Sub-Saharan Africa

Wefarm connects 300K+ farmers in Kenya & Uganda | Raising new round to build more digital products

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Machine learning intelligence farmer-to-farmer digital network Wefarm has reached over 300,000 farmers in Kenya and Uganda and is currently seeking its next round of funding to build a new digital ecosystem of products and services.

Current investors include LocalGlobe and Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV).

Saul Klein, Founder of LocalGlobe and seed investor in Wefarm said, “Wefarm is exactly the type of domain-specific network that adds real value to its users. Just as Stack Overflow built a community for the 18.5 million developers globally to share their programming knowledge, Wefarm is building a community – and, soon, a new digital ecosystem of products and services – for the world’s 500 million small-scale farmers.”

 Growing the community to 300,0000 farmers, made up of dense localised clusters in key counties in Kenya and Uganda, is a significant accomplishment.

According to Kenny Ewan, CEO of Wefarm, “We are proud that Wefarm is providing a service that responds to the needs and wants of the world’s small-scale farmers and have made it our mission to connect every farmer in the world who needs information — online or off. But we won’t stop there. Our vision in the coming years is to create a new digital ecosystem of products and services for the 400 billion GBP small-scale agriculture market, made for farmers by farmers.”

With over 180,000 farmers in Kenya using Wefarm at present. The free mobile and online service that enables farmers to share crucial livestock and crop information online and via SMS – without needing the internet and without having to leave their farms. It’s key innovation is the creation of the world’s first crowdsourced peer-to-peer network for offline communities.

Approximately 500 million small-scale farmers provide over 70% of the world’s food. However, up to 90% have no access to the internet and are often isolated from basic agricultural information and new ideas. According to the GSMA, by 2020, 168 million more people will be connected to mobile services in Africa alone.
This represents an immense opportunity for rural connectivity. To take advantage of this, Wefarm, as announced earlier this year partnered with nano satellite technology company Sky & Space Global, a narrowband connectivity services and advanced underserved area communications (AUAC).
Wefarm has also announced several new partnerships this quarter. Rural Outreach Africa (ROP), Heifer International and TechnoServe have all partnered with Wefarm to bring their farmers into the network, thus extending the benefits of farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing to their brands.

 

PV Developers Invited To Submit Proposals For Phanes Group Solar Incubator 2017

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Photovoltaics (PV) Developers have been invited to submit proposals for the Unlocking Solar Capital Africa conference pioneered by Phanes Group and in partnership with Solarplaza, Hogan Lovells, responsAbility, and Proparco.

The submitted proposals must be for projects that are based in sub-Saharan Africa and have a clear CSR component.

Interestingly, this will be the first African event featuring a Solar Incubator Programme, aimed at identifying PV projects of potential in sub-Saharan Africa by providing access to funding, and commercial and technical knowledge.

It comes as part Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’s goal to solve Africa’s solar energy funding gap and Phanes Group’s core strategy to collaborate with Africa-focused counterparties, such as local project owners, governments, and developers on projects that seek to create a sustainable future for urban and rural communities across the sub-Saharan region.

“Clean energy has the potential to transform sub-Saharan Africa for years to come, but successfully implemented PV solar projects require a diverse mix of expertise and knowledge to bring them to financial close,” said Martin Haupts, CEO, Phanes Group. “We believe the Phanes Group Solar Incubator will leverage untapped local PV potential, and create more opportunities for local projects. Combined with our strengths in developing bankable solutions for clean, affordable energy and efforts in CSR, the incubator initiative can help to address local needs that haven’t yet been met.”

There are currently more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa living without electricity, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which works to ensure global access to reliable, affordable and clean energy.

“As dreamers of a future where everybody can have access to electricity for a fair price, initiatives focused on long-term success like the Phanes Group’s Solar Incubator are always dear to our hearts,” said Edwin Koot, Solarplaza. “Renewable energy infrastructure projects result in myriad benefits. We wish participants the best in bringing forth this ripple effect to their communities, and look forward to meeting them at the ‘Unlocking Solar Capital Africa’ conference this October,” Edwin Koot added.

