SafeMotos, Duma Works, Shield Finance among winners at PIVOT East

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SafeMotos, Duma Works, Shield Finance, Arifu and Makarao were category winners at yesterday’s PIVOT East mobile startups pitching competition in Nairobi, Kenya.

Disrupt Africa reported in June a panel of PIVOT East judges selected 25 startups to compete at the event, further narrowing down a shortlist of 50 semi-finalists from around East Africa.

The 25 startups pitched to a investors, media and other stakeholders in Nairobi yesterday, with the judges declaring winners in five categories. All winners receive free one-year hosting from Kenyan cloud startup Angani, unlike in previous years when there have been cash prizes.

In the Finance category, Kenyan startup Shield Finance came out on top ahead of BitFinance (Kenya/Zimbabwe), Eko Biashara (Kenya), Hisa Play (Kenya), and V-Money (Tanzania). Shield provides payday loans to employees, and is seeking US$500,000 to grow its operations and increase its available on-lending float. The startup is among the 30 that will be taking part in DEMO Africa in Lagos, Nigeria in September.

The Enterprise category had only Kenyan finalists, with Duma Works winning ahead of Djuaji, Tenderpreneur.net, Mobu and SaniCMS. Duma Works offers network recruiting via any mobile phone device, with filtering technology meaning only suitable candidates are referred to companies. The startup is looking for US$250,000 on top of US$500,000 it has already raised in order to expand its team and enter other markets.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my team. They did an absolutely phenomenal job and really stepped up their game to focus not only on their workload but also this competition. Ultimately, our service at Duma Works speaks for itself and I can’t wait to see the response from other Kenyan companies in the market,” Arielle Sandor, co-founder at Duma Works, told Disrupt Africa.

Rwandan startup SafeMotos won the Utilities category, beating off competition from Snapp Builder (Kenya), SoftBallot (Kenya), Nikweli (Tanzania) and African Fashion (Tanzania). The startup is an Uber-style platform that connects customers with motorcycle taxi drivers, collecting data on drivers and pushing less safe ones to the edge of the platform. It has already raised US$105,000 and is looking for a further US$120,000. The startup also won the Founder’s Award.

“Winning the utilities and founders prize is a deep validation for the hard work and passion that the entire SafeMotos team has poured into our company. We are proud to have shown a spotlight on Rwanda and the exciting startup scene that is taking root in Kigali. PIVOT East has just been a terrific opportunity, we are humbled too by seeing how flourishing the startup ecosystem is here in East Africa,” SafeMotos co-founder Barrett Nash told Disrupt Africa.

The Society and Governance category was won by Kenyan startup Arifu, a digital content marketplace aimed at helping large companies deliver effective training to help upskill individuals working with the organisation. It is already earning US$80,000 in revenues, and is seeking US$500,000 in convertible debt or equity. BOOKEX (Kenya), MySecurity (Kenya), Feedback-RT (Uganda) and Politik (Kenya) were the other competitors in the category.

The Entertainment category was made up of Soka (Tanzania), Makarao (Kenya), Guumzo (Tanzania), Moview (Tanzania) and Kaka and Chui (Kenya). Makarao is a YouTube-based animation channel specialising in African content for a global audience. Since launching one year ago, it already has over 6,000 subscribers and has clocked up over 700,000 views. The startup is seeking US$150,000 to allow further content development, hiring personnel, and for further marketing.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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