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Covid-19 and African tech startups roundup [26/03/2020]


As South Africa prepares for a 21-day lockdown set to commence at midnight today, food delivery startups say they will continue operating, while an SA alcohol app yesterday saw a 300% increase in sales, ahead of a ban on alcohol sales from 6pm this evening.

With the coronavirus (Covid-19) headlining news all over the world, Ventureburn has launched a regular daily roundup on the virus and how it is affecting Africa’s tech startup sector.

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Those with any news releases relating to Covid-19 and Africa’s tech startup sector can send these to

As SA prepares for a 21-day lockdown set to commence at midnight today, food delivery startups say they will continue operating,

Here then is the latest on the coronavirus and African tech startups:

Food delivery services: SA’s tourism minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, on Tuesday (24 March) announced in a statement that in addition to all restaurants having to shut down during a 21-day lockdown which commences at midnight tomorrow, “all food delivery services” will also be suspended for the duration of the lockdown. The ban would affect restaurant delivery services such as UberEats and MrDelivery. However, SA food delivery startups that are not connected to restaurants — such as grocery delivery startup OneCart and mealkit delivery startups Daily Dish and UCook, maintain they will say open (see this story).

Liquor delivery to take a hit: Under South Africa’s 21-day lockdown, set to commence at midnight tonight, all liquor sales and the movement of liquor will be banned. One startup that will be affected will be liquor delivery startup Quench Delivery. The company’s CEO Liam McCreedy told Ventureburn in an email today that the Stellenbosch-based startup yesterday had an increase of “around 300%” in sales and an average basket size of R1800. “We expect to double those numbers today,” he said. The startup plans to launch an essential goods groceries leg on 1 April, he added. “This launch has been on the cards for some time now, we have been developing an entire new offering from Quench,” he said. McCreedy earlier this month revealed to Ventureburn that the startup had raised R20-million since 2016 from investors, including the family of SA billionaire Anton Rupert (see this story).

Mobility startup takes precautions: Egyptian startup Swvl yesterday announced the adoption of essential routes in Kenya for commuters during the Covid-19 pandemic, tech publication TechMoran reported in an article. These routes shall remain operational to allow people to shop for food supplies and other essentials, as well as commute if necessary, the publication reported. The startup — which was founded in 2017 by CEO Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh — allows users in Egypt and Kenya book fixed rate affordable rides on its network of vans and buses through its app. Last year the startup raised $42-million from investors (see this story).

An app for Covid-19: Kenyan healthtech startup Afya Rekod announced in a statement yesterday that it was launching an AI consumer data driven platform to help link patients with doctors and other health care providers. Founder John Kamara (pictured above) said the platform will allow users to store their health records, data on the medication and allow them to maintain a journal of their statuses and that of their kids and families. The startup is currently in discussions with various entities across governments and developing partners to explore how their efforts can be accelerated urgently for Covid 19.

Y Combinator to support Covid-19 ideas: Silicon Valley based accelerator Y Combinator is looking to bring more startups through its accelerator that can help with the Covid-19 crisis, reported US tech publication TechCrunch in an article yesterday. TechCrunch said the accelerator is also looking to speed up the application process so it can invest quicker in new ideas that tackle the coronavirus.

Global Covid-19 innovation map: StartupBlink, a global startup ecosystem mapping service, has launched its Coronavirus Innovation Map, a global online directory of hundreds of innovative solutions around the world. The map was launched by StartupBlink together with Health Innovation Exchange by UNAIDS and Moscow Innovation Agency in response to the Covid-19 crisis. This new platform will allow innovators to connect with those looking for solutions in different categories and geographies, StartupBlink said in an emailed announcement yesterday.

Free software applications: Zoho Corporation, a global company that offers business software applications, has launched their Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Programme (ESAP) to help customers worldwide weather the global crisis. For up to 20 000 qualified paying customers with 25 employees or less, Zoho has waivered the cost of every single application they currently use, for up to three months. Zoho’s products include Remotely, a virtual productivity platform of 11 collaboration applications. Since its release two weeks ago, more than 5000 new companies are running on the platform. Zoho has seen an average of 500% growth in usage of its collaboration apps and 1 000% growth in daily new users of Zoho Meeting.

Free tech for financial services: Iress, an Australian based tech company that provides software to the financial services industry, has announced the launch of a new hub to provide free technology-related information and support for the financial services industry as it adjusts to new ways of working. Visitors can access a range of guidance and tools including information on how to continue to support clients while working remotely as well as how to access information securely. This advice is available to all, not just Iress clients.

Read more: Covid-19 and African tech startups roundup [25/03/2020]
Read more: Covid-19 and African tech startups roundup [24/03/2020]

Featured image: Afya Rekod founder John Kamara (Supplied)

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