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  • Do banks block mobile money innovation in Africa?

    A recent blog posting by Dr. Bill Maurer on the CGAP website spoke about mobile money’s innovation crisis. The author claims that nothing new has happened in mobile money since Mpesa was launched in Kenya, with the possible exception of the launch of Mkesho this year in Kenya as well. Besides that development, he contends that everyone around the world is just trying to duplicate what Safaricom is doing in this space. Why is this the case? Dr Maurer argues that, “There may also be one partnership in particular that could be hampering innovation—that with the banks. Historically, these two players have taken very...

  • Company Office

    SA consumers no longer willing to pay a premium for big name brands

    Prior to the arrival of the Digital era, marketers and advertisers gained insight into consumer sentiment via door-to-door visits, lengthy paper surveys and tedious questionnaires. Now, by simply scrutinising what consumers are searching for online – and more specifically – which search terms they are actually using, companies and marketers can get an accurate take on what consumers actually want (and what they are concerned about). “In recent years, people have been spending a significant portion of their budgets on mobile phones and connectivity, especially given the initial aura around brands such as Blackberry and Apple, coupled with the fixation...

  • 7 reasons to bootstrap: Angels, VCs or none of the above?

    The venture capitalist (VC) community is disdainful of angel investors and their puny funds, but the angels can do deals that VCs cannot because they are too small for the large funds. Today's entrepreneur has a choice: Angels or VCs or none of the above. It's worth considering the "none of the above" option because startup costs are very low. Joe Kraus, co-founder of Excite, which was the Google of its day, told me that they needed $5-million for a data centre when they first started. Today, with the ready availability of cloud computing you don't need to raise lots of capital...

  • DukaPress: A WordPress eCommerce system from Africa

    DukaPress is a new customised WordPress eCommerce platform. It allows you to easily set up a fully featured online shop which can be used to sell digital or physical goods to customers all over the world. I’ve been using WordPress for many years, and am a huge fan. When I saw DukaPress last week, I was impressed to see that it was built in Nairobi, but I also wondered why another eCommerce WordPress build was needed, as there are already good ones available such as WP-ecommerce and Shopp. I interviewed Kelvin Jayanoris, from Nickel Pro, about DukaPress: ON WHY THEY DEVELOPED A...

  • Samasource CEO on bridging the digital divide and creating a global meritocracy

    While aid programs in developing countries are ubiquitous, precious few empower the people they’re trying to help on a sustainable, ongoing basis. One that bucks this trend is Samasource, a non-profit based in San Francisco that distributes digital work from large US multinationals in manageable chunks to poor but educated workers in developing countries such as Kenya, Uganda, India, Pakistan and Haiti. Samasource workers do basic digital work required by US companies that American workers wouldn’t necessarily be willing to do. For example, Google Maps has local business information that changes when a company moves, expands or shut down....

  • Kenya’s mobile money innovation boom

    Kenya is quickly gaining a competitive advantage in the mobile payments space. Led by mobile operator giant Safaricom with their Mpesa product, the market locally sees huge value in mobile money transactions. Add to that a regulatory system that is relaxed enough for innovation to be encouraged, and you have a great space for interesting things to happen. Pay.Zunguka The team at Symbiotic always have more than one iron in the fire. I was surprised by their most recent release of a new product called Pay.Zunguka recently. Simply put, it’s a payment gateway and aggregator, allowing merchants, developers and content providers a...

  • 20 Kenyan web and tech innovations worth watching

    Kenya is abuzz right now. The outlook for technology and innovation in Africa has never been brighter, and Kenya is positioning itself strategically in anticipation of a wave of groundbreaking web and mobile emerging market products and services. The resources being put into the Kenyan IT sector currently demonstrate how seriously the country is taking the challenge to become Africa’s Innovation hub. The Kenyan Government, through its ICT Board,  recently closed the window for proposals for its $4-million grant towards local content and software applications using mobile and/or the web. This was a concerted effort by the government to meet its mandate to make...

  • 11 top African tech startups to watch, says Seedcamp

    Seedcamp, a European micro-seed fund that invests in early stage startup companies, has selected 11 South African technology startups to possibly attend the Seedcamp Week programme held in September in London, UK, where they will be in line for a potential €50 000 investment. Seedcamp, in conjunction with the Tech4Africa conference, put out a call for applications for funding and received more than 40 entries from technology startups across South Africa. The selected African entrepreneurs will have a rare opportunity to pitch their businesses at a group of people connected to powerful investors, mentors and startups throughout EMEA, with one...

  • Twangoo brings the power of collective buying to South Africa

    Do you like the idea of saving 25% on a floatation hydrotherapy session? Or what about a R100 saving on a meal at Gourmet Burger. If these deals appeal to you, then you might want to consider joining Twangoo.co.za, a new Cape Town-based startup which is harnessing the power of collective buying to make great deals available in cities around South Africa. Collective buying is one of the hottest trends on the web right now, and it's a timely introduction to the South African market. The concept was pioneered by Groupon, the American powerhouse in this field who offer deals...

  • Kalahari.net expecting big things from its new and used goods platform

    South African online retailer kalahari.net is forecasting impressive growth by the end of the year from Marketplace, its new and used trading platform which was launched in February this year. Kalahari.net believes that the trading platform, which lists both used and new products for sale, will provide South Africans with a way to earn extra money, which is especially important in the current economic climate, and speaks to South Africa’s natural entrepreneurial spirit. “The launch of our marketplace allows online users to sell their new or used products on a platform that has an enormous database of existing customers and that is...

  • Why Silicon Valley is only part of California’s innovative success

    California seems to be on a constant roller-coaster of events – technological, economic and social. Strangely enough, the state keeps moving on as the American epicentre of high-tech industry. To technological entrepreneurs, California is synonymous with Silicon Valley, a place where brain-rich can become money-rich. To movie lovers, California is synonymous with Hollywood, where real life can become fantasy. In the 1980s, Silicon Valley defined California’s economy in particular and America in general. It was the first time in the history of capitalism when the best brains made the most money. Inheritance was frowned upon as wealth based on sexual...