Right now, SA needs more Zulzi moments [Opinion]


Times are grim right now. Tens of thousands of SA businesses are expected to shut. The country’s already massive army of unemployed will likely sky rocket.

When the Covid-19 pandemic is finally over, South Africa — like many places in the world — will likely be a poorer, more divided, more miserable place than before.

Which is why the country needs more success stories like grocery delivery startup Zulzi.

The startup — founded in 2013 by Vutlharhi Valoyi (pictured above), who was subsequently joined by co-founder Michael Netshipise — has just landed R30-million from an undisclosed JSE-listed company (see this story).

In a country where tech investments remain skewed towards a select few, SA badly needs more Zulzi moments

So, why the big deal you may ask?

To put it plainly, SA’s tech startup sector has long been dominated by mainly white males — who still account for a disproportionately high number of the venture capital (VC) and angel investment netted by startups.

A distant second are those owned by black South Africans (Indian, black African, coloured and Chinese South Africans).

A 2018 survey by Ventureburn of 153 startup founders revealed that while 11% of white founders reported having accessed angel funding, only six percent of black-owned startups said they had landed angel investment. This, while white founders accounted for 50% of all those startups that reported having tapped angel investment (see this story).

Few black-owned startups make it big. While 15% of SA tech startups founded by white entrepreneurs reported  turning a profit in 2018, just seven percent of their black counterparts are making a profit, according to Ventureburn’s survey.

But there are signs that things are changing.

Investments in the last year in startups such as Droppa (see this story), Yalu (see this story), Investsure (see here), Solvency (see this story), GovChat (see here), Khula (see here), Jonga (see this story), Cloudline (see here) — to name just a few — are proof that things are slowing changing.

Things have hit a new mark with Zulzi’s R30-million investment, testament that change may be finally gathering speed.

As the number of black South Africans starting tech businesses increases, South Africans can expect many more Zulzis.

Read more: SA grocery delivery startup Zulzi raises R30m from JSE-listed company
Read more: Black tech startups in SA still struggling finds new Ventureburn survey

*Stephen Timm is the editor of Ventureburn.

Featured image: Zulzi co-founder and CEO Vutlharhi Valoyi (Facebook)



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