Founded by Tanzanian-American Godwin Gabriel, Moovn is a black-owned international ride hailing platform taking on Uber, Lyft and Didi in the US, UAE and across Africa.
Moovn, which launched in Tanzania last year recently partnered with Vodacom on data and payments as it mulls expansion into Kenya and South Africa to fulfill its mission to become a dominant global ride hailing player since its launch in 2015 in Seattle. In Kenya, Moovn will take on Safaricom-backed Little, Taxify, Mondo Rides and MaraMoja.
Moovn which is in 35 cities in North America is projecting to be in a total of 105 cities by the beginning of 2018 allowing users to pre-schedule trips up to a month in advance plus ability to allow users hail cars, motorcycles and tuk tuks or tricycles among others.
“Moovn is an application that enables you to book an exclusive driver on demand or in advance. Our application or web-based booking platform enables you to easily request a ride at the comfort of your desktop, tablet or mobile phone,” says the firm.
The app lets users pay for services using cash, mobile money or credit cards and is live in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Vancouver, Washington, Dar-Es-Salaam and is set to launch in Dubai, Johannesburg and Nairobi.
The app charges drivers a flat commission per ride and has no surge pricing regardless of the demand or supply.
DEMO Africa has shortlisted 35 startups out of over 900 startups from across Africa to undergo the final vetting to pitch at this year’s launch event in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“We received a total of 956 applications this year, which is about 20% more than last year,” said Harry Hare, Executive Director and Producer of DEMO Africa. The applications covered all major verticals – health, agriculture, trade and commerce, manufacturing, hospitality and entertainment, banking and finance. “We are very pleased with the applications received, the diversity and quality is amazing,” Harry continued.
The 35 companies are spread over 10 countries with South Africa and Nigeria leading the pack, where South Africa produced 10, Nigeria 9, Kenya 7, Ghana and Zimbabwe 2 each and 1 from Botswana, Cameroun, Egypt, Senegal and Uganda.
These startups will now undergo a due diligence process out of which 26 startups will make it to the final. “From this pool, we will pick 26 startups that will join 4 other startups, picked from the regional Innovation tours that ran between March and July,” Hare said.
He went on to say that the interaction encouraged more startups to apply and stand an opportunity to be amongst the top thirty-five who will get chance on the world class stage to interact with an ecosystem of VCs, investors, tech acquisition specialists, IT buyers and media from across the region and around the globe.
Media – Gaming
Media – Hospitality
Chimera IoT LLC
ZOA Tech Limited
Mobile Forms Africa
Media – Gaming
Atele Advanced Solutions
K Measure Pty Ltd
Power Plus Energy
DEMO Africa has launched 180 startups in the last 5 years raising over US$54m in investments and billings.
There are a whole lot of people who do not have access to education in Nigeria. Statistics show that about 10.5 Million children were out of School as at 2010. This is the exact problem Passnownow.com plans to tackle as this is the first time the actual instructional subject content in the government approved syllabus and curriculum in the sequential order in which they are taught in class will be published on the internet in Nigeria, perhaps even West Africa.
The EdTech company would address the problem of access to educations for millions of underserved Nigerian Children in rural an urban communities by making all subjects available on web and mobile. According to Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, Founder of Passnownow.com, “Our recent widespread acceptance around the rural and urban parts of the Country especially amongst students and teachers makes us scalable and sustainable in the long term, a weekly steady 65% incremental growth and being the only core education content focused Edtech portal in Nigeria, we are excited to see it fast evolving into the Khan Academy and Coursera of Africa.”
She also stated that “we hope to raise enrollment numbers & reduce the current poor academic performance of students & the drastic failure rates in exams while also working to improve Instructional Practice by training & empowering teachers for the overall competitive advantage of our Country in terms of her work force and her long term development.”
Passnownow.com is working at a very auspicious period, as, very little commitment has been shown by the Governments at various levels about the staggering number of people – children – who cannot afford to go to school or whose schools lack the human and materials resources in addition to the lack of qualified and professional teachers in Nigeria.
With the tools that this platform provides, hundreds of thousands of Teachers in public schools are able to use class notes online to teach in Classrooms, parents nudge their children to study via web and mobile to augment class lessons & students studying all their school subjects on the Internet.
Furthermore, users can revise and prepare for entry level Exams which form prerequisites to gain admission into Institutions of higher learning like WAEC, UTME, NECO and more on Passnownow.com. The portal also has a feature which encouraged and mobilizes educated, well meaning, working class citizens to contribute their quota by volunteering to teach students in their various communities across the Country, provides users grammar tips and contains a leader-board to accurately measure degree of usage but its subscribers.
It feels really good to see Tech Companies addressing this debilitating problem of access to education in Nigeria.
Afrinsure is a new online insurance insurance comparison site and marketplace in Kenya promising its users a huge inventory of insurance covers to compare and pick from and save money.
Founded last year by Jaime ter Linden, Afrinsure aims to increase market penetration of insurance products in the country by offering clients excellent services through e-commerce, with the best prices in the industry. The firm says it has partnered with major insurance firms in Kenya to offer the best packages and process claims promptly.
By bringing insurance comparison online and making the quotes available to anyone online, the platform hopes to not only increase the uptake of insurance but as well to increase the reach of the major insurance firms in Kenya and make insurance easy to understand, compare and acquire.
The platform is working with top insurance companies such as Jubilee Insurance, Britam, ICEA, CIC, Resolution Insurance, Kenya Orient among others to streamline the search and purchase of insurance policies online. Afrinsure offers Medical Plans, Travel Plans, Motor Covers and all other classes of General Insurance from a number of top insurance companies in Kenya.
The team says it offers free delivery within Nairobi, expert advice online and free claims support in a move to be the country’s preferred insurance comparison platform with transparent, easy to obtain and accessible information.
Prior to Afrinsure, Jaime ter Linden had launchedForeFinance to help farmers in developing countries to have access to markets and formal credit by providing necessary information from farmer organizations, traders and financial institutions to farmers. With that he hopes to take on platforms such as InsureAfrika, PesaBazaar and CompareGuruamong others.
