SA market research startup iSpani wins $170k at Social Tech Startup Challenge


South African salesforce and market research startup iSpani has won ZAR2.5 million in grant funding after winning the Social Tech Startup Challenge run by the Diageo Empowerment Trust SA.

The Diageo Empowerment Trust SA Social Tech Startup Challenge concluded last week with five tech-enabled startups pitching for a share of ZAR5 million (US$340,000) in seed funding.

iSpani made the strongest impression on the judges and received ZAR2.5 million (US$170,000), while bursary and scholarship platform Foonda took home ZAR2.1 million (US$143,000) for finishing second.

Home security start-up Jonga was awarded ZAR200,000 (US$14,000), while on-demand recruitment platform SkillShift and youth-focused sport talent platform BallTalent secured ZAR100,000 (US$7,000) each.

“Our central driving force in this challenge has been to stimulate meaningful, strategic growth and innovation in a key industry of our economy,” said Diageo SA Empowerment Trust general manager Sinethemba Mafanya. 

“We strive to help pave the way for South Africa’s transition from a resource-based economy to a knowledge market that is truly part of the fourth industrial revolution. We were stunned at the quality of the innovations, as each one of the thousands of participants offered a unique solution to major social and economic challenges affecting millions of South Africans and the continent as a whole.”Pre-registration is now open for next year’s Social Tech Startup Challenge here.


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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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