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Founder of SA startup Kusini Water off to Global Entrepreneurship Summit

Featured image: Kusini Water founder Murendi Mafumo (Supplied)

Award winning Joburg-based cleantech startup Kusini Water has been invited to pitch to investors at next week’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in the Netherlands.

The summit, which takes place between 3 and 5 June in The Hague, provides a platform for entrepreneurs, investors and innovation partners to meet, connect and learn.

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Founded in 2016 by Murendi Mafumo (pictured above), Kusini Water has developed solar and gravity powered plug-and-play water purification systems that make use of nano-fibres and locally sourced macadamia nut shells.

Kusini Water is looking to raise a R20-million round which the cleantech venture will use to acquire machinery

The startup, which won last year’s Seda Pitch & Perfect competition, has also come out tops in four other competitions. These are the Innovation Hub GAP Green, Engen Pitch and Polish, GIBS Festival of Ideas and the Australian Trade Mission Battle competition.

Mafumo was one of 16 000 international applicants who applied for 1200 pitching slots at the summit, according to the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda).

Last year he won R300 000 worth of technology transfer support from Seda after he was named the winner of the Pitch & Perfect at Seda’s South African Incubation Conference (Sabic).

Contacted today by Ventureburn, Mafumo said he is looking forward to the Netherlands trip where he expects to sign several partnership agreements and meet with investors at GES.

He said he is looking to raise R20-million to purchase new machinery and is currently in talks with investors. The startup employs three full-time and three part-time staff.

Kusini Water’s two main products are a household under-sink water purification system which costs about R3 499 and a medium-scale system aimed at schools which can purify 1000 litres of water an hour. That system goes for between R45 000 and R50 000.

Some of Kusini Water’s partners include BioAfrica, The Innovation Hub, Red Bull Amaphiko, Shuttleworth Foundation, University of Pretoria Enterprises and GEN 22 on Sloane.

The startup, Mafumo said, launched its first pilot in Witbank in 2017 and has completed six other trials including a recent pilot in Heidelberg last year.

Mafumo said the startup has received about R1.5-million in funding in the last three years. This includes his own personal investment — the size of which he did not disclose — as well as grant funding and cash from competition prizes.

The former City of Cape Town employee studied water engineering at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

He said he got interested in water purification when he took an internship with a water treatment company in Bellville, Cape Town. This, he said, led him to pursue a research degree in the field.

Mafumo said Kusini Water has no immediate expansion plans outside of South Africa, however the startup has a “medium-term outlook” for expansion in the SADC region.

Featured image: Kusini Water founder Murendi Mafumo (Supplied)

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