Money should not be your first motivation, knowledge and experience should. Always place people and experiences above money.
Truly truly, your team is a very important factor in your startup. It could make or mar the progress of your venture. Little wonder Joshua Chibueze, co-founder Sharphire stressed this in his chat with TechMoran.
Assemble a great team and you have solved more than 80% of your problem.
Sophia Ike-onu, founder and CEO the5kshop, is one woman who is an inspiration for many others. In this interview with her, she leaves some very great insights about entrepreneurship. Here’s one below…
If you believe entrepreneurship is for you and you think your business is solving a problem, draw up a plan , know your target market, seek out the right connections.
Look for, and follow the signal, and ignore the noise.
You want to leverage technology to make a difference in any sector? You would do well to heed to this one by Bola Lawal of ScholarX. He’s making a difference in the education sector, using technology of course.
Create easily distributed content that can reach and help everyday people who may not be tech savvy.
Making the decision to become an entrepreneur is never easy. When you eventually do, there are so many things you will gain. We highlight some of the advantages of being an entrepreneur.
You become more accountable
Entrepreneurship will help you up your accountability game. When you have your own business, you are your own boss. There is no one looking over your shoulder making sure you do the work. As an entrepreneur, you have to learn to hold yourself accountable, or you will not succeed.
Opportunity to make people’s life easier
You have come up with an idea for a product or service which can make people’s lives easier. So, by putting your idea to work and starting a business, you are actually contributing to making the lives of people better.
Gain invaluable experience
Starting a business in a country like Nigeria is very tough. If you are able to navigate these challenges, you will definitely gain invaluable experience that will come handy in your future dealings.
You become more confident
The fear of failure will evaporate and your interaction or engagement with people will significantly improve.
If you have always worked for somebody else, your employer determines your income. As an entrepreneur, there are no limits placed on what you can earn. Instead, you determine your earnings. You won’t go broke.
Developed by Mark Afolabi’s Whitespace, Banta App is a mobile app and a social interaction platform designed and developed in order to enable users anonymously share and express opinions, experiences, ideas and just about anything on their minds.
The app’s sole aim of making your current and past experiences known to the general public without the fear of stigmatization. Unlike Sarahah app which was intended to help users receive honest feedback from friends and employees but turned out to b exposing people’s contacts, Banta app, which is currently in beta, is an anonymous social interacting platform allowing users to engage with others and learn about how people handled a similar situation from interactions on the platform.
The app also allows one to build a community for continuous feedback from them. We are not sure how the firm aims to make money out of it but like other social networks, Banta might make money from advertisement, premium personal and company pages or commissions on classifieds deals if it decides to go that route.
WhiteSpaces on the other was launched to bridge the gap in the quality of online education and access and give kids and youth in underserved communities new opportunities to learn and acquire the skills that are essential to succeed in modern society regardless of their backgrounds.
It has a free plan that allocates free monthly data to users on a monthly basis, this data would be capped, and allows upgrade for paid plans, while affordable paid plans will provide unlimited data to user for between N1,500 to N2,000 monthly.
Wala is a digital banking platform for Africa making banking FREE for everyone and completely changes the way consumer’s access, engage with, and use financial products and services.
From accounts, to payments, to insurance, Wala aims to make personal finance easier or more affordable for all. It’s philosophy is different. By working in partnership with banks and other financial services providers, Wala can offer zero-fee and below market rate products to mass market consumers. The Wala platform sits in between banks and customers eliminating many costs thereby creating a more efficient system for everyone. Building a savings culture is imperative! Wala’s number one priority is to protect customers and ensure they get zero-fee banking and affordable financial products so they can get on the path towards financial stability.
What inspired you to launch Wala? Is Wala a result of your work in Uganda?
My work in Uganda absolutely influenced me to start Wala. I was spending time in Kitgum, Uganda where I had launched a mobile cash transfer solution for subsistence farmers in one of the most underserved areas of the country. We were doing some really incredible and impactful work, but I was conflicted. The women we were providing cash transfers to would receive mobile payments, go to an agent and pay a fee to cash out, and then place that money in cash boxes in their huts. They had no safe place to guard it, to grow it, or create more value from it. Whether a subsistence farmer living in rural Uganda or an Uber driver in Johanessburg, South Africa the problems remain the same- financial services are extremely costly and generally inaccessible due to reasons of inefficiency and distribution. It was my time in Uganda that I realized banking was the problem, but also the answer. And from here, Wala was born!
What have you done before Wala?
Prior to Wala I founded two companies and devoted my time to socially innovative initiatives in areas including microfinance, economic development, and women’s empowerment. My previous work ranges from cash transfer solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa to the development of an investment fund for underserved markets. I received my Masters of Public Policy from the University of Chicago’s Irving B. Harris School with a concentration in Development and Behavioral Economics. It was there that I began learning how small scale improvements could make lasting impacts through methods of financial innovation.
How does it work?
Once a user registers and download the app they can digitally register for a current account. At minimum, a user needs an ID book to register. Users can then open savings accounts. From here, users can deposit and withdraw money through partner ATMs and agents, receive direct deposits and inbound payments, send p2p payments to friends and family in the Wala network, buy airtime and pay bills, and login to check balance, move money between accounts, get insights into spending habits and history.
In the future, users will receive debit cards/prepaid cards to transact directly with merchants, get access to insurance, international payments, loans, and credit all through the Wala mobile platform!
Do you think South Africa is the right market for Wala? Why did you decide to launch in South Africa first?
While consumers throughout every African country need better banking and financial services, we strongly believe that South Africa is the best country for Wala to launch in given the customer base and financial industry.
The most important part of Wala is creating what I like to call a “consumer-driven” financial solution. Everything we do is for consumers and our goal is to provide zero-fee accounts to all Africans so financial empowerment becomes a reality. Over the last 10 months, we have seen a huge increase in our customer base specifically in South Africa. We have almost 1M South Africans who have signed up for a Wala financial community via Facebook and given how quickly that number is growing we want to focus our energy here.
