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

Alibaba Founder Jack Ma Is Set To Address Startups In South Africa Tomorrow

Dineo Keebine August 7

The founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, is set to address the startup ecosystem at the ‘Netpreneur’ conference in South Africa. South African Startups will be welcoming and embracing the acclaimed, Chinese e-commerce giant for the first time. Ma will be an up-close keynote speaker at the Netpreneurs: The Rise of Africa’s Digital Lions, held at the Linder Auditorium at Wits tomorrow, August 8th.

The aim of the Netpreneur conference is to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by the new digital Africa and the role that the public sector, investors, entrepreneurs and educational organisations must play in this transformation. Ma will launch an initiative entitled the Netpreneur Prize, poised for 100 young, African entrepreneurs likely to receive grants worth USD 10 Mn by 2030.

Jack Ma is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant entrepreneurs of his generation. His Company, Alibaba  was founded in 1999  and remains today as one of the top ten most valuable internet-based companies in the world with a market cap of USD 542 Bn. Ma wants to empower Africa’s young entrepreneurs to not only succeed in their ventures but to inspire others on how to build inclusive business models in the digital era.

His mission to empower entrepreneurs is also perceived in his recent eFounders Fellowship program. Spread over two weeks, the programme caters to young entrepreneurs who get to meet with Alibaba’s executives and local practitioners to learn from their experiences. They are likely to get knowledge transfer in e-commerce, payments, logistics, cloud computing, marketing, cross-border trade and innovation to identify lessons that can be applied to their own markets. The program is open to entrepreneurs in the digital and technology space who operate open platforms related to the programs criteria.

Another key note speaker will be Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General for United Nations Conference on Trade and development (UNCTAD). Dr Kituyi will be addressing Africa’s digital transformation. The partnership between Jack Ma and UNCTAD is based on exploring opportunities with African businesses  to participate in a global trade and the ultimate mission to raise awareness for the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, which was adopted by the international community.

 

Note: This article was updated with the correct date of the event.

 

South African VC Company HAVAIC Acquires Stake In Instant Property

Nzekwe Henry October 17

Havaic; a South African venture capital (VC) firm that is based in Cape Town has acquired a 10 percent equity stake in Instant Property; a commercial real-estate portal that has operations in South Africa.

According to the details of the acquisition, HAVAIC has acquired a 10 percent equity stake in Instant Property with the advancement of the first round of financing to that effect. By virtue of the agreement, there is also a clause which allows for follow-on funding at the discretion of Instant Property. If exercised, this allocation provides that up to 17 percent equity stake in the real estate portal will be transferred to the VC company.

Executive Director of Havaic, Grant Rock, is also expected to the join the Instant Property board in a non-executive capacity as part of the specifications and provisions of the deal. While the specifics of the deal as per the exact amount that was invested is yet to be disclosed at this time, the funds injected can be expected to go some way towards accelerating the growth of the real-estate platform, as well as develop its technology and facilitate expansion plans.

Instant Property; a Johannesburg-based property-tech startup that was established only a year ago by Wayne Berger, is known to have wrapped up an angel investment round earlier. And much like the current development, a coy stance was maintained with regard to the specifications of the deal in terms of valuation.

Since coming into existence around February last year, Instant Property currently boasts over 9 million square meters of commercial property listings on its portal. It also believed to lay claim to more than 2.5 million square meters of warehouse, office, and retail space which are currently available to let and for sale.

With the spate of significant investments, mergers and acquisitions witnessed in the South African realty space from both the existing players and international investors in recent times, it could be surmised that the sector is spoiling for a disruption and ripe for the taking. And with the potentials of the sector becoming quite evident amongst industry players who are beginning to get in on the act, it might not be long before we get to see that much-vaunted “property-tech boom.”

 

Feature image credit: Techfinancials

A Bittersweet Saga As Flutterwave Raises USD 20 Mn And Loses Its Founder

Andrew Christian October 17

After a year of raising USD 10 Mn in Series A, leading Nigerian fintech company, Flutterwave has extended the round, bringing the total investment to USD 20 Mn. But in the spirit of celebration and hope that the firm will spread its tentacles, the founder and high-profile CEO, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, announced his resignation from Flutterwave.  This marks Aboyeji’s second exit from a company he co-founded in less than five years.

This latest round of funding includes investments form MasterCard, CRE Ventures, Fintech Collective, 4DX Ventures, Raba Capital and others. This company, whose largest investors are Green Visor Capital and Greycroft Partners, was launched in 2016 to build a state-of-the-art payments technology and infrastructure for Africa to enable people and businesses connect with the global economy. Flutterwave’s solutions are tailored to allow for banks and merchants alike replace multiple payment integrations with a straightforward API, enabling the processing of payment forms anywhere in Africa.

With the latest development also comes the joining of a new member to Flutterwave’s board of directors. The current chairman and general partner of Green Visor Capital, Joe Saunders, who is Visa chairman and CEO emeritus, has taken a seat in the fintech company’s roundtable of directors.

