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All posts by Stephen Timm: Editor

  • Five years on SA man behind ‘$20bn Namibia gas field’ yet to sink test wells

    Over five years since founding his energy company, a SA-born entrepreneur who claims that he can make millions of rands off using drones and special algorithms to find gas in the Namibian desert, has yet to start sinking test wells. This, while he says he has turned down a $500-million Chinese investment, decided against listing and insists he never said he would frack. In April last year London-based Stephen Larkin claimed that investors could be in for “free cash” of $20-billion if Africa New Energy, which uses a unique algorithm to pinpoint possible gas deposits, makes a find in Namibia’s Kalahari Desert. The Namibian government has awarded...

  • Private equity fund Africinvest to launch VC fund targeting startups on continent

    Tunisia-based private equity fund AfricInvest is busy raising funds to launch a €120-million fund to invest in innovative new ventures across the continent, a top official at the company has revealed. Speaking to Ventureburn last week, AfricInvest VC director Selma Ribica said the fund would target "successful startups" from any sector, from across the continent, using AfricInvest's various other offices across the continent, namely: Tunis, Lagos, Abidjan, Nairobi, Cairo, Algiers and Casablanca. "It is aimed to be first truly African fund with offices in North, East, and West Africa and we aim to raise €120-million," said Ribica. The idea, she said is to help startup...

  • How Seedstars competition helped put these SA startups on the map

    It's been two years since SA startup Giraffe was crowned the 2016 Seedstars World winner, scoring equity investment of an undisclosed amount and putting the company on the radar of local and international investors. Last month the Johannesburg startup, which runs a web platform that matches job seekers with job placements, announced a second round of funding led by Edge Growth. Giraffe CEO Anish Shivdasani told Ventureburn this week that winning the South African leg of the competition generated media interest which culminated in the startup's first round of finance led by Omidyar shortly after winning the SA leg. Read more: Giraffe receives undisclosed seed funding from Omidyar Network Read...

  • Tap wisdom of others and have fun says Michael Jordaan in talk on leadership

    Good leaders are those that are able to tap and best utilise the wisdom of those around them. So, says venture capitalist and former FNB head Michael Jordaan. "The thing I learnt (while heading First National Bank between  2004 and 2013) is that if you can get the wisdom out of the best people in the room, that is quite amazing. "That also puts the conventional wisdom on its head -- that the leader is meant to know everything, that the leader is supposed to know the answer," says Jordaan, who today invests in startups through his venture capital (VC) company Montegray Capital. Jordaan...

  • Uprise.Africa mulls 80 projects for equity crowdfunding, as Drifter raise hits R3m [Updated]

    SA equity crowdfunding platform Uprise.Africa is conducting due diligence work on 80 potential campaigns, the platform's marketing officer Inge Prins revealed today. It follows an announcement by the platform earlier today that with still 3o days left of its campaign, local brewers the Drifter Brewing Company has met its goal of raising R3-million from South African private investors. The R3-million has been raised from 129 local investors. Prins told Ventureburn today that the platform has received a "big stack" of applications and that about 80 applications were in the due diligence stage currently. Most of these are from organisations and entrepreneurs in Johannesburg, Cape Town and other...

  • Investors biased towards expat founders says American behind Kenya’s M-Shule

    Foreign investors who invest in African startups are biased towards funding expat founders, says a US-born entrepreneur running an edtech startup in Kenya. Claire Mongeau, who is originally from Boston in the US and is the co-founder of M-Shule, reasons that what is behind the bias is that many foreign investors favour entrepreneurs that pitch and hold meetings "like they do". "There is a big challenge when it comes to startups in many places in Africa, that the funding and the investment is very often coming from outside -- from US or European investors -- and I think they have a bias definitely towards those that look and...

  • Startups should tackle real problems, not ‘stupid stuff’ says Michael Jordaan

    South African venture capitalist Michael Jordaan says South African startups should focus on helping solve some of the country's many social and economic problems, rather than develop the "stupid, stupid stuff" that entrepreneurs often pitch him. Speaking last night at an event hosted by the Creative Leadership Collective and held at the Naspers building in Cape Town, the former FNB head said more startups should seek to solve "real problems". The collective is a members-based organisation that aims to facilitate greater innovation capabilities within large corporates. "The wonderful thing about South Africa are these problems you have, because they are all opportunities," said Jordaan. "Instead the stuff I...

  • Startup culture one of the most powerful things one can have – Michael Jordaan

    Startup culture is one of the most powerful things any society can have says SA venture capitalist Michael Jordaan, who adds startups can help solve many of South Africa's challenges. "I hate to say it but the Americans get so many things wrong -- including their president, including gun control and so on -- but what they did get right is how they view startups, how they view failure that that's a good thing and you can learn from that and start over, how corporates will sometimes buy small startups to sometimes get the talent inhouse," says Jordaan. Presenting a talk last...

  • Fourth time lucky for founder of SkillUp as startup nets Knife Capital funding

    Fourth time lucky. That's probably how Matthew Henshall would describe his current startup -- SkillUp. The Cape Town based edtech company has just received an undisclosed amount in funding from venture capital company Knife Capital. While the announcement was made today, neither Henshall -- a former UCT engineering student -- nor Knife Capital disclosed the details of the investment size or the size equity stake the VC company has taken in SkillUp. The latest funding will help the startup to take on new learners and tutors, leverage partnerships with content providers and scale the business internationally. Yet it took three failed tries to land up with an investment-ready startup,...

  • Angolan capital’s traffic proves no headache for delivery startup Tupuca

    Angola's capital Luanda is notorious for some of the worst traffic on the continent. Now four entrepreneurs founders who run a food delivery startup in the city are seeking to capitalise on what is usually a headache for residents there. Since Wilson Ganga, Erickson Mvezi, Patrice Francisco and Sydney Teixeira set up Tupuca in 2015 the startup has scored a collective $200 000 from two investors. In recent months deliveries through the app from restaurants in the city have grown a few times over. "(Traffic is) terrible but that's how it benefits us, because in lunchtime instead of people going into the traffic to...

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