Disrupt Africa https://disrupt-africa.com Startup | Invest | Disrupt Fri, 23 Oct 2020 11:34:36 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 Ugandan ed-tech startup KAINO develops homeschooling app for ECD https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/10/ugandan-ed-tech-startup-kaino-develops-homeschooling-app-for-ecd/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ugandan-ed-tech-startup-kaino-develops-homeschooling-app-for-ecd Fri, 23 Oct 2020 09:00:06 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23604 Ugandan ed-tech startup KAINO has developed a homeschooling app for early childhood development (ECD) in response to the closure of schools in the country as a result of COVID-19. When Disrupt Africa first reported on KAINO in late 2018, the startup was in the process of piloting its e-learning solution KAINOtab, offering teachers, students and [...]

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Ugandan ed-tech startup KAINO has developed a homeschooling app for early childhood development (ECD) in response to the closure of schools in the country as a result of COVID-19.

When Disrupt Africa first reported on KAINO in late 2018, the startup was in the process of piloting its e-learning solution KAINOtab, offering teachers, students and parents access to online guides and textbooks, assessment tools and educational games both online and offline.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, however, the startup pivoted to solve what it considered to be a pressing need.

“Because of COVID-19, all schools were closed here in Uganda. The government has moved to open schools this month, but only for final year students. The rest still don’t know when they will get back to school. KAINO had been building a product for schools before the pandemic but when it hit and schools closed, we had to pivot real quick and started developing a homeschooling app for ECD,” chief executive officer (CEO) Alfred Opio told Disrupt Africa.

The MVP of this app was launched late last month, and is already being used by over 350 people not only in Uganda, but also in Burundi, Tanzania, South Sudan and Rwanda. Opio attributes the swift uptake to the fact ECD is often neglected by ed-tech companies on the continent.

“The ed-tech space in Africa is mainly centered around solutions for primary and secondary school students. These are the majority, leaving ECD lagging behind,” he said.

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Egyptian startup SOKNA launches end-to-end funeral services platform https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/10/egyptian-startup-sokna-launches-end-to-end-funeral-services-platform/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=egyptian-startup-sokna-launches-end-to-end-funeral-services-platform Fri, 23 Oct 2020 08:00:24 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23642 Egyptian startup SOKNA, whose name means “calmness” or “tranquility” in Arabic, has launched an end-to-end funeral services platform, aimed at providing families with professional expertise to take care of all logistics during the difficult moments of losing a loved one.  SOKNA handles the full array of funerary services, including but not limited to support in [...]

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Egyptian startup SOKNA, whose name means “calmness” or “tranquility” in Arabic, has launched an end-to-end funeral services platform, aimed at providing families with professional expertise to take care of all logistics during the difficult moments of losing a loved one. 

SOKNA handles the full array of funerary services, including but not limited to support in releasing the burial permit and paperwork, body preparation, cemetery set-up, transportation, hall and condolences service booking, obituaries, personalised sadaqa giveaways, and post-loss support.

Founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Ahmed Gaballah has been researching how to optimise the funeral process through extensive in-depth, on-ground experience and research, locally and internationally, since 2013. So far SOKNA has completed over 340 funerals and burials,  and has signed protocols of collaboration with 10 Egyptian private hospitals. 

“People who are suffering from loss should have the opportunity to grieve without being consumed by physical, administrative, and logistical requirements,” said Gaballah. “That’s why we established SOKNA – to allow people to focus on the farewell instead of the paperwork, and to honor departing souls and their families by partially alleviating the logistical pain of those moments.”  

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Nigeria’s Agrorite is latest player looking to make an impact in agri-funding sector https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/10/nigerias-agrorite-is-latest-player-looking-to-make-an-impact-in-agri-funding-sector/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nigerias-agrorite-is-latest-player-looking-to-make-an-impact-in-agri-funding-sector Fri, 23 Oct 2020 06:00:14 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23622 Crowd-investing of farmers in Africa was pioneered by Nigeria’s Farmcrowdy, but the model has since been used and adapted by a host more startups – Thrive Agric (which has run into some difficulties of late), Seekewa, Complete Farmer, BaySeddo, YouFarm and Livestock Wealth, to name just a few.  The latest company trying to make a [...]

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Crowd-investing of farmers in Africa was pioneered by Nigeria’s Farmcrowdy, but the model has since been used and adapted by a host more startups – Thrive Agric (which has run into some difficulties of late), Seekewa, Complete Farmer, BaySeddo, YouFarm and Livestock Wealth, to name just a few. 