Additionally, South Africa is the financial hub of Africa. Most banks are headquartered in Johannesburg, industry experts reside throughout the country, and the banking infrastructure is developed and very advanced. We need to make sure we are not only close to our partners, but also valuable resources that will help us grow.
What is Wala’s business model?
The beauty of the Wala business model is that we make money when our customers save more money! We work in partnership with banks and other financial services providers to offer free or below market rate products. The Wala platform sits in between banks and customers eliminating many costs thereby creating a more efficient system for everyone.
We don’t generate revenue by charging fees on transactions or cross-selling products. Instead, our partners pay us for bringing assets into their banking system. We built our model this way so that we always stay in line with the needs and financial stability of our users. If they improve their financial lives, Wala succeeds.
Do you have any investors?
Wala is currently backed by angel investors that recognized a massive opportunity to innovate the banking industry throughout emerging markets while also solving a global problem impacting billions of people.
Do you have bank partners?
We are working closely with a number of banks and financial services provider so we can provide zero-fee banking and below market rate financial products to our users.
How is Wala helping to improve users savings culture?
The Wala philosophy is different from most financial companies. Rather than focusing on lending we focus explicitly on savings. There is no shortage of companies that are willing to offer consumers loans and that’s because they can do so at high interest rates that end up costing people an arm and a leg. Loan businesses are very profitable as long as they are run properly and loan businesses that target the poor or people with bad credit can even be predatory, making it worse for the consumer long-term.
Of course there are banks and companies that do provide good loans but we believe financial health starts with something more basic: a bank account. A bank account allows you to safely store your income, grow your savings, and even hold your loan money. Having an account helps you build a financial history, which will allow you get loans at lower interest rates in the future. With Wala, consumers can easily send payments to their community, pay bills, and access other great financial tools. But again, it all starts with a bank account!
Any plans to launch in new markets?
Of course! We plan to expand throughout Africa in the coming years to markets including Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Mozambique, Egypt, and many more. Wherever customers are in need of better banking, Wala will be there.
Which services compete with Wala and how is Wala unique from them? How different is Wala from a basic debit card or mobile money account?
Wala is the only company that can provide ZERO-FEE banking. From traditional banking to mobile wallets and payments to loans, most financial products in Africa are transactional-based meaning they charge consumers for any type of transaction. If you use mobile payments with a telecom provider you will incur fees to send money, receive money, hold money, withdrawal money, etc. But with Wala, we cover all fees for you and make the experience convenient through a digital only tool so that you don’t have to deal with the additional financial stress. No more hidden fees. No more long queues. Just Wala.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Change in any form is extremely difficult to accomplish and we are pushing boundaries on multiple fronts- banking, technology, policy. Everyday we have a new challenge, but we have an incredible team driving forward every step of the way.
As a financial company, most startup founders would agree with me when I say the greatest challenges are:
Acquisition- It takes time to build trust when you are dealing with people’s money. Fintech isn’t like building another social media app, it’s creating solutions for the most important asset in people’s lives- money.
Policy- Many regulators are risk averse and implement policy for a reason making it often times difficult to navigate complex systems. It can take a long time to build relationships with regulators and to get them on your side and in the startup world time is our most precious commodity.
Fundraising- Even if you have the greatest idea, solution, product, customers, etc. investors always want more especially when you are in underserved markets so you need to figure out how to stay lean and continue to build and grow with limited capital.
To succeed with your tech startup, you surely have to take steps other successful ones took and avoid mistakes they made too. Mark Essien, founder and CEO of hotels.ng is no doubt, a successful tech startup founder. His startup has received funding from various investors like SPARK, EchoVC, and so on. Right now, they are right on their feet as a startup.
In this chat with TechMoran, Mark Essien shares a lot about hotels.ng. The propeller behind its launch, why they got funding, their business model e.t.c. And at the end, he leaves a priceless advice for young startup founders too. Read on.
What exactly inspired hotels.ng? Did you encounter problems booking hotel rooms?
After I got back to Nigeria, I sought to create a business that could create real value in the society. Since I grew up abroad I had seen numerous online businesses that worked well in the early days of the internet. Listing hotels online seemed like something that would work well in the early days of the internet here in Africa so I bought a domain name and paid someone to help me find and list these hotels. On booking these hotel rooms, we never really understood what the business model should have been in the early days, it took us a year to figure out what would be the best way to make money.
Did you envision going into tech from your childhood?
For almost every Nigerian kid born in my time, growing up to found a tech company was not a typical aspiration we had. It was not until I got to Germany that I knew what the possibilities could be. It was there that I got exposed to web development. After building a few tech tools that I sold to other companies that was when it became obvious that I had built the skills to create wealth for myself and many others.
Your startup, fortunately received funding to expand. What did you do differently from other great startups still seeking funds?
I was able to validate online hotel booking as a business in Nigeria early on. Asides that, I went out of my way to speak with a lot of persons to get decent press coverage. I was also fortunate during that period that Spark was looking for good Nigerian companies to invest in.
Your startup is leveraging technology to solve hotel room booking problems. Do you consider it more of a hospitality startup or a tech startup?
The entire business is powered by tech. More than 90% of all activities within the company is powered by tech. What we have done is to create tech that makes the entire process of finding and booking a hotel in a new city very simple.
What exactly is the business model of hotels.ng?
Our business model has existed for many decades. We charge a commission on every booking we bring in for the hotel. We tried different business models but we soon realized that in a marketplace value is created in the direction in which money moves.
How long did it take your venture to start gaining traction after its launch?
SEO validated our business model, so as soon as we were ranking for the keywords that mattered to our business we were getting traction.
When you sent a pitch to Rocket Internet and got no reply, did you ever think of giving up. If yes, what kept you going?
No. I had read a lot of stories about fundraising so my resolution was strong. I understood that it was a shot worth taking and if they did not see the value of what I was building another investor will.
At this point, can you call hotels.ng an overly successful startup?
