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Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Uber – This 21-Year-Old Ghanaian Techie Has Coded ‘Em All

January 1

Iddris Sandu was only 16 years of age and still juggling high school classes with other extra-curricular activities when he developed an app that made it possible for fellow students at his school to find their classrooms with ease.

That invention gave him his first encounter with the spotlight as it put him in the same room as then-U. S. President, Barack Obama. And always on the lookout for the next challenge, it was only a matter of time before the young Ghanaian tech whiz was writing codes for what has become some of our favourite social media platforms.

Iddris Sandu was born in Accra, Ghana, to Ghanaian parents some 21 years ago. At only three years of age, his family relocated to California, in the United States, probably in search of the much-talked-about ‘greener pastures.’ This meant that Iddris went through most of his early life in a foreign land.

But you’d be mistaken to think it was entirely a rosy affair throughout his early life. Things took an awkward turn right about when he turned eight. His father had brought up the idea of visiting Ghana briefly and young Sandu was very delighted at the prospect. Relishing new adventures, he accompanied his father on that trip to his country but things didn’t quite pan out as he would have hoped.

In a conversation with Oxford University’s Music and Style Magazine, Sandu revealed that the trip was supposed to be full of fun and discoveries but it soon proved a sour deal when his father had to rush back to the States, abandoning Sandu in the village without doing as much as leaving the passport of the poor child behind.

In what was a harrowing experience that left him shaken, Sandu was consigned to life in a remote village for almost a year. Now, that shouldn’t be much of a problem considering he was, in fact, pitching his tent in his ancestral home. But for an eight-year-old child whose best memories of his homeland were rooted in those four days before his father left, it was quite challenging.

Being that there wasn’t much he could do about the situation, he made hope, perseverance, and resilience his best friends. He was stuck in the village without his parents for the better parts of nine months, and that was before he got in touch with an NGO that helped him return to the United States. In any case, Sandu can be forgiven for not having very fond memories of those times he felt abandoned in the village.

By sheer providence, Sandu’s return to the United States happened about the same time Apple unveiled the first-ever iPhone and the young techie refers to those times as the period during which his initial interest in tech was really piqued. That spelt the beginning of what has so far been a relatively short, yet stellar career in coding.

 

Iddris Sandu was just a ten-year-old kid when Apple’s first iPhone hit the stores. But unlike most of his peers, he had already identified his purpose and was carving out a path to reach that purpose at that tender age.

 

“I just got super inspired. I thought – this device is going to change the world. The reason why the iPhone was so important was because it was the first time when regular consumers could develop for other regular consumers. Before, you really had to work at a tech company for multiple years to be able to offer any sort of input or to create an app. But Apple made it so mainstream. I knew it was the future,” he said.

In the next two years that followed his return to the States, he had channelled all the fear and frustration that formed his lot during those eight months of abandonment into something that he couldn’t have imagined would afford him global recognition and widespread acclaim so early in his lifetime.

Buoyed by the fascination of his new-found interest and inspired by a Steve Jobs podcast which highlighted the intersections of technology and genius, Sandu got busy by immersing himself in the rudiments of programming. For two years, he paid regular visits to the local Torrance Public Library where he devoured texts on the German industrial designer Dieter Rams, Nikola Tesla and the theory of relativity. Soon, he was learning basic coding while also doing some programming on his own.

Showing flashes of brilliance and remarkable promise, it didn’t take long before one of his many visits to the library got the attention of a designer from Google who was impressed by his efforts.

Having seen remarkable potential in the young lad, the ‘scout’ may have thought it worthwhile to give Sandu a shot at proving that he was more than just another ‘Little Mister Smartypants‘ and could cut in the big leagues when it came down to the business end of things. And boy, how he did so with aplomb!

Sandu was approached with an internship offer at Google’s headquarters eight months after the tech giant set up shop in Frank Gehry’s “Binoculars Building” in Venice, California, and he didn’t need a second invitation.

He had resolved to absorb every bit of knowledge that would be afforded him by the opportunity and soon he was working on a number of the company’s initial projects, including Google Plus, Google Blogger, and a number of others. Such was the genius of the prodigy that he was doing all these aged only 13. This can be thought to have built the foundation for the meteoric rise of the Ghanaian software engineer in the tech sphere.

Having already achieved what is largely an astonishing feat for a kid barely into his teens, Sandu was far from done. Inspired by a burning desire to effect change in his immediate surroundings, he went on to build an app that helped students navigate through classrooms at his high school. And he was still only 15 at the time.

