Disrupt Africa https://disrupt-africa.com Startup | Invest | Disrupt Thu, 02 Jul 2020 15:22:45 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 VC firm Ingressive launches non-profit arm to empower African youth https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/07/vc-firm-ingressive-launches-non-profit-arm-to-empower-african-youth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=vc-firm-ingressive-launches-non-profit-arm-to-empower-african-youth Fri, 03 Jul 2020 09:00:34 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=22582 Africa-focused VC firm Ingressive has launched a non-profit arm to empower young people on the continent with micro-scholarships, technical training, and talent placement. Ingressive Capital, which invests in pre-seed and seed-stage tech-enabled businesses in the B2B space, recently announced it had doubled the size of its investment vehicle, meaning it now operates a US$10 million [...]

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Africa-focused VC firm Ingressive has launched a non-profit arm to empower young people on the continent with micro-scholarships, technical training, and talent placement.

Ingressive Capital, which invests in pre-seed and seed-stage tech-enabled businesses in the B2B space, recently announced it had doubled the size of its investment vehicle, meaning it now operates a US$10 million fund.

The company, which also operates an advisory company, has now launched a non-profit arm, Ingressive For Good (I4G), which will address the glaring inequities that exist within African tech ecosystems by increasing the earning power of African youth through tech training and resources. 

This initiative will help the participants with micro-scholarships, technical training, talent placement, and also provide other resources to empower them. Interested participants can register here to be part of the I4G network.

“The three core goals of Ingressive For Good are to create 5,000 jobs through partnerships, connect one million African youth to technical skills training and award scholarships to qualified individuals studying computer science courses, in line with our overarching mission to leverage need-based resources, learning, and the power of work to empower African youths in tech,” said Sean Burrowes, chief operations officer (COO) and co-founder of Ingressive for Good.

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Meet the MEST Africa Challenge national winners, so far https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/07/meet-the-mest-africa-challenge-national-winners-so-far/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=meet-the-mest-africa-challenge-national-winners-so-far Fri, 03 Jul 2020 08:00:37 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=22579 Startups from Ethiopia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Rwanda and Ghana have been named country winners of the MEST Africa Challenge, earning their places in the grand final and the chance of winning US$50,000 in equity investment. Run by pan-African training programme, seed fund, incubator and hub the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), the MEST Africa [...]

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Startups from Ethiopia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Rwanda and Ghana have been named country winners of the MEST Africa Challenge, earning their places in the grand final and the chance of winning US$50,000 in equity investment.

Run by pan-African training programme, seed fund, incubator and hub the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), the MEST Africa Challenge is aimed at post-revenue, tech-enabled startups that want to expand into new markets.

The challenge, which last year had three winners, is open to startups in Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sénégal, South Africa and Tanzania, with 83 regional finalists selected oast month to take part in virtual pitch events to select the overall finalists.

The winning startups of each national event will then take part in a competition to win US$50,000 in equity investment, plus access to Microsoft support, coaching, and a continent-wide network of startup hubs.

Five national finals have already taken place, with four more still to come.

The Ethiopia Country Finals took place on June 3, with Debo Engineering, which matches farmers with agro service providers, emerging as the winner. The Kenyan final followed on June 10, and was won by find-an-artisan platform Fundis.

The Ivory Coast event on June 17 was won by ed-tech startup Tutoo+, while another education startup, BAG Innovation, was named winner of the Rwandan competition on June 24. The Ghanaian leg of the competition took place on Wednesday, July 1, and was won by online bookstore Oniocha.

The remaining national finals take place in Tanzania on July 8, Senegal on July 15, Nigeria on July 22, and South Africa on July 29.

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Here’s how BuyCoins is opening up crypto to less tech-savvy Nigerians https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/07/heres-how-buycoins-is-opening-up-crypto-to-less-tech-savvy-nigerians/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=heres-how-buycoins-is-opening-up-crypto-to-less-tech-savvy-nigerians Fri, 03 Jul 2020 06:00:44 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=22574 Nigerian startup BuyCoins is opening up cryptocurrency to everyone with its new product Sendcash, which enables people to receive money into their bank account from any country using Bitcoin. Launched in October 2017 as a peer-to-peer platform called Bitkoin Africa, BuyCoins rebranded and transitioned into a hybrid of a broker exchange and peer-to-peer platform in [...]

