped by the enabling environment created by the influx of angel investors, grants, accelerators, incubators, mergers, acquisitions, seed investments, Series-A funding, and other vital enablers of the sector.  From the Egyptian angle, there has been a significant proliferation of these startups with interest in such areas as e-commerce, fintech, e-health, cleantech, and a number of other fields.

Quite fittingly, WeeTracker’s recent H1 funding report for African Startups and VC ecosystems indicates that the first half of 2018 saw a total of USD 168.6 Mn being poured into 118 deals across various African startups; figures that have already eclipsed the mark set by the entirety of the previous year. On a similar note, the said report highlights Egypt as the standout performer in the e-commerce sector having accounted for 6 out of the 9 e-commerce startups that attracted investment in the period under review. Overall, the North African nation ranks third in terms of top investment destinations on the continent; second only to Nigeria and Kenya, having seen startups headquartered in the country amass an impressive 21 deals (all of which are better figures when juxtaposed with that obtained from the years gone by). These premises give significant credence to the notion that the Egyptian startup ecosystem is coursing through an upward trajectory, and there may never be a better time to hop on the bandwagon than now.

With its business model, drive, and vision, Flareinn seems poised to take advantage of the untapped opportunities that lay in wait in an uncharted aspect of e-commerce; the art scene. Egypt boasts a vibrant contemporary art scene with notable personalities in the likes of Britt Boutros Ghali, Ibrahim El Tanbouli, and Assem Abdel Fattah. There also exists an impressive crop of up-and-coming contemporary artists who are pushing the limits and writing new chapters in Egyptian art folklore, and it is this group of artists that are particularly integral to the Flareinn model.

What began as a eureka moment for an artist who was faced with the challenge of getting his artwork out there, now looks set revolutionize the art scene. Abdalla Amin, a 21-year-old final year student of Computer Engineering at the time, from the Faculty of Engineering at Ain Shams University, Cairo, had some trouble finding the right market and buyers for his works, being an artist himself. Frustrated at the lack of opportunities which hamper the progress of artists these days, he collaborated with fellow engineering students at the same university; Omar Ibrahim (who majored in Electronics and Communications Engineering) and Emad Zowail (of the same discipline as Abdalla Amin); who were both 22-year olds at the time, to create a tool that will help artists like himself profit from their work.

With a view to solving this problem, the trio opted to create an online platform, which seemed a perfect fit and a no-brainer given the global tech revolution that is upon us and the tech-savvy nature of the founders’ academic backgrounds. These young, fresh graduates now represent the executive arm of Flareinn with Abdalla Amin at the helm of affairs as CEO, Omar Ibrahim running operations as COO, and Emad Zowail handling the company’s technology as CTO.

L-R: Abdalla Amin (22), Omar Ibrahim(23), and Emad Zowail(23) [Co-founders of Flareinn]

The journey has been a long and arduous one, bringing the idea to fruition has been anything but easy. Being that they were college seniors at the time, juggling their academic work with the demands of running a new business took a lot of effort. Sheer will and determination were all they had to get by at various instances during the business’ early days. Sometimes, the trio even resorted to delivering some of the art pieces themselves to maintain efficiency and service quality. The challenges have been daunting and seemingly-insurmountable at various points, but sheer will and determination have seen these three youngsters come a long way from many of those makeshift brainstorming sessions in some of those dorm rooms at Cairo’s Ain Shams University.

And there have been successes. Moments of triumph to reflect upon, tether to, and keep going even in the face of setbacks. Remarkable work ethic and dedication on the part of these youngsters have seen the Flareinn journey move from school dormitories and hallways, to the Injaz Incubation program, then to a booth at Riseup. Most notably, the trio and their startup were featured in last year’s edition of the prestigious StartupScene’s 25 Under 25; an event that is dedicated to unearthing and recognizing some of Egypt’s youngest visionaries and game changers of the entrepreneurial scene. And it gets even better. Most recently, Flareinn had the opportunity to pitch at the first demo day of EG Bank’s MINT Incubator program;  having done battle with 140 other Egyptian startups, seen off most of the competition, and emerging as one of the 10 startups who was given the chance to pitch in front of investors.