Key Points:

  • Winning project candidate(s) will enter a partnership with Phanes Group and hold a long-term stake in the project, collaboratively bringing it to financial close
  • Phanes Group and its partners will provide winner(s) with extensive knowledge transfer throughout the project – starting with a 2-month incubator phase, including a 4-day face-to-face workshop in Dubai, UAE
  • The final selection process will take place during the “Unlocking Solar Capital” conference in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (October 25-26, 2017), where the winner(s) will be announced
  • Please e-mail all submissions to [email protected] using the form downloadable below
  • The submission deadline is October 1, 2017, at 11:59 pm CET (Central Europe Time) 

 

Alibaba’s Jack Ma launches a $10 million African Young Entrepreneurs Fund for tech startups in Africa

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Jack Ma, Alibaba founder and executive chairman has launched a $10 million African Young Entrepreneurs Fund to support youthful online entrepreneurs across the continent. Mr. Ma launched the fund during the Youth Connekt Africa Summit held last week in Rwanda and co-hosted by UNCTAD and the Government of Rwanda.

“I want that fund supporting African online businesses,” said Mr. Ma. “The money is set. This is my money, so I don’t have to get anybody’s approval. I want them to go to China, meeting our people, seeing all the things we have been doing, all the great ideas China has. They know what they want. And when they know what they want, we can support it.”

The fund is set to start hiring staff then start local operations before the end of the year. Mr Ma, who is on his first trip to Africa is a Special Adviser to UNCTAD for young entrepreneurs and small business and was accompanied by UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi. Mr. Ma was invited to share his Alibaba journey since its humble start in 1999 to a global e-commerce giant worth over $231 billion.
UNCTAD is working with Mr. Ma to explore opportunities with African businesses to participate in global trade, as well as to raise awareness of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by the international community in 2015. In addition to his role as an adviser to UNCTAD, Mr. Ma also serves as a UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate.

Ma spoke to the youth and small businesses in Kenya and then headed to Rwanda where he spoke at the Youth Connekt Africa Summit which brought together more than 1,500 participants from government, entrepreneurial and investor communities, multinationals, and startups.

During his speeches, Mr. Ma underscored the importance of internet access in all nations as an important raw material for economies just as coal and electricity were in the past. Working with UNCTAD, Ma aims to take 200 budding African entrepreneurs to China to learn from Alibaba’s journey. He also aims to partner with African universities to teach internet technology, artificial intelligence and e-commerce to help more youths to take up online businesses and create their own jobs.

“Not being connected to the internet today is worse than not having electricity 100 years ago,” he said. “I think e-commerce, Internet, Big Data is the future. You can never stop it. You like it or don’t like it. But you will never stop it. Every time you have a technological revolution, it will kill a lot of jobs and it will create a lot of jobs. This is what history tells us,” Ma said.

88mph-backed Mdundo hits 8 million users & 30 million plus streams as Safaricom revamps Skiza

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After 4 years of distributing music, Mdundo recently launched its streaming feature both on the website and the android app in a move set to make it Africa’s biggest music distribution and streaming service as Safaricom mulls relaunch of Skiza as a competing music streaming service.

Mdundo says its newly launched streaming feature has over 30 million streams in 2017 alone helped by its expansion into new markets, a huge music catalogue as well as increased sign ups by artists.

“A big chuck of our growth the past 6 months can be accredited to new markets. Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana, Cote d’Ivory, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Congo are some of the fastest growing markets. We experience a need for our service in most African markets, people want to access music in easier ways, especially the local tunes, and there are currently no easy and legal way to do this” Mdundo CEO, Martin Nielsen remarks.

Originally launched in East Africa in 2013, the music service is celebrating 8 million user growth the past 12 months. Mdundo says its now experiencing 1.5 million listeners each month and the number of songs downloaded from the platform have doubled year on year since it started. The music distribution service has also had its learnings on the music consumption behaviour and trend over the period.

“Hip Hop and Gospel genres remain to be the most popular genres over the past few years, which explains East Africa’s music consumption behaviour. We’ve seen artists such as Khaligraph Jones, King Kaka, The Kansoul and Darassa top the Hip Hop charts.” Mdundo Head of Music & Operations, Wanjiku Koinange explains.  “Gospel artists have also not been left behind and currently, the top Mdundo Gospel musicians include Willy Paul, Mercy Masika, Collo and the duo Kymo and Stigah.” she adds.

With almost 2 million monthly active users from across the continent and 40,000 African musicians, Mdundo is set to face Safaricom which is revamping its SKIZA ringtone platform into a fully-fledged music streaming service. Safaricom is now hosting copyright and entertainment law experts to give assistance to artists before it relaunches its www.skiza.com which currently has 11 million users and over 132,000 tunes,  125,000 of them by Kenyan artists.