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Nigerian startup BuyCoins is opening up cryptocurrency to everyone with its new product Sendcash, which enables people to receive money into their bank account from any country using Bitcoin.

Launched in October 2017 as a peer-to-peer platform called Bitkoin Africa, BuyCoins rebranded and transitioned into a hybrid of a broker exchange and peer-to-peer platform in June 2018, launching a mobile app for both Android and iOS.

The startup enables Nigerians to easily buy, sell and use cryptocurrencies, and has around US$7 million worth of digital cash traded on its platform each month.

“We found that although there was some interest in crypto in Nigeria, it was pretty difficult to buy and sell cryptocurrencies with Nigerian bank accounts and cards. So, we created a platform to do just that, and we have tried to evolve as we learn more about the market and our users,” BuyCoins product manager Teju Adeyinka told Disrupt Africa.

Having seen increased uptake in usage, BuyCoins is now attempting to extend its user base to include less tech-savvy Nigerians with the launch of Sendcash. The new product enables people to receive money into their Nigerian bank accounts from any country abroad using Bitcoin. 

“Basically, we map a bank account to a Bitcoin wallet address, and when anyone sends Bitcoin to that address from anywhere in the world, we convert it to Naira and credit the bank account within a few minutes,” said Adeyinka.

“The receiver doesn’t need to interact with Bitcoin at all as they will get the Naira equivalent into their bank accounts automatically.”

BuyCoins decided to launch Sendcash, which went live in April, after realising some of its customers were using crypto as a way to either receive payments for their work from clients abroad, or to send money to family and friends in Nigeria. 

“Although it was a process that worked, it was a tedious one, especially for people who are unfamiliar with crypto. So we decided to build something that worked very simply,” Adeyinka said.

Initial uptake of the new platform has been impressive, with Sendcash processing around US$300,000 from about 400 users so far. BuyCoins, which raised a seed round worth around US$1 million back in 2018 after graduating from Y Combinator and makes money through basic market-making activities and margins on trades, also has geographic expansion on its mind.

“We’re currently operating in Nigeria, but we intend to expand to other African countries in the future. But there is really no rush; we want to deeply understand the Nigerian market and make sure users are really happy,” said Adeyinka.

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Nigerian startup launches escrow payments platform for online shopping https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/07/nigerian-startup-launches-escrow-payments-platform-for-online-shopping/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nigerian-startup-launches-escrow-payments-platform-for-online-shopping Thu, 02 Jul 2020 08:40:37 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=22560 Nigerian startup IderaOS has launched ListBuy, an e-commerce software platform with escrow payment technology to protect online buyers and sellers from fraud. Rolled out earlier this year, Listbuy guarantees that customers get exactly what they ordered by leveraging on the software’s product verification system and escrow service. Designed for entrepreneurs, MSME owners and dropshippers, ListBuy [...]

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Nigerian startup IderaOS has launched ListBuy, an e-commerce software platform with escrow payment technology to protect online buyers and sellers from fraud.

Rolled out earlier this year, Listbuy guarantees that customers get exactly what they ordered by leveraging on the software’s product verification system and escrow service.

Designed for entrepreneurs, MSME owners and dropshippers, ListBuy enables businesses to manage their storefront from one control panel, customise it, display and organise products, and accept a wide range of payment options.

“We chose to work on this idea because it presents an opportunity to reduce poverty and create prosperity by accelerating the creation and expansion of small businesses,” said founder Quadry Olalekan.

“During our ideation phase in 2019, we found out that running an online business in Africa is not scalable using platforms that were built for different audiences. It is an expensive exercise and does not have the necessary support ecosystem. An e-commerce business owner needs an ecosystem that will be conducive for them to operate their business anywhere, and this is what IderaOS is providing.”

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Applications open for Tech Hub Harare incubation programme https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/07/applications-open-for-tech-hub-harare-incubation-programme/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=applications-open-for-tech-hub-harare-incubation-programme Thu, 02 Jul 2020 06:40:35 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=22570 Co-working space and innovation hub Tech Hub Harare has launched its incubation programme, which offers Zimbabwean startups access to mentorship and funding opportunities. Tech Hub Harare said the goal of its programme is to develop tech-driven startups that solve problems in the communities they serve and beyond. The programme helps convert ideas into MVPs over [...]

