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Africa

  • From lab to launch: the quest to build startup success in SA’s innovation capital

    Venture capitalist and founder of popular US seed fund Y Combinator Paul Graham once wrote that the recipe for startup "clusters" is having a great university near a town smart people like. Premier of the Western Cape Helen Zille believes this might just be the case for Stellenbosch in South Africa, which echoed the general tone of the evening at the reopening of business incubator LaunchLab last month. Situated about 50km outside of Cape Town in the country's Winelands, Stellenbosch is not only home to JSE-listed giants such as Mediclinic and Distell, but also transformative tech companies like the instant...

  • PoS terminal startup Nomanini, TranSol partner to expand to Ghana

    Nomanini, a South African-based Point of Sale (PoS) service provider, has partnered up with Transactions Solutions Ghana Limited (TranSol) to substantially scale the number of its cloud-based PoS terminals in Ghana. The TranSol partnership signals Nomanini’s first scaled project commitment in West Africa, with Kuda Mushambi, the COO of Nomanini, revealing the company’s hope to use this opportunity to further Nomanini’s involvement in the Western African region. The South African-based Nomanini is responsible for an innovative and "highly scalable" cloud-based mobile PoS terminal. It has until this point been plying its trade in six countries (Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa...

  • Ampion Venture Bus: an NGO’s mission to drive impactful innovation in Africa

    There are various initiatives through which entrepreneurs can come together to ideate, develop, test and launch a product (and company) in Africa, but none of them sound as somehow crazy audacious as the impact driven non-profit, Ampion Venture Bus. Basically, participants are put on a bus which then travels through different countries, attending pitching events and building products as they go along. If you consider the bad roads and restrictive nature of a bus, you would think it is not the ideal way to facilitate innovation and ensuring overall efficiency, but co-founder of Ampion Jan Schafft thinks otherwise. He tells...

  • 5 women entrepreneurs from Africa to keep an eye on

    Africa is often viewed as a destitute region consumed by war, famine and disease. These are all very real facts and we are not here to minimise their severity. However, we do want to shed some light on the immense potential that some of these countries are showing. And this potential is in part due to the sheer force and determination of African women (over 520 million on the continent!) We all know that women are born fighters. They fight for their rights, for their children and for their future. From a 20-year-old who manufactures bikes with Ghanaian bamboo, to...

  • Ghana’s student app startup Flippy Campus is going to DEMO Africa 2015

    Flippy Campus, a made-in-Ghana product that aims to improve students' campus experience has become one of the first startups that will be pitching to investors at the one of the continent’s biggest startup event, DEMO Africa, held later this year in Lagos, Nigeria. The Flippy Campus team emerged the most outstanding startup among the ten that participated in the DEMO Africa pre-pitch event in Accra. According to the organisers, Flippy Campusu stood out and the team was able to convince the jury on their ability to link innovation, creativity and scalability. Students that follow Flippy Campus channels can access campus events...

  • Why Africa’s ‘largest retailer’ Jumia calls itself a startup

    In February, I put Nigeria’s two leading ecommerce giants Jumia Nigeria and Konga to the test. The results showed some concerns about the quality of customer care and order tracking services being offered by Jumia. Last Thursday, on the sideline of a major event held at the Main Auditorium of the University of Lagos, I spoke to Jonathan Doerr who's the managing director of Jumia Nigeria on the company that he describes as the largest ecommerce platform in Africa -- and the continent’s largest retailer. Even though many Africans see Jumia as a very big ecommerce company that is competing...

  • Are carpooling services Nigeria’s next big thing?

    In March, I spoke to the country manager of "the world’s sexiest startup", Uber, on how the company is faring in Nigeria. Among other things, Ebi Atawodi said the company is planning to introduce a carpooling service where individuals can use an Uber ride, consequently lowering cost. This is basically what Nigeria’s latest transport Jekalo is all about. The founders launched the company on 28 May mainly through a newsletter and social media. Its apparent novelty really got a lot of people talking about it, including social media influencers making me wonder how many of those that talked about it...

  • Pivot East 2015 announces mobile startup semi-finalists

    Pivot East, an East African-based startups competition for tech companies, has announced its semi-finalists for this year’s competition. All entries were based on a number of criteria were allowed from a large number of African countries, the majority being from East Africa. Going on its fifth year, the competition originally focused on app developers, but has shifted focus as a startup pitching event. The aim of Pivot East is to help startups organise and refine their business model. It also looks to expose these companies to investors, corporate, research and development companies, and the general public. According to the Pivot...

  • Africa’s the new China — here’s why investors should care

    Apart from the fact that one is a continent and the other a country, Africa is the new China. This seems like an odd idea at first. After all, China has a booming economy, and African countries are poverty-stricken, politically volatile, and unjustifiable business risks. Right? Wrong. Africa is actually the next frontier in global expansion. Allow me to explain. Pretend for a moment that you’re the CEO of a major American clothing manufacturer. Your company is thriving, but you want to diversify your sourcing chain. You typically outsource this production to Chinese companies, but the current rising energy and human capital costs...

  • Tanzanian water filter innovation claims prestigious prize

    Transitioning from being an successful engineer to a successful entrepreneur takes some doing. In an attempt to recognise and promote both innovation and business leadership in Africa, the Royal Academy of Engineering has awarded Tanzanian Askwar Hilonga for his innovative, low-cost sustainable water filter system. The so-called nano-filters aim to help community centres become water hubs by filtering and selling water that is accessible to some of the most isolated and under-serviced communities in the region. "This is a solution, now my community and the whole Africa have the possibility to stop typhoid, to stop cholera, and stop water bourne diseases by...