Disrupt Africa https://disrupt-africa.com Startup | Invest | Disrupt Sun, 27 Sep 2020 11:38:56 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 New SA ed-tech startup launches to disrupt tutoring market https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/09/new-sa-ed-tech-startup-launches-to-disrupt-tutoring-market/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-sa-ed-tech-startup-launches-to-disrupt-tutoring-market Mon, 28 Sep 2020 08:40:38 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23279 South African ed-tech startup Disrupt Tutoring has launched its platform that provides free, personalised tutoring to anyone with the burning desire to learn or teach. Public from this month having been formed in April, Disrupt Tutoring has built a growing library of tutorial videos, which users can assess freely via no sign-ups and no subscriptions. [...]

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South African ed-tech startup Disrupt Tutoring has launched its platform that provides free, personalised tutoring to anyone with the burning desire to learn or teach.

Public from this month having been formed in April, Disrupt Tutoring has built a growing library of tutorial videos, which users can assess freely via no sign-ups and no subscriptions.

If a user can’t find an answer to their specific questions via these videos, they can send it directly to the startup, which will respond with a personalised video, which it will also add to its video library.

The concept was developed by two co-founders, educator Jedd Harris and tutor Wade Stanton-Jones, who are hoping to bridge the education gap, as well as inspire youth.

“We see ourselves as a true redistribution vehicle, connecting the private sector to youth development,” Harris told Disrupt Africa.

“Our concept forms a positive sum game, in which everyone benefits in some way. Private sector benefits through favourable brand exposure, improved reach as well as a more educated workforce. Learners and students benefit through improved access to quality education, which has shown to have a strong link to improved standard of living. The education system has a freely accessible education tool that can improve their own teaching.”

At the moment Disrupt Tutoring is self-funded, but ultimately the plan is for the platform to be funded through advertising space purchased by sponsors.

“As we are sponsor-funded, the significant impact COVID-19 has had on budgets made it difficult to secure a sponsor pre-launch, despite excitement from a number of South Africa’s large corporates,” said Harris.

“Only smaller businesses for now have purchased video bundles. We are concluding a couple of conversations with some corporates.”

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Kenya, Nigerian startups accepted into Hong Kong-based accelerator, secure funding https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/09/kenya-nigerian-startups-accepted-into-hong-kong-based-accelerator-secure-funding/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kenya-nigerian-startups-accepted-into-hong-kong-based-accelerator-secure-funding Mon, 28 Sep 2020 06:40:51 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23389 Kenyan digital addressing startup OkHi and Nigerian multi-merchant rewards platform ThankUCash have been accepted into the Hong Kong-based Betatron accelerator, securing access to mentorship and funding. ​Founded in 2016, Betatron is an investment firm that runs an annual four-month accelerator programme to help companies expand their operations into Asia and secure funding.  The programme provides [...]

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Kenyan digital addressing startup OkHi and Nigerian multi-merchant rewards platform ThankUCash have been accepted into the Hong Kong-based Betatron accelerator, securing access to mentorship and funding.

​Founded in 2016, Betatron is an investment firm that runs an annual four-month accelerator programme to help companies expand their operations into Asia and secure funding. 

The programme provides up to US$500,000 funding for each selected startup, as well as mentorship and guidance to ensure a seamless expansion process.

Having received 2,500 applications for its latest cohort, Betatron has selected nine startups to take part, including two from Africa. They are Kenya’s OkHi, which provides a digital addressing network that turns a user’s mobile phone into their physical address, and Nigeria’s ThankUCash, which has launched a rewards and loyalty platform that helps customers access deals and businesses better understand consumer spending patterns.

The investment in OkHi forms part of the US$1.78 million funding round the startup announced last week.

“We are proud of our journey so far and acceptance into the Betatron Cohort 6 Accelerator Programme further shows that we are on the right path as a company. Our mission of helping businesses prosper by connecting them with customers is clearly a shared one regardless of geography and this has reflected in the traction we have receiving from investors and partners who are eager to be a part of our story and this continues to fuel our commitment to our goals,” said Simeon Ononobi, chief executive officer (CEO) of ThankUCash.

