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Innovation

  • New UNICEF-backed platform looking to crowdsource innovation

    A new platform has launched with the aim of crowdsourcing innovative solutions to the world's most pressing problems. Called CauseTech, the platform comes out of a partnership between the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network and UNICEF Innovation Center. It aim is to aggregate the world’s best innovators, technologists, developers, and researchers in a global ideation ecosystem to start finding unique ways of addressing some of the biggest challenges currently facing the planet. As well as connecting groups of people who might otherwise not have contact with each other, the platform will play host to a...

  • Silicon Valley network could help boost South Africa

    To boost small business and innovation in their own countries, emerging economies should make better use of entrepreneurs from their diaspora -- particularly those located in Silicon Valley. Hundreds of thousands of South Africans live overseas. Professor Jonathan Crush of Queens University in Canada and Cape Town University estimates the South African diaspora to number more than 600 000. Figures by the Migration Policy Institute for 2013 reveal that about 102 000 South Africans are in the US. So involved are South Africans in the US technology industry that a large proportion of the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Executive of the...

  • 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...

  • Innovation is key to support all SMEs in South Africa

    Is it better to help the tens of thousands of struggling informal-sector firms or a few promising entrepreneurs with ideas that could grow to become win-big businesses? The Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu's budget speech delivered yesterday focused almost wholly on the first kind. But will this help South Africa to create the millions of jobs it badly needs? Likely not. From a political point of view, it’s often more attractive to support struggling informal-sector firms, than to support a few entrepreneurs with bright ideas (who often come from better-off families). Yet research shows few micro firms grow big...

  • These 4 engineers are using entrepreneurship to make their innovations go big

    The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation has recently announced the top four engineering innovations from the continent. After given business training and mentorship, these engineers are now gearing up to take their products to market. The innovations include a system that enables Kenyans to swap airtime for cash, nanofilters for clean water in Tanzania, fence-mounted warning system against theft and poaching in South Africa, and a precision fertiliser applicator to help Zambian farmers be more efficient. The finalists were chosen out of 12 African entrepreneurs who were given a package of six months of business training and mentoring from the the...

  • BitX revamps platform with fresh bitcoin exchange

    South African-based bitcoin exchange BitX has launched a revamped version of its popular site. By providing a faster and more efficient platform for experienced traders, and a cleaner, friendlier experience for new users, the startup is hoping to further drive bitcoin adoption. BitX currently operates in some key emerging markets including South Africa, Kenya, Indonesia, Singapore and more. It’s also been spearheading the move to bring bitcoin to over 30 000 online stores in South Africa through the popular local online payment service, PayFast. Read more: PayFast’s 30k merchants can now accept bitcoin as online payment In August last year, the startup...

  • From fire detectors to SMS fundraisers: meet Africa’s top 10 innovators of 2015

    The African Innovation Foundation has just named the continent's top 10 entrepreneurs through its annual Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA). After receiving 925 applications from over 41 countries, the organisation has decided on inspiring initiatives that focus on diverse industries from agriculture, to education and e-health. Four of the finalists hail from South Africa while Kenya follows with two of its own representatives. The awards ceremony will be held on 12 and 13 May in Skhirat, Morocco where the finalists will stand a chance of winning their share of US$150 000. “We have a strong commitment with AIF to unlock the innovation...

  • Cape Town City partners with Citymart to help innovate informal trading

    Informal trading represents about 12% of Cape Town, South Africa's economy and employs around 18% of its economically active residents. To further help these estimated 4 000 trading sites scattered across the city, Cape Town’s Economic Development Department is launching the Citymart innovation challenge -- a global initiative focused on leveraging the community to help innovate government processes. "Through this call, the City hopes to rejuvenate informal trading, by soliciting input from the public which could provide possible solutions to the challenges or problems that the informal trading sector is facing," says Councillor Garreth Bloor in a press statement. Councillor Bloor...

  • Project Inspire: looking for tech & design to change the world for women

    A competition which seeks to support social entrepreneurs around the globe, Project Inspire, is calling for initiatives that can empower women around the globe. Aimed specifically at Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, the project is currently accepting entries until 1 June 2015. Project Inspire was launched in 2011 by the Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard during the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. Its objective is to seek out and offer support to social entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 with a project that empowers women and girls in any or all of the three regions. Georgette...

  • Uber Nigeria: how the world’s sexiest startup is faring in Lagos

    In July 2014, Uber commenced operations in Lagos, Nigeria, a city notorious for its horrendous traffic jams. Despite that, the disruptive company's operations have boomed. At least that's according to Uber Lagos general manager Ebi Atawodi (pictured above). Exponential Growth Within six months, said Atawodi, Uber has recorded exponential growth in Nigeria in terms of demand and supply. There has been 10-times growth in the company’s supply within six months, which also means there are 10 times more Uber drivers in Lagos than the company had six months ago. In terms of demand, a hundred-fold growth has been recorded within the...