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All posts by Stephen Timm: Editor

  • CoGrammar to make 200 hires in Cape after new funding, reveals SA founder

    Riaz Moola, the founder of UK and SA-based edtech startup CoGrammar, says his startup will hire 200 employees in Cape Town by the end of next year, after closing a funding round earlier this year. Speaking to Ventureburn yesterday while on a short visit to the city, Moola (pictured above) pointed out that the startup expects to hire 50 of the new hires by March next year when it kicks off a recruitment drive on 10 September. The news comes amid a tech boom in Cape Town, with SA bitcoin exchange Luno currently looking to fill 40 new positions for the company’s Cape Town office. Read...

  • Investors use loophole in VC tax incentive to invest in own companies – Sars

    Investors are using a loophole in a SA venture capital (VC) tax incentive to invest in companies connected to them and benefit from a whopping 125% write-off on their taxable income, the SA Revenue Services (Sars) revealed yesterday. The incentive, which falls under Section 12J of the Income Tax Act and came into effect in 2009, entitles investors that invest in accredited VC companies that then invest in small businesses, to make a tax deduction of 125% in the year that the investment was made. Last week saw an outcry from South Africa’s venture capital (VC) and private equity sector over...

  • Kenyan hub Nailab busy identifying African partners for Jack Ma programme

    Kenyan hub Nailab, which has been selected to run Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma's $10-million Africa Netpreneur Prize, is in the process of identifying and selecting  hubs and other collaborative partners from across the continent, Nailab founder Sam Gichuru revealed yesterday. During an event held earlier this month in Johannesburg to launch the initiative, Ma revealed that the Nairobi-based hub would act as the lead continental partner for the programme, which kicks off next year. The programme will award $10-million to 100 African entrepreneurs over the next 10 years. Responding to an email enquiry from Ventureburn, Gichuru (pictured above) said yesterday that his hub, which he founded in 2011, has been playing a consultative role...

  • Google to reveal names of second cohort of Launchpad Accelerator Africa today

    Google set to announce the names today of the startups that will take part in the second cohort of its Launchpad Africa Accelerator. A PR representative for Google South Africa told Ventureburn last Monday (20 August) that the ceremony would be held at 11am SA time (10am Nigerian time) today in Lagos. Google opened applications for the second class of its Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme in June, adding 12 more African countries from which it would accept application from -- to the six that it took applications from in the first class. Applications for closed on 8 July (see this story). Google set to announce the names...

  • State must close door on those that misuse VC tax incentive [Opinion]

    This week saw an outcry from South Africa's venture capital (VC) and private equity sector over amendments the National Treasury plans to make to the country's VC tax incentive, which falls under Section 12 of the Income Tax Act. The SA Venture Capital Association (Savca) told MPs in Parliament that should the National Treasury go ahead with them as they are at present, the amendments risked making the incentive unviable. The amendments contained in the 2018 Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (see the National Treasury's explanatory guide here) include a number of proposals intended to root out misuse of the incentive by investors. The incentive, which came into effect...

  • Fund head puts lack of women angel investors down to information asymmetry

    A shortage of information around tech startups has made women sceptical of investing in early-stage businesses. So, says IDF Capital CEO Polo Leteka. Leteka -- who runs the Johannesburg based I’M IN tech accelerator -- has invested in several startups through a Section 12J vehicle (which allows investors to get tax incentives if they place amounts in such a fund, which then invests in small businesses). She did not name the 12J. She adds that her experience in investing in tech startups has mainly been developed through the accelerator which sources contributions from corporate investors and then invests these in the startups it works with. She says other than often...

  • BREAKING: Former PPC Cement head announced as new SA SME Fund CEO [Updated]

    Former PPC Cement head Ketso Gordhan was today announced as the new CEO of the SA SME Fund. The announcement that Gordhan will take the helm of the fund -- which has yet to start lending to small businesses two years after it was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa when he was then deputy president -- was made today in a press release by Discovery on behalf o the SA SME Fund. It follows the resignation in June of Quinton Dicks, after being appointed in January last year. Using commitments by large listed companies, the R1.5-billion fund will put money into private funds that will...

  • Why Africa needs more critical media to cover lively tech startup sector [Opinion]

    A day doesn't seem to go by without news of another big deal in the tech startup sector in Africa. In a continent where war, famine and corruption have long grabbed the headlines, the nascent tech startup sector is a ray of light. Yet the lack of critical media and indepth coverage on the startup sector (or on small business in general) has helped forge the myth that tech entrepreneurship is little more than something fun and playful that those who can't get a real job get into. Too often media only highlight the glam of the sector -- making it look like...

  • When you’re a mom running a growing tech startup it’s all about multitasking

    For tech entrepreneur Chantalle ten Napel Wilson being a mom and a business owner comes down to one thing -- a lot of multitasking. Wilson, the founder of online vehicle retailing platform Virtual Drive and a mother of two, recalls how she has often had to conclude business meetings inside her car with a client seated next to her, while rushing to pick up her children from school. But she says most of her clients who find themselves in her car finishing a meeting react only positively. “Most people have said that it’s incredible that you do this,” she says. Says Wilson: “As an investor once told...

  • Natalie du Toit linked startup Sports Podium launches app to track golf scores

    Having ditched plans to run an initial coin offering (ICO), a SA blockchain startup that includes Paralympic SA swimming star Natalie du Toit as one of its shareholders, is rolling out an app that will allow amateur golfers access to accurate scores of one another's game. Speaking to Ventureburn last week Sports Podium founder Jaco Rossouw said the startup launched the app in June. The app allows golfers to keep track of own another's scores using the blockchain as a verification method. The current version of the app is already available for download from the Apple i-Store. In addition, anyone with any other sporting apps will...