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Co-working space and innovation hub Tech Hub Harare has launched its incubation programme, which offers Zimbabwean startups access to mentorship and funding opportunities.

Tech Hub Harare said the goal of its programme is to develop tech-driven startups that solve problems in the communities they serve and beyond.

The programme helps convert ideas into MVPs over a six-month period, taking in ideation, validation, product-market fit and business training. Startups receive cloud computing and business support, and will be allocated a mentor who will provide weekly feedback on their development.

The six-month programme, which kicks off on July 13, will culminate in December at a demo day where four startups will be selected to take part in the US$25,000 Tech Hub Harare Accelerator programme, which will run for 12 months starting in January 2021.

Applications are open here until July 6. Tech Hub Harare is seeking startups at the idea stage solving challenges in financial services, education, energy, logistics and agriculture. A fee of US$75 will be charged per month.

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Why Africa-focused investment firms need to become more diverse https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/07/why-africa-focused-investment-firms-need-to-become-more-diverse/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-africa-focused-investment-firms-need-to-become-more-diverse Thu, 02 Jul 2020 06:00:12 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=22563 The African investment space is relying on “pattern recognition” that excludes, or at least is less favourable to female and African founders, and that needs to change. That is according to Nnena Nkongho, a principal at VC firm DiGAME, who told the latest episode of Disrupt Podcast that lack of diversity within investment firms themselves [...]

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The African investment space is relying on “pattern recognition” that excludes, or at least is less favourable to female and African founders, and that needs to change.

That is according to Nnena Nkongho, a principal at VC firm DiGAME, who told the latest episode of Disrupt Podcast that lack of diversity within investment firms themselves was making it less likely that founders from those groups, as opposed to male, expatriate entrepreneurs, would secure investment.

“One key way to remediate this is to have more investors that are from those groups, and who have different networks,” she said. “The challenge is that traditionally Africans and women don’t raise as much money, so their opportunity scope is limited. They have less possibility to support those types of founders because they are less successful in obtaining capital.”

To remedy this, investment firms needed to ensure they become more diverse, employing more women and Africans and plugging into their expertise and networks.

“You hope that existing investment firms recruit, promote and expand the role of women and Africans in their midst. And the other way is that women and Africans found their own firms. Either works. But what doesn’t work is saying that we can’t find people to drive these efforts,” Nkongho said.

Failure to do this would be to do the ecosystem a disservice. 

“Diverse perspective or diverse teams outperform. It is really to our own detriment as a society if we are not able to support entrepreneurial efforts in proportion, at a minimum,” Nkongho said.

Failure to diversify would be a failure from both commercial and moral perspectives – investors are missing out on good businesses, while excluding Africans and women is “ludicrous and wrong”.

“We are missing out on the talents of, in the case of women, half the population, and that seems to me just wrong,” Nkongho said.

Though investment firms need to take action, there is also an extent to which the number of female and African founders raising money will increase as the ecosystem develops.

“Without this concept of giving back, obviously with profit motives aligned to it, ecosystems don’t grow and thrive, so I do hope that as people come up in the ecosystem and it matures we will see more of this circular economy,” said Nkongho.

It will also begin to change as types of capital available in Africa broaden beyond VC, as currently there is not a dedicated LP base for African funds.

The ecosystem is starting to see the emergence of dedicated programmes, especially female-focused ones, and while Nkongho says they have their benefits as they encourage people to get involved and learn valuable skills, they are not the end in themselves.

“Let’s have these programmes, but let’s not lose sight of the primary goal which is to get the right businesses funded by putting people in pipelines and writing cheques. That’s the best way to do it,” she said. 

“I’m all for initiatives that assist people in getting to the right place, but then when people are put up for consideration you want there to be a systemic process that doesn’t downplay their abilities or falsely assess their ability to succeed on not so great criteria.”

The latest episode of Disrupt Podcast is available now, featuring an in-depth interview with Nkongho as well as a deep-dive into the continent’s e-health ecosystem.

You can listen on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and all other podcasting platforms.

 

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Nigerian fintech startup Paystack launches toolkit to help users sell online https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/07/nigerian-fintech-startup-paystack-launches-toolkit-to-help-users-sell-online/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nigerian-fintech-startup-paystack-launches-toolkit-to-help-users-sell-online Wed, 01 Jul 2020 09:00:02 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=22544 Nigerian fintech startup Paystack has launched Paystack Commerce, a toolkit that helps African creators to sell their products online. Launched in 2015, Paystack allows merchants to receive live, platform-agnostic payments, and allows for recurring billing. The startup, which raised a US$8 million Series A funding round almost two years ago, is now expanding its offering [...]