The other seven startups in the programme hail from France, India, the Philippines, Poland, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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Kenya looks set to get its own “Startup Act” – what exactly does the proposed bill entail? https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/09/kenya-looks-set-to-get-its-own-startup-act-what-exactly-does-the-proposed-bill-entail/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kenya-looks-set-to-get-its-own-startup-act-what-exactly-does-the-proposed-bill-entail Mon, 28 Sep 2020 06:00:21 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23424 Kenya is in the process of adopting startup-specific legislation for the first time after the gazetting of “The Startup Bill, 2020”, but how does the process work, and what impact will the Act, once passed, have on the local startup ecosystem? Disrupt Africa dug into the details. The first specific startup law globally was passed [...]

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Kenya is in the process of adopting startup-specific legislation for the first time after the gazetting of “The Startup Bill, 2020”, but how does the process work, and what impact will the Act, once passed, have on the local startup ecosystem? Disrupt Africa dug into the details.

The first specific startup law globally was passed in Italy in 2012, and Tunisia and Senegal were the first two African countries to have enacted them. A host of countries, including Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda, are expected to implement their own this year. 

Kenya is the first of the “big five” startup ecosystems to publish its own proposed legislation, though there have been some movements to do the same in South Africa. “The Startup Bill, 2020” was published in the Kenya Gazette on September 14, sponsored by Nairobi County senator Johnson Sakaja, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, with most of the implementation assigned to the Kenya National Innovation Agency (Kenia).

How will the Bill become an Act?

The Bill, which aims to “provide a framework to encourage growth and sustainable technological development and new entrepreneurship employment; to create a more favourable environment for innovation; to attract Kenyan talents and capital; and for connected purposes”, will now go through both houses of the Kenyan parliament and a public participation stage before it potentially becomes law. Senator Sakaja held a first meeting with various ecosystem stakeholders on Thursday, September 24, and the first Senate reading is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, 30).

There will then be 30 days of public participation, and the Bill is apparently very much open for review. After three readings and a vote, the Bill will also have to proceed through the National Assembly, as the Senate does not discuss “money” clauses. The whole process of First Reading, Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading is followed again here. Once passed by the National Assembly, it will be referred back to the Senate for concurrence on any changes. Once the Bill is passed by both houses, it is referred to the President for assent, and becomes an Act once this has been granted.

So it will still be a little while before we see The Startup Bill, 2020 passed into law, if indeed that does come to pass, and whether the proposed Act retains its current character also remains to be seen. But what exactly does the Bill, at this early stage of the process, entail?

A focus on incubators

Though called “The Startup Bill”, the proposed legislation is actually primarily focused on incubators. It allows for the “the establishment of incubation facilities at the National and county levels of government”, and empowers Kenia and county executive committee members to establish a national and county incubation policy framework for the development of the business incubation sector and startup system.

Among other things, it legislates for partnerships with local and international business incubators, the launch of programmes for the certification and admission of incubators into the incubation programmes, and the creation of an enabling environment for the promotion of business incubators, including fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.

What is, and what is not, an incubator, in this case? Well, the Bill says an entity certified as an incubator can be registered as a public limited company, a non-governmental organisation, a private limited company, a limited liability partnership, or a partnership, but it must have as its principal object the “delivery of services to support establishment and development of innovative startups”. They must also have in place “facilities suitable to accommodate innovative startups”, and “adequate equipment for startup activities and innovation”, whatever they may be, and be administered by persons of “recognised competence on business and innovation”.

Legislators would also like your incubator to have established “collaborative relationships” with universities, centres of research, public institutions and financial partners that carry out “activities and projects related to innovative startups”. If your incubator meets all these requirements, it can apply to be listed with a Registrar, who will be recruited by the Public Service Commission of Kenya and appointed by Kenia.

How are startups affected?

The Bill may focus more directly on supporting incubators, but the idea is that startups across Kenya will be the beneficiaries of this. Among other things, it proposes to “support any research and development activities undertaken by startups”, “put in place mechanisms for pre-incubation of entities and for this purpose, provide training and capacity building programmes to startups registered under this Act”, “put in place mechanisms to enable access to entities from marginalised groups”, and “put in place facilitative structures that ensure the protection of the innovations of startups at the national and international level for the protection of the intellectual property”.