The latest company trying to make a splash in the space is Nigeria’s Agrorite, which works with 8,200 smallholder farmers span across 12 states in Nigeria, connecting them with investors and helping them sell their produce.

Like other such platforms, Agrorite allows users to invest in farm units and earn returns once produce goes to market, connecting farmers with vital capital. Founder Toyosi Ayodele told Disrupt Africa he launched the startup in order to find a solution to the needs of the average smallholder farmer in Africa, stating with one Mr Ule, a rice farmer in Benue state.

“Ule, as most smallholder farmers, sold his harvested produce at ridiculously low prices due to the involvement of middlemen, and also experienced about 30-40 per cent post-harvest losses due to lack of access to the premium market. Another major challenge Ule faced was lack of finance to scale food production due to the fact that he was not creditworthy,” Ayodele said.  

“Ule is a hard worker and most times puts in 18 hours of work per day, six days a week, so as to get the required quantity and quality at harvest. It is disheartening to know that he has little or nothing to show for his effort.”

Agrorite, launched in May 2019, addresses both of Ule’s major challenges, sourcing finance for him and selling his produce to premium processing companies. The self-funded company is already working with thousands of farmers, but its impact goes further.

“So far we have been able to carry out export activities in three continents, cultivate 5,830 hectares of farmland, and produce over 86,340 metrics tonnes of farm produce,” said Ayodele.

“We are currently in the process of setting up a food processing plant. Increased exportation capacity is also a major outlook for us. However, we are seeking partnership and grants to boost agricultural production.”

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Bounce back with 10X-e’s Scale Up Labs https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/10/bounce-back-with-10x-es-scale-up-labs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bounce-back-with-10x-es-scale-up-labs Fri, 23 Oct 2020 01:52:06 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23649 For most African start-ups and scale-up businesses being battered by the myriad effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the few ‘silver linings’ of the crisis is the hope of coming out stronger on the other side. But that won’t happen automatically – it will require taking proactive steps now to invest in that outcome. [...]

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For most African start-ups and scale-up businesses being battered by the myriad effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the few ‘silver linings’ of the crisis is the hope of coming out stronger on the other side. But that won’t happen automatically – it will require taking proactive steps now to invest in that outcome. That’s the focus of the forthcoming 10X-entrepreneur (10X-e) Scale Up Labs. 

50% of start-ups across East and Southern Africa have had their product or service range rendered outdated, irrelevant or requiring a major overhaul, according to a survey conducted recently by 10X-e, a business focused on scaling innovation-led, high-growth ventures in Africa. Survey results further revealed that more than 80% of the surveyed organisations had to update some combination of their business model, game plan and competitive strategy to stay in business. In a nutshell, founders and leadership teams are tired, working twice as hard for half as much. The year is feeling long, and the journey ahead is hard. 

Start-ups are needing to take positive steps forward to use the crisis to get stronger, to re-energise themselves and their teams with hope that springs from taking proactive steps to build a stronger business, even in the midst of the chaos. 

To support founders in that process, 10X-e has introduced the Scale Up Labs series for business leaders to invest in being stronger on the other side of this crisis, and build the resilience to lead well through the rest of it. 

The Scale the Google Way with OKRs Lab will start in November 2020 and is focused on implementing the agile and scalable management system Google used to lead the organisation from 20 to 50 000 headcount. Larry Page, co-founder of Google famously said, “OKRs have helped lead us to 10x growth, many times over. They’ve helped make our crazily bold mission of ‘organizing the world’s information’ perhaps even achievable. They’ve kept me and the rest of the company on time and on track when it mattered the most.”

“Every growth venture needs a system to keep the team strategically focused, aligned and accountable. When you are small, you are the system. At some point, that system will either break you or the business or both! When that happens, you need to “Scale the Google Way” by implementing the OKR system,” adds Goldberg.

The Lead NOW Lab, the first in the series and starting on 29th October, is a grit building process aimed at re-engaging leaders’ A-Game after these brutal few months. It is focused on putting in place the practical habits to help leaders and their teams be mentally, emotionally and physically more well – therefore having a deeper well of positive energy for their organisations to drink from. 

Jason Goldberg, founder of 10X-e says, “As a venture leader at the back end of 2020, you are probably exhausted at a time when your business needs your leadership A-Game the most. This Lab is a space to do the work required to re-engage your A-Game with the guidance from other CEOs whose business it is to help CEOs bring their A-Game.”