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Nigerian fintech startup Paystack has launched Paystack Commerce, a toolkit that helps African creators to sell their products online.

Launched in 2015, Paystack allows merchants to receive live, platform-agnostic payments, and allows for recurring billing.

The startup, which raised a US$8 million Series A funding round almost two years ago, is now expanding its offering into the e-commerce space with the launch of Paystack Commerce. The new toolkit includes a new product called Product Links, which provides a simple way for social media merchants to sell online, as well as the new Paystack Merchant App, which helps merchants track payments and manage orders.

“We’ve always had a number of seller tools on the Paystack Dashboard. Thousands of creators use our Payment Pages, Invoices, and Subscriptions features every month to power sales.

But in 2019, we started to wonder – what would happen if we significantly increased investment in our seller tools, on the same level as our other product lines? This kicked off a company-wide effort to deepen our understanding of the needs of our commerce merchants,” said Emmanuel Quartey, head of growth at Paystack.

That effort has resulted in the launch of Paystack Commerce, with the company saying it will maintain a transparent public product roadmap of the initiative. It intends to work closely with its merchant community to collaboratively design and build the selling tools that solve their specific pain-points.

The number of business owners signing up weekly to use Paystack to collect online payments has tripled in the last two months, the company said. Meanwhile, it has also launched a direct integration with Wix.com, one of the world’s most popular website builder and commerce platforms.

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Kenyan startup Zuru launches car rental app https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/07/kenyan-startup-zuru-launches-car-rental-app/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kenyan-startup-zuru-launches-car-rental-app Wed, 01 Jul 2020 08:00:02 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=22285 Kenyan startup Zuru has launched its vehicle-sharing app that allows car owners to rent out their cars without using an agent. Zuru Car Rental enables car owners to upload images and descriptions of their car, and set a rental price, with users able to book and pay for the rentals through the app’s secure M-Pesa-based [...]

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Kenyan startup Zuru has launched its vehicle-sharing app that allows car owners to rent out their cars without using an agent.

Zuru Car Rental enables car owners to upload images and descriptions of their car, and set a rental price, with users able to book and pay for the rentals through the app’s secure M-Pesa-based escrow service.

The company’s chief executive officer (CEO) Rawlings Otini said the startup was aiming to increase transparency within the car rental industry by applying an Airbnb model, additional security features, and insurance.

“Currently, there is a lack of order and credibility in the industry. There are con-men posting cars online and asking customers for deposits, after which they switch off their phones. We want to end that,” said 

The company started as a car hire agency linking car owners to clients, but decided to automate the process in order to easily scale the service to remote areas. It has already signed up a number of car hire companies that are using the app to list their vehicles, and is active in Nairobi and Mombasa. Otini said a Kisumu launch was imminent.

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SA’s Merchant Capital has helped 7,000 small businesses access $87m in loans https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/07/sas-merchant-capital-has-helped-7000-small-businesses-access-87m-in-loans/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sas-merchant-capital-has-helped-7000-small-businesses-access-87m-in-loans Wed, 01 Jul 2020 06:00:29 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=22547 South African fintech startup Merchant Capital has provided over ZAR1.5 billion (US$87 million) in funding to more than 7,000 businesses since its launch in 2012. Founded to address the funding gap experienced by small business owners looking to grow, Merchant Capital provides SMEs with quick, simple access to unsecured working capital.  Its tailor-made working capital [...]

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South African fintech startup Merchant Capital has provided over ZAR1.5 billion (US$87 million) in funding to more than 7,000 businesses since its launch in 2012.

Founded to address the funding gap experienced by small business owners looking to grow, Merchant Capital provides SMEs with quick, simple access to unsecured working capital. 

Its tailor-made working capital cash injections for growing businesses provide a flexible, rapid and secure funding solution, which addresses the cash flow and working capital restrictions of retail SME business owners. 

Business owners apply digitally, and can be approved within 24 hours. Merchant Capital then enables flexible repayment terms to be agreed upfront with the business owner – customised to take their specific business requirements into account. Qualifying merchants are provided with an upfront lump sum in the form of a cash advance in exchange for a small fixed percentage of future turnover. 

