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  • Where are the women in African tech?

    This article by Hilda Moraa Morara originally appeared on Venture Capital for Africa, a Burn Media publishing partner. The clamour for innovation in the African society today is loud. In the era where there is a lot happening in ICT, innovation and entrepreneurship, why are there still very few women involved in these areas? Past research reports and workshops have openly addressed female participation issues and the need to build more capacity of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics); to give them a chance to contribute to the growth of the economy. According to an ongoing study conducted by...

  • Company Office

    Blurring of fintech, agritech holds significant potential impact for Africa

    The transformative power of fintech innovations has had far-reaching consequences on the financial services sector, disrupting traditional banking models and bringing about previously unimaginable changes in the way customers bank and pay. Technology is also transforming other industries, such as agriculture and health services. And because most industries have a financial element, the lines between the technology changes in fintech and other industries such as agritech are beginning to blur. This makes for even more exciting possibilities. “More and more we are seeing the convergence across sectors, and for emerging markets this systemic approach is a useful way to address the complexity,”...

  • Some good things in business are totally unanticipated and unexpected

    Adii Pienaar is co-founder of WordPress theme shop and ecommerce platform WooThemes. I’ve come to the conclusion that some good things in business are totally unanticipated and even more so - unexpected. Regardless of how big my ego is and how I rate myself as a strategist, visionary and leader within my company, some things are the results of the unknown and not my (or anyone on my team’s) doing. At least not consciously. Here’s an example: Two weeks ago we switched WooThemes' support helpdesk to use Zendesk instead. Within a week, our support numbers, capacity and performance were under control (in stark...

  • How to sell a high-risk startup to skittish investors

    Exhibit A: a startup with an inexperienced leadership team enters a business sector with notoriously high failure rates: the food service industry. On paper, the startup is likely to be classified as a high-risk venture, signalling a gloomy fundraising outlook -- but it doesn't have to be that way, says veteran startup mentor, angel investor and founder of Startup Professionals, Martin Zwilling. The key to defying the odds, says Zwilling, is for the startup to acknowledge and address its challenges in its business case and investor presentation. The worst the startup can do is to hope that its weaknesses fall...

  • Bummed there is no Twitter on Mxit? Don’t fret now you have Tweetr

    As a platform, Mxit seems to be evolving. In the last year it has expanded the user experience by opening up its API and allowing third-party developers to build apps for the mobile social network. In December a third-party developer quietly launched Tweetr on Mxit, an app that allows users to browse tweets from Twitter's mobile site without the need for a Twitter account. "The decision to incorporate twitter into Mxit was a simple one. I knew there was demand for these two content segments and if we simplified accessibility to the content (that users are already searching for)...

  • Virtual incubation programme to be launched in East Africa

    InfoDev, a global grant programme run by the World Bank to promote ICT, has announced a pilot virtual incubation project to bring up businesses across East Africa. InfoDev said its new initiative is aimed at redefining the idea of incubation for business by providing tools for businesses in the rural areas as opposed to the urban areas such as witnessed across East Africa.The participating incubation labs will be required to recruit potential startup, incubate them through virtual startup support and even connect them with funding opportunities.“We are honored to contribute to this groundbreaking effort to bring virtual incubation services to...

  • U-Start: connecting investors with emerging market ventures

    International funding platforms with their sights set on emerging markets are coming in thick and fast. U-start, a new online platform from Italy, matches entrepreneurs with investors through its growing footprint of networks in Kenya, Russia and now, South Africa. While U-Start also intends to serve areas of Europe with smaller startup eco-systems, its 2013 roadmap shows significant emerging market intent with further expansion planned for South America, India, Asia, and Africa. When entering a new region, U-Start partners with local businesses, academia, investors and entrepreneurial communities to develop its target markets. In South Africa for example, U-Start has partnerships with...

  • 8 mobile ventures get $2.4 million from Knight Foundation

    The Knight Foundation has announced the latest winners of its news challenge. The media innovation challenge is aimed at getting startups to build applications that can be used in a newsroom. This year's theme was mobile, and the projects were quite focused on the developing world where mobile is king. Most of the chosen projects focus on using mobile to get news and information in emerging markets. Veteran information dispenser, Wikipedia, will develop new tools to allow people to access articles and knowledge via text message in different languages. The project is part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s bigger remit to...

  • Q&A: Vinny Lingham on Gyft, the festive season and living in Silicon Valley

    South African technology entrepreneur Vinny Lingham is not resting on his laurels despite the success of Yola and it having raised US$25 million from Johan Rupert’s Reinet Investments. His latest venture, Gyft, seeks to “disrupt” the multi-billion dollar gift card industry.Gyft is a “Mobile Gift Card Platform” that aims to enable customers to “upload, buy and redeem gift cards conveniently from their mobile device”.Gift cards are a US$100 billion industry in the USA alone, which is partially the reason why Google Ventures, Founder Collective and 500 Startups have funded this private company.The other reason could be Lingham’s track record as a...

  • Pastel enters the personal finance game

    Pastel My Money is joining the likes of Moneysmart, 22seven and Nedbank in an all out barroom brawl for personal finance management supremacy. Softline Pastel, a trusted name in South African accounting software is launching a new online play. For those that remain circumspect of online finance management tools -- for whatever reason -- Pastel's cachet could do well to galvanise interest. Like its competitors Pastel My Money allows you to manage transactions and track spending on your various bank accounts. The service can import bank statements from an unlimited number of internet bank and credit card accounts. Each profile allows...

  • Studentology’s mobile payment app attracts international investor attention

    In November last year, eleven promising startups boarded a plane bound for London where they would be introduced to potential investors and mentors. The eleven, chosen as part of Silicon Cape's incubation programme, pitched to a panel of investors that included the Mamba Mentors, a group of South African expats who were also involved in previous pitching rounds. One of the startups, Studentology, a student marketing company with a mobile payment solution, caught the eye of Mamba member, Haji Chana. Chana has a background in private equity, management consulting and investment banking, having worked at Blackstone Group, Mckinsey & Company...