  

 

Going forward, Flareinn aspires to be more than just an online marketplace for art. The platform has set its sights on becoming an online art community that nurtures the presence and importance of art in the Middle-Eastern-North-African (MENA) region. As stated by the company’s COO, “we are doing this to raise art appreciation in the MENA region. We are also battling the ‘starving artist’ stereotype and trying to integrate being an artist as a job that can provide financial independence for the talented youth out there.” The young entrepreneurs hope to achieve this feat by incorporating a blog on the website further down the line, which will help artists interact and help each other via exchange of ideas, questions, tips, and other information. Central to the platform’s vision is the mission to help young artists garner the recognition they deserve; something the company hopes to achieve by featuring certain posts on selected artists and their works on the blog or setting up critiques that can help them improve their art.

Since the launch of Flareinn’s beta version in January 2018, a growing number of artists have signed up on the platform already, and it now boasts a roster of over 120 artists and a catalog of over 250 pieces showcased on the website. And all that early success have come in against the run of play; without any textbook marketing efforts on the part of the company’s management. Indeed, the omens look good for the company, and there are inspirational and motivational stories which support that assertion. Jomana, an artist of remarkable skill and potential and one of the many now featured on the platform, was particularly skeptical about her chances of making a decent living from what was mostly leisure to her initially. She was not very optimistic at first because she had never sold a painting in her life. Now, here is the testimony: she sold her very first painting within her first week of signing up and setting up her shop on Flareinn and seven more paintings within the first month. Astonishing, isn’t it? Well, there’s more. Muhamed El Shanawany; one the platform ’s crop of buyers purchased six pieces of art in his first ever interaction with Flareinn, and eight more in his second. Both stories evoke emotion and inspire more intent on revealing to artists and buyers how art can be a pillar in their lives and how making this art easily accessible and profitable is a feat worth achieving. And it is not just for the connoisseurs, enthusiasts, and aficionados of fine arts, but also for those to whom the world of arts may come across as unfamiliar territory.

The startup aims to leverage the immense financial potential of the Egyptian and MENA art scene. Although poverty still poses a problem in certain regions within the target market, there is a sizeable market for the Flareinn team to zero in on. For starters, Egypt is also home to a large population with considerable wealth at the top, and one of the largest middle classes on the African continent. The market opportunity is evident in home decors, gifts, art collectors, hotels, hospitals, cafes, restaurants, startups offices, and even co-working spaces. Preliminary research on the global market reveals an estimated market size of USD 64 Bn, of which USD 7 Bn was accounted for by the e-commerce scene in 2017. However, only 2% of this amount is found to be coming from Africa, and the startup is looking to capitalize on this untapped wealth and potential that is in the offing from the rich art market in Egypt and parts of the MENA region. In view of that, Flareinn is looking to bridge the apparent chasm that exists between the art collectors and the creators of fine arts who are facing challenges in showcasing their works under the current market structure, within Egypt and beyond.

And it may take some doing. The current misconception about arts in Egypt and some parts of the middle east poses a problem. A number of young and enterprising artists hold hackneyed convictions about the profitability of their art, as some of them are wont to believe that their skill set could actually be transubstantiated into meaningful income. Throw that in with the idea of investing in arts is still regarded as something of an alien concept in some quarters within the region, and there appears another daunting challenge on the horizon. This is one area where the company has its work cut out for it, and Flareinn intends to channel efforts toward altering the mindset through the formation of a formidable marketing communications team.

And it could indeed pay off. As pointed out by the COO, “online platforms present today showcase and support creative talents. Content creation has been transformed into a full-on career, and we believe artists are missing out on the leaps technological platforms can help them make towards a stable income.” In those few words, the company’s vision and motivation are encapsulated.

