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I have decided that any old Joe can start a company. In fact all you have to do is have an idea. It doesn’t even have to be a good one. All you need is for a bunch of other Joes to want it. In Africa, all the Joes are starting their own business, but not all the Joes can make it work — after all, This is Africa (TIA).
We have written a fair amount about tech startups in Africa that have shown they have the potential to impress and have gained some very serious traction. Some companies have received funding in the millions, international investment and lots of press. That’s very cool.
Africa’s tech startup scene is quite impressive so we felt it was time we gave you guys another list of companies we think deserve a hat tip for the cool, inspirational and innovative work they are doing. It’s always hard to pick a few out of the many but with the help of our readers, we have chosen 12 startups that have impressed us over the last year.
So tell us what you think and suggest companies you think should be on the next list we put together in the comments.
HealthQ –- South Africa
This company is pretty impressive: it built the first open-source metabolic chamber in the world. According to HealthQ the metabolic chamber will enable South African entrepreneurs and researchers to perform crucial experiments using facilities which were previously inaccessible. The company is also currently developing new technologies and products in the wellness, weight-loss and fitness industries.
Dropifi — Ghana
The first African startup to be chosen to join 500 Startups Accelerator Programme, Dropifi describes itself as a smart contact widget that helps small to medium businesses better analyze, visualise and respond to incoming messages. The startup is redefining the traditional “Contact us” form, creating a solution that consists of a website plug-in, optional QR code (for print-outs) and an analytics tool.
Leti Games — Ghana
This company is cool. One of the startups to come out of the MEST program in Ghana, it is turning African folklore into mobile entertainment. The company is building cross-platform experiences on mobile devices and digital comics for an engaged African audience with internet-enabled devices. Not only is it building games that can compete on the world’s stage, it is creating African superheroes.
Eskimi — Nigeria
This is a pretty nifty mobile social network play from Nigeria that allows users to connect to new people in Africa. In an era of social networking it’s quite cool to see a social network focused on Africa. The platform claims to be the largest social network dedicated to meeting new people on the continent.
ClinicMaster — Uganda
Everyone must modernise. This startup is a modern billing system for clinics in Uganda. The company describes itself as “an integrated new generation healthcare information management and medical billing software”. It automates patients’ transactions in the clinic on a visit basis and daily procedures.
djoss.tv — Cameroon
Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, the television experience has changed. This Cameroonian startup is embracing that change. It touts itself as a social TV platform that lets TV viewers everywhere discuss their favourite television shows in real-time. It’s quite nifty for Africa’s hunger for content (especially localised content) that can be discussed.
Qabila — Egypt
Finding more effective ways for clients to engage their consumers, Qabila is a media content creator that leverages crowdsourcing and digital media to reach the right audience. The company has seen some attention in the last 18 months with coverage in TechCrunch as well as being chosen as one of the top 20 companies to compete in Global Forum’s entrepreneurs competition.
Paga — Nigeria
For a society as unbanked as Nigeria, Paga is quite the service. It offers mobile payment/transfer solutions for both consumers and merchants. Founded in 2009, the company seems to have gotten a mostly cash-based society to look at becoming a cashless society. Payments using Paga can be made via SMS, online, a mobile application, USSD, or IVR (automated line).
Zapacab — South Africa
Africa really needs an Uber or Hailo and Zapacab wants to make that happen. Currently in beta, the service works like the Ubers of the world but partners with cab services in South Africa. It’s simple: load Zapacab on your mobile, enter your number, request a cab and wait for it. The service picks up your location and the rest is in the magic of the tech.
mTracker from Fomobi — Kenya
Fomobi is a technology company in Kenya that specialises in building applications for governments, NGOs and blue chip clients. Its current product mTracker enables car owners and other asset owners to manage the security of their possessions no matter where they are. Offering real-time tracking for individuals and geo fencing for fleets of cars. The solution is open source and works over GPRS. That’s pretty cool.
Khaya Power — South Africa
Power is a big deal in most African countries and this startup is trying to solve it. The startup provides basic power using a portable battery combined with a charging station that makes use of grid or solar power.
Zoona — Zambia
Think of small businesses playing in a heavy cash environment, then think of managing transactions in such an environment — enter Zoona. The payment solution is taking away the hassles of cash heavy business environments in Zambia. According the company, its “proprietary technology” allows customers to make use of electronic payments via many Zoona agents in the country. The services include money transfers, enterprise payment solutions and eVouchers payments.