Before long, word had spread far and wide of his creation as his school became known as the only school in California that was actively using an app made by an enrolled student at the time. This achievement added gloss to Sandu’s already glittering profile as his brilliance won him many accolades and recognition – amongst which was a trip to the White House where he received the Presidential Scholar Award from former U.S.-President, Barack Obama.

Sandu didn’t rest on his laurels after the presidential recognition. He rolled up his sleeves and got back to work soon after, and before the global tech ecosystem had finished taking in what could be thought of as ‘over-achievements,’ he had served up even more.

Image Source: The New York Times

Sandu wrote an algorithm that was eventually purchased by Instagram and by the time he turned 18, he was already a consultant for Snapchat. And that was before he greeted ride-hailing company, Uber, with his genius by developing software called Autonomous Collision Detection Interface for the company’s driverless cars. Astounding! Utterly astounding! – especially for someone who didn’t exactly have a stint at college.

Despite the early success he had so far enjoyed, the coding genius soon called time on his career with major tech companies and this may be linked to the fact that he is somewhat driven by a passion to bridge the gap between the informed and uninformed, and intends to now channel his efforts towards bringing about that change.

Since taking a break from tech companies, Sandu is known to have busied himself advocating for the study of STEM in schools and at higher levels. However, a chance encounter with American rapper, Nipsey Hussle, at a local Starbucks in 2017, somehow turned into a collaboration that saw the duo transform an abandoned storefront in Los Angeles into what became known as The Marathon Store – selling clothes, accessories, and music.

As the story goes, the pair hit it off when the rapper sort of crept up on the software savant and spied on the contents of his screen while he was tweaking some algorithms modified on his laptop. A couple of weeks later, they were in business.

Speaking to CNN, Sandu enthused that the store was thronged by a number of superstars including the likes of Jay-Z, Diddy, and Swizz Beats within a few weeks of its opening. As he likes to call it, the ‘smart store’ also lets customers download exclusive music and other digital content by means of an app.

While Iddris’ background in tech and design was instrumental to setting up the store, Nipsey’s cultural influences drew interests from many notable journalists and hip-hop icons – a healthy mix of brains and brawns, if you ask me.

Iddris Sandu told CNBC that the store has helped him bridge the gap between culture and technology, and would love others to do same. “We are living in the digital revolution,” he said. Although “we are all constantly exposing ourselves to content in real-time,” he said. “We need to address the largest issues affecting communities and build infrastructure on that.”

Iddris Sandu with Kanye West and Jaden Smith
Image Source: everipedia.org

Having already created algorithms for Instagram and Snapchat, as well as consulting for Twitter, Sandu is currently working on a project with Kanye West and Jaden Smith; a project that is designed for next year’s ComplexCon tech festival in Chicago and is targeted at the creation of AR-driven experiences around music and politics.

In spite of the significant strides Sandu has made in a relatively short time in a foreign land, the tech whiz remains very conscious of his ties with his country of birth. As he told The New York Times, he is determined to level the playing field between Silicon Valley and communities of color.

 

He also attributes his intense work ethic to a number of African icons who he considers role models including Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, late former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and Nigerian ‘afrobeat god’, Fela Kuti.

Sandu is also convinced that Africa will showcase the next generation of tech leaders as many of the continent’s enlightened inhabitants are becoming aware of problems whose solutions exist within. That said, he sees the timeliness of his success and that of others of his kind as good for black entrepreneurs.

In the coming year, the ‘cultural architect,’ as he likes to call himself, aims to shift his attention to Africa with the continent’s most populous city – Lagos, Nigeria – billed as his first port of call. Once there, he is hoping to host student workshops and teach kids important coding skills that will enable them to build useful platforms that they also own.

Iddris Sandu appears to be driven by a passion to leverage his network and capacity with a view to inspiring young people from various parts of the world into creating positive change in their immediate communities. Having utilized his uncommon genius to telling effect thus far, the young Ghanaian is well on his way to becoming a pacesetter for tech’s next generation.

 

 

Feature Image Courtesy: face2faceafrica.com

Did you know: Over $725.6 Mn was invested in Africa in 2018.
Keep tabs on the Venture Capital Landscape of Africa with the VC Report 2018 by WeeTracker. Find out the Latest Fundings, Top Investors, Leading Sectors & much more..