“As we navigate this unprecedented year, leadership and resilience have never been more important. Lead NOW provides an opportunity to close out the year with sharpened insights, pragmatic tools and a community of fellow entrepreneurs who are in this with you. It is an opportunity to invest in yourself as founder and leader – and so, set up your team and business to shift your trajectory as you build forward,” says Kerrin Miller, principal psychologist and co-founder of Factor10 Consulting.

10X-e has been supporting high growth Scale Ups on the continent since 2016. Birthed out of the pain of learning the hard way (trial and error!) how to scale their own business at 50% annual growth for 12 years, plus working with their own portfolio of >50 African ventures, 10X-e exists to help founders who’re scaling an organisation for the first time, and typically supports ventures scaling from 20-200 headcount. 

When describing the value of being part of a 10X-e programme, hearX Group CEO, Nic Klopper says, “10X-e was instrumental in the success of hearX. It provided a laser focus and forced critical thinking for the founders. 10X-e helped our business identify the growth opportunities and where to apply our focus. I would recommend this programme to any high-growth startup looking to grow their business.” 

The team at 10X-e will release the schedule of 2021 Scale Up Labs – focused on scale-up issues caused by Covid-19 and rapid growth – in January 2021. 

Win a Seat 

If you would like to win a seat at the Scale the Google Way with OKRs Lab, follow this link to complete a quick survey to secure an entry. 

For more information on the 10X-e Scale Up Lab series, click here: https://10x-e.africa/scale-up-lab-series/

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About 10X-e

At 10X Entrepreneur (10X-e), our mission is to scale impact by growing businesses. We specialise in scaling innovation led, high growth ventures in Africa. Through a highly experienced team of former-Founders and CEO’s, 10X-e provides cutting edge tools, skills and seasoned advice for high teams to scale up. To date, 10X-e has worked with 441 companies, created more than 1100 jobs. 

Jason Goldberg (Co-Founder, Edge Growth | Co-Founder, Vumela Fund | Founder, 10X-e)

After a career spanning management consulting across Africa and Latin America with Bain & Co and working as a corporate strategist in the airline industry in Latin America, Jason founded Edge Growth, Edge Growth Corporate Advisory, Edge Fund Management with the Vumela fund and more recently the start-up called 10X-entrepreneur. The mission of 10X-e is to address the #1 constraint to job creation in SA and Africa. 80% of the top 1% of ventures get stuck or fail prematurely due to a critical shortage of Scale Up skills required to navigate scaling a business from a start-up to a large, mature organisation. 10X-e’s mission is to address this constraint by providing a CEO incubation program (‘incubating’ CEO’s & Executive teams) consisting of the most powerful and cutting-edge Scale Up training, coaching, tools, and practical support. 

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Secha Capital Partners announces first close of $30m Southern African fund https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/10/secha-capital-partners-announces-first-close-of-30m-southern-african-fund/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=secha-capital-partners-announces-first-close-of-30m-southern-african-fund Thu, 22 Oct 2020 09:00:41 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23633 Secha Capital Partners has announced the first close of its second fund, Secha Capital Impact, a Southern Africa early-stage operations-focused impact private equity fund. The ZAR400 million (US$30 million) Secha Capital Fund II builds on the success of Secha’s highly differentiated inaugural fund, and will invest up to ZAR12 million (US$730,000) into established Southern African [...]

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Secha Capital Partners has announced the first close of its second fund, Secha Capital Impact, a Southern Africa early-stage operations-focused impact private equity fund.

The ZAR400 million (US$30 million) Secha Capital Fund II builds on the success of Secha’s highly differentiated inaugural fund, and will invest up to ZAR12 million (US$730,000) into established Southern African SMEs for significant minority equity stakes. 

Complementing growth capital with human capital, the impact investment model aims to solve key pain points and accelerate growth in the small business sector. 

“Fund one was always proof of concept: Can we complement growth capital with human capital to solve SME pain points and accelerate growth? Our portfolio data is a resounding yes. It is now time to replicate and scale this investment model across Africa. We need to grow the Secha team to help more SMEs,” said Secha Capital co-founder and managing director Rushil Vallabh.

“We find and fund SMEs that others do not. We write smaller, but more impactful checks and then get Africa’s best and brightest to actually join the SME team.” 

Secha Capital II expects a final close in October 2021.

