Covid-19 and African tech startups roundup [30/03/2020]

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In just a few days SA small businesses and startups can expect more details from financiers Business Partners on how to access funding from the Rupert family’s R1-billion in debt relief.

This, as the Department of Small Business Development published guidelines for those small businesses looking to access funding from its Debt Relief Finance Scheme and Business Growth and Resilience Facility.

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.

SA small businesses can expect more details on how to access funding from the Rupert family’s R1-billion in debt relief

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

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

Business Partners to disburse R1bn: Business Partners yesterday confirmed that R1-billion that was pledged by the Rupert family earlier this month to assist small businesses and their employees, would be disbursed via the small business financier, which the entrepreneur Johann Rupert co-owns. Business Partners managing director Ben Bierman said his team has been working around the clock to put guidelines and systems in place to ensure the funding reaches businesses that need it most. More details would be released later this week, he said. In addition, the financier is running a survey to be able to better respond to your business’s needs during this time. Complete it here.

East African debt relief fund: Venture funder Equalife Capital wants to raise 2.1 billion Kenyan shillings ($20-million) to lend to firms facing business cycle pressures and the coronavirus crisis within the East African region, Kenyan newspaper Business Daily reported in an article yesterday. It said the fund is open to investors to put in cash within the next two weeks.

Guidelines on debt relief facility: The Department of Small Business Development on Saturday (28 March) said in a statement that it had published guidelines for application for the Debt Relief Finance Scheme and Business Growth and Resilience Facility. It said the online application form for finance will be available from this Thursday (2 April). Only small businesses that are registered on the database on https://smmesa.gov.za/ will be considered, the department said.

RFPs for small businesses: The Department of Small Business Development on Saturday (28 March) said in a statement that it had published Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to existing SA-owned, registered and tax compliant small businesses, in the medical supply and non-food field. It said the RFPs (see here and here) are aimed at getting information on small businesses that have the capability to participate in the manufacture and supply of goods that are needed towards the management of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

List of essential services widened: The Minister of Trade, Industry and Economic Development Ebrahim Patel on Friday (27 March) said in a statement that the department has also extended the list of businesses which constitute an essential service and will be allowed to continue with limited operation during the 21-day national lockdown, which kicked off at midnight on Thursday. By Friday, a total of 50 000 companies employing 1.5 million workers had applied to register their companies as providers of essential services through an online platform and 40 000 certificates already awarded.

CcHub call: The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and Nigeria’s Co-Creation Hub (CcHub) have launched a call for innovative communication projects on Covid-19 based on African languages targeted at the semi-urban and rural population across Africa. The communication projects are expected to help counter disbelief and misinformation, catalyse citizens actions and solidarity as well as combat stigmatisation. Those teams selected, will be supported with grant funding of up to $5000 for research and design support.

Daily check-in app launches: Redbird (formerly Redbird Health Tech), a medical diagnostics distributor providing access to healthcare in Ghana through community pharmacies, on Friday (27 March) announced the launch of its Covid-19 Daily Check-in App and Symptom Tracker. The solution will enable public health officials from Ghana Health Service to see a real-time map of where patients are self-reporting symptoms. Redbird co-founder and CEO Patrick Beattie said Redbird aims to launch the solution in US, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa by this Wednesday (1 April). The startup netted investment in 2018 from US investor Gray Matters Capital invested (see this story). Beattie founded the startup in 2017 with Andrew Quao.

Covid-19 challenge: Seven startups have been selected by Nigeria’s Ventures Platform and Lagos State Science and Research and Innovation Council (Lasric) to participate in the #Covid19InnovationChallenge, to develop solutions to mitigate the rapid spread of Covid-19 in Nigeria, Ventures Platform announced on Friday (27 March) (see this story).

Yoco directive: Yoco has asked clients to encourage their customers to use the contactless payment option on its point of sale machines, TechCrunch reported in an article last week. The startup had already issued advice in a blog post to users on how to sanitise their devices.

Virtual coffee with VC: SA venture capitalist and Knife Capital partner Keet van Zyl (pictured above) pledged in a tweet on Twitter yesterday that during SA’s 21-day lockdown he will have a daily virtual coffee meeting with an SA entrepreneur that needs advice on dealing with “Covid-19 survival, fund raising, value proposition, market access, valuation or just a sounding board for whatever a VC can help with”.

Read more: Covid-19 and African tech startups roundup [27/03/2020]
Read more: Covid-19 and African tech startups roundup [26/03/2020]
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: SA venture capitalist Keet van Zyl (Supplied)

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