Barely one year has passed since these youthful and vibrant entrepreneurs were clutching textbooks, carrying backpacks, and thronging lecture halls and workshops as college seniors at Ain Shams University’s Faculty of Engineering. Largely borne out of sheer dedication, will, and determination, the leap to their current position on the threshold of global reckoning is quite remarkable and somewhat unprecedented. It serves as an inspiring point of reference for young individuals who are scouring the fringes and frontiers of technology for new methods of solving identified problems in their respective communities.

Currently, the platform is operating a beta version of its website, and Flareinn’s official launch is expected in the last quarter of the current year. Even though Flareinn is yet to benefit from any form of an official capital injection or external funding, and despite still awaiting the platform’s official launch, the trio of Abdalla Amin, Omar Ibrahim, and Emad Zowail, have come a long way. From doing a number of odd jobs to learning from their experiences on the job to meetings with CEOs and investors, these young Egyptian entrepreneurs now look set to rewrite the narrative, revitalize an ailing sector, rock the establishment, and blaze the trail as young entrepreneurs in an emerging field with significant potential. And it all started at college. Now, there is a way wherever there is a will.

 

Image Credits: Flareinn

South African Supply-Chain App Khula! Wins Grand Prize Worth USD 14 K As MTN Business App Of The Year

Nzekwe Henry October 16

Khula!; a South African app that serves to link up farmers in emerging markets with the formal marketplace, has clinched top honors at this year’s edition of the MTN Business App Of The Year Awards.

In addition to being named the Business App of the Year, the platform has also received recognition in a special category dubbed; Best Agricultural Solution, as it has also emerged the winner in that category. As part of the perks that come with clinching the award, the developers of the app are now entitled to a trip to Silicon Valley in the U.S., worth up to USD 14 K in cash.

The app, Khula!, is known to facilitate delivery on bulk orders from supermarkets, restaurant chains, and even homes. This it does by effectively creating “one big virtual farm” which is basically comprised of multiple emerging farms for the purpose of crowd-sourcing produce to meet demands.

The platform’s complete software suite also incorporates an eCommerce web platform which makes it possible for clients to place orders from farmers. It also comes with an on-demand logistics solution which allows for the completion of deliveries by independent contractors.

According to Wanda Matandela, CEO of MTN Business, the awards afforded the telecommunications company the chance to place innovative solutions on the front burner and render support to these innovations with a view to helping them scale and go fully commercial, as well as help foster job creation in South Africa.

Industry experts, app developers, and past recipients of the award were amongst the panel of judges who selected and scrutinized the offerings of the shortlisted candidates of this year’s MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

Amongst other winners in the latest edition of the award were Pineapple (Best Consumer Solution),  Cowa Bunga (Best Enterprise Solution), Digemy Knowledge Partner and Besmarter (Best Incubated Solution), and Bestee App (Most Innovative Solution/Best Breakthrough Developer).

Other award recipients included such names as Stokfella (Best South African Solution), Difela Hymns (Women in STEM Solution), The African Cyber Gaming League App (Best Gaming Solution), dbTrack (Best Health Solution), Ctrl (Best Financial Solution), and Xander English 1-20 which took home the award in the Best Education Solution category.

 

 

Image via LinkedIn

South African Tech Teams Scoop Cash Rewards In The SAB Foundation Awards

Nzekwe Henry October 16

Around a total of USD 875 K in cash rewards have been doled out by the SAB Foundation to a number of South African startups and tech teams who have distinguished themselves to merit recognition in this year’s edition of the Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards.

Hustlenomics; an affordable housing provider, as well as Clothes to Good clinched cash prizes worth USD 90 K and USD 84 K respectively for their offerings. While the former was recognized in the Social Innovation Award category, the former took home the accolades in Disability Empowerment Award category.

The SAB Foundation Awards are targeted at innovators, entrepreneurs, and institutions that have developed prototypes of products that are designed to tackle social problems or early-stage businesses that have set their sights on addressing social concerns.