So far, so vague, but the Bill gets very specific when it comes to what criteria a startup must meet in order to be registered as such and qualify for any of the benefits offered by the Kenya Startup Act. To be eligible for this, and therefore admission into an incubation programme, businesses must be registered in Kenya as a company, a partnership firm, a limited liability partnership, or, a bit bizarrely, a “non-governmental organisation”. It must be majority owned by one or more citizens of Kenya.

Startups must be seven years old or less, unless they are in the biotech sector, in which case you can be up to 10 years old, and have as their objects the “innovation, development, production or improvement and commercialisation of innovative products, processes or services”. The Bill also wants you to have a scalable business model, though it doesn’t describe what it considers this to be, while a startup must have its “human resources, total assets, and annual turnover number as prescribed by the Cabinet Secretary”. Any ideas? Me neither. 

Oh, and at least 15 per cent of the startup’s expenses must be attributed to research and development activities. Startups can also apply to be listed by the Registrar, should they meet all of those quite stringent requirements.

More vaguely…

There is a LOT of stuff in this Bill that sounds nice in theory, but requires more explanation as to how it will be affected in reality. “Kenia and the county executive committee members shall put in place measures to support the establishment and development of startups,” it says, which will include non-defined attempts to “subsidise the formalisation of startups”, “facilitate the protection of the intellectual property of innovations by startups”, “provide fiscal and non-fiscal support to startups admitted into incubation programmes”, “provide support in the form of research and development activities”, and “provide such other support to enable the development and growth of startups”.

Most of how it will do all of this is not really clear, though the Bill does say that Kenia will put in place a programme for the training and capacity-building of startups, and also “facilitate” startups in the application for grant or revocation of patents as well as institution of legal action for infringement of any intellectual property rights. A personal favourite when it comes to the high levels of both aspiration and vagueness within the Bill: “A startup shall be encouraged to cumulatively achieve growth objectives as set out by the Cabinet Secretary by regulation”. 

Either way, help is, in some form or other, at hand for Kenyan startups, as long as they meet the criteria. The Cabinet Secretary (remember, this is George Magoha at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, not, as might have been thought, Joe Mucheru at the Ministry of ICT) can also make regulations on the “conditions and process for the exemption of startups from registration fees”, on “workplace and labour issues”, on “commercial transactions”, on “employee benefits and compensation”, and on “protection of intellectual property rights”. Whether “can” means “will”, and indeed “how”, is unclear.

Will there be cash available? 

Whisper it, but in a handful of places in the Bill are suggestions the government may help Kenyan startups access funding, or in some circumstances actually provide capital itself. It starts with a (vague) promise to roll out “incentives to invest in innovative startups”, before becoming a bit more direct with an undertaking to “provide financial support to technological innovations registered under the Startups Act”.

Whether it encourages or directly provides capital or not, the Act would help startups from a tax perspective, something that would surely be welcomed, by putting in place measures for the granting of fiscal incentives, including tax incentives, “as shall be considered necessary for the development of startups in the country”. So fingers crossed. And keep those fingers crossed for the promised establishment of a credit guarantee scheme.

This credit guarantee scheme will provide accessible financial support to startups by providing a guarantee for investors in startups. It is again for the Cabinet Secretary to decide the criteria for eligibility and qualification for recipients of funding under the scheme, as well as the criteria for monitoring and a mechanism for transparency.

Our thoughts

Let’s not get carried away with the idea that the Kenyan government will play a part in funding startups, as this administration has form for making promises it can’t keep in this regard.

The Enterprise Kenya initiative was launched amid great fanfare in 2015, to support and build the technology entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country, with President Uhuru Kenyatta setting the Ministry of ICT a target of investing in at least 50 startups over the next 12 months through the initiative. The total number of companies to have received investment ended up being exactly zero, and the impact of the Enterprise Kenya project has been negligible. 

The hope is that the proposed Kenya Startup Act will succeed where that failed. Disrupt Africa is fully behind legislating for African startup ecosystems in general, as the benefits when done well are clear (check out this Disrupt Podcast episode for more). Yet this Bill will need beefing up via the public participation and its various committee hearings if it is to have any real impact. In many areas it is extremely vague, with the “how” missing from a lot of the admirable intentions. 

Stringent as the Bill is on local ownership and registration of startups, which is admirable, it does not take into account the realities of modern business, whereby companies register in places like Delaware and Mauritius fortax purposes. The vague incentives will need to be firmed up and added to in order to convince fast-scaling startups to register in Nairobi rather than elsewhere. It is also not clear what impact, if any, all the new regulations will have with regard to the existing incubator space, if existing players are deemed not to count as such under the Bill’s definitions. 