“Merchant Capital’s expertise lies in providing working capital solutions for businesses in various retail sectors including restaurants and hospitality, fuel retail, health and beauty, fashion retail, jewellers, hardware stores and supermarkets,” Dov Girnun, the company’s founder and chief executive officer (CEO), told Disrupt Africa.

The company, which has raised equity and debt funding from some major institutional players, has so far provided over ZAR1.5 billion (US$87 million) in funding, assisting over 7,000 South African businesses to date, but Girnun said gaining traction in the early days was a challenge as the product was perceived as being “too good to be true”.

“The response from the market was initially slow as there was a huge education process required. The vast majority of South African SMEs have not heard about this type of alternative funding. This has made it difficult to scale from inception,” he said. 

“In the last couple of years, as the product and business gained traction, the take-up has improved but there is still a long way to go until it is considered a mainstream lending product for SMEs looking to grow their business.”

Merchant Capital continues to launch a host of new offerings and products to encourage this uptake. In recent months it has partnered Standard Bank Shari’ah Banking to launch a Shari’ah funding product, partnered Discovery Insure to provide SMEs with working capital to assist with cash flow, and launched an innovative short-term finance product to give the hard-hit restaurant sector a much-needed injection of capital to help ease the economic impact of the national lockdown regulations.

With so much room for growth at home, the company is not looking any further afield for now.

“There is still a massive opportunity in the local market,” Girnun said.

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East African payments management startup Beyonic acquired by MFS Africa https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/06/east-african-payments-management-startup-beyonic-acquired-by-mfs-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=east-african-payments-management-startup-beyonic-acquired-by-mfs-africa Tue, 30 Jun 2020 08:35:44 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=22554 East Africa-based fintech company Beyonic, a digital payments management provider of business services for SMEs, fintechs and social impact entities, has been acquired by the Johannesburg-based payments company MFS Africa. Initially launched in Uganda seven years ago but now also active in Kenya and Tanzania, Beyonic offers a cutting-edge enterprise digital payment services suite, giving [...]

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East Africa-based fintech company Beyonic, a digital payments management provider of business services for SMEs, fintechs and social impact entities, has been acquired by the Johannesburg-based payments company MFS Africa.

Initially launched in Uganda seven years ago but now also active in Kenya and Tanzania, Beyonic offers a cutting-edge enterprise digital payment services suite, giving enterprises access to 26 mobile money networks and over 20 banks in nine countries through a single sign-on. 

The startup has now been acquired by pan-African cross-border payments company MFS Africa, which connects more than 200 million mobile wallets on the continent through one API. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval by the Fair Competition Commission in Tanzania, will provide the growing micro, small, and medium enterprise segment across Africa with the ability to manage digital transactions with individuals and businesses around the world.

“Africa has a strong base of connected young entrepreneurs and businesspeople who are bringing fresh ideas to the table, in order to create prosperity for themselves and for their communities on the continent,” said Dare Okoudjou, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of MFS Africa. 

“With the MFS Africa Hub, we have been creating new digital pathways between mobile money users in Africa and the global economy. With the acquisition of Beyonic, we can now put this digital payment network at the service of those entrepreneurs whether they are SMEs, fintechs, or social impact organisations. By combining MFS Africa’s and Beyonic’s assets and capabilities, we can unleash the wealth of opportunity that business within Africa and with Africa presents to the wider world.”

Extended access and functionality will become available to customers of both organisations in the second half of 2020. In practice, this means that a Uganda-based organisation that uses Beyonic to manage digital payments to and from Ugandan mobile wallets and bank accounts will be able to reach additional markets directly and seamlessly using the same interface, leveraging the pan-African and global connections of the MFS Africa Hub.

Beyonic founder Luke Kyohere said MFS Africa’s mission to make borders matter less in digital payments aligned perfectly with Beyonic’s vision of helping enterprises deliver fast, affordable fintech solutions to the last mile.

“Together, we will give our customers access to the broadest and deepest digital payment network in Africa. I’m excited about the possibilities this partnership brings, especially when you factor in MFS Africa’s recent partnership with Visa, enabling them to issue Visa payment credentials across their pan-African network. It’s a new dawn for SMEs in Africa,” he said.

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