Meet Jean Bosco Nzeyimana: The Rwandan Entrepreneur Who Is Changing Lives One Briquette At A Time

January 14

From Nyamagabe – a small village in rural Rwanda – comes the story of a confident 25-year-old that is solving some of the problems of his immediate community one briquette at a time.

Jean Bosco Nzeyimana grew up in a poor, rural community that could boast of very little by way of infrastructure or even the necessities. Housing was shabby, clean water was hard to find, and electricity was a luxury most of the locals would rather not think about – mostly because it was more non-existent than it was inconsistent.

Even though he was only a child of school age, Jean Bosco did feel the pangs of the dire situation from those early times. Every morning, before he left for the only school in the community, he would have to meander through the woods in search of firewood – a precarious and exhausting ordeal for a child his age.

As was the case for most of the locals, life was anything but a rosy affair for Jean Bosco. But unlike many of his peers, the young Rwandan chose to look at the big picture instead of feeling distraught. And that mindset would eventually become the catalyst for what is proving a tonic for community growth and economic emancipation.

Image Source: italkstuff.com

Growing up in his village, Jean Bosco was no stranger to the hardships and privations that characterised rural life. Most of the community was living in squalor, and the young boy was greatly disturbed by those living standards, or perhaps, the apparent lack of it. Thus began his quest to give the locals a chance at a better life.

Due to the absence of electricity and because the community knew no other energy source, wood was the go-to guy for all things fuel. As is common in many parts of rural Africa, the villagers relied on charcoal from wood for cooking.

Apart from the fact that burning wood is unhealthy and inefficient, the wanton felling of trees for firewood and other purposes also has an adverse effect on the environment. Throw that in with the fact that a very significant proportion of the Rwandan population still use wood for their energy needs, and the environmental impact becomes even more alarming.

 

Jean Bosco was concerned by the devastating deforestation, but that was not the only thing that caught his attention. He was also disturbed by the many rubbish-laden landfills that dotted parts of Rwanda, and his village was seeing more than its fair share.

 

The idea of felling trees eliminated much-needed ground cover which left lands susceptible to erosion. The ravaging erosion created vast, gaping gulleys, and the idea of filling those gulleys with waste was nothing close to an ideal solution.

Jean Bosco Nzeyimana was only 19 when he began to explore better ways to solve the problem, and he soon came upon a single solution to what seemed like a two-headed problem. If his idea was anything like a slingshot loaded with a single rock pellet, it was going to take out two birds in a single shot.

Jean Bosco And Habona Staff At A Waste Site
Image Source: newtimes.co.rw

The then-teenager found a solution that involved turning waste into energy and the solution was unique in that it was going to take care of two problems – deforestation and waste. His idea involved turning organic waste into clean-burning and efficient briquettes, as well as fertilisers for farmers. If all went according to plan, gone will be the days of villagers felling trees and burning wood for fuel, and no longer would grotesque waste engulf the scenes of Rwanda’s landscape.

With the idea now in the bag, the next challenge was always going to be the toughest nut to crack – and that’s finding the funds that would breathe life into the idea. Being only a teenager in an economically-disadvantaged locale with very little by way of track record or experience, it was always going to be an uphill task to get the requisite financial backing.

But the young Rwandan entrepreneur remained undeterred in his quest to improve lives with his solution. Like the gospel, he spread the word of his idea to all and sundry, and it soon began to gather momentum.

By contesting for prizes in various entrepreneurship competitions and participating in some tech events, Jean Bosco had begun to generate buzz around his waste-to-energy idea, and before long, he was lodged in talks with potential partners from various parts of the globe including the U.K. and U.S.

With some financial support from African Entrepreneur Collective, Jean Bosco was able to set up a business called “Habona” which literally translates to “Illumination” after reaching an agreement with his district’s authorities which allowed him to use a waste management facility for free. He established the company back in 2013 while he was still studying Business Administration at the University of Rwanda’s College of Business and Economics.

But then came another hurdle. Since it was a relatively new business, it was hard to find employees with the requisite skills. Granted, collecting and sorting the trash hardly required any special skills, but when it came to processing, there was a manpower deficit as many of the locals had neither seen nor heard of briquets.

It was very unlikely that the workers would waltz in and start making a product they knew nothing about, so the Rwandan ‘wastepreneur’ went about training the workers himself, and spending funds in the process too. But those days appear to be over as Habona now seems to have found a foothold.

Jean Bosco’s startup collects and sorts garbage to make briquettes, biogas, and organic fertilizers for a customer base that encompasses restaurants, hotels, schools, businesses, farmers, and government offices.