The mere existence of the Bill, and the idea that Kenya could soon have a Startup Act, is in itself good news. The hope is that the Bill will be amended as a result of feedback from those that matters most – stakeholders within the Kenyan startup ecosystem. The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) is hosting a panel discussion on the topic this week, which is good news, but further input will be necessary in order to more effectively communicate how certain benefits of the bill are to be achieved for as many startups as possible.

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Senegalese fintech startup PayDunya has expanded to 2 more countries, and plans further growth https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/09/senegalese-fintech-startup-paydunya-has-expanded-to-2-more-countries-and-plans-further-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=senegalese-fintech-startup-paydunya-has-expanded-to-2-more-countries-and-plans-further-growth Fri, 25 Sep 2020 09:20:12 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23345 Senegalese fintech startup PayDunya has established a presence in Ivory Coast and Benin, and plans to expand into Mali, Burkina Faso and other Francophone African countries by the end of the year. Launched in November 2015, PayDunya is an easy-to-use universal multi-channel payment gateway and solutions provider, offering a single API for e-businesses anywhere in [...]

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Senegalese fintech startup PayDunya has established a presence in Ivory Coast and Benin, and plans to expand into Mali, Burkina Faso and other Francophone African countries by the end of the year.

Launched in November 2015, PayDunya is an easy-to-use universal multi-channel payment gateway and solutions provider, offering a single API for e-businesses anywhere in the world to process payments from and to African customers via mobile money, money transfer and credit cards.

Having started life in Senegal, PayDunya now has more than 600 active business clients in its home market as well as in Ivory Coast and Benin, across sectors such as insurance, e-commerce, education and hospitality.

Co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Aziz Yérima told Disrupt Africa the startup was focused on a strategy of geographic expansion at this point in time.

“We first want to settle in Francophone Africa. Our first scope is the French-speaking area, with a presence in 10 countries at the end of 2020,” he said.

“We look forward to being a leader in the online payment market in French-speaking countries in Africa in the next five years.”

PayDunya’s aspirations go further, however, with Yérima saying it hoped to one day be active in 30 African countries, both Francophone and Anglophone.

“Our main goal today is truly accelerating the emergence of Africa through the power of digital,” he said.

PayDunya has added a host of products to its suite over the last few years, and now allows customers to do things like generate receipts, receive payments via mobile application, send invoices via SMS or email, set up recurring and automated payment collection, and pay thousands of people with one click.

“We recently developed a new solution for social media sellers. The solution can help sellers that have a page on social media to create their own landing page for their shop,” Yérima said.

Though its expansion plans are progressing well, PayDunya has still been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nobody saw this crisis coming, and we were not prepared for such economic damage. We were far from imagining at the very beginning the economic impact that this was going to have. Many of our customers were in the tourism industry – one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic – and no longer needed web and mobile payment solutions when the pandemic hit.
We therefore had to find strategies to help them and accompany them in facing the crisis that hit them head on,” said Yérima.

“That led us to revisit our goals. The challenge for us is really to help West African companies to limit financial losses resulting from the crisis and promote financial inclusion in areas where more people have mobile money accounts than bank accounts. Honestly, the crisis creates many challenges, but also opportunities for those who can work digitally.”

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Tanzania Startup Association launches to promote local ecosystem https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/09/tanzania-startup-association-launches-to-promote-local-ecosystem/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tanzania-startup-association-launches-to-promote-local-ecosystem Fri, 25 Sep 2020 08:00:53 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23322 The Tanzania Startup Association has launched, bringing into existence an umbrella organisation to help promote the interests of the local ecosystem. Formed by various stakeholders within the startup ecosystem in Tanzania, including early-stage businesses, innovation hubs, social enterprises, and venture capital and private equity firms, the association has been launched in a bid to promote [...]

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The Tanzania Startup Association has launched, bringing into existence an umbrella organisation to help promote the interests of the local ecosystem.

Formed by various stakeholders within the startup ecosystem in Tanzania, including early-stage businesses, innovation hubs, social enterprises, and venture capital and private equity firms, the association has been launched in a bid to promote positive changes to existing policy and legal frameworks for startups in Tanzania.

