African startups raise $75k from Enygma Ventures at Startup Circles demo day


Three African startups secured funding totalling ZAR1.25 million (US$75,000) from Enygma Ventures at the recent Startup Circles demo day.

South African digital accelerator Startup Circles is a partner of Enygma Ventures in its ZAR100 million (US$6.8 million) fund launched late last year, which has a focus on investing in women entrepreneurs in the SADC region.

At the recently held demo day, 13 startups graduating from the Startup Circles Startup Launch and Investor Readiness programmes showcased their solutions to a panel of judges comprising investors, experienced entrepreneurs, and mentors, with three being offered deals.

Lelemba Phiri, principal at the Africa Trust Group and operating partner for Enygma Ventures offered ZAR420,000 (US$25,000) for a 10 per cent stake in Malawi’s Mangwee, a payments platform that helps learning institutions automate payment and data management processes. 

Sarah Dusek, managing partner at Enygma Ventures, offered out-of-season shoe reselling trading platform Candor Life US$25,000 for a 10 per cent stake in the business. The South African startup is providing earning opportunities for rural and township populations across nine provinces and two countries via its online reseller model.

Dusek also offered US$25,000 for a 10 per cent stake in AIA, an online store for handmade African artisanal goods offering creatives who lack budget and digital skills the opportunity to sell their products online. 

At this stage the startups have only received offers of funding, which are still subject to negotiation and finalisation. Startup Circles confirmed that no due diligence process is necessary as it has already been working closely with the companies.

Though it did not secure direct funding, another company that caught the investors’ eye was South Africa’s Mtwanamba Solutions, which provides mobile toilets and handwashing units for funerals. The judges were impressed by the company’s community-based crowdfunding initiative designed to help raise the startup capital. 

Vuyisa Qabaka, HYBR Group’s operating partner for Africa, made a commitment to seed the initial ZAR5,000 (US$300) minimum investment required by each member, while Lelemba Phiri committed to seed the second minimum investment with a promise of more if the entrepreneurs committed to drive better gender diversity in their team.

“Events like these take the mystery out of how investors think and what they are looking for. Essentially, it is like giving you the exam questions and the answers. At Startup Circles we, as Africa’s number one startup school and online accelerator, want to give everybody regardless of geography access to world class mentorship and capital,” said Startup Circles chief executive officer (CEO) Sandras Phiri.


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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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