More so, Habona’s biofuels are believed to be currently used by as many as 1,500 households in Rwanda while employing up to 26 people on a permanent basis and nearly 50 more as casual workers. Thus, empowering people and improving quality of life in parts of rural Rwanda.

Jean Bosco With Obama, Medhat, Checa, and Zuckerberg At The 2016 GIS 
Image Source: eetimes.com

Jean Bosco has seen his stock rise tremendously since piloting his idea. In 2014, he was named Top Young Entrepreneur of Rwanda while also going on to claim the African Innovation Prize. He also shared the stage with the likes of Former U.S. President, Barack Obama, and Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, at the Global Innovation Summit which took place in California back in 2016 – both of whom were impressed with the progress he has achieved his community.

Now 25, Jean Bosco seems to be thirsty for even more success and is showing no signs of slowing down. He hopes to extend his idea to other parts of Rwanda and beyond in the near future.

 

 

Feature image courtesy: @nzibosco via Twitter

Did you know: Over $725.6 Mn was invested in Africa in 2018.
Keep tabs on the Venture Capital Landscape of Africa with the VC Report 2018 by WeeTracker. Find out the Latest Fundings, Top Investors, Leading Sectors & much more..

Microfinance Software Company Musoni Services Gets Investment From Alterfin

January 14

Africa focussed microfinance software company Musoni Services has raised an equity investment from Alterfin; a Belgium based Co-operative society. Existing shareholders of the company joined Alterfin in this round.  The funds will be used for expansion into new markets, though the details of the transaction remain undisclosed.

Speaking about the investment, Jean-Marc Debricon, Alterfin’s General Manager said, ‘Alterfin understand first-hand the challenges that many rural microfinance institutions have when it comes to technology. We believe that Musoni can revolutionise the way financial services are delivered across the industry and particularly in rural regions where financial inclusion is at it’s lowest. The Musoni team has consistently demonstrated the system’s impact, and we are excited to work with them continuing our shared social mission.’

Musoni provides banking system to microfinance institutions in emerging markets, helping them to leverage technology and improve efficiency. The company claims to be used by a hundred financial institutions across 14 different countries (10 in Africa and 4 in Asia). Musoni BV is an investment company based in Amsterdam. It currently holds investments in Musoni DTM in Kenya and Musoni Services in Amsterdam.

The offerings of Musoni also include an integrated platform for multiple mobile money transfer services including SMS module for sending automated payment reminders. Apart from the core banking software, it has developed a tablet app for loan officers to process offline data collection and CRB integrations to assist in the lending decision.

To make the system accessible to MFIs, the Musoni System uses licenced SAAS pricing model; the annual fee is based on the size of the MFI licensing the system.

Alterfin was established in 1994 and focusses primarily on rural areas in low-income or middle- income countries around the world.

Did you know: Over $725.6 Mn was invested in Africa in 2018.
Keep tabs on the Venture Capital Landscape of Africa with the VC Report 2018 by WeeTracker. Find out the Latest Fundings, Top Investors, Leading Sectors & much more..

Branch Cumulatively Loans Kenya USD 10 Mn After Recent USD 5 Mn Issuance

January 14

San Francisco-based digital lender Branch has announced its commercial paper issuance of KES 500 Mn USD (USD 4,922,000) in Kenya.

The latest commercial paper follows a KES 350 Mn (USD 3,444,204) issuance that was announced in 2018, which was preceded by KES 200 Mn (USD 1,968,116) in 2017. This third and largest issuance which has been arranged by Barium Capital brings the entire commercial paper to a little over KES 1 Bn (9,840,583).  The investment will be used to expand the firm’s services in Kenya.

Branch had recorded a series of strides in the African landscape. Starting from its trade launch in 2015, it has grown by means of efforts made in Kenya, among which are internet penetration which has enabled users to access financial assistance using smartphones.

In competition with Tala, Okash and the likes, Branch offers micro-lending services in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Mexico. As part of this latest announcement, the firm revealed its intentions to expand into India this year.

Daniel Szlapak, Head of Global Operations for Branch, expressed excitement the firm draws from serving millions of Kenyans and easing them into essential financial service access. “ The huge growth and success in the Kenyan market have positioned Branch for strong global operation”, he said.