I will be naive too. We got traction and were able to grow online hotel booking into a sustainable business in Nigeria, but that’s not the end. There are a thousand more miles ahead. We are in a good position, but I will not call us overly successful.
Asides this, are there any other startup/ideas cooking in the pot? Should we keep our fingers crossed?
All the ideas will flow through Hotels.ng.
There is surely a “tech revolution” going on in Nigeria. What do you make of it?
Revolutions come in waves. Within 2010 and 2014, there were many startups that came into existence. More than 90% of them are gone, and there is a new breed of startups coming up now. These new companies are different and have better talent than their predecessors, they also have access to knowledge too, and these are what separates the older startups that died from the newer ones. Plus the market has also grown and matured along the way. There are more people confident using their credit cards online than they were 5 years ago.
How do you know if a tech startup idea would scale, or not? This could be useful for upcoming tech entrepreneurs.
Simple. Is the market large enough for them to either grow fast or make a lot of revenue?
On the strongest advice he would give to young tech entrepreneurs, he says…
Validate your business very early. Do not build a business then go find a market. You find a market first then you can build a business.
Do you need a soothsayer to tell you how important savings is in our financial life? Of course, you don’t. As humans, adopting a regular savings culture seem to be an uphill task but it is very good that some startups are trying very much to simplify this process, and so far, they have made significant progress.
Let me introduce to you CowryWise, a FinTech startup which encourages and simplify savings amongst the Nigerian people. TechMoran chats with Razaq Ahmed, who is a founder and CEO of the presently self-funded startup.
Daniel Anuoluwapelumi: Truly, the savings culture in Nigeria is a very poor one. People tend to spend more than they save. Was this what motivated the birth of CowryWise?
To many, saving is difficult. We can give a million reasons why we don’t save, ranging from low income level to high cost of living. However, saving is the starting point for a secured financial future. That is where CowryWise comes in. We have developed a platform that allows you automate your savings, build purposeful financial goals and watch those goals get achieved as you live your normal life. We are empowering people with tools that help them build a strong foundation for a planned and secured financial future.
What extra steps have your startup taken to increase savings amongst Nigerians?
First, options. We are providing Nigerians with options to save in simple and flexible manner.
Second, convenience. We are making saving convenient. We are making it a lifestyle.
Lastly, rewarding experience. We are making saving rewarding and making decent returns available to everyone no matter your income level.
How well has your startup grown since January 2017 when you launched? Do you think you have made a very large impact on our saving habit?
Though we started building CowryWise last year, we officially launched to the public in July 2017 when we finalized all our regulatory requirements. Before then, we had selected users who used the platform for us to establish product market fit. Yes, CowryWise is still young but we are always excited seeing people save towards achieving their life goals. The most exciting to me are some of our users who save towards the education of their unborn children. You can’t but get moved emotionally seeing such goals.
Funding is very important in a startup. Do tell us about your funding experience — bootstrap or investments.
Every startup has its peculiarities. So far, we have bootstrapped our growth. We however have investments in the pipeline.
Does Cowrywise charge a certain percentage on people’s savings? What is your business model?
No, CowryWise does not charge a percentage on people’s savings. We do away with anything charge, fees or penalty that people are worried about when accessing financial services. At the moment, CowryWise is a play on spread. We carry out financial intermediation and pass the bulk of the returns to savers. We provide the platform that enables users make purposeful, goal-oriented savings. With a cost-effective business structure, we can pass more values to users while they retain the freedom and flexibility they need to manage their personal finances. We retain a spread from the return generated.
What impact has your team had on the entire growth of the startup?
The right team is important. The team with the right combination of domain expertise in the core problem being solved has a better chance of achieving product market fit easier and scale faster. So far, that right combination has helped CowryWise on both fronts.
I think Startups solving local problems need to start considering expansion very much. Ogavenue just followed this part. Do you have plans to do same?
Well, startups are different. Each startup has its target market. However, it is important to think scale and explore possibilities of deploying a workable solution across similar markets. We will go Pan-Africa but our immediate market now is Nigeria.
In five years time, give us a picture of what you want CowryWise to be
5 years seem far from today. However, we know time has wings. In 5 years, CowryWise will evolve into a full-fledged, tech-enabled financial service provider making personal wealth management mainstream service. We believe everyone can save, and should save as an important foundation to building a secured financial future.
Asides Cowrywise, is there any other startup you are working on?
At the moment, no.
What is your approach to work as co-founder of CowryWise. What are the qualities you consider most important in any startup founder?
Work should be seen as a means to achieving a shared vision. Having the consciousness to link every action at work to that overall vision is an important quality startup founders should have.
Any advice to young and upcoming tech startup founders?
Be clear about your vision. Be bold to share it. Be industrious in executing it. Your vision will be clearer as you get your hands dirty.
ScholarX has launched Village, an education crowdfunding platform where African students (Secondary, undergraduate and graduate) seeking financial assistance can create a funding request to pitch themselves to the public on why they should receive donations to help fund their tuition.
Donors do not need to worry about their contributions as ScholarX has put measures in place to prevent theft or scam. This is why “We control the entire process to ensure its integrity, and so we pay directly once we receive the funds on behalf of the students”, the startup said in a statement.
On why the education crowdfunding platform was introduced, SchorlarX explained that “In a country like Nigeria with a huge youth population, the difference between staying in school and street hawking could be as little as N5,000 ($15). Thus, We need more sponsors to bridge this gap.”
How it works
Secondary (high) School and University students
ScholarX verifies the profile manually (working on a proprietary product that automates the process using Blockchain Technology)
ScholarX pays directly on behalf of the funded student.
Donations can be made in Naira (Paystack/Bank transfer) or Dollar (stripe), and currency conversion is in built.
Kamerbigbang. A startup founded by Angele Messa leveraging technology to improve the Education sector in Cameroon. The unemployment rate in the country, as in other African countries is very high. According to Angele, it was what informed the launch of the startup.
