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

This Egyptian Startup Is Making Car Rides Smoother One Spare Part At A Time

Nzekwe Henry September 27

Imagine being held up on a cold, rainy night because your car blew up yet another gasket to make it the third time in as many weeks. Or think about having to pull over now and then on a routine trip to your country home because of a faulty fuel pump and worse still having to spend twelve hours on the road for a trip that should ordinarily take half that long. Now, the only way these scenarios can get any more frustrating than they already are is if it happens that you have already spent good time and money trying to fix those.

So what if you could actually get a reliable remedy for your car’s nagging shaft problem, or that lingering issue with its steering rod and ball joints, or better yet, get an upgrade on its entire gearbox and engine system? Well, don’t get excited yet because it gets even better. What if you could place orders for all those auto car parts online and have them delivered to you with assurances on quality? Better yet, what if car repairs and full automobile maintenance was available at the click of a button and not a fuss more? Think about that for a moment. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Well, for starters, that is what Ahmed Omar and the rest of the 17-man team at Odiggo are looking to achieve – and it appears their efforts are starting to yield significant impact. Odiggo is an online platform for car parts, assisting customers in the areas of fixing and servicing their vehicles. Through Odiggo’s mobile app and web platforms, customers are able to browse through car categories and models and find quality spare parts that are designed for their vehicle which can help get it back on the road.

So, Odiggo is essentially an eCommerce platform for auto spare parts, amongst other things. The auto parts available on the platform can either be installed by the customers themselves or via its soon-to-be-launched car service center. Odiggo boasts a catalog which encompasses different kinds of genuine auto spare parts for a wide range of car types and models. The startup rakes in revenue in the form of commissions charged on products purchased via the platform.

The startup is also believed to be making significant strides in the development and launch of a newer product which is necessarily hardware that can sort of inspect cars, carry out preliminary diagnostics, as well as communicate faulty areas with the platform’s mobile app. The technical team at Odiggo who are the brains behind this novel technology are said to have test-ran this AI system on a number of vehicles, and after multiple iterations, the results are thought to be encouraging.

In a conversation with WeeTracker, Ahmed Omar who doubles as the startup’s Founder and CEO revealed that the idea behind Odiggo was triggered by the need to address problems many individuals encounter in the process of accessing quality spare parts for their vehicles. The CEO cited difficulties associated with finding the trusted and competent repair centers for motor vehicles, while also hinting at the uncertainties surrounding car replacement parts purchase, as some of the motivation for executing the idea.

“Many people resort to going to car dealership agencies for auto parts and this comes at significant costs owing to the fact that the spare parts on offer from these agencies are often available at very exorbitant prices because these dealerships are more suited to selling spare parts in bulk to retailers who themselves sell to the end-users at prices that are not exactly favorable.”

With a view to solving this problem, Ahmed sort to explore the market opportunity that was buried amidst the spare parts sales problem – and it would appear that the Egyptian entrepreneur may have stumbled upon a gold mine.

Egypt can be considered an upwardly-mobile country with a well-structured, though often traffic-laden, road network especially in Cairo, its capital city. And with ride-hailing platforms like Uber and Careem seeing a lot of patronages and gaining considerable ground in the North African nation, Odiggo can be thought to be primed for even better days.

According to Ahmed, a premium is placed on technology-driven and affordable car maintenance solutions due to the presence of these ride-hailing platforms who boast thousands of cars on Egyptian roads and complete hundreds of trips on a daily, as well as individuals and private car owners who are on the lookout for more efficient and cost-effective solutions in the area of maintaining and fixing their vehicles.

Before launching his very own startup, Ahmed told WeeTracker about his academic background in economics, as well as his stint abroad as a seller on such platforms Jumia, Amazon, eBay, and a number of others; a feat that can be considered to have piqued his interest and sharpened his skills in the eCommerce sector.

He also has fond memories of his time at Used Cars where he got to know about just how much money and time people spent getting car maintenance. According to him, it may have, in fact, been around this time that the eCommerce idea for auto spare parts hit him as he had found himself shipping auto parts to a friend of his on multiple occasions within the space of a few weeks.

“He used to go and buy the parts himself from car dealerships, only to have them returned because they did not match the model used by his car. Apparently, the sellers too were not fully grounded on the products they sold, so he got around to having me ship the parts to him which I didn’t really have trouble with. And that was when the idea hit me. At Oddigo, using such details as auto parts serial numbers and a number of other technologies that are already available, we are able to help customers with the correct, genuine quality auto parts for their cars, at prices that are reasonable and with delivery in good time.”

The Odiggo platform is designed around the usability and convenience of customers. It makes it quite easy for users to find the correct spare parts for their cars as it narrows down search options to car make, model, and year. Users can also browse through the categories of the cars and the different types of parts, then navigate through the sub-categories to find the replacement part itself.

According to the CEO, once the needed parts are added to cart, and the transaction is complete, Odiggo delivers the spare parts to users within Cairo in 24 hours. For users outside Cairo, delivery time is placed at two days while for international clients, it is between four to six days. The startup currently boasts over 300 vendors in Egypt, two in Bahrain, one in Turkey, and plans are believed to be afoot to launch another in Dubai this month.

The startup is also looking to do one better by going beyond the regular shopping and shipping aspects that characterize eCommerce models. The CEO told WeeTracker that it is set to launch a car maintenance service on its web and app platforms for both Android and iOS devices.

This is expected to furnish users with the option of easily getting troubleshooting and maintenance services for their cars, with a number of service centers set to be launched in strategic locations across Egypt and other countries in the coming months. Customized car maintenance services will also be incorporated into the offering to cater for the car maintenance and repair needs of individuals who are unable to get their cars to the service station.

Essentially, Odiggo has set itself up to become a one-stop shop for all car maintenance needs by affording its users the dual option of conveniently sourcing for high quality auto parts and having them shipped or leveraging its car maintenance services which will be made available in both nearby service centers, as well as choice locations upon customer request.

And it would appear Ahmed and the rest of the team at Odiggo are getting some things mostly right as the platform boasts up to 12,000 users and over 8,000 requests processed since becoming fully operational only nine months prior. “We have more than 120 business customers, and companies that are dealing with us,” the CEO told WeeTracker. And that may be just for starters.

The startup appears to have gained significant traction as Ahmed revealed that Valeo; a renowned manufacturer of car parts is one of the prominent brands who directly sell on Odiggo with over 4,000 items featured on the platform. “We currently have more than 22,000 products for sale on the platform for about 31 different car brands and models. Over than the last nine months, there have been more than 200,000 visitors on our website, as well as an average of 45,000 monthly visitors on the platform over the same period,” the CEO offered.

 

These numbers may have a lot to do with the underlying statistics relevant to the industry. According to Ahmed, findings from an MVP conducted by the Odiggo team resulted in the collection of data which gave off astonishing revelations and hinted ample opportunity in the industry.

“There are about 500,000 front brake pads replacements in Egypt every month. If each unit is sold at, say, an average of USD 10.00, that is about USD 5 Mn worth of brake pad sales monthly. And that is for just one spare part being replaced every month without taking into account the cost of fixing cars in the aftermath of crashes which takes up to USD 300 Mn annually in the MENA region alone,’ Ahmed revealed to WeeTracker.

He went further; “In Egypt alone, there is around USD 1.3 Bn worth of spare parts imports annually, and it is a similar story in other parts of Africa and the Middle East where imports of both new and used car parts reach up to USD 10 Bn every year. One of our biggest vendors in Egypt realizes an average of EGP 69 Mn in spare parts sales annually, and that is only one vendor with about 1,000 items when there are about 7,000 spare parts vendors in Egypt alone.” This, the CEO believes, is an indication of the huge market demand available for auto spare parts – one that Odiggo is keen to cash in on.

The startup is said to have been built from personal funds and it was also self-funded for the first three months of its existence, and that was after going to vendors for some of its initial products. This was followed by a token investment from what is believed to be a combination of friends, partners and former colleagues which roughly amounted to USD 7.5 K in exchange for some amount of equity in the company.

Ahmed also gave indications that talks are currently in an advanced stage with some of the biggest angel investors and VC firms in Egypt to close an investment round that will see it raise a further USD 250 K in funding around the first quarter of next year. This envisaged injection of capital is expected to fuel the startup’s plans to explore a number of African and MENA markets, as well as help amass increased revenue. According to him, Odiggo is looking to branch into Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Nigeria, Jordan, and Lebanon in the near future.

But the going was not always this good for the business. Even though getting started often poses one of the biggest challenges, staying in business is, in many ways, the factor which ultimately defines the success or failure of any startup. And staying in business is not exactly achievable if you are not selling. Having been bootstrapped all the way to its launch, the startup was initially hampered by difficulties in getting products from manufacturers on credit as it was a new business.

“At first, nobody knew our platform so it was hard to get them to give us the products on credit. We had to pay cash for all the products during those first few transactions in a bid to establish trust. We did not buy anything unless we first sold them on the platform. This we did by collecting an inventory of all the auto parts available from the manufacturers and vendors, which was a challenge in its own right and then putting them up on our platform. Upon receiving orders, we purchased the parts with our own money since we operate on a Cash-On-Delivery model and shipped them to the customers through courier services like DHL and Aramex at a reasonable profit. But then, we began to gain the trust of these spare parts manufacturers and vendors and the credits and better deals started coming in.”

Besides the financial constraints, there were also other challenges that threatened to derail the business during those early stages. Customers did not exactly jump at the idea at first because they were doubtful of the ability of a business designed on such a model to actually deliver the goods. So the startup had its work cut out for it in trying to address the skepticism and mistrust by delivering as promised, even at no profit at times.

There was also a logistics challenge initially as the startup was caught up in a dilemma where it had to choose between big international companies whose services were really expensive but reliable and the local ones who were not as expensive but whose deliveries took several days. Throw that in with the market challenge posed by the vendors whose terms were not exactly favorable in the beginning, and customers who didn’t buy the idea initially, and you get the idea that it was not always a rosy affair.

But in any case, it appears the startup has weathered the initial storm and such has been the traction gained by the business during its relatively short existence that vendors now have no qualms giving them thousands of products on credit as there is now confidence in the ability of the startup to turnover and make payments as agreed. And the numbers already mentioned in this piece tell the rest of the story.

In spite of the competition that exists in the form of platforms with similar models in Egypt, Ahmed remains confident in the ability of Odiggo to hold its own amongst its peers as he cited such details as the value it affords users, the after-sales service, the easy-to-navigate catalog which boasts a wide range of auto spare parts for different car types and models, the affordable prices, the functionality of the website which enhances user experience, the mobile application, the AI device for running vehicle diagnostics and communicating findings with the app, the car maintenance option, as well as the automation that drives the service, as being factors that give Odiggo the competitive edge. It is also interesting to note that a number of these competing brands have dashboards on the Odiggo platform through which they resell products within and outside Egypt by leveraging its services.

 

Having been recognized in StartupScene’s 25 Under 25; an elite class of some of fastest growing and most promising young entrepreneurs in the MENA region, and having seen the startup through EG Bank’s MINT Incubator, Ahmed is hopeful that Odiggo will continue on its current upward trajectory and grow to become one of the biggest eCommerce platforms for not only car but also truck and motorcycle spare parts, as well as vehicle maintenance.

Investment deals are expected to be closed in the coming months with prominent investors in the MENA region featuring in talks, and this should go some way towards helping the startup explore other promising markets and further develop its technological offerings.

Baring his thoughts to other budding and aspiring entrepreneurs around the world as a parting gift, the Odiggo Chief had this to say; “Start executing those ideas and vision that you think about every day but do not act upon out of the fear of failure. Those ideas may actually prove successful, and if you never try, you might never know.”

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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