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  • 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...

  • Africa’s the new China — here’s why investors should care

    Apart from the fact that one is a continent and the other a country, Africa is the new China. This seems like an odd idea at first. After all, China has a booming economy, and African countries are poverty-stricken, politically volatile, and unjustifiable business risks. Right? Wrong. Africa is actually the next frontier in global expansion. Allow me to explain. Pretend for a moment that you’re the CEO of a major American clothing manufacturer. Your company is thriving, but you want to diversify your sourcing chain. You typically outsource this production to Chinese companies, but the current rising energy and human capital costs...

  • Tax assistant TaxTim starts expansion plans with PwC Namibia partnership

    South African online tax assistant TaxTim has helped more than 1.3 million local citizens do their taxes since it launched in 2011. With the help of advisory firm PwC, the company is expecting to boost that number even further by expanding to Namibia. More importantly, the neighbouring country acts as testing ground for its grander expansion plans. Having integrated with SARS eFiling late last year, the Cape Town-based company is now backed by 15 tax professionals at PwC's Windhoek office and contains all the knowledge and tax legislation required to output compliant tax returns for Namibia Inland Revenue. Read more: TaxTim will dramatically...

  • 4 tips to help you move from corporate to startup

    You’ve heard the advice time and time again: Just do it. In a perfect world, you’d be able to save up at least a year’s worth of income, quit your job and pursue your entrepreneurial venture with no career or job-based distractions. It’s the savings part that holds most people back. You can’t let fear or not having a nest egg stop you from your dreams. Investors often ask if you have any other jobs, and what they’re looking for is a hard, honest no. If you can’t give them that, it says you’re not fully invested in your dream. The good...

  • 5 customer service obstacles every startup has to overcome

    Have you ever noticed how some companies seem to go out of their way to place obstacles between their customers and great service? I sometimes imagine that there is a special director in charge of creating as much difficulty as possible for customers. Please allow me to share some examples of just a few of the customer service barriers I've bumped into during the past few weeks and how to overcome these obstacles. 1. Signs that give orders to customers "You must stand behind the line until you're called." "Absolutely NO PARKING: Reserved for Directors" "Business Banking Customers ONLY." “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service!”...

  • 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...

  • Wootware’s Rory Magee on growing ecommerce success in oversaturated market

    Starting an ecommerce store in South Africa is a difficult undertaking; making it a success is a far more daunting challenge. Wootware is an online PC store that, despite a difficult and saturated market, has continued to thrive. Since its launch in 2009, the store has continued to grow during a recession and unstable market, which is no short feat. We sat down with Rory Magee (pictured above), the founder of Wootware, to find out a bit about the store's success and his take on the South African ecommerce market. Ventureburn: Tell us about Wootware? Rory Magee: We are an enthusiast-focused computer consumer...

  • Rental startup Ekaya gets ex-Naspers angel on board amid expansion

    Specialising in finding and renting properties in Cape Town, Ekaya started beta testing its website last year. In a press release today, the company announced three new big expansions, which they hope will help them in their crusade to fix a broken rental industry. Considering how much of a nightmare renting is, this can only be a good thing. Ekaya will now be expanding its area of coverage to the whole of the Western Cape and Gauteng. After primarily serving Cape Town, and thus refining their systems while only operating in one city, Ekaya looks to be taking the rest of...

  • Venture Bus opens for applications to build 40 impactful startups in Africa

    Ampion is back. This year, five Venture Bus tours will travel across a total of 14 African countries on a mission to join participants from the global entrepreneurial tech community to build impactful startups. Traveling through the East, West, North and Southern Africa from September to December, a group of developers, coders and designers will be supported by experienced mentors from leading tech centres in Africa and abroad to help build meaningful startups. Each bus route will climax at some of the continent's biggest tech conferences like DEMO Africa in Nigeria, AfricaCom in South Africa and Rwanda's Transform Africa Summit. Startups...