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SA startup eVuna launches insight crowdsourcing platform for brands https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/10/sa-startup-evuna-launches-insight-crowdsourcing-platform-for-brands/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sa-startup-evuna-launches-insight-crowdsourcing-platform-for-brands Thu, 22 Oct 2020 08:00:30 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23611 South African startup eVuna has launched an insight crowdsourcing platform that enables a sponsor to digitally connect with an audience, either known or unknown, and rewards the audience for their engagement. Launched in September, eVuna uses rewards to gamify the engagement experience in order to get closer to audiences, better understand their needs, and entrench [...]

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South African startup eVuna has launched an insight crowdsourcing platform that enables a sponsor to digitally connect with an audience, either known or unknown, and rewards the audience for their engagement.

Launched in September, eVuna uses rewards to gamify the engagement experience in order to get closer to audiences, better understand their needs, and entrench brand or business loyalty.

“Global events are drastically changing how people perceive value in products, services and brands. New regulations, macro changes in trends, and globalisation of services are forcing changes to organisations, and the need exists for empirical data from target audiences to make decisions,” Ruaan Botha, co-founder of eVuna, told Disrupt Africa.

“The current method of getting closer to their audience insights is to “buy data” or pay marketing corporations hefty amounts to manually source insights on their behalf. These manual insight gathering exercises are typically small sample sizes that lead to an expensive “per interaction” price. It also takes lots of time to setup and can dure for extended periods of time.”

eVuna, however, allows brands and businesses to engage with target audiences in real-time, digitally and with no middleman, and fairly reward the participants.

Self-funded so far, eVuna has already signed up three large financial services brands who will use it to engage with customers, but also to better engage with staff and contractors. 

“We have seen multiple customers interested in doing a POC, which is a perfect fit as the platform allows engagements from sample sizes as small as 50,” Botha said.

Currently operating in the FMCG, HR and financial services industries, eVuna can however be integrated into the customer journey in any service industry, rewarding customers for giving feedback on their experience. 

“The platform has been built to play well with any alternative rewards programme, allowing it to easily expand into other countries, with a specific focus on emerging economies,” said Botha.

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Nigerian startup in joint venture with UK firm to scale gamified ad-tech product https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/10/nigerian-startup-in-joint-venture-with-uk-firm-to-scale-gamified-ad-tech-product/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nigerian-startup-in-joint-venture-with-uk-firm-to-scale-gamified-ad-tech-product Thu, 22 Oct 2020 06:00:13 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23311 Nigerian startup Hatixa has entered into a joint venture with United Kingdom (UK) firm BrandMobile to launch BrandMobile Africa, with the goal of creating a scalable ad-tech product built on gamification principles. Founded by Toby Nwanede and Habeeb Aremu in 2017, Hatixa initially focused on media productions before developing a product called PEEP, that would [...]

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Nigerian startup Hatixa has entered into a joint venture with United Kingdom (UK) firm BrandMobile to launch BrandMobile Africa, with the goal of creating a scalable ad-tech product built on gamification principles.

Founded by Toby Nwanede and Habeeb Aremu in 2017, Hatixa initially focused on media productions before developing a product called PEEP, that would programmatically deliver content to consumer lockscreens each time they tried to unlock or power up their devices. 

“Ultimately, it was a beautiful concept with lots of in-app engagement, but driving acquisition while trying to convince brands to provide content proved to be a chicken and egg palaver,” Nwanede told Disrupt Africa. 

“We met BrandMobile around 2018 through a friend and in late 2019, after some gruelling and quite testing months, we struck up a partnership conversation.”

Ad-tech company BrandMobile was launched in Denmark in 2006 by Brian Larsen, before being sold to iLoop in the United States (US). When iLoop closed in 2017, Larsen repurchased the rights to BrandMobile, and launched it in the UK and Denmark. The new BrandMobile decided to rethink its concept, basing it around gamification to increase response rates and return rates, and saw a great response upon its launch in 2018. 

Larsen sold the Scandinavian company in 2019, and has now partnered with Hatixa to see if the concept would work in Africa. BrandMobile Africa came into existence via a joint venture signed in January of this year, with Hatixa ceasing to exist as an entity other than to hold Nwanede and Aremu’s shares in the new joint venture. The new company says it has developed an innovative gamification ecosystem to boost brands, products and business.

“Our goal is to reach millions of audiences, connecting them closer with their brands, whilst enabling brands to facilitate conversion across all marketing metrics,” said Nwanede.

“We are on a mission to prove our belief that gamification is the single most important mechanism for driving productivity, performance and consumer behaviour. Along the way, we are committed to creating the most intuitive consumer database in Africa.” 