Kamerbigbang helps Cameroonian youths to NOT depend on government jobs. Instead, they help them use their skills to make money for themselves and not chase non existent public service jobs. Angele shares with TechMoran, the beginning of Kamerbigbang, the journey so far, funding and many more. Enjoy.
What informed the launch of Kamerbigbang? Do you think Cameroonian youths are limited when it comes to opportunities?
The unemployment rate in Cameroon is alarming, and this is mostly caused by the educational system. Education curricular in just like several other African countries is made up more of theory than practise. The skills students get from formal education is insufficient to make them ready for the job market immediately after graduation. This then makes the public service their only option. Meanwhile getting into the public service is highly competitive due to its inability to employ half of Cameroon’s graduates. Looking closely at the situation, kamerbigbang.com opted to equip these youths with tools that will change their status from job seekers to job creators by giving them life skills through education support services, training programs and mentorship in a bit to complement their formal education. Our ambition is therefore that to help Cameroonian youths transform whatever skills they have, into a money-making business. In this light, whether graduates chose to get jobs or create one, they’ll always have our support thanks to educational support services we offer, business start-up training programs and academic and career coaching sessions.
The internet holds thousands of opportunities for which Cameroonian youths are eligible but most of them don’t benefit from those opportunities because they are under informed. It’s in this regards that kamerbigbang.com developed a search engine which searches the web and automatically post jobs, scholarships, fellowships and all national and international opportunities for which Cameroonian youths are eligible. This can be accessed for free. This search engine has been much appreciated by our users. We get positive feedback and testimonies very often.
How well has the start-up fared since launch? Would you say to have made very significant progress?
We’ve come a long way already. The concept was a very new one at the beginning and many people didn’t understand it. We met several challenges given that most youths do not see the internet as a learning tool. Our main challenge (one which we haven’t completely dealt with) consisted of making our target audience buy our vision. It took much of persistence and today, we’ve been able to reach the greater part of our target audience for the first three years.
Why focus on just Cameroon, how about the whole of Africa? Do you have expansion plans?
Kamerbigbang.com aims to use technology to curb academic and career failure by creating a skills based online entrepreneurial university. Our main target audience for the first three years is Cameroon. When we are able to build solid roots in Cameroon, our next target will be the central African Region. Our vision is to make it possible for every student, recent graduate, institution, job seeker and/or budding entrepreneur to use our services for personal, academic or career development right from the comfort of their homes irrelevant of their geographical location.
How is Kamerbigbang funded? Bootstrapped or otherwise?
Kamerbigbang.com started with personal funding. But I’ll say today, we’re totally (or at least 95%) bootstrapped. However, we’re in constant search of other funding opportunities to scale our business.
Tell us about the business model of the startup.
Kamerbigbang uses a mixture of business models: from direct sales to acting as middle man depending on the services offered. With direct sales, we sometimes get directly to the end user to suggest our services. Most at times, we stand at the middle between opportunities and freelancers on one hand and customers on the other. We have a pool of different profiles from diverse fields ready to attend to our customers. Our customers therefore benefit from the services of these professionals through our platform.
Let us in on the team behind Kamerbigbang. Or is it just you at the helm?
I founded kamerbigbang.com in 2016 with the assistance of a webmaster and few friends. Today, we have a team of four permanent staff and hundreds of freelancers.
What would you have done differently since launch if you were given a chance?
There are a handful of things we would do differently if we had to start all over. For example, we would have taken more risks. The project kicked off on a very shy note. Thank God our passion and dedication to the course let us realise quickly that we needed to get out of our comfort zone. And this has helped so much in maintaining the business alive and achieving milestones.
In 5 years time, how big do you envisage Kamerbigbang?
Right now, we’re working on raising funds and looking for new partners so as to move the company to its next level. In five years time, kamerbigbang.com must have reached its’ final destination. We would have completely created our online entrepreneurial university with thousands of courses and users and created hundreds of jobs for youths throughout Africa.
What impact do you think technology would have on Africa as a whole in years to come?
Technology is transforming every aspect of life in Africa. From banking system to culture, through agriculture and business, technology is impacting every sector in the African continent. Over the next five years, technology will drive growth in Africa at an alarming rate. In this light, IT solutions will continue to be employed to solve long-standing African socio-economic issues.
Say a few words for other people who wants to solve a problem with technology.
It’s easy to come up with a business idea. However, it’s very difficult to convince your audience to share in your vision. You’ll get so many setbacks but don’t give up. Remember competition is really tough in the tech industry. To increase the possibility of success, pay great attention to market research. You’ll find thousands of businesses in your field, this shouldn’t discourage you. The essential thing here is to develop a unique business model with an added value which will help your start up stand out. Thank you
Alternative Circle, the firm that runs Shika app, a micro-lending and financial services app has been selected as only company from Africa in the 2017 Global FinTech Hackcelerator and FinTech Awards.
Alternative Circle qualified under the Financial Inclusion category and will undergo a 12-week program led by KPMG Digital Village. The program will enable Alternative Circle to work and meet with corporates, investors, partners and regulators.
The winner stands a chance to will 50,000USD, which will be additional to the 15,000USD awarded to the top 20 finalists. This year’s Singapore FinTech Festival, will take place in Singapore from 13 to 17 November 2017.
In March, the firm raised investments from top investors and has released its Shika app to beta testers. Its competition includes Tala and Branch, KCB M-Pesa and Safaricom’s M-Shwari.
Alternative Circle was founded in 2016 with a dream of revolutionizing financial technology industry. Alternative Circle closed a seed round of 1.1 million USD from CreditInfo in 2017 and this enabled the expansion of the company. The strategic partnership with CreditInfo gave Alternative Circle access to over 200 developers and 25 data scientists, making it easier for Alternative Circle to become the leading Financial Technology Innovator in the country.
Alternative Circle’s first product, Shika is a Kenyan Built Mobile app made for individuals who want to access quick micro-loans, in an easy and fast way. The application is also built for Financial Institutions that can use the platform to reach potential borrowers. The app is currently available on android.