The organization is known to offer assistance in the form of financing and mentorship to social innovations that are identified as possessing a recognizably viable business model while serving up veritable solutions to critical social problems. The SAB Foundation also claims to have disbursed more than USD 5.2 Mn since its inception in an effort to promote social innovation. More so, a total of 163 social enterprises are believed to have benefitted from the offerings of the Foundation.

The winners in the Social Innovation category, Hustlenomics, is a platform which makes it possible for underprivileged families who are holed up in the squalid conditions of informal backyard shacks to build lasting structures in their place. The startup does this by employing alternative building technology which incorporates the use of interlocking bricks made out of recycled materials. The new structures cost the homeowners virtually nothing as the housing projects are financed by means of a shared-home financing model. This model allows for the rental home income raked in by the completed structures to be used in offsetting development costs before full ownership of the property is ultimately transferred to the landowner.

Following Hustlenomics closely as second and third-place winners in the Social Innovation category are smart farming tech solution, Famru, and a microfinance solution created by InvoiceWorx for retailers in the informal sector; Spaza Credit. Both teams took home USD 63 K and USD 49 K respectively.

It appears there was enough to go around for everyone as shortlisted finalists in the Developmental Award category also got in on the act with such names as Fix Forward, Solar Lab in a Bag and ejoobi, taking home between USD 28 K to USD 34 K in cash rewards respectively. Bursary Network and Impulse Biomed were also rewarded with seed grants worth USD 14 K each.

Clothes to Good; the winner of the Disability Empowerment Award, was rewarded for helping to provide sustainable jobs and micro-business opportunities for people with disabilities by means of its clothing recycling program. Steps Clubfoot Care and Coral Tech’s VoQal took home USD 56 K and USD 42 K respectively for finishing in second and third place respectively. In what could be described as a good day at the office for Steps Clubfoot Care, the first runner-up in the Disability Empowerment Award category also scooped the Audience Award which came with a cash reward of USD 10 K. Three other shortlisted finalists in the said category also went home with USD 21 K as recipients of a special Developmental Award.

 

 

Image SourceSAGoodNews

Meet Silas Adekunle: The Nigerian Prodigy Who Is Fast-Becoming The King Of Robotics

Nzekwe Henry October 16

Africans are known to be making waves and holding their own amongst their peers on the global tech scene, and one Nigerian robotics engineer cum gaming guru is taking this to a whole new level. 26-year-old Silas Adekunle is a Nigerian robotics engineer who is considered one of the highest paid and smartest in the field. And as you will soon find out, these are anything but purported or bogus claims.

At a time when the Nigerian tech scene appears to be playing catch up with their counterparts in the developed world, the young robotics engineer seems to be pulling off remarkable feats in the world of robotics and giving ingenuity and innovation a whole new meaning,

Silas Adekunle, Nigerian robotics engineer

Adekunle, who recently got snapped up by global technology and software giants, Apple Inc., to become one of the world ’s highest paid engineers on the robotics scene, was born and raised to his teens in Nigeria. Having had some of his education in Nigeria, he relocated to the United Kingdom where he completed his secondary school education before enrolling into the University of the West of England to pursue a career in robotics. This was going to pay off as the Nigerian engineer graduated Summa Cum Laude having bagged first class honors from the institution.

Silas Adekunle created Reach Robotics in 2013. The company is known to channel efforts towards incorporating Augmented Reality (AR) into gaming for the purpose of performing functions. Fast forward four years down the line and the youngster already carries invaluable robotics experience under his belt. This feat is believed to have earned him the position of team leader in the Robotics In Schools program.

The Robotics In Schools program is targeted at honing the skills of students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. His role in the program is believed to have triggered his ingenuity and inspired the idea which led him to another project which involved developing robotics to make education more engaging and entertaining for students in the STEM disciplines.