BrandMobile Africa exists to help Nigerian companies with customer onboarding and conversion, customer retention and loyalty, and data collection and optimisation.

“Engaging customers using digital channels such as social media allows for a wide range of awareness, but little conversion. By implementing gamification techniques and incentives, we are able to ensure customer participation and conversion both online and offline,” Nwanede said.

“Our SaaS platform, Proxima, gives clients the opportunity to control their marketing ROI, with real-time campaign analytics and reports, and ability to deploy powerful game mechanics. We literally turn awareness into measurable conversion.”

The company operates out of Lagos, but does not consider itself to be geo-bound. 

“We are already in partnership with media agencies in Eastern and Southern Africa and we are aiming to scale across these regions as well as West Africa by Q3 2021,” said Nwanede.

Self-funded through revenue generated from outsourcing its services, BrandMobile has decided to continue without external investment for the foreseeable future.

“Within six months of operations, we have run campaigns for P&G , for whom we are now an official vendor, as well as the likes of Nigerian Breweries,” Nwanede said. “Partnerships with some of the most renowned media agencies have also been major achievements.”

He said gamification was a nascent sector in Nigeria, and that it had been an interesting journey educating businesses and people on its usage and benefits. 

“The uptake hasn’t been entirely smooth but over time we have been able to onboard major businesses onto our various gamified products. We believe we are pioneers in this sector, not to say no one else is doing it; but we have truly dedicated ourselves to the principles of gamification and have identified areas where it has not been applied at scale.”

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SA insurtech startup Click2Sure raises multi-million rand investment https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/10/sa-insurtech-startup-click2sure-raises-multi-million-rand-investment/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sa-insurtech-startup-click2sure-raises-multi-million-rand-investment Wed, 21 Oct 2020 15:45:22 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23637 Cape Town-based insurtech company Click2Sure has raised a multi-million rand investment from US-based VC firm SixThirty to help it further develop its product. Launched in 2017, Click2Sure is a full stack digital insurance platform which enables retailers, service providers, distributors and brokers to bolt on a selection of over 20 custom-developed insurance products at the [...]

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Cape Town-based insurtech company Click2Sure has raised a multi-million rand investment from US-based VC firm SixThirty to help it further develop its product.

Launched in 2017, Click2Sure is a full stack digital insurance platform which enables retailers, service providers, distributors and brokers to bolt on a selection of over 20 custom-developed insurance products at the point of sale.

The startup, which last raised funding in 2018, has now become the first African investment made by SixThirty, which invests in early-stage enterprise technology companies building insurTech, fintech and cybersecurity solutions.

The funding, which is undisclosed but worth millions of South African rand, will enable Click2Sure to further develop its product and ensure businesses offering insurance take advantage of the benefits of digitisation.

“Another reason we are thrilled to have SixThirty on board is their Go-To-Market Summer programme, where we were introduced to key individuals, executives and other founders well placed in the US market within blue chip companies, to help us get a foot in the door, and mentor us on what the US market and stakeholders expect to see from a startup and technology partner,” said Click2Sure co-founder Daniel Guasco.

SixThirty’s investment in Click2Sure was motivated by a recognition of the surprisingly low penetration of digital distribution in the insurance industry. Along with the forced digitalisation ushered in by COVID-19, SixThirty found Click2Sure’s exclusive focus as an enabler of digital distribution a key differentiator that can help it scale into new sectors and markets.

“Click2Sure doesn’t sell insurance. We provide our clients who sell insurance with a comprehensive cloud-based, digital platform for the distribution, management and purchasing of insurance at the point of sale,” said Guasco.

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Fintech startup TeamApt now operates Nigeria’s largest non-bank mobile money platform https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/10/fintech-startup-teamapt-now-operates-nigerias-largest-non-bank-mobile-money-platform/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fintech-startup-teamapt-now-operates-nigerias-largest-non-bank-mobile-money-platform Wed, 21 Oct 2020 09:00:10 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23596 Moniepoint, the mobile money platform launched last year by Nigerian fintech startup TeamApt, has become the largest non-bank mobile money service in the country, processing 13 million transactions monthly. Launched in 2015, the Lagos-based TeamApt was formed to solve inefficiencies in Nigeria’s growing digital financial services market, and has a variety of products, including payments [...]

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Moniepoint, the mobile money platform launched last year by Nigerian fintech startup TeamApt, has become the largest non-bank mobile money service in the country, processing 13 million transactions monthly.