Ghana’s OMG Digital raises $1.1M war chest to reach more millennials across Africa

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Dubbed as the Buzzfeed for Africa, Y-Combinator – backed Ghanaian new media startup OMG Digital has raised a $1.1M seed funding to dominate the social feeds of millennials across the continent by setting up company offices in Accra, Lagos and Nairobi, growing their advertising and marketing operations and investing in producing more video content.

The investment was led by international investors Kima Ventures, Soma Capital, Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, Social Capital, M&Y Growth Partners, and Macro Ventures, with participation from a number of Angel Investors including Josh Buckley of Mino Games, and Founder of Off-Grid Electric, Francis Xavier Helgesen.

According to OMG Digital Co-Founder Jesse Arhin Ghansah, “We’re not creating content solely for a homogenous ‘African’. We develop specific content strategies for producing locally relevant material for Africa’s diverse audiences; working hard to ensure that our content is available to millennials regardless of what platform they may be on. Through this, we have managed to build not only one of the biggest audiences in Africa, but also attract some of the biggest consumer brands on the continent and around the world”.

Targeting Africa’s millennial population-who make up more than a third of the continent’s population-through shareable and hyper-local pop-culture content, OMG Digital has been dubbed the ‘Buzzfeed of Africa’ with its OMGVoice brand and has monthly aggregated content views of over 90 million, a monthly social reach of 80 million, with 4.5 million readers to the website each month since its launch in February 2016. It’s competition in Nigeria include Zikoko and Ghafla in Kenya.

Currently operating in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, the 25-strong team, create and curate listicles, pictorials, videos and memes that are tailored to specific African countries and cultures. Reflecting the diverse interests of the 250 million+ African millennials on the continent.

The online platform also produces video content focused on culture and hyper-local recipes via their culinary brand, Servepot, and is on the verge of launching two new verticals focused on lifestyle and technology.

Founded by Jesse Arhin Ghansah, Prince Boakye Boampong and Dominic Mensah, OMG Digital’s online platforms are fast gaining a digital marketing and advertising presence, built on sponsored and native content, giving brands the opportunity to reach audiences through articles, videos, quizzes and other content. Some of their clients include Coca Cola, Huawei, KFC and Philips and Pringles.

On why they chose to invest in OMG Digital Kai Bond, Head of Investing at Comcast’s Catalyst Fund says “OMG Digital have created a truly unique publishing brand through their deep understanding of Africa’s exploding digital media space. Catalyst Fund looks forward to helping this team continue to grow as they scale on such a super-diverse continent.”

 

Uber launches an UberPOOL feature in Africa to help drivers pick passengers heading the same direction

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Uber has launched an UberPOOL feature in major markets in Africa dubbed as ‘Driver Destinations’ to help driver-partners automatically link to riders/trips headed in the same direction at the beginning and end of their working day. This will allow driver-partners to continue earning even while on their way home and begin earning earlier as they head out of home.

The ‘Driver Destinations’ feature which works like Nigeria’s ‘GoMyWay‘ will allow driver-partners to set their destination twice a day when they want to be matched only with riders or passengers traveling in a similar direction The new feature has been rolled out as an option to all drivers across Africa.

To access the feature, drivers need to be logged into their driver application, tap the clipboard icon on the top right corner of the app and either select a saved location or search for a new address. Once they start driving toward the destination, Uber will automatically filter requests for trips along the way.

Using this great new feature, driver-partners can continue earning even while they are on their way into the city from home and on their way home. This brings Uber one step closer to realizing its goal as a company, which is to get more people into less cars thereby increasing economic opportunities for its driver-partners and ultimately reducing congestion on roads.

Although the new feature is currently included in the UberX service which is the version of Uber used in Africa, this is the first step towards a stand-alone model that Uber runs in other markets ‘UberPOOL’ – a service that ensures that passengers travelling on the same route can share a ride and pay less than a standard UberX fare. UberPOOL, which is available in 32 cities across the world, accounts for 20% of Uber trips in those cities.

 

How Cambridge Analytica deployed its toughest data machinery in the 2013 Kenyan presidential election

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Cambridge Analytica, the controversial data-driven political consultancy firm which helped Trump ascend to power and most recently in the BREXIT referendum vote is boasting of the work it did in the 2013 Kenyan presidential election.