Silas Adekunle, Nigerian robotics engineer

But the young Nigerian genius was far from done as he again caused ripples on the tech scene when he got robotics circles buzzing after the launch of Mekamon in 2017. In Mekamon, Adekunle is said to have built what is believed to be the world’s first gaming robot. The robot is considered unique in that it possesses the inherent ability to customize its features for the purpose of performing personalized functions. Mekamon may have become an instant hit post-launch but putting the gaming bot together was anything but a cake walk. The young Nigerian’s chances of success were hampered initially when he encountered difficulties in securing funds for the project. But sheer persistence, resourcefulness, and resilience got him over the line, and Mekamon reportedly generated USD 7.5 Mn after its initial launch, having had 500 units sold.

The remarkable success enjoyed by Mekamon can be considered to have opened the floodgates as support began to stream in aplenty soon after the initial sell-out of the bot. London Venture Partners weighed in with USD 10 Mn and Adekunle’s company, Reach Robotics, wrapped up a deal with Apple in the same year — a deal which means the company now has exclusive sales in Apple stores.

The quality and design of Adekunle’s creations are deemed impressive owing to their ability to show emotion with movements that are subtly-calibrated. His four-legged “battle bots” are priced at around USD 300 by Apple, and they are featured in almost all Apple stores in the US and UK. As he told Forbes in an interview earlier this year, while techies and geeks may have accounted for most of the initial scramble for the product, the robot is now beginning to draw patronage from a growing number of parents presumably due to their STEM application which can serve to get children interested in those lines of study.

Image result for Meet Silas Adekunle: The Nigerian Robotics Genius images

“Balance, shared ideas, time management, and being oneself”, are the words and phrases fondly associated with the young robotics engineer as the tonic for the successes he has so far enjoyed. As his works have gained traction, so too has he gained recognition. Adekunle was listed in this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe: Technology. According to TheBossNewspapers, he was also named “Someone to Watch in 2018” by the Black Hedge Fund Group.

Having taken the world by storm with his genius, Adekunle can be thought to be gearing up for even more feats. He currently puts in work at the Bristol Robotics Lab, which can be considered the cream of the crop of research centers in the U.K. Now, here’s to Africans all over the world who are doing the continent proud!

 

 

Image Credits: QED, Face2AFaceAfrica, JejeGuysEmpire, Naij.NG

Internet Ventures: 5 Africans Founders Who Have Railed In Massive Online Cash

Andrew Christian October 16

In the course of the past two decades, a significant number of digital ventures have been springing up from different parts of the world, due to the increasing embrace of knowledge technologies, information and social media. Several African entrepreneurs have also carved out online niches to birth economic benefits, employment and in the same way, enable globalization. Pivotal people such as Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim (YouTube partners), as well as Lawrence Page have been scintillating the internet scene and cashing in big on the international front. So what about Africa? The continent is definitely not missing out, as innovative minds in the motherland are citing and exploiting internet opportunities, making them worthy of celebration and emulation. Here are five of them who have built successful online ventures.

Elon Musk – Co-founder PayPal, South Africa

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The legendary Elon Musk from South Africa is the co-founder PayPal. The entrepreneur, who has an African father and a Canadian mother, is one of the brains behind what has to be the most internationally recognized and used payments system. But that isn’t the only of his accomplishment, as he also co-founded X.com in March 2002 – a financial service and email payment company. In a matter of one year, the venture acquired Confinity – a company originally formed to beam money between Palm Pilots. The combined entity then capitalized on email payment through the PayPal domain. In February of 2001, X.com was officially renamed to PayPal, which was later acquired by eBay for USD 1.5 Bn in 2002 via a stock deal. Before its sale, PayPal’s 11.7 percent shares formed the coffers of Elon Musk, making him the largest shareholder in the company.

Kamal Budhabatti – Founder Craft Silicon, Kenya

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Kamal, who is nicknamed Kenya’s Bill Gate, is the fuel to the engine and the man behind the wheels of Craft Silicon. He founded it to be a Kenyan software company that provides core banking, Microsoft, mobile, switch solutions software and electronic payments services for more than 200 institutional clients in over 40 countries spread throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Craft Silicon boasts of an office in the all-time Silicon Valley in San Francisco, which makes it one of the quite few Kenyan companies ever to bask in such affiliation. With its more than USD 50 Mn market value, the company is causing ripples in the African business ecosystem, driving tech in the East African region and putting Kenya on the world map of entrepreneurship. Kamal Budhabatti’s idea of a venture now rakes in annual revenue of USD 6 Mn.