The Tanzania Startup Association launches with the support from the Tanzanian government, which has pledged its support to the local startup sector due to its increasing importance to the economy, said executive secretary of the Tanzania National Business Council Goodwill Wanga.

Association chairperson Paul Makanza said startups offered enormous opportunities for wealth and employment creation in the country, and recognised the government’s support in showing political will to allow and facilitate the growth of the private sector in Tanzania.

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11 Kenyan agri-businesses selected for $100k FoodTech accelerator https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/09/11-kenyan-agri-businesses-selected-for-100k-foodtech-accelerator/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=11-kenyan-agri-businesses-selected-for-100k-foodtech-accelerator Fri, 25 Sep 2020 06:40:22 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23357 Eleven Kenyan agri-businesses tackling food security have been selected for the FoodTech Africa Accelerator programme, giving them access to training, mentorship and the chance to secure up to US$100,000 in funding. Aimed at addressing food security through fostering innovation, FoodTech Africa is a project commissioned by GIZ Make-IT in Africa and implemented by @iBizAfrica and [...]

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Eleven Kenyan agri-businesses tackling food security have been selected for the FoodTech Africa Accelerator programme, giving them access to training, mentorship and the chance to secure up to US$100,000 in funding.

Aimed at addressing food security through fostering innovation, FoodTech Africa is a project commissioned by GIZ Make-IT in Africa and implemented by @iBizAfrica and Pangea Accelerator.

The 10-week programme is designed to support women and youth owned growth-stage agri-based companies to sustain business growth through facilitating access to financing, business support and technology adoption.

Selected businesses will receive intensive training and mentorship, B2B sales opportunities as well as the opportunity to interact with investors, with leading companies getting investment of up to US$100,000. Over 420 applications were received, and 11 startups have now been selected.

The 11 selected startups include digital crowd-farming platform iFarm360, cold storage startup SolarFreeze, blockchain-based farm management platform Shamba Records, waste-to-value company Ecodudu, farm sanitation startup Faina Innovation, and cassava processing company Mhogo Foods.

The list is completed by record-keeping mobile app Digicow, fresh produce exporter Mula Exports, avocado oil producer Origen Group, Chibundiro manufacturer Taste Afrique, and data-driven demand tracker FreshPro Farms.

“We are excited to be part of the FoodTech Africa Accelerator, which offers a chance for startups like ours to collaborate, grow and shape the new vision of a food secure Africa through youth led innovation,” said Dysmus Kisilu, co-founder of Solar Freeze.

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How SA’s Yellow plans to expand beyond energy provision after banking funding round https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/09/how-sas-yellow-plans-to-expand-beyond-energy-provision-after-banking-funding-round/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-sas-yellow-plans-to-expand-beyond-energy-provision-after-banking-funding-round Fri, 25 Sep 2020 06:00:27 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23348 South African startup Yellow, which enables low income, rural households in Malawi and Uganda to access electricity through solar home systems on a financed basis, plans to move into other verticals after raising a US$3.3 million Series A funding round. Founded in 2018 by Mike Heyink and Maya Stewart, Yellow is a digital retail business [...]

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South African startup Yellow, which enables low income, rural households in Malawi and Uganda to access electricity through solar home systems on a financed basis, plans to move into other verticals after raising a US$3.3 million Series A funding round.

Founded in 2018 by Mike Heyink and Maya Stewart, Yellow is a digital retail business currently focused on access to energy, and has provided power on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis to 30,000 homes in its two markets.

“Access to energy and infrastructure is a huge challenge in rural Malawi and Uganda. By incorporating digital tools with a network of agent entrepreneurs and working with mobile money platforms as a means for receiving payment, we were able to reach the last mile customer in a cost-effective manner allowing the company to serve even the most remotely located household where other SHS PayGo operators can’t,” Heyink told Disrupt Africa. 

Growth has been exponential.

“We are sometimes unable to keep up with demand. We have sold over 30,000 solar home units to date, and sell approximately 200 units daily,” said Heyink.

The company recently announced it closed a US$3.3 million Series A round in May, with investment coming from Platform Investment Partners (PIP), Ruby Rock Investment and previous investors LBOS. This will be used to scale-up its footprint to over 100,000 customers in Malawi and Uganda, but also to move into new verticals.

