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  • 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...

  • WooThemes’ Mark Forrester on how an SA startup sprouted a global success story

    Last week we witnessed one of South Africa's greatest success stories to date. A local tech company was acquired by Automattic, which is the brain company behind one of the world's most popular website builders, WordPress.org, founded by 31-year-old American entrepreneur Matt Mullenweg. While the startup scene was abuzz with lessons and opinions on the matter, Ventureburn decided to sit down with Mark Forrester (pictured above) to find out how a local startup managed to become a global success story. Founded in 2007 by Norwegian computer scientist Magnus Jepson, South African's Mark Forrester and former business partner Adii Pienaar, WooThemes has not only...

  • Here’s all you need to know about WeChat’s new on-demand courier startup Picup

    At the Picup launch last night, WeChat wanted the guest to walk home knowing three things: that Picup is going to revolutionarise the on-demand delivery space; it's a services that creates jobs; and that WeChat is not just an instant messaging app. Talking to the drivers, creating jobs appears to be something that Picup is already succeeding at. In an Uber-like fashion, the revenue split is 70% for the driver and 30% for Picup. This is great news for the local economy and also the tech space, as contributions from the tech industry to the economy could help attract...

  • 7 reasons you should care about fintech even if you don’t work in finance

    Once the realm of stodgy bankers, the financial services industry is changing rapidly as young software engineers breathe new life into the sector. That’s good news for customers and even better news for job seekers. The emerging financial tech industry, known as fintech, is the perfect place for tech-savvy creative thinkers who want to disrupt a market ripe for change. Disruption has upended many industries, but financial services has remained stuck in traditions that date back to the aftermath of the Great Depression. Customers have to jump through hoops to get loans and put up with crappy web and mobile...

  • Why it’s high time for SA government to translate SME talk into action

    Steven Cohen is MD of Sage One AAMEA (Asia, Australia, Middle East and Africa) I’m passionate about small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) because the business I co-founded -- now part of Sage plc -- started as one and because our business today is about helping SMEs to grow and prosper. But in South Africa, we have much to do to get SMEs on the path to success so that they can help create jobs and grow the economy. Government has acknowledged that SMEs have a vital role to play in our economy, with its National Development Plan (NDP) envisaging that...

  • So you’ve got an awesome idea for a startup. Where to next?

    I come across a number of people who have an idea and want to be entrepreneurs, but have no idea where to start. And most ideas remain just that, ideas. Knowing how to get to where you want to go is the part where the most ideas fall flat. That's what this post is about: the steps you need to follow in turning your idea into a business. It’s not rocket science, but there is also no silver bullet. The steps below are just a guide where the details will depend on your idea, market and a whole bunch...