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Digital disruption has proven to be a challenge that mobile operators seem to be struggling with, according to a recent GSMA report. This disruption, caused by many startups, could be leveraged by those same startups to scale.
It’s this mindset that the global cellular standards body, GSMA, has launched the Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund to help startups take advantage of the current disruption.
“Nevertheless, these mobile operators face a plethora of challenges. Sustainable competitive advantage in the telecommunications sector is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. Likewise, while startups are vital forces in both the innovation ecosystem and the wider economy, the majority struggle to reach scale,” the report stated.
The fund will provide Asian and African startups with much-needed grant funding, technical assistance as well as the opportunity to partner with mobile operators within their markets. This assistance will help startups scale their products and services into sustainable businesses.
The GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund saw startups from across Africa being represented
The first round of the applications have already closed, however, the second round will open on 1 June 2017 with pitches due on 16 July 2017.
“We are extremely excited to start working with these innovative entrepreneurs, in particular, to help them explore synergies with mobile operators, and how to leverage mobile technology to its fullest to maximise socio-economic impact,” said the head of the Ecosystem Accelerator Max Cuvellier in a press release.
The first round winners of the Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund are:
- eEsewa (Nepal) — An online payment gateway allowing residents of Nepal to pay utility bills as well as receive money and set up a merchant account if need be.
- Kytabu (Kenya) — A leasing application that allows users to download textbooks from any internet-enabled device on its online library or on a Kytabu tablet.
- Optimetriks (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) — A feedback solution for customers to provide necessary feedback and data for companies operating within Africa.
- Prepclass (Nigeria) — An online platform connecting students to necessary tutors.
- Raye7 (Egypt) — This is a carpooling service which connects you with a ride close to your pickup and drop-off location
- Ruangguru (Indonesia) — The startup has developed a freemium learning management system which helps students prepare for exams. It also allows teachers to crowdsource educational content.
- Safemotos (Rwanda) — A mobile-based platform which aims to increase road safety and transparent market interaction between taxi drivers and their customers.
- Twiga Foods (Kenya) — Provides market access to farmers by purchasing fresh produce from them while at the same time ensuring a supply chain for roadside vendors.
- UX (Mozambique) — Has developed a product called Biscate which connects workers in the informal sector to customers through USSD and web technologies.
“Today in emerging markets, more than anywhere else, there are opportunities for mobile operators and startups to collaborate,” the report concluded.