“We are expanding our product offering with uniquely sourced value products. We feel confident differentiated products relative to what is available in the existing market will be well received. Ultimately, we hope to capitalise on the massive growth in the addressable African consumer base which is set to double over the next 20 years,” said Heyink.

“We want to initially expand our product offering over and above SHS – we have begun offering low voltage plasma TVs, smartphones on PayGo packages, and have ambitions to further expand this. In unison, we are expanding geographically within both countries. Expansion into different markets is a medium-term plan.”

Yellow generates revenue from monthly payments for the PayGo packages, as well as cash payments for cash sale items. 

“We are expanding rapidly and so much of the profit is being reinvested into the business to grow our product and support bases,” said Heyink.

It hasn’t been an easy journey for the startup, however, with Heyink saying that the creation of a sustainable model had been its biggest challenge since it launched. 

“Initially, we sat for hours under trees with chiefs and drove through hundreds of places that aren’t on maps. We gained almost no traction at all and after a year of leaving our jobs came close to shutting the business down,” he said.

“Over time, we learnt that the informal channels which make up 90 per cent of African retail lack the sophistication required to get complex products and services to customers. We knew we had to radically change the way things were being done, if we were going to reach a price that people could afford.” 

That was when it started building Ofeefee, its digital platform for informal retail. 

“The platform changed everything. The business developed huge traction. We substituted meetings under trees for automated recruitment workflows and soon the business was thriving,” Heyink said.

Now, with funding in the bank, the plan is for Yellow to thrive even more, in more verticals and additional geographies.

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Kenyan digital addressing startup OkHi raises $1.78m funding from UK angel network https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/09/kenyan-digital-addressing-startup-okhi-raises-1-78m-funding-from-uk-angel-network/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kenyan-digital-addressing-startup-okhi-raises-1-78m-funding-from-uk-angel-network Thu, 24 Sep 2020 10:00:44 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23401 Kenyan startup OkHi, which has developed a digital addressing system for emerging markets, has a GBP1.4 million (US$1.78 million) funding round, supported by the London-based Angel Investment Network, to expand its team and grow operations in other African countries. Co-founded in 2014 by Timbo Drayson, who while at Google led the launch of Google Maps [...]

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Kenyan startup OkHi, which has developed a digital addressing system for emerging markets, has a GBP1.4 million (US$1.78 million) funding round, supported by the London-based Angel Investment Network, to expand its team and grow operations in other African countries.

Co-founded in 2014 by Timbo Drayson, who while at Google led the launch of Google Maps across emerging markets and built Chromecast, the Nairobi-based OkHi has developed technology that enables any business to collect an accurate address from their customer, verify it, and navigate to it.

Its primary focus is to solve address verification for financial services, an endemic problem that holds back financial inclusion across emerging markets. It has now received support in achieving this goal after receiving GBP1.4 million (US$1.78 million) in funding, with help from the Angel Investment Network, the world’s largest online angel investment platform. 

OkHi, which is also backed by Airbnb co-founder Nate Blecharczyk and Twitter chairman Patrick Pichette, has so far powered millions of uses of its addressing system, and recently launched in Nigeria with Africa’s largest banking platform, Interswitch Group, to solve address verification in Nigeria and beyond. The round, which took only two months to complete, will be used to “win” the Nigerian market and grow the business beyond Africa. 

The startup, which also plans to double the size of its team, is also now on what it calls a “clear trajectory” to Series A.  

“A physical address should be a human right. Whether it’s opening up a bank account or getting an ambulance to your door, every person on this planet deserves access to these services. This raise is a vital stepping stone to unlock our growth into Nigeria as well as explore new markets across Africa, Middle East and Asia,” Drayson said. 

Ed Stephens, who led the raise for the Angel Investment Network, said OkHi had ticked many boxes for the network’s investors, who really bought into the company’s mission. 

“We were inundated with interest with more than 180 inquiries on the table. OkHi’s digital infrastructure helps to answer a genuine need for people without a formal address to get access to services that can help transform their lives,” he said. 

“The team’s credentials were impeccable in their experience as entrepreneurs, so we look forward to seeing the huge success of this company as it grows to help millions of people across the globe get better access to services.”