The Singapore FinTech Festival is a platform for key stakeholders of the global and regional FinTech community to connect, learn from one another and co-create new solutions to real problems. The inaugural Festival in 2016 attracted more than 13,000 participants from across 60 countries. The Festival is organised by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), in partnership with the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), and in collaboration with SingEx.
Recruiting and talent management is a core challenge facing growing businesses in emerging markets. Over 1 million people enter India’s workforce each month, and the World Bank estimates that Africa will add more people to its job market in the next ten years than the rest of the world combined.
Given this volume of jobseekers, companies are typically left to sort through hundreds of applicants for a single job opening, relying mainly on CVs and personal connections to guide decisions on who to meet and hire. Shortlist aims to solve these across emerging markets.
Launched in 2016, and serving over 80 companies including Ather Energy, M-‐KOPA, MicroEnsure, and Xynteo, Shortlist has raised $1 Million in seed funding to help employers discover untapped talent across Africa and India by enabling firms to hire based on competency, rather than pedigree.
The investment was led by US-‐based private equity firm University Ventures, Indian angel investor Samir Shah of Sattva Capital, Kenya-‐based seed fund Zephyr Acorn, global impact investor FARM Ventures and US-‐ based investor Bodley Group.
Shortlist will use the funds to enhance its data-‐driven talent screening product, which automates applicant vetting using online competency-‐based assessments.
“The single biggest challenge for growing companies is finding the right talent to scale,” says Paul Breloff, co-‐founder and CEO of Shortlist. “We believe that both jobseekers and employers deserve a better way to find each other and gauge fit. We’re thrilled to have a group of investors who share our desire to fix this broken talent marketplace, and believe the mix of expertise across India, East Africa, and the United States will add significant strategic value as we build on our early traction.”
With Headquarters in Mumbai and in Hyderabad, and Nairobi, Shortlist helps companies in India and East Africa hire for early and mid-‐career roles based on demonstrated potential and skill, rather than pedigree.
The startup’s unique technology creates a single application flow to engage candidates across a company’s sourcing channels, including job boards, referral programs, and existing third-‐party recruiters.
Shortlist then screens these candidates using chat-‐based interviews, online competency assessments, and other proprietary tools that predict how candidates will performing a particular role. Employers then receive access to interview-‐ready candidates, streamlining the often time-‐consuming and bias-‐prone phases of hiring, and ultimately only engaging with the applicants who possess the right ability, experience, and fit for their teams.
Ryan Craig, author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Educationand Managing Director at University Ventures. “The shift from degree-‐ and pedigree-‐based hiring to competency-‐based hiring has tremendous potential for employers, individuals, and overall economic growth.
Since its launch in early 2016, Shortlist has engaged nearly 200,000 jobseekers helping them highlight their strengths and be considered for jobs based on demonstrated potential and fit, not merely their educational background and formal work experience.
Shortlist has previously received funding from AHL Venture Partners, Blue Haven Initiative,the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund, and Shell Foundation, and was a winner of the ANDE-‐Argidius Talent Challenge.
On September 22th, 9 of Senegal’s most promising seed stage startups will compete to represent the country at the Regional and Global Seedstars Summits, and to win up to USD 1 million in equity investments and other prizes.
The 9 promising tech startups will pitch at the Seedstars Dakar pitching event on September 22th at 4pm at Pullman Teranga (10, Rue Colbert, Place de L’ independance, Dakar 18524, Senegal).
The top startups selected to advance to the pitching event are:
1) ADN an IT consulting company specialized in Data Analytics and focused on providing business analytics solutions for African organization
2) BAYSEDDO 2.0: a platform that allows farmers to finance their crop
3) Carvi Writer: the first publishing company of books and audiovisual production in Africa, it makes money and movies with your writings.
4) Dassur: an insurance distributor which uses Messenger
5) MaTontine provides access to small loans and related financial services like micro-insurance by digitizing traditional savings circles.
6) PayDunya: is a one stop shop to create, manage & grow sales on social networks and get paid from all relevant payment methods in Africa with CRM toolbox
7) SenCivilities: allows the management of civil status, request of remote birth certificate, and geolocation of the undeclared children
8) Walam: a mobile platform based on sharing economy that let people put their skills to the service of other people without having money.
9) SKILLAKE: a job marketplace, to help American and European companies find qualified IT professionals in Africa with a perfect match
Beyond the local event, Seedstars World is working very closely with Enel Green Power to source the most innovative business models in the energy sectors and ones that are fostering socio-economic development in rural villages in Africa. Up to 5 best startups in this sector will be invited for an exclusive RES4Africa networking event taking place later this November in Nairobi and compete for an Africa Energy Prize which consists of a financial contribution and a three-month acceleration programme for a total value of up to $50,000.
Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s MEVP has invested in Wego, in exchange for an equity ownership alongside MBC Group (Middle East Broadcasting Centre), which had announced the deal with Wego in July.
MEVP aims to reinforce and expand Wego’s regional footprint for the Singapore founded and now dual-headquartered in Dubai and Singapore firm.
“With Wego’s rapid MENA expansion we decided to seek out smart investors from the region who have deep experience and connections and in MEVP we’ve definitely found that and more,” commented Ross Veitch, Wego CEO & Co-Founder. “I welcome the MEVP investment and I look forward to working with the team at MEVP as we develop Wego’s business across the MENA region.”
Wego entered into MENA by launching a fully localized experience just in time to meet the demand from a new generation of travelers wanting to shop for and book flights and hotels on their smartphones. Wego quickly grew to become the most popular and trusted travel comparison service in the region with over 10 million monthly visits by collaborating with over 700 local and global airlines, hotels and online travel agents.
MEVP is the pioneer and largest VC firm in the MENA region with offices in Dubai and Beirut. MEVP recently announced an investment by Mohamed Alabbar, Founder & Chairman of Emaar Properties, into MEVP.
MEVP joins existing Wego investors including Tiger Global Management, Crescent Point Group and Square Peg Capital. Dubai-based investment bank Arqaam Capital helped facilitate this transaction.
