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  • A look at 2017: the year that was for South Africa’s tech startup ecosystem

    This year saw one of the biggest acquisitions of a South African startup - with the over $100-million GetSmarter deal. A chance meeting with 2U CEO Chip Paucek in October last year set the Cape Town based edtech startup on the road to being acquired by the US firm in a $103-million deal signed in May, but only concluded in October. But 2017 was also a year in which two new major acceleration programmes launched on the continent. Global accelerator Startupbootcamp launched a three-month programme in Cape Town in September -- the organisation's first such initiative in Africa. The inaugural programme helped bridge the gap between corporates and startups, with the initiative's first...

  • Company Office

    Banking Africa's Unbanked - Time For A Reality Check

    Plenty of progress has been made on increasing the size of Africa’s banked population. The trouble is, from the amount of noise that is made about the topic, you would be forgiven for thinking we had fixed the problem when we really haven’t. According to the World Bank, today, 62 per cent of the world’s population has a bank account. In 2011 that figure was 51 per cent. In three years, 700 million people became “banked” in some way, and the number of “unbanked” individuals dropped 20 per cent to two billion adults. Much of this progress was attributed to...

  • How tragedy inspired Medsaf co-founder to tackle Nigeria’s counterfeit drug crisis

    Counterfeit drugs are a grave problem in Nigeria. Vivian Nwakah, a co-founder of healthtech startup Medsaf, knows this too well. Four years ago a friend of hers died after taking fake malaria medication. The counterfeit drug crisis in the West African country came to a head this week with police carrying out raids on several street markets. On Monday, Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control called on Nigerians to assist the agency in its fight against counterfeit drugs by coming forward and reporting any forms of illegal drug production. "I felt that that could have been anybody, it could have been me," said Nwakah (pictured above), who lost...

  • Meet the five Chivas Venture 2018 South African finalists

    Chivas Regal has announced the five SA finalists that have been selected to pitch next month at the local finals of its $1-million global social entrepreneurship competition the Chivas Venture. “Each of these finalists are proof that sustainability, enterprise and profit can be a strong force for good,” Chivas Regal marketing manager for South Africa Shelley Reeves said in a press release. The finalists were selected from over 600 applications -- with South Africa drawing the highest number of entries among the 30 participating countries -- and will next month get to pitch in front of a panel of judges for an opportunity to represent the country at the grand...

  • Clifftop Ventures grants new equity draw down facility of R4m to iono.fm

    Clifftop Ventures, the venture investment arm of financial firm Clifftop Colony, has increased its Equity Capital Drawdown Facility (ECDF) facility for online audio services company iono.fm to R4-million, after the tech firm was able to fully utilise an earlier R2.5-million facility. The announcement was made in a press release yesterday by Clifftop Colony and comes after the utilisation by iono.fm of a R.2.5-million ECDF facility, announced in November 2016 by the financial firm. Read more: Iono.fm receives R2.5m funding from Angel investment round The funding will help iono.fm, which was founded in 2009 by Ryan Dingley, to solidify the business next year and to expand...

  • Wala ICO nets just 4% of $30m target, but Newtown Partners praises result

    SA fintech startup Wala may have been able to raise just four percent of the $30-million it aimed to net in an initial coin offering (ICO) that ended last week -- but the head of the firm behind the raise, SA venture capital (VC) firm Newtown Partners, says it's an "excellent result". Data provided by independent ICO database ICO Drops shows that the VC firm raised almost $1.2-million for a crowdfunding token sale of Dala, a new financial services utility token built on the Ethereum blockchain. The ICO ran between 1 December to 11 December and a total of 1 billion tokens were issued of which 30%...

  • Startups need more than just capital to grow says Seedstars’ Michael Weber

    What's an entrepreneurs biggest need? Most people will probably say it's access to finance. But Seedstars co-founder and global venture builder Michael Weber says what entrepreneurs need most is support, talent and training. Ventureburn caught up with the Seedstars co-founder at the Seedstars regional summit in Maputo, Mozambique last Thursday. In a wide ranging chat on Seedstars' approach to investment, he shared his thoughts on what he's learnt from Seedstars participants. "Money is just one thing to execute the plan, but it’s not how things are going to be made right," he says. He points out that startups that come through the programme are...

  • ‘Joburg 10XE accelerator helped me add 50 employees in nine months’

    Entrepreneur Michael Roberts has been able to grow his software company from 90 to 140 people in just nine months, thanks to the Johannesburg-based accelerator 10XE. "(The accelerator) teaches you to move beyond the typical entrepreneur mindset of working long hours for seven days a week," says Roberts, whose four-year old company Khonology has been on the 18-month programme for the last eight months. He says the accelerator -- which was launched in December last year by founding director of Edge Growth Jason Goldberg-- helped him put more efficient systems in place and impress upon him the need to hire more skilled and competent individuals. The biggest impact 10XE has...

  • Seedstars to expand network of hubs, with Joburg and Dar es Salaam next

    Swiss-based global entrepreneurship platform Seedstars will next year strengthen its focus on sourcing investment deals for startups and to expanding its network of co-working hubs for Seedstars alumni. Seedstars regional manager for Africa, Claudia Makadristo revealed the plans to Ventureburn at the Seedstar’s Africa regional summit which was held in Maputo, Mozambique on Thursday (14 December). Although the platform will continue with the pitching competition -- which Makadristo described as the gatekeeper of everything that happens at Seedstars -- the organisation plans to next year shift its focus to doing more investment deals and adding more Seedspaces. Read more: Seedspace in drive to buy up, partner with...

  • No plans right now for Google to invest in startups says Launchpad Accelerator head

    Google has no plans at present to invest money in the startups it assists through its two-year old accelerator initiative, says Google Launchpad Accelerator programme manager Josh Yellin. "Right now there are no plans to (take equity in startups). I wouldn't say it would never happen, but it's not what we're trying to do right now," said Yellin, speaking to Ventureburn last week in Warsaw, Poland during a graduation event for the programme's fourth cohort. Yellin said Google is rather looking to use the programme -- targets existing growth-stage startups from emerging markets -- to learn from emerging market startup on how it can...

  • SA startups Citizen Justice Network, Lady Liberty take top honours at HiiL challenge

    Two South African startups from won top honours at The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law’s (HiiL) annual Innovating Justice Forum held earlier this month, when they were declared the winner and runner-up of the global Innovating Justice Challenge 2017. HiiL revealed in a press release today that the winner of the Innovating Justice Challenge was announced as South Africa’s Citizen Justice Network -- an initiative that expands upon the nexus of journalism and the spreading of legal information. Citizen Justice Network trains community paralegals to be radio journalists, and then pairs these paralegals with community radio stations so that vital social...