African heats of 1776 Challenge Cup underway


The local African heats of US-based accelerator 1776’s global startups competition, the Challenge Cup, are underway, with winners already announced from the Ghanaian, Zimbabwean and South African heats.

The Challenge Cup sees startups compete through three stages. Approximately 20 startups pitch head-to-head in local competitions, with three at each event chosen to progress to the regional heat. Five regional winners will be selected to advance to the global finals, to be held in Washington DC in June 2016.

At the global finals, startups will compete for US$175,000 in cash prizes and up to US$1,000,000 in investment from the 1776 Seed Fund.

Disrupt Africa reported in September 1776 announced local African heats in Accra in Ghana; Harare, Zimbabwe; Pretoria, South Africa; Casablanca in Morocco; Ugandan capital Kampala; and Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. A Nigerian leg has since been added.

The Ghanaian, Zimbabwean and South African events have taken place, with three winners selected from each event to progress to the regional round of the competition.

In Ghana, the winners were named as Zeepay – providing integrated mobile payments services, and the core application is that it allows to send remittances through mobile payments; Zaacoal, which produces charcoal out of coconut waste; and Bangladeshi company Solshare, which supplies power to off-grid consumers, and wants to break into the African market.

Zimbabwe’s top three startups were Anchorpay – a system through which parents can send money to their children in boarding schools, and monitor their spending; Mazwi, “like the book section of Amazon”, enabling access to books at up to 20 per cent discount; and Vine Design, which designs motivational t-shirts, and contributes funds to helping children with drug abuse problems.

The three South African winners are Livestock Wealth, a digital crowd-investing platform that enables investors worldwide own and trade in African cattle; WHC, which develops products for water conservation; and Khepri Biosciences, which is piloting the cultivation of insect larvae on abattoir refuse.

The Ugandan, Ethiopian and Moroccan events take place in December, while the Nigerian event is set for January.

The regional finals will be held in Nairobi, Kenya in February; where the five overall African regional winners will be selected to progress to the global competition.


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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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