Walid Hanna, MEVP Founder and CEO, added, “Online travel in MENA is a large vertical and continues to grow rapidly aided by a shift in consumer behavior from offline to online. Wego is capitalizing on such favorable market dynamics and is already a leading travel brand that is highly recognized by travelers in the region, especially Saudi Arabia. We are also pleased to have media giant MBC onboard as a strategic partner with whom we have had three other successful partnerships on other platforms. Wego has an exciting growth plan and with the support of MBC and MEVP, we believe it is well positioned to dominate the travel metasearch play in MENA.”
Skarabrand is an online furniture company which gives you liberty to order furniture online and get it delivered to your doorstep. As things stand, they might be the first, maybe only furniture company that has leveraged technology to gain a wider publicity.
TechMoran chats with Raymond Umeh, founder and CEO of Skarabrand as he talks about the trigger behind the startup, the journey since then, how they are funded and many more. Enjoy.
Did Skarabrand launch first as an offline furniture company, or has been an ecommerce company from the start?
Skarabrand started off as an ecommerce company.
What triggered the launch of Skarabrand?
After being in the furniture industry for over a decade, I realized there was a gap – a growing number of Nigerians were searching for furniture online, but there was no proper furniture online brand serving that rapidly growing market, which has more than doubled in the past year from a few thousand to tens of thousands. With that knowledge, founding Skarabrand was a no-brainer. We decided to create an Online Furniture Brand that designs, manufactures and leverages on Technology & the Internet to Optimize & Disrupt the traditional Furniture industry.
How big is the furniture industry in Nigeria and how much has the startup covered?
Estimates put the furniture industry in Nigeria at about a Trillion naira, with the industry heavily fragmented and very unorganized. Though we have shipped over 1000 items to over 11 cities in Nigeria, we haven’t even scratched the surface.
Has Nigerians’ preference for foreign goods and products affected Skarabrand in any way?
Nigeria’s preference for foreign goods is as old as Nigeria, so this is not a new phenomenon. What we are experiencing now however, is that more and more people are beginning to patronize made in Nigeria businesses for a number of reasons: Government policy: Ban on furniture importation, Buy Made in Nigeria campaign – Improvement in the trendy variety and quality of products and services provided by local businesses & Economic Situation: Forex challenges has ultimately helped the business.
Tell us about the team behind Skarabrand.
Our team is made of two groups: a very skilled and experienced manufacturing team and an ecommerce team.
What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered since launch?
Convincing customers to pay before delivery.
If you were to do one thing differently since launch, what would it be?
Started digital marketing earlier.
How big do you anticipate Skarabrand, say in next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, Skarabrand will be the number one furniture brand in Nigeria; the market leader, delivering 360 degrees home solutions; the one stop shop for everything home. By this time, we will also be exporting both the brand and our products. I can tell you, we have already delivered items beyond Nigeria, we have our products in Ghana.
Tell us about your competitors, and how you’ve dealt so far.
About competition, I will say, being one of the first movers in this space, we have watched more and more people move into the space, as well as some die out. We aren’t bothered about them, but we watch them. We believe our offering is unique and our business model is solid and proven worldwide. Competition is always good for business; keeps you on your toes.
In two or three words, what do you think are the most important recipes for a startup’s success?
Bad electricity is a major problem in Nigeria, and has led to many other secondary problems. One of these is the difficulty that comes with charging of phones. Over time, people have employed the use of generators to charge phones and many other devices, but here we are with a startup taking a different dimension.
Saja is a mobile utility service that charges mobile devices using our patented solar-powered mobile kiosk. TechMoran chats with its founder and CEO, Seyi Fakoya where he shares a lot about this self-funded startup.
Daniel Anuoluwapelumi: Many known Startups present are mostly Internet based. Why did you choose to take a different turn?
A: We are all about solving the biggest problems in our society. Technology allows us to scale solutions but it needs something to ride one. We choose this as we are working on building an infrastructure to not just for our service but for others who need to reach the mobile generation in Africa.
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve had to encounter since the launch of Saja?
Our greatest challenge so far has been the weather, we are currently in the rainy season in the country and our stations are currently not operating at full capacity but it’s been a learning curve for us as we can only get better after this season.
Tell us more about yourself, background and all.
I am the founder/CEO of CREO, a tech startup in Lagos, developers of Open Heavens Mobile App. I have a background in software engineering and with corresponding real-time business experience of 4 years. I’m a graduate of Software Engineering from the Open University (UK), Also a Fate Foundation AEP (Alumni) and Certified Digital Marketing from Simon Page business school.
Are there any competitors to Saja, tell us how you’ve been able to deal.
We entered into an existing segment. Our pilot at the NYSC Camp, we had over 10 vendors who use generators were providing this service and they told us they have been doing it for over a decade. It was heavily competitive but they gave kudos to our innovation and are interested in switching to our service as we don’t use fuel and almost zero maintenance.
In 5 years, how big do you envision Saja as a startup?
In 5 years time, we believe there will more advancement in technology, more sustainable solutions and better infrastructure, our goal is to provide other services such as agent banking, mobile repairs, point of sales for other services. We aim to become a hub for services in Africa.
Do you plan expanding to other parts of Africa, or this is just a Nigerian problem?
Mobile phone charging is a need globally; we all need to charge our devices to stay connected. We are bullish on Nigeria our home country we don’t have plans to expand at this time.
Say a few words for young people who want to solve a problem with tech.
My advice for young people is to solve the problems around them, a tip will be to take a note of all the activities you do in a single day and observe the ones that were challenging to accomplish, as social beings, a problem you face, others also face too.
iHub and the World Bank Group will host a one-week intensive boot camp in Nairobi, a part of a business acceleration program to help East African tech start-ups commercialize and scale innovative digital products.
The Traction Camp accelerator launched six months ago by iHub and the World Bank Group’s infoDev program will connect 20 high-growth start-ups with the knowledge, capital, and access to markets they need to grow. The program is supported by the governments of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Kenya, and includes intensive business coaching and mentorship for up to six months.
