SA, Ghanaian startup shortlisted for Swiss-based Kickstart Accelerator

South African startup Libryo and Ghanaian startup Farmerline have been selected for Swiss-based Kickstart Accelerator’s second cohort of 30 startups which hail from around the world. The announcement was made by Kickstart Accelerator on Wednesday.

Libryo, a legal platform which enables organisations to understand their legal obligations, and Farmerline, an information service for small-scale farmers in Africa, will take part in the 11-week programme in Zurich from 4 September to 17 November.

The second cohort has been divided into four verticals, namely: fintech, smart cities and robotics and intelligent systems.

Adel Raslan, who handles publics relations on behalf of Kickstart, told Ventureburn that 10% of the applications for this year’s programme were from Africa. He said the accelerator did not track the number of total applications.

The participants were chosen following a two-day bootcamp of the last 60 startups that had made it to the final selection process.

Raslan said Farmerline’s business philosophy was promising and that the company shows a lot of potential while Libryo has come up with an innovative solution to solve growing regulatory complexity.

10% of applications for the Swiss-based Kickstart Accelerator were from African startups

‘Platform for European market’

Malcom Gray, Libryo co-founder and CCO (pictured above, middle), told Ventureburn that his team intends to use the startup’s time in the accelerator as a platform to launch into the European market.

Although now based in London with offices in Cape Town, the startup’s founding team is made up of Gray and fellow SA entrepreneurs Pete Flynn, Garth Watson, Grant Gunston and Ulrik Strandvik who set up the company in February last year.

The startup is in currently in the process of closing a seed funding round, after raising a pre-seed round from Seedcamp (UK) and NextLaw Labs (US) of €100 000 in September last year.

Libryo currently has over 100 corporate clients with end users operating across nearly 50 countries including much of Sub-Saharan Africa and the UK and generated about £350 000 in revenue between March last year and February.

‘Networking opportunities’

Farmline communications associate Lexis Koufie Amartey said the company hoped to benefit from the mentorship programme and networking opportunities he and team members would get at the Kickstart Accelerator in Zurich.

“We see this accelerator programme as an opportunity for Farmerline to be exposed to the international eyes of the leading traders and agribusinesses based in Switzerland and hope to foster collaboration with some of the strongest business-driven innovation companies there,” he added.

Amartey said the company had since inception attracted more than $1-million from overseas investors and last month took home $83 750 after winning the King Baudouin African Development Prize.

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The company was founded in 2012 by Alloysius Attah and Emmanuel Addai but was officially launched in 2013. It currently has operations in 10 African countries and has provided services to over 200 000 farmers.

“The company’s growth is largely driven by revenues from clients. Early backers include organisations like Mobile Web Ghana, Indigo Trust and Echoing Green,” said Amartey. However he declined to reveal how much revenue the company had generated since its launch.

The startup also works in partnership with the food and agriculture ministries in Ghana and Sierra Leone, together with the Crop Research Institute, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation.

“We work with many reputable organisations. Some of these include Hershey’s Chocolate, Welt Hunger Hilfe (WHH), Theobroma, CTA (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation ACP-EU) and Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA),” said Amartey.

He said the company’s proprietary software Mergdata will set the company apart at the KickStart Accelerator bootcamp. “Mergdata software is the first of its kind in not just reaching these farmers via mobile technology, but doing so through approaches that are highly valued by the end-consumer because they are adapted to local context,” he said.

“Our technology, for example, uses voice messaging for customers with low literacy; language selection for customers speaking nine of Ghana’s local languages; and compatibility with simple phones for customers with limited connectivity or tech-savvy.”

Featured image: Libryo founding team (from left to right): Garth Watson – CLO , Malcolm Gray CCO , Pete Flynn – CEO (Supplied)

Daniel Mpala


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