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  • Solvesting’s P2P lending wants to bridge SME investments in emerging markets

    Over the past few years, Africa has seen record levels of foreign direct investment, peaking at US$56.3-billion in 2013. Yet, studies still show that medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to get their share of the pie. Recently launched in Kenya, a relatively new startup called Solvesting has geared up to serve an estimated US$850 000-billion untapped credit market that exists in emerging markets today. How is it planning to do this? Well, Solvesting introduces a peer to peer (P2P) lending platform for small to SMEs in emerging markets. Foreign investors, on the other side of the spectrum, can fund SMEs in developing countries,...

  • WeChat Africa invests in M4JAM, allowing it to scale its local and global reach [updated]

    Additional reporting by Jacques Coetzee M4JAM has been on quite a run since its inception back in August 2014. Just a few days ago Ventureburn broke the story that the micro-jobbing startup has lured Google’s Brett StClair to its team. And now WeChat Africa, a joint venture between Naspers and Tencent, has announced its investment in the South African micro-jobbing platform. The love affair between the two has been ongoing since M4JAM launched on WeChat's mobile ecosystem in August 2014. There is no indication of this deal being part of the initial attraction to each other but it would certainly appear...

  • From Ottery to Vredenburg: these are the 12 Western Cape startups that just won R6.5-million

    A dozen innovative startups have received R6.5-million from the Western Cape government to help build out their great ideas. Announced back in August 2014, the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism partnered with the Technology Innovation Agency to create a fund intended to boost innovation throughout the province. The Design Innovation Seed Fund's (DISF) aim is to assist pre-revenue startups that are either already in incubation or entering incubation. Over 150 applications were received, and 12 winners were declared: Ajax Manufacturing -- manufacturers of aluminium shoes used by professionals who climb poles (think Telkom workers, not pole dancers); Stroketech -- audio headsets for swimmers (based in Vredenburg); Pro...

  • Latin America’s VC space: big opportunity or illusion?

    After four years riding the roller coaster ups and downs of running an internet startup in Latin America, I feel that I have paid my duties in the race of chasing the Latin American dream. There are hard facts that any entrepreneur in pursuit of this sort of dream should be well aware of before jumping in. If you look at a continent and you see no more than ten big hitters, you need to be a little suspicious. This lack of a sprawling scene of tech leaders could be the result of many different things, such as immaturity of...

  • GoMetro launches Email My Boss button for commuters stuck on trains

    The buzzing sound of murmuring voices in the train builds up to a mix of conversations. Often when the train gets stuck, you can, among the noise, hear a commuter trying to tell his/her boss that they are going to be late for work that day. Calling in, of course, only works for those who have the airtime to call. GoMetro, the public transport app, is trying to make this process a lot easier for commuters by introducing a new feature called Email My Boss. The feature allows commuters who are stuck on a delayed train to send an email...

  • Impact Beyond Innovation: How Lumkani’s fire detection system is saving lives

    Impact Beyond Innovation is an article series that features startups from Africa putting social good at the forefront of their business models. In 2013, the thesis research of Lumkani co-founder Francois Petousis was accelerated because of a massive fire in the BM section of Khayelitsha that left over 4 000 people homeless. Petousis and UCT engineering lecturer Samuel Ginsberg then knew the project they were working on could have a massive impact -- and not just in South Africa but in any dense township areas across the globe. Soon they were joined by Paul Mesarcik, David Gluckman, Max Basle and Emily Vining,...

  • Total number of SA entrepreneurs dropped by a third last year

    The percentage of adult South Africans involved in starting a business has plunged by 34% since last year, a new report shows. The Global Entrepreneur Monitor (GEM) global report for 2014 reveals that the percentage of adults involved in a business less than three-and-a-half years old (the TEA rate) fell to 6.97% last year from a 13-year high of 10.6% in 2013. This, while the percentage of South African adults running established businesses (those of older than three and a half years) has also slipped -- from 2.9% to 2.68%. The 2014 report surveyed over 206 000 individuals and 3 936 national experts on entrepreneurship...

  • Listen Up, 10 Plus Media launch growth workshops for SMEs

    In desperate need of growing your startup? Well, listen up! This might just be the thing you're looking for. South African marketing agency Listen Up has partnered with content marketing specialists 10 Plus Media to provide business workshops for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The workshops are designed with the established small businesses in mind which are struggling to achieve growth as well as for people just keen to start their own startup. The members of the 10-UP team have over 60 years of combined entrepreneurial experience. Marketing director of Listen Up, Adilia Teixeira Joubert, agrees that it is a novel approach...

  • Africa 118 expands business directory service to Uganda

    Kenyan mobile directory service Africa 118, one of five startups to be awarded a Microsoft4Afrika innovation grant in 2014, has announced its expansion into Uganda. There it has launched a localised version of its offering, called ‘InfoMoby’. The service is designed to sort business information categorically and by location, making it easier for users to find business information, hours of operation, websites and physical addresses. At launch, the directory reportedly covers thousands of businesses in Jinja, Kampala, Entebbe and other significant areas in Uganda. Read more: Microsoft 4Afrika picks five startups for its innovation grant The database also...

  • Jumia Nigeria’s former MD secures $850k funding from Interswitch for new venture

    Pan-African integrated payment, processing and transaction switching company, Interswitch, has announced it has made an initial investment of US$850 000 in Africa Courier Express (ACE), formerly A-Post a company started by Tunde Kehinde the founding Managing Director of Nigeria’s ecommerce giant Jumia. Based in Nigeria and focused on the entire African continent, ACE is a technology driven ecommerce logistics and warehousing firm. It has developed and introduced a new cutting-edge technology to track, deliver and collect payments seamlessly for and on-behalf of its clients. A statement by Interswitch revealed it is making an initial investment of US$850 000 through its ePayment...