The start-ups from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda will convene in Nairobi for the one week face-to-face boot camp on Sept. 18-23, 2017 and culminate in a demo day event on Sept. 22 at iHub from 4-8 p.m. Parties interested in investing or collaborating with the participating start-ups are encouraged to express interest here prior to Sept. 19, 2017.
Here are the 21 Participating Startups successfully selected to participate in Traction Camp regional accelerator program (Round 1). The aim is to nurture them to become globally competitive, growth-oriented, mobile and digital technology businesses.
Bluewave Insurance Agency Limited, Kenya
An online platform that enables clients access micro insurance products and market research and analytics on insurance trends and insurance requirements.
BusinessTYC tax, Ethiopia
A tax preparation and declaration SaaS platform for SMEs in Ethiopia. It is built to make doing business in Ethiopia easier for entrepreneurs so that they can focus on innovation. It doesn’t require any accounting or IT knowledge.
A global subscription based streaming platform for animations and films from around the world. We also produce original animations to celebrate cultural representation in digital media. DreamAfrica has a revenue share program with its content partners.
Illuminum Greenhouses, Kenya
A farming solutions company providing greenhouses with drip irrigation kits equipped with solar powered sensors that allows the Internet of Things penetrate and reach the base of pyramid farmers allowinbg them to grow high value crops all year round in a protected environment.
K&G Solar Power (U) Ltd, Uganda
The company is involved in the sale and distribution of pico and stand alone solar systems especially targeting rural communities that are off the national electricity grid. we have partnerships with local banks to extend the equipment to the beneficiaries on loan basis.
Kleva Plus, Kenya
An app to help manage your business on the go. It helps to manage customers, sales and finances and be able to operate on mobile.
A solution that transforms the way we look for a next place to call home by offering a faster, more secure and affordable experience to users who are searching for houses for rent. Kokote simplifies the process by providing tools for users to choose houses by price, number of rooms, location and the like and share the houses they like with friends and families
An e-agriculture platform connecting smallholder farmers’ produce to markets. We use basic SMS technology to enhance community based aggregate production for irish potato farmers. We ensure the aggregated bulk produce reaches the market in time.
An application that helps hypertension patients to manage their condition. The user gets access to health practitioners, save blood pressure history and share such data with care givers. We also create awareness and distribute home testing kits to be used along with the app
Online Hisabu, Ethiopia
A cloud based accounting package for Ethiopian SMEs, who are looking for an affordable and easy to use accounting solution. It recognizes SMEs’ resource limitation, lack of computer proficiency and accounting skills. It is a financial management and reporting tool tailored to the Ethiopian context.
Patasente Inc, Uganda
A supply chain financing platform that enables people guarantee or to businesses in East Africa. Entrepreneurs get working capital loans to grow their revenues, and lenders finance the loans by buying a range of interest bearing promissory notes to earn extra incomes.
A cloud-based ERP targeting SME’s that automates, simplifies and streamlines business processes of Human Resource Management, Customer Relationship Management, Invoicing and Accounting, Procurement, Point-of-Sale and Inventory Management.
Shield Finance, Kenya
A FinTech company using proprietary technology and leveraging on Mobile Money to offer employees affordable salary advances.With competitive interest rates, we are more flexible than mainstream lenders and deliver requested advances in record time.
Simon Tito Foods, Tanzania
An innovative business in electric egg incubators. We offer our products at affordable payment terms. Customers buys our product at 50% of the price while the other 50% is payed overtime by purchasing token units. Our electric egg incubator is automatically locked until customers buys token units.
SunPoynt (formerly Angaza Boma) targets to be a market in ‘pay-as-you-go’ energy services for off-grid customers – combining mobile payments with GSM sensor technology to enable the leasing of 22″ solar powered TV home systems in Kenya
A cloud-based software platform that enables project managers and civil engineers to identify and visualize road conditions using just a smartphone and to coordinate micro-enterprises to repair roads using micro-contracts.
Tamithi Ltd, Uganda
A creative firm with expertise in Illustrations, Animations and Games. We focus on creating innovative local ideas and themes that our clients and society can relate to.
A platform that enables a parent to receive timely messages based on their stage of pregnancy or child’s age. These messages highlight warning signs in their pregnancy or child’s health thereby enabling one to seek timely care.
Ukulima tech, Kenya
We design fabricate and install vertical Gardens which provide healthy vegetables and a source of livelihood. Our mobile app enables one to monitor and irrigate their farms from anywhere in addition to provides gardening skills for different crops.
An online marketplace to help people sell their products online and reach more customers. It also helps busy people to buy products online and get products delivered to them with out wasting time
ZayRide is the Uber of Ethiopia, on-demand taxi and Ambulance dispatching application that connects riders and drivers with. We recently added a delivery service. So our loyal customers get more services with a single application.
Paga, one of the early payment platforms in Nigeria, has announced it is now fully integrated into Nigeria’s Banking System. This is according to Tayo Oviosu, the CEO and founder of Paga.
Explaining Paga’s mode of operation before the integration, Oviosu said that it took about two hours to verify a transfer. As a result, they had a lot of angry customers.
“When Paga launched to the public the only way to fund an account was either at a Paga agent or by visiting a bank branch to deposit to our bank account. If you used the second approach you had to notify us on our site. Two members of our team had to verify your deposit before we gave you electronic value. We termed this process “manual deposit”. We had 20 staff to make this manual deposit process work! It took us about 2hrs on average to process any deposit. Sometimes the banks didn’t post immediately, sometimes they didn’t post until evening. We could only give value when we saw money in our account. Other times we just had a major backlog. Either way, we had irate customers, and understandably so.”
Since this manual deposit process cannot be scaled, Paga had no choice than to work directly with banks.
Oviosu said that they started with 6 banks (including all major banks) adding that “Today, Paga is now connected to all banks in Nigeria. You can transfer money to your Paga account instantly, using your Paga 10 digit account number, from any bank in Nigeria. You can also transfer from Paga to any bank account in Nigeria instantly. This is a core foundation for the future.”