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Emerging Markets

  • Chivas Regal awards SA fire detection startup Lumkani $75k

    South African fire detection startup, Lumkani has been awarded US$75 000 at Chivas Regal's global The Venture competition. The Scottish whiskey brand awarded a total of US$1-million to five social enterprises that pitched in San Francisco this week. Chile's food distributor Algramo walked away with the largest share of US$300 000. Representing Uruguay at The Venture, livestock-tracking startup Chipsafer and Japan's field-monitoring SenSprout each won US$150 000. As with Lumkani, Diseclar from Columbia received US$75 000 for turning waste into furniture. "This is a big win for us, we can start rolling out bigger parts of our business model which require more capital, test...

  • Bitcoin startup BitX raises $4m from Naspers

    Emerging market bitcoin exchange startup BitX has just raised a nice fat US$4-million in Series A from PayU -- a subsidiary of media and internet powerhouse Naspers. Existing investor Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group also participated in the round. The fresh capital comes after the startup secured over US$800 000 from a group of international investors late last year. Founded by Marcus Swanepoel, Francois Paul, Carel van Wyk, Pieter Heyns and Timothy Stranex, BitX launched in 2013 with a mission to spread the adoption of digital currency in emerging markets. It's currently headquartered in Singapore with additional offices in Jakarta and...

  • Is forcing banks to lend to SMEs a good idea?

    India's reserve bank recently introduced new measures under its long existing priority sector lending policy that mandate banks to lend a minimum percentage of their net credit to small businesses. But is forcing banks to lend to small firms such a good thing? Under the new rules, announced in April, banks must by March next year ensure that they lend a minimum of seven percent of their net credit to small businesses and a minimum of 7.5% by March 2017. For banks it means more work. They will have to continue to ensure that a total of 40% of their...

  • How will BRICS really benefit SMEs?

    Will small businesses in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa benefit from these countries being part of the BRICS? With the 7th BRICS summit last week in Ufa in Russia, the question is -- is there really anything in it for SMEs? The biggest potential benefit for small businesses would be access to a wider export market. But the BRICS are far off from achieving a free trade agreement. What free trade? This was confirmed this week by Russia's first deputy economic development minister Alexei Likhachev, who was quoted this week as saying that the bloc is not psychologically ready" to...

  • Q&A with Francesco Signoretti from lastminute.com group on emerging markets

    Feature photo: Seedstars Cape Town judges during a startup's pitch Francesco Signoretti is the CEO of lastminute.com group, a European leader in the online travel and leisure industry. The Group has an impressive portfolio of well-known brands such as lastminute.com, Bravofly, Rumbo, Volagratis and Jetcost, with websites and mobile apps in 15 languages across 35 countries. As an official partner of Seedstars World, lastminute.com group has agreed to power a Travel Investment Track that will award US$500 000 in equity investment to the best travel startup. Signoretti was with the Seedstars World team at the Cape Town event to help source...

  • These are the 5 winners from the Seedstars World Cape Town event

    Seedstars World has crowned the five winners from its Cape Town event. The five were chosen from a pool of 10 finalists who took part in an intense pitching competition on Tuesday evening. The startups were competing for a chance to compete against the five equivalent winners in Johannesburg in a bid to take the South African crown. From there, the winner flies to Zürich to take part in a bootcamp before the Seedstars global competition. There they will compete against startups from 52 countries for a chance at US$500 000 in funding, among other prizes. ...

  • The Asian giant arm-wrestle: Is India about to beat China at the VC game?

    China, by all means, is far ahead of India. Be it the quality of infrastructure, its business-friendly environment and backing from the government -- India has a lot to learn from this Asian giant. It’s no secret that India has always looked at China with a bit of envy, for its astonishing growth over the past couple of decades to become the fastest-growing economy in the world, despite the fact that a large chunk of its people still don’t speak English. According to a recent news report by The Economic Times, prominent Indian startup entrepreneurs have started paying regular visits...

  • 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...

  • Uber starts testing first-ever cash payments in India

    Ride-hailing company Uber this week announced it will offer cash payments for Indian customers looking to hail a car, as part of a pilot program in Hyderabad. The move marks a global first for the company. Prior to the Hyderabad pilot, Uber has steadfastly avoided accepting cash for its car services. While riders could pay for trips using bank notes on UberAuto, the company’s India-only auto-rickshaw service, it ceased to accept cash for any of its car-oriented tiers -- both in Asia and elsewhere. Uber’s distaste for cash likely stems from two reasons. First, Uber can’t easily enforce percentage-based commissions on...

  • These 16 inspiring social startups want to change the world for the better

    From mobile marketplaces for street vendors to prosthetics and electric scooters, 16 startups with a keen interest to tackle social and environmental issues have been chosen from around the world to pitch for a share of US$1-million from Chivas Regal's The Venture competition. Hailing from five continents, the startup finalists have been chosen to represent their respective countries. Fire detection company Lumkani will be representing South Africa. “Enabling the growth of social entrepreneurs has become a key focus for Chivas Regal through The Venture campaign. We are really excited to have Lumkani representing South Africa on a global stage and we...