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MoDe’s innovative emergency airtime payments solution won over the judges and will now take on competitors in the regional finals of IBM’s Global Entrepreneur of the Year Competition in Sao Paulo in December. IBM will offer support and mentorship to MoDe in the run-up to the competition, as well as exposure to IBM’s venture capital and partner ecosystem.
IBM’s first startup talent scouting foray into Africa adds to the 20 different locations around the world, where its SmartCamps bring together investors, mentors and entrepreneurs.
The event saw four finalists compete for the top spot. To qualify and participate in the programme, the companies had to be privately owned start up company less than five years old, and actively engaged in developing a software-based product or service. The winner, MoDe, is a two year-old company with over 50 employees, and a presence in five countries. Its first product, which allows prepaid cellphone users to borrow airtime money, has now been used by millions across the continent.
“MoDe and all the finalists of Smart Camp demonstrated great tech innovation for South Africa and the African continent. MoDe’s solution is sophisticatedly simple, addresses a unique need in the market and is infinitely scalable which demonstrates the global aspirations we’d like to encourage in our partner start-ups. What’s more exciting is their supporting teams, business model and future plans are solid and will definitely attract positive attention of the investment community to help accelerate their commercial aspirations. We are excited about being part of assisting MoDe and being able to take them to the next level in their business venture,” said Clayton Booysen, ISV and Developer Relations Lead for IBM South Africa.
Booysen told Ventureburn that IBM plans to expand the competition further into Africa in 2013, and is looking at the feasibility of holding multiple events per year.
Startups who participate in IBM’s Global Entrepreneur initiative receive access to free software, as well as a team of dedicated project managers to assist in product development through the global network of 40 IBM Innovation Centers.
Read more about IBM SmartCamp and the IBM Venture Capital Group in Ventureburn’s exclusive interview with SmartCamp mastermind Martin Kelly.