Launched in 2015, the Lagos-based TeamApt was formed to solve inefficiencies in Nigeria’s growing digital financial services market, and has a variety of products, including payments service AptPay, digital banking solution Moneytor, and Profectus Robotics, a back-office automation solution.

The startup, which counts 100 per cent of the country’s commercial banks amongst its customers and last year secured a switching licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as a US$5.5 million funding round, now has more than three million customers and 100,000 businesses depending on its solutions and infrastructure.

Moniepoint, TeamApt’s mobile money platform, has been a particular success, and has become the largest non-bank mobile money operator in Nigeria by value processed, despite being the latest entrant. Moniepoint processes 13 million transactions monthly with a value of NGN197 billion (US$516 million), while averaging 23 per cent month-on-month user growth.

Meanwhile, Monnify, its payment gateway also launched in 2019, is the first and largest account transfers payment gateway in Nigeria.

Founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Tosin Eniolorunda told Disrupt Africa he was pleased with the consistency of the progress TeamApt had made since launch. 

“Starting and running a business can be a very arduous and time-consuming task but seeing results and enabling business growth can be very rewarding,” he said.

Such success has encouraged the team to push on with expansion plans. 

“Our plan has always been to expand beyond Nigeria and take the solutions that have worked so well in Nigeria to other developing and emerging markets. We’ve pinpointed some markets,” Eniolorunda said.

With this in mind, further funding is also on the horizon.

“We are speaking to various people and exploring a few opportunities,” said Eniolorunda.

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Kenya’s Ilara Health secures $1.1m Gates Foundation grant to improve maternal health outcomes https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/10/kenyas-ilara-health-secures-1-1m-gates-foundation-grant-to-improve-maternal-health-outcomes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kenyas-ilara-health-secures-1-1m-gates-foundation-grant-to-improve-maternal-health-outcomes Wed, 21 Oct 2020 06:00:04 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23626 Kenyan e-health startup Ilara Health, which provides point of care diagnostic testing to small primary care clinics, has received a US$1.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve maternal health outcomes in the country.  Ilara Health provides affordable diagnostic equipment to patients and healthcare providers in peri-urban areas and has partnered [...]

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Kenyan e-health startup Ilara Health, which provides point of care diagnostic testing to small primary care clinics, has received a US$1.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve maternal health outcomes in the country. 

Ilara Health provides affordable diagnostic equipment to patients and healthcare providers in peri-urban areas and has partnered with more than 120 clinics, enabling access to life-saving point of care diagnostic tools to thousands of patients across Kenya. 

The startup’s underlying technology seamlessly integrates these diagnostic tools into easy to manage tablets and mobile phones that require minimal training to operate. Ilara raised a seed funding round in August of last year to help it scale its offering, and has now secured a US$1.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The grant will be used to develop effective antenatal care (ANC) interventions and tech-based solutions for pregnant women unable to access essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ilara Health, in tandem with the Kisumu Ministry of Health and the Kenya Medical Research Institute, will leverage a network of local primary care facilities, telemedicine, and home-based health worker consultations to ensure safe continuity of life-saving maternal care during the pandemic and beyond.

Awarded in September, the grant is expected to reach approximately 4,000 low income pregnant women in peri-urban Kisumu county, and will address a significant drop in ANC attendance at large health facilities as concerns for possible COVID-19 transmission grow in these hotspots. 

Ilara Health and its partners will work to ensure essential ANC is available at small local clinics. The project aims to improve access to diagnostics locally and, through Ilara Health’s technology platform and diagnostic tools, the team will reach pregnant women at their local clinics, individual homes, or remotely – collectively providing safe, COVID-free, high-quality care to both mother and baby. 

Additionally, through its partnership with Butterfly Network, the company behind the telemedicine-enabled Butterfly iQ, a separate set of small facilities without in-house sonographers will be linked to imaging specialists so scans that are carried out locally can be read and diagnosed remotely in real time, so patients receive immediate feedback. If successful, this feature will be rolled out across the larger project to improve the availability of ultrasounds across peri-urban areas. The project also aims to drive community awareness on the importance of ANC services and ANC attendance in improving maternal and neonatal health outcomes for longer-term improvement in care. 

“We are incredibly excited to receive support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve Kenya’s maternal health outcomes and promote Ilara Health’s core mission of improving access to diagnostics countrywide. This grant underscores the acute need for the continuation of essential ANC services during the COVID-19 pandemic; we hope to see a great reduction in poor maternal and neonatal health outcomes through its implementation in these low-resource peri-urban areas,” said Emilian Popa, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Ilara Health.

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