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UPDATE (30 May): Naledi Pandor, Tito Mboweni and Aaron Motsoaledi all returned to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s newly named cabinet on Wednesday (29 May) as ministers of international relations & co-operation, finance and home affairs, respectively.
The below is a listicle, intended to coincide with the forthcoming announcement of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet. The piece aims to highlight the fact that three startup founders are related to politicians that served in Ramaphosa’s cabinet up to the end of last month. The piece does not suggest, and in no way should it be inferred, that there is something untoward about these startup founders — Ed.
As South Africans this week wait to hear from President Cyril Ramaphosa who he has picked for his new cabinet, Ventureburn highlights three SA tech startups with founders who have former cabinet ministers as parents or as an uncle.
The question is will these big names — Naledi Pandor, Tito Mboweni and Aaron Motsoaledi — return to Ramaphosa’s cabinet?
Here then are the three startup founders related to these heavyweight politicians.
Velani Mboweni (Lüla)
The nephew of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, Velani Mboweni runs SA mobility startup Lüla (which means “easy” in isiZulu).
Lüla, founded in 2016 by Mboweni and Xabiso Nodada, crowdsources private shuttles that can offer corporate commuters scheduled door-to-door rides which pick up commuters from their home to work and back.
The startup in April launched a bid to raise R2.5-million from investors through local equity crowdfunding platform Uprise.Africa. (see this story). With 30 days left of the campaign the startup has raised just R316 000.
For over four years Lüla initially provided public transport management systems in Gauteng to public agencies and bus operators, such as Busmark. This involved providing operators with things such as fare collection technology and vehicle tracking systems.
In April Mboweni told Ventureburn that he and Nodada decided to pivot the startup to its current model, because it had become frustrating to work with the public sector — particularly as more established companies are more favoured than startups when working with the government.
In an interview at the time, Mboweni would not be drawn to comment on whether having a high-profile family member has helped his startup gain traction or not.
Aisha Pandor (SweepSouth)
Aisha Pandor who runs on-demand cleaning service SweepSouth is the daughter of the former Minister of Higher Education (now international relations minister — Ed) Naledi Pandor. Aisha Pandor founded the startup with husband Alen Ribic in 2014.
As of March this year SweepSouth had 80 000 customers and over 7000 registered domestic workers on its books. In the same month the startup announced in a blog post that it had expanded its offering to Mpumalanga province.
In November last year the startup won the Best Small Company category at the inaugural Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (Savca) Industry Awards.
Savca said at the time that since 2015 when the Vumela Fund came on board, SweepSouth’s annual revenue has grown by 1050% over the term of the capital injection, with gross profit having grown in this time by 100 times since the inception.
The fund was part of a R10-million round at the time, together with First Rand Group and Newtown Partners (see this story).
Lethabo Motsoaledi (Voyc.ai)
Former health minister (now home affairs minister — Ed) Aaron Motsoaledi’s daughter Lethabo is the co-founder of Dutch registered startup Voyc.ai. She founded the startup in February last year with former UCT fellow geomatics engineering student Matthew Westaway.
The startup’s platform helps clients in the financial sector that conducted market research over the phone, to more quickly transpose and find themes from the research, than before.
Westaway and Motsoaledi as well as two of the startup’s developers, are currently attending the Google Launchpad Africa accelerator programme, which will conclude with a demo day next month.
The startup is currently in the private beta stage, testing its platform with Standard Bank, and aims to launch a public version of its platform later next month.
The startup has raised $230 000 (over R3-million) and now has a team of six and generates a revenue of about $10 000 a month currently — with the aim of hitting $80 000 a month next year.
The duo landed initial funding of $110 000 from four angel investors (three of them women) including the Dutch ambassador to Lithuania, Bonnie Horbach.
When she served as Dutch consul general in Cape Town, Horbach once helped mentor Motsoaledi who was nominated to be part of the Dutch Consul’s Inspiring Fifty, an initiative that aims to recognise women achievers.
The startup landed a further $120 000, from Techstars and SAP, after taking part in an accelerator run in Berlin by the organisation and software company in December.
Westaway says it was the Horbach who convinced the two to register the startup in Amsterdam.
The two are in Holland every six weeks to visit customers in The Hague, where Westaway says the startup is able to tap help from startup support organisations from the Dutch government through its soft-landing investment programme.
Westaway told Ventureburn yesterday (27 May) that this is the third startup that the two have partnered on since 2015. Both two previous startups failed. The first was a 3D printing for ultrasounds for new mothers, while the other was a startup that aimed to get corporates to connect on Mandela Day.
The two will be hoping for better luck this time.
Editor’s note (29 May 2019): In response to criticism from readers that this piece suggests that startups with close family members of cabinet ministers may have unfairly benefited in some way, we have adjusted the lead intro of this listicle to make it more clear that it in no way should it be inferred, that there is something untoward about these startup founders.
Rather, the listicle, is intended to coincide with the forthcoming announcement of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet. The piece aims to highlight the fact that three startup founders are related to politicians that served in Ramaphosa’s cabinet up to the end of last month.
Featured image: SweepSouth CEO and co-founder Aisha Pandor (Supplied)