Using data to find, understand, and engage with and persuade voters, CA has boasted how it offered a fully end-to-end campaign package for a presidential candidate (Uhuru Kenyatta in cap on the case study) in the 2013 General Elections even as sources close to the presidential campaign team deny arrogantly.

“Ahead of the 2013 Kenyan presidential election, CA designed and implemented the largest political research project ever conducted in East Africa. Sampling and interviewing 47,000 respondents, CA was able to draft an effective campaign strategy based on the electorate’s real needs (jobs) and fears (tribal violence),” the firm posted in a case study on its website.

According to the firm, the the challenge was that the 2013 general election was the first after the infamous 2008 post-election violence and the country had just had a new constitution among other fears.

The firm said it was contracted by a leading Kenyan political party to help shift things around.

“The aim was to provide the party with a comprehensive plan to shape its election strategy,” the firm announced. “We worked with a local research partner to train a diverse team of enumerators to ensure regional variations in language and social customs were respected during data collection.”

Cambridge Analytica then embarked on a nationwide data collection spree over the space of three months and an overall sample of 47,000 was achieved.

The result, CA profiled the Kenyan electorate, including: key national and local political issues, levels of trust in key politicians, voting behaviours/intentions, and preferred information channels. To connect with this audience, CA’s communications and strategy team devised an online social media campaign to generate a hugely active online following.

Though it’s fine for a firm to engage consultants for their political campaigns, CA is infamous across the world for its unorthodox methods on voters, opposition, and trends and use of voter behavior for finding, understanding, and persuading them to vote a certain way.

The firm uses the data from both public and private sources to segment voters into distinct audiences to deliver highly targeted experiences to prospects and sway regions to convince and influence their voting behavior. The firm even uses  psychographic analysis to engage audiences, profile lookalike prospects among others for targeted advertising across desktop, mobile, tablet and connected TV devices through display, video, Facebook, Twitter, native, audio, interactive and search.

“We use full cross device placement to reach your customers wherever they are. We also match our target audiences to TV set-top box data to optimize linear broadcast media buys.
We ably place digital and TV ads to bring your candidates closer to their electorate. The visuals and language in each piece are crafted to engage voters emotionally and impactfully,” says the in-depth audience targeting firm.

Nigeria’s online travel agency Wakanow launches in Nairobi, Kenya | its new regional hub for East Africa

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Nigeria’s online travel agency Wakanow has launched Wakanow Kenya in the wake of its African expansion drive making Nairobi its regional hub for the East African markets.

The launch in Kenya comes just a few months after the site launched in the UK in March targeting mostly holiday travellers with customized travel packages. The one-stop shop for all travel services ranging from Hotel bookings to Flights, Visa Assistance, Holiday Packages, Airport Transfers, international Travel SIM, Protocol Services, prepaid Travel Card, a Loyalty program among others. The firm now has physical presence in six countries including Nigeria, UAE, Ghana, UK and US. It’s Kenyan office is on the Ground Floor of Viking House, Waiyaki Way, Westlands in Nairobi, Kenya.

Established in 2008, Wakanow has grown to become one of Africa’s leading travel booking portals and acquired bus ticketing firm Oya.com to help corporate and high-end clients improve their business travel by making planning, payment and travel simple, secure and convenient.  In the UK, the firm says its working with major travel partners to offer UK travelers competitively priced flights and hotels deals to top destinations in Africa facilitated by DestinationsAfrica, its dedicated holiday package booking platform with over 23 major African destinations.

Speaking at the UK launch,Group Managing Director and Founder of Wakanow, Mr. Obinna Ekezie said: “We are excited about our foray into the UK market, especially because we will be offering something entirely unique to the UK travelers. Over the years, our Nigerian portal has recorded significant traffic from the UK in terms of travel bookings.

“So, we felt it was important to offer this market exclusive travel deals by leveraging on our vast knowledge of the African space and her wealth of untapped destinations to create remarkable travel products that offer incredible experiences for our customers.

“More importantly, we are confident that better days are here, especially for travelers in the UK and the entire European market who want to experience the treasure troves of Africa in a very new way,” he added.

London Launch

Wakanow UK promises to offer the larger European market special themed holidays such as Romantic Getaways, Beach Holidays, Safari Holidays, Wellness and Spa, Spiritual Holidays, Cultural Trips and Adventure Vacations