Duty free shopping platform wins Seedstars World Abidjan

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Airshop, a platform that allows users to purchase goods and pick them up at a duty free shop while travelling, won the Ivory Coast leg of the global Seedstars World competition in Abidjan yesterday, and will now proceed to the global final in Geneva next year.

Disrupt Africa reported earlier this week the latest African leg of the startup competition was to take place in Abidjan, following earlier legs in MozambiqueSouth AfricaNigeria and Ghana.

This year’s edition of the competition has been expanded to 50 countries, with the winning startup from each country given the chance to pitch for US$500,000 in equity at the global final.

The Abidjan event was hosted at the Orange Technocentre, and saw 10 startups pitch to a panel of judges. Airshop emerged the winner, with founder Francis Yapobi saying he was “relieved”.

“I feel relieved, excited. It was a lot of stress but now I’m relieved! I can’t wait to be in Geneva next year,” Yapobi said.

Nnenna Nwakanma, Africa regional coordinator at the World Wide Web Foundation, sat on the judging panel, and was impressed by the extent to which these young entrepreneurs go to research problems and effect change.

“I wish we had the internet before now. If we did, Africa would certainly be a different place. I have faith that the youth in Africa, given the right technology opportunities, will be key in reducing poverty for the continent. I congratulate them all,” Nwakanma said.

Sadamadou Kaba, head of department at Orange Fab Abidjan and also a judge, congratulated all companies that took part, and especially Airshop for winning the event.

“We were especially impressed by Airshop because they address a global need from a local perspective. We are very much looking forward to collaborating with them going forward with Orange Fab Cote D’Ivoire,” Kaba said.

ICT4Dev, a software solution targeting agricultural businesses, came second, while Africa Media Group, a video on demand platform, came third.

The next Seedstars World event in Africa will take place in Kigali, Rwanda on August 26.

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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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