The name Aboyeji cannot be argued off as one of the biggest names in Nigeria’s tech universe, even as he exits the role a little over 2 years after he co-founded this payments solutions startup. This unforeseen split mirrors his 2016 exit firm Andela – a company that trains software developers in Africa and pairs them with tech firms.  Andela said cheerio to the tech fever shortly after it raised USD 24 Mn in Series B led by the Chan Zuckerberg initiative.

Image result for Flutterwave

Flutterwave is one of the most revered startups in the fintech space of Africa, which has fast become a leading player in the aspect of online payments, processing 60 million transactions worth more than USD 2 Bn from global companies such as Uber, Booking.com, Jumia, Transferwise, and Flywire. The company has also strongly partnered with Ecobank, First Bank and Standard Bank.

Many may ask what’s next for Aboyeji. Well, he has been a serial entrepreneur since his undergraduate days, making it fair to assume that this will not be the last of his stints. This 27-year-old has said in a farewell tweet that he will spend his time pursuing family goals and consulting local startups. As his executive seat is being taken by cofounder Olugbenga Agboola, the entrepreneurial system of Nigeria is held from gasping, awaiting Aboyeji’s yet another dramatic business outplay. From Andela to Flutterwave, he has no doubt made great impact and henceforth will look to working with startups.

In a message, the new CEO wished Aboyeji good luck in his endeavors and expressed the moving forward excitement for the future of Flutterwave, as the new agenda is growing the company.

 

Entrepreneurs Bag USD 20 K In Rwanda’s YouthConnekt Africa Innovation Awards 2018

Kevin Gachiri October 17

The recently concluded YouthConnect Africa summit in Kigali featured a challenge for young people to give an investment pitch on their startup ideas falling under four broad categories namely Social Innovation, Green Growth Innovation, Pioneers for Prosperity and Digital Inclusion. This attracted the participation of various teams from Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique, Angola and Nigeria with 18 projects competing for the final round.  During the winners announcement gala, Charles Umeh from Nigeria won the Digital Inclusion Award while Rusell Osah also from Nigeria won the Social Innovation Award. Green Growth Innovation Award was won by David Kinzuzi from Rwanda while Emma Stella Gakuo from Kenya was awarded in Pioneers of prosperity category. Each winner took home USD 5K that brings the total prize money of USD 20k going to young African entrepreneurs.

During one of the Money Matters sessions  Isaac Nkusi who is a Personal Money Management Consultant and Trainer  implored on the teams of young budding entrepreneurs to focus on building value in their enterprises  which is the magnet that pulls customers. Emma from Kenya through her “Maziwa plus Cooling System” was able to sail through using the proposed solution that provides mobile cooling systems powered by solar and mounted on motorbikes for easy mobility in the rural areas. The mobility provides transport solution in delivering the milk to the dairy collecting centres.  David Kinzuzi on the other hand focussed on his project which is dubbed “My Green Home” in Rwanda which is an idea based on creating green cities that he started together with his colleague Rosette Umuhoza They are still undertaking their studies at  Kigali-based Kepler University.  From Nigeria Charles Umeh sailed through his project JARACARE that  provides access to verified doctors at the touch of a button cutting the need to wait in long queues to see a health specialist. Rusell Osah sailed through by proposing to build 10,000 affordable houses for low income families in Nigeria.

Image Credit: The New Times Rwanda

Google Announces USD 900 K Grant to train Kenyan Farmers

Kevin Gachiri October 17

Over the next one year the digital skills of 100k Kenyan farmers is set to change following the announcement of a USD 900 K training grant by Google.org in partnership with One Acre Fund.  This training will help the farmers acquire top tech skills necessary for them to tap into knowledge and connections available in the digital world to transform their livelihoods through increased production. One Acre Fund which is based in the Western Kenya town of Kakamega has already gained eleven years of  experience in providing training to small scale  farmers in this area in addition to giving them products and services on credit. The mode and depth of the Google training was not immediately disclosed.

This development is in line with Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta whose big-four agenda includes boosting food security. Farmers’ ability to access information, keep records on farm production and market access will go a long way in impacting skills that would help them increase their productivity, connect with peers, access latest farming information and even fetch better prices for their produce. In its website, One Acre Fund reports that more than 50 million smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa are locked in annual cycles of hunger because they’re unable to grow enough food to feed their families. This Training is therefore an important step in improving their livelihood through necessary digital skills that are part of today’s modern world.

Google Kenya Country Manager Charles Murito is reported noting that “Agriculture sector employs over 40 per cent of the total population, contributing to 30 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Kenya. We want to see the power of technology elevate small scale farming. We hope that through this initiative, we will see a positive impact on food security, job creation and GDP growth”  This development will also benefit startups in the ecosystem that either provide or sell training equipment and services as well as extension services for animal and crop health. Those in the fiend of payments to farmers will also benefit as this forms part of the scope covered by the grant.  Google’s initiative in Kenya has already seen  over 200,000 job seekers receive training  and over 400,000 businesses impacted  on various digital skills relevant to their career goals and business needs. In March this year, their Launchpad Accelerator Africa program provided  over USD 3 mn in equity-free support to Kenyan startups including Pezesha, Flexpay, Cloud9xp, and PayGo Energy.

Image credit: One Acre Fund

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.

 

 

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