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North African start-ups shine on AfricArena investor stage

Pictured from the left are AfricArena North Africa start-up winners Ismail Bargach from WafR in Morocco, Dr Kheira Nawel Benaissa from Green AI in Algeria, and Iheb Triki from Kumulus Water in Tunisia. Photos: Supplied/Ventureburn
Pictured from the left are AfricArena North Africa start-up winners Ismail Bargach from WafR in Morocco, Dr Kheira Nawel Benaissa from Green AI in Algeria, and Iheb Triki from Kumulus Water in Tunisia. Photos: Supplied/Ventureburn

Following a jam-packed AfricArena tour to the Tunisian capital, investors now turn their attention to Nairobi in Kenya for what promises to be a life-changing experience for East Africa’s most promising start-ups.

Organisers of the African tech ecosystem accelerator says super early-bird tickets are already on sale for the two-day conference on Tuesday, 4 and Wednesday, 5 October 2022. Applications are also accepted from start-ups who wish to pitch at the summit held at the iHub innovation hub.

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The Kenyan summit follows hot on the heels of four AfricArena events held in Tunis last week. This includes the North Africa summit, VC Unconference, founders’ bootcamp, as well as a learning expedition with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and Double Feather Partners (DFP), an international venture capital firm.

“We had an extremely exciting week of events in Tunis,” remarks AfricArena founder and Methys chief executive Christophe Viarnaud. “We assembled and mobilised investors from the different corners of the region and brought tremendous value by connecting the most promising start-ups in the ecosystem to some of the most prominent and sought-after investor funds.”

Top partners back North Africa summit

AfricArena’s North Africa summit was presented in partnership with GIZ, Expertise France, EU for Innovation and Smart Capital through Startup Tunisia. The bootcamp, however, was facilitated by Startup Village, the Tunisian start-up accelerator The Dot and AfricArise.

Parallel to the bootcamp was the invitation-only VC Unconference where Africa-focused start-up investors and venture capitalists deliberated on co-investing and easing investment in tech start-ups on the continent. More than 40 investors were present at what is described as “one of the first gatherings of all the ecosystem players in the North Africa region, connecting them to non-regional investors like Breega, Launch Africa, Jika, DFP and 500 Global”, among others.

The Dot director Zeineb Messaoud commended AfricArena on the Tunis event series, describing it as “a dynamic which connected the Tunisian ecosystem with North African start-ups and investors from all over Africa and Asia. All the actors undertook quality exchanges and concluded partnerships of high added value.”

Clara Guilhem, project lead at Expertise France, congratulated participating start-ups.

“We have witnessed throughout the week the spirit of collaboration and the commitment to seek further cooperation paths. The AfricArena summit was a great opportunity to showcase talent, resilience and openness. We hope to further develop this dynamic and boost cross-continent collaboration,” she says.

Keynote speakers at AfricArena’s North Africa summit included Khaled Ben Jilani from Africinvest, Zach George from Launch Africa, Karim Beguir from Instadeep and Dr Ola Brown from Flying Doctors. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Meanwhile, organisers of the AfricArena North Africa summit says more than 100 hopeful start-ups from Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Algeria and Libya applied to pitch at the event. In the end, only 25 were invited – each receiving $10 000 in Amazon Web Services credits “to help them rise, raise and scale their tech-enabled ventures.”

Only a handful, though, will advance to the sixth annual Grand Summit in Cape Town on Tuesday, 8 and Wednesday, 9 November 2022. This conference will showcase Africa’s best start-ups and innovators in front of an audience of local and international investors who wish to back high-potential technology start-ups.

Who made the AfricArena Grand Summit cut?

  • Saint Gobain Smart City Open Innovation:Omar Farahat, founder of Tawredaat in Egypt. Tawredaat is a 360-degree B2B e-commerce platform formalising the procurement process for construction and finishing materials.
  • FMO Sustainable Tech programme: Benjamin Rombaut, founder of the From Sand to Green start-up in Morocco. It cultivates deserts through a unique agroforestry model and solar desalination, rehabilitating the arid coast of Morocco into a “useful orchard for humanity.” The other winner was Dr Kheira Nawel Benaissa, founder of Green AI in Algeria. This is a high-efficiency bio-digester system helping farmers with energy access by converting organic waste into gas fuel for water pumping and manure and biofertilizer for farming.
  • Most innovative business model: Iheb Triki from Kumulus Water in Tunisia. The start-up aims to solve the problem of water scarcity through its machines, which can produce up to 30 litres of water per day using only solar power and humidity as resources to provide drinking water in a sustainable and economical manner.
  • Most promising entrepreneur: Safia Shatta, founder of Mango Gate in Sudan. This is a full-service language platform specialising in innovative language training and translation services.
  • Best seed start-up: Ahmed Kadous, co-founder of Pharmacy Marts in Egypt. As the fastest growing healthtech platform in Egypt, it connects multiple players in the pharmacy supply chain through a marketplace, ensuring optimum access to medicine.
  • Best series A: Ismail Bargach, chief executive and co-founder of WafR in Morocco. The retail-tech start-up allows companies to broadcast smart promotions to grocers in order to boost market share.
  • Best growth (series B+): Houcem Maiza, chief executive of Galactech in Tunisia. Galactech is an entertainment e-sports start-up aiming to unify gaming experiences and competition on a larger scale.
  • Additionally, AMI Assurances awarded Tunisian start-up Kumulus which converts sun and air into water along with The third surprise winner was Fares Belghith, the founder and chief executive of Kamioun in Tunisia. Kamioun is a mobile platform that connects FMCG manufacturers to local retail shops by fast, free delivery.

In a media release, AfricArena confirms that Kumulus, Galactech and Kamioun will have flights, accommodation and travel insurance covered by AMI in order to attend the Grand Summit.

Salma Baghdadi, start-up ecosystem director at Smart Capital, thanked AfricArena for their work in advancing North African tech start-ups “to catch up with the big four of the continent. The event was an opportunity for Tunisian start-ups to connect with their peers, and created momentum for the Tunisian ecosystem. It was an opportunity to strengthen ties with the region and to position itself for inspiring exchanges on innovation and investment in Africa.”

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