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The inaugural Global Startup Africa Summit hosted by Wesgro, SA Tourism and the Cape Town International Convention Centre went in search of the key to unlock African innovation on Tuesday 14 June 2022.
A packed programme of panel discussions that spanned the start-up landscape from the circular economy to intellectual property protection culminated in a gala dinner celebrating the Global Startup Awards Africa winners.
Collaboration breeds success
A trend throughout all the discussions was that start-ups and government should work closer together to deliver impactful results. Ryan Marinkowitz, CEO of My Health Africa was quick to point out that while the next African unicorn may indeed come from the healthtech space, that these innovations would be meaningless if it cannot reach the communities and people where it is most needed.
“We need the start-ups to build the technologies and platforms that the healthcare workers can use in the public system and impact the most people possible,” said Marinkowitz.
With the Wesgro head of the HealthTech portfolio, Mandi Swanepoel, echoing his ideas of innovation with purpose. Swanepoel also urged founders to only follow trends if they meet the needs of their customers.
Regenerative Supply Chain
Another important talking point was the Circular Economy and its potential to transform the lives of people in developing countries. Kidus Asfaw, co-founder and CEO of Kubik, shared how his work with Unicef in managing infant malaria and diarrhea in urban areas led to the development of Kubik.
“We found that plastic waste was clogging waterways and creating pools of standing water where mosquitoes were breeding and the stagnant water being used for human consumption,” he explained.
Kubik recycles plastic waste into building materials that can be used for houses and schools.
Klariska Moodley, head of Experimentation at the United Nations Development Programme, shared her insights into the issues stifling market impact and called for closer collaboration within innovation focus areas to circumvent the disadvantages of being a first mover.
“Many start-ups fail because they couldn’t gain market share or were lacking a crucial component. Knowledge sharing can benefit the entire industry and see complementary innovations improve the customer offering.”
Investing in Web3
Ian Putter, head of the Blockchain Centre of Excellence at Standard Bank and founder of the Blockchain Research Institute engaged the audience with his dreams for the impact of Web3 innovations on our everyday lives. His examples of supply chain management were a world away from the decentralised finance utopia that has been sold by the crypto capitalists and a refreshing foil for the misconceptions around blockchain technology.
Momint CTO Adam Romyn countered regularly by steering the discussion towards the usefulness of NFTs as fund raising tools and offered crucial insights into the future of blockchain technology and the benefits of Proof of Stake.
This discussion laid the foundation for further exploration of the most active areas in tech innovation that included the launch of the African Blockchain Report that was presented by Crypto Valley Venture Capital MD Gideon Greaves.
The Global Startup Africa Summit provided a platform for important discussions and networking that will help develop an appetite for collaboration across the continent.