Top 5 South African startup developments in 2016


South Africa cemented its reputation as a leader in African tech over the course of 2016.

But what were Disrupt Africa’s choices when it comes to the major moments of the last year?

Giraffe is a global champion

March saw South African mobile recruitment platform Giraffe named winner of the Seedstars World global startup pitching competition, taking home US$500,000 in investment.

Giraffe wants to reduce unemployment in South Africa by improving access to job listings for the low and medium skilled jobs market using mobile. It beat off competition from startups from all over the world to win the event.

Can this year’s South African entrant – iDWork – do the same? It remains to be seen, but the omens a good for what winning Seedstars means. Giraffe went on to secure a funding round from Omidyar network.

Barclays is building startups

2016 saw the first arrival of the Barclays Accelerator in Africa, with 10 startups taking part in a 13-week programme in Cape Town. Barclays went on to sign initial collaboration agreements with seven of them.

Applications are now open for the second edition of the programme, which will see selected startups given the opportunity to expand their presence in the African marketplace via Barclays Africa Group’s customer, product, and technology teams.

Barclays even went one better, with its Seeker Fund investing in South African fintech startup WizzPass. Now that’s support.

Funding is coming

WizzPass was just one of dozens of South African startups to raise funding during 2016, though you will have to wait for our annual funding report to find out exactly how many. The year, in fact, signalled a major development in the funding space.

In February, Disrupt Africa speculated that 2016 could be the best yet for funding, and there is certainly evidence that this could be the case given the number of funds springing up. Back then we were writing on the back of announcements such as this one, this one and this one.

The number of funds continued to grow, however. There was this, not to mention this, followed by this, and that one, and this, and even that. You get the picture.

Zooming Zoona

The year began smoothly enough for fintech startup Zoona, which announced it had processed US$1 billion in transactions. But things were about to get better.

The startup announced plans to expand to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique, and got a helping hand in that respect by raising US$15 million from the IFC and 4Di. Excellent stuff.

Just to top it all off, Zoona was then named a winner of the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship last month. Alright guys, don’t get greedy.

CiTi busy in Cape Town

The Cape IT Initiative (CiTi) has never been one to rest on its laurels, but it did seem to have a particularly busy 2016. Take a break guys, relax!

There were new accelerators, like TenaCiTi and InnoTech, an ed-tech cluster, a media hub, and a travel tech hub. Where do they find the room? They even had time and space to open a new co-working space.

Finishing off a busy year was a serious games challenge and a partnership with London fintech corporate innovation and venture specialist Fintech Circle Innovate. If any group of people deserve a mince pie or two at this time of year its Ian Merrington and his team.


About Author

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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