Jason Njoku – Founder Iroko TV, Nigeria

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Jason, who happens to be one of the few Nigerian entrepreneurs that beat the odds of raising capital even in impossible situations, is the founder and CEO of Iroko TV in Nigeria. The internet company is now reported to be the largest distributor of African movies in the world. While that may come as a shock to you, this may be an absorber – Iroko TV is labeled as the Netflix of Africa according to a Forbes publication. In 2013, Jason’s business was able to raise USD 8 Mn in venture capital from Tiger Global Management, which is a New York-based private equity and hedge fund being managed by billionaire Chase Coleman. Iroko TV is an online streaming website that makes enormous profits from lucrative content distribution deals with companies such as Daily Motion, iTunes, Amazon, and Vimeo. According to analysts, Iroko TV could be worth an estimated amount of USD 30 Mn, with Jason Njoku being the company’s largest individual shareholder.

Njeri Rionge – Co-founder Wananchi Online, Kenya

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Rionge is the co-founder of Wananchi Online, one of the leading internet services providers in East Africa’s cable, broadband, and Internet-based IP phone companies. This woman is regarded as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Kenya, and her turning point was when she succeeded in turning a USD 500 K startup into the echelon internet form in the whole East African region. Wananchi Online now has a net valuation of no less than USD 175 Mn. She was one of the few people who went tooth and nail to put it out there that internet is not cut out alone for the elite, as just about anybody can found, build and make a fortune out of it. Her ISP company became massively successful so much that it rose to nearly USD 60 Mn in growth capital from a consortium private equity firm.

Mark Shuttleworth – Founder Knife Capital, South Africa

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Mark Shuttleworth is the founder of Thawte and Ubuntu/Knife Capital, South Africa. He founded Thawte when he was 22 to be a digital certificate and internet security company, which he later sold to VeriSign for USD 575 Mn in an all-stock deal. The company today is the second in the world when it comes to the provision of digital certification. When Shuttleworth was 26, he used a fraction of the proceeds from the Thawte sale to start a venture capital firm HBD Capital, which is today popularly known as Knife Capital, based on Cape Town. The firm invests in innovation-driven fintechs with proof of traction. Knife Capital was one of the participating investors in the Weetracker UberPitch series. Another of Shuttleworth’s founding was that of Ubuntu, a computer operation system that is distributed as free open-source software. The entrepreneur’s net worth is reported to be USD 500 Mn.

NEIP Disburses USD 10 Mn To Ghanaian SMEs

Andrew Christian October 16

The government of Ghana, through its flagship National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan Initiative (NEIP) has successfully funded 1,350 owners of Small and Medium Enterprises, with a total of USD 10 Mn in seed capital.

The disbursement is meant to aid these SMEs successfully set up their own business or vamp up the existing ones to gain some traction.
Each beneficiary of the scheme received an amount ranging between USD 2 K to GHC 20 K as financial support.

Owusu Karikari, the Director of Business Support at NEIP, told the press that the support is a loan expected to be refunded with a 10 percent interest, repayable within three years to enable more SMEs to expand and create more jobs.

According to him, NEIP identified the lack of knowledge about product development, limited market, insufficient management skills, lack of funding and little or no technical support a few of the many challenges facing SMEs in the region. He said that the support would shore up indigenous enterprises, so they have a competing chance with their international counterparts.

As part of the government’s support for small businesses, 7,000 more entrepreneurs have been taken through intensive training to build and handle their enterprises. This is quickly followed by the announcement of tax holidays for young entrepreneurs under 35 years of age, as is a respite for their businesses.

NEIP Business Support Program essentially concentrates on the provision of business development services, startup incubators and funding for early-stage businesses, seeking to enable them to grow and become successful.

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