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MEST invests $700k in 7 graduating tech startups https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/09/mest-invests-700k-in-7-graduating-tech-startups/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mest-invests-700k-in-7-graduating-tech-startups Thu, 24 Sep 2020 08:40:07 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23396 The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) has invested a combined US$700,000 in seven tech startups formed by graduates from its entrepreneurial training programme. Launched in 2008, MEST is a pan-African training programme, seed fund and incubator for technology entrepreneurs in Africa, providing critical skills training in software development, business and communications.  Headquartered in Accra, [...]

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The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) has invested a combined US$700,000 in seven tech startups formed by graduates from its entrepreneurial training programme.

Launched in 2008, MEST is a pan-African training programme, seed fund and incubator for technology entrepreneurs in Africa, providing critical skills training in software development, business and communications. 

Headquartered in Accra, Ghana, the organisation runs an annual programme, and then invests in startups formed by its graduates. Its 12th edition, which featured a cohort of 54 entrepreneurs from all over the continent, has just concluded, with MEST announcing it has invested US$100,000 each into a total of seven startups after 15 teams pitched their ideas at a virtual demo day.

The startups that received funding were food delivery startup Ghanaian Heny, Ghanaian retail-tech platform Shopa, Nigerian e-wallet service Joovlin, Ghanaian cloud-based monitoring and evaluation platform KPI Lens, customer on-boarding platform Kenyan Eleka, delivery service Ghanaian Boxconn, and Ghanaian reselling service Tendo.

“We are blown away by the perseverance and talent we have seen in our entrepreneurs this year, as it has been a year filled with unexpected twists and turns,” said MEST managing director Ashwin Ravichandran. 

“This was the first time our entrepreneurs were trained mostly virtually and away from our campus, and I am proud to say they have come out stronger than ever. We are incredibly excited about the seven companies we have decided to invest in and look forward to continuing our support and mentorship as they launch their businesses across the continent. Our pan-African network of hubs and partners will allow the companies to position themselves in the best possible market for their entry and future expansion.”

This year’s funded startups join more than 40 companies currently in incubation as part of MEST Africa’s portfolio across Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, and the graduating class joins over 400 alumni across the continent. Since its inception, the Meltwater Foundation has invested US$22 million into MEST. Last year, 11 startups secured a total of US$1.1 million in investment.

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9 Kenyan, Ugandan startups admitted to Africa Transformative Mobility Accelerator https://disrupt-africa.com/2020/09/9-kenyan-ugandan-startups-admitted-to-africa-transformative-mobility-accelerator/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=9-kenyan-ugandan-startups-admitted-to-africa-transformative-mobility-accelerator Thu, 24 Sep 2020 06:40:58 +0000 http://disrupt-africa.com/?p=23386 Nine East African startups have been selected to take part in the Africa Transformative Mobility Accelerator (ATMA), which provides mobility startups with mentorship, networking opportunities, and the chance to secure cash funding. Run by the Africa Mobility Initiative, the ATMA programme is aimed at supporting startups offering transformative, practical, well researched and tested solutions addressing [...]

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Nine East African startups have been selected to take part in the Africa Transformative Mobility Accelerator (ATMA), which provides mobility startups with mentorship, networking opportunities, and the chance to secure cash funding.

Run by the Africa Mobility Initiative, the ATMA programme is aimed at supporting startups offering transformative, practical, well researched and tested solutions addressing urban mobility challenges in African cities. 

After 112 applications were received from across the East Africa region, nine startups have been selected to take part. Five of those are from Uganda, namely travel-booking startup SafariShare, on-demand matatu service Easy Matatu, NFC tech startup Quick Tap, electric motorcycle provider Zembo Motorcycle, and bus ticketing platform Ugabus.

Kenya is home to the other four companies selected, in the shape of cargo platform Amitruck, rent-to-own motorcycle services Ecobodaa, electric vehicle manufacturer Kiri EV, and logistics company Smatbeba.

The six-month programme gives selected startups the chance to participate in immersion trips in Kenya and Uganda, receive training, coaching and mentorship from local and international mobility and enterprise development experts, network with mobility stakeholders, practitioners and enthusiasts, and pitch their solutions to a selected and curated pool of investors at the Africa Transformative Mobility Summit in 2021.

The winning startup will take home a cash prize of US$25,000, while the runner-up will secure US$10,000.

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