Branch offers M-Pesa loans of up to KES 50,000 (USD 491.64) via an Android application that can be installed from Google Play Store. The lending decisions are made by a proprietary credit score calculated by analyzing more than 2,000 data points on the phones of applicants. New borrowers begin with a loan up to KES 1,000 (USD 10), after which they can increase their credit limit based on their repayment performances per previous loans.

December 2015, Branch became the first African company to raise money from U.S-based VC fund Andreessen Horowitz who has Facebook and AirBnB included in its portfolio. The round was reported to have been USD 9.2 Mn. To date, the mobile-based financial services firm has raised more than KES 1 Bn in equity and debt financing.

 

Featured Image: Branch International Via Medium 

Did you know: Over $725.6 Mn was invested in Africa in 2018.
Keep tabs on the Venture Capital Landscape of Africa with the VC Report 2018 by WeeTracker. Find out the Latest Fundings, Top Investors, Leading Sectors & much more..

What If Sign Language Could Be Heard? This Kenyan Techie Is Making It Happen With His ‘Magic Gloves’

January 14

Roy Allela’s six-year-old niece was born with a hearing impairment. Being one of the 34 million children worldwide that are estimated to be battling disabling hearing loss, the poor little girl struggled to communicate with family and friends as attempts at conversation were often punctuated with moments of awkward misinterpretations and a general inability to convey her truest feelings.

Imagine not being able to hear or speak; while most people tend to jump at the idea of sight being the most essential of the five senses (or is it six these days?), I would like to think of hearing and speech ability as a rather close second – or perhaps the margins are even finer than I think and it’s more like a tie.

Roy Allela
Image Source: LinkedIn

In any case, that was pretty much it for Uncle Roy’s little niece who would be often be left distraught and throw ‘inaudible’ tantrums whenever she wanted something and couldn’t get it mostly because no one could tell what she wanted. Sad but true for most kids living with the condition, and maybe also living with people that don’t know much about sign language or facial expressions.

It’s not like the rest of the little girl’s family was having a swell time with the whole situation either. Folks at home were often tripping over themselves in attempts to communicate with her or answer her requests. This inability to communicate made it rather difficult for the family to connect with their little girl during the first six years of her life. But all that is beginning to seem like a thing of the past now.

Dejection. Frustration. Exasperation. Pain. Those feelings were mostly the case for most members of the poor girl’s immediate and extended families – well, everybody else except Uncle Roy, it would seem.

Roy Allela had always been fond of his little niece ever since she was an infant. When the unfortunate news of her condition became family knowledge, he cherished her even more. But with time now flying fast, the little girl was beginning to seem distant. Very disturbing, even his for his usually calm and optimistic self.

But he didn’t lose his head, though; which would have been some loss given that he carried a pretty good one on his neck. He began to think up ways to bring back his ‘baby girl’. Now, lavishing her with presents and spending quality time with her would normally seem like a plan, but he may have decided to give her more – something of the ultimate gift for persons living with her condition, as some might say.

Roy Allela opted to ‘gift’ his niece with something that was, to a large extent, neurologically unfeasible for someone with the condition – the ability to communicate by speaking. How he went about the whole thing, though, was nothing short of ingenious. The good thing about Roy was that he was more than just a doting uncle who was big on spoiling kids with chocolatey treats – he was also a highly-skilled engineer (you’ll sure get the idea why I mentioned the head he carries on his neck too).

As necessity is the mother of invention, Roy landed his wonderful creation. Inspired by his niece, the 25-year-old has brought to life a unique invention which is a smart glove that converts sign language gestures into speech.

Essentially, his creation could be thought of as a sign-to-speech device that makes it easier for people living with hearing and speaking disabilities to communicate better with spoken words through audio speech – which is also great for the multitude that doesn’t know the first thing about sign language; a win for both sides, so to speak.

The glove, aptly called Sign-IO, converts sign language into audio speech after identifying several letters signed by sign language users and passing along the data to an Android application through which it is then vocalised. Voila!

Through flex sensors fitted in each finger compartment of the glove, the degree of bend to which a finger is subjected to in the process of signing a letter is characterised and quantified. These signals are then processed and sent via Bluetooth to a mobile application that is also developed by Roy. The app takes up the baton from there and makes out audio speech from the signed letters.

Image Source: kenyans.co.ke

As Roy says; “My niece wears the gloves, pairs them to her phone or mine, then starts signing, and I’m able to understand what she’s saying. Like all sign language users, she’s very good at lip reading, so she doesn’t need me to sign back.”

Roy’s project went through preliminary trials at a special needs school in Migori County in Kenya’s south-western region. It was from the results of those trials that he obtained valuable data which helped him work on one of the most important aspects of the gloves – the speed at which sign language is converted into audio.

Just as it is with spoken language, people speak at different speeds and require varying lengths of time to put together their thoughts into sign language. Hence, it was imperative that this gets incorporated into the mobile application so that just about anyone could use it with ease.

Through the app that goes with the glove, users are allowed to set preferences in terms of gender, language, and voice pitch. Roy also claims that the gloves translation accuracy currently stands at an impressive 93 percent.

True to his fondness for kids, Roy Allela has also designed the gloves in a number of style variants – from ‘Spiderman-themed’ gloves to ‘Disney Princess-esque’ ones – giving kids something to be excited about and putting paid to the stigma and difficulties associated with hearing and speech disabilities.

For his efforts, Roy Allela has been the recipient of numerous awards and nominations. At the 2017 Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) competition organized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), he took home the prestigious Hardware Trailblazer award. The prize money that came with the recognition helped him upgrade on the prototype and develop gloves that give more accurate translations.

Roy Allela is also one of 16 young African innovators drawn out from six countries that were nominated recently for The Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Inventors. Clinching the grand prize will see him go home with up to EUR 25 K to support his project.

Image Source: Intel Corporation

Having made his bones at the University of Nairobi where he won numerous awards before earning a degree in Microprocessor Technology and Instrumentation back in 2016, he also successfully completed a number of Udacity courses in the year that followed, with stints at Microsoft, Soko Store, and Emobilis Academy sandwiched in between.

A 2018 fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Roy Allela currently juggles working at Intel Corporation with tutoring at Oxford University for courses on Data Science and IoT. He also hopes to place at least two pairs of the Sign-IO in every special needs school in Kenya. Well, guess it’s true what they say – superheroes do not always wear capes, some only have gloves on.

 

Feature image courtesy: nairobinewsnation.co.ke

Did you know: Over $725.6 Mn was invested in Africa in 2018.
Keep tabs on the Venture Capital Landscape of Africa with the VC Report 2018 by WeeTracker. Find out the Latest Fundings, Top Investors, Leading Sectors & much more..

Naspers Fully Acquires Dubizzle For USD 190 Mn

January 14

The investment arm of South Africa’s Naspers – Myriad International Holdings – has decided to go all in and acquire the entire stake in Dubai-based Dubizzle for USD 190 Mn. According to the firm’s interim results, Naspers now owns a 100 percent stake in the company.

December 2012, Naspers made their first investment in Dubizzle, acquiring a 25 percent stake in the company through its MIH subsidiary. Through OLX, Naspers eventually went in for more to own 53 percent of the company, giving them the lion share. Having gone for the full deal at USD 190 Mn, Dubizzle is now valued at USD 409 Mn. 

Dubizzle was founded in 2005 by Sim Whatley and JC Butler and is the leader in online classified in the UAE, receiving nearly 8 million visitors each month. In August 2013, the founders announced that they were leaving the UAE to return home to the U.S, eight years after launching Dubizzle. They relinquished their day-to-day running of the company, which as at then had grown to include websites in 10 cities across the Middle East. According to an Arabian Business interview, both men were expecting babies in December that year, and needed to relocate to commune with family and friends. It was a difficult situation at the time, but it was a sacrifice both founders were willing to make.

The step down was also believed to have been as a result of majority stake acquisition by Naspers. After hiring talented staff who could act independently, both founders were reported to have felt less needed. Making good on their pre-intention to transition out of the business, Whatley, and Butler, both sold a portion of their equity to investor MIH. They had both built the company from scratch and had invested USD 12 K of their personal money, lived on passion and a 10-AED-a-day budget until they met an angel investor in 2006.

This isn’t the first mark of the newspaper firm’s prominence in investments, as they have a 30 percent stake in China’s Tencent Holdings, 28.7% stake in Digital Sky Technologies, others in Souq.com, Delivery Hero and another in Russia’s Mail.ru. Naspers, who is also listed on the London Stock Exchange, made the recent acquisition to increase its global presence in classifieds, payments and food delivery verticals. 

 

Featured Image: Techmoran

Did you know: Over $725.6 Mn was invested in Africa in 2018.
Keep tabs on the Venture Capital Landscape of Africa with the VC Report 2018 by WeeTracker. Find out the Latest Fundings, Top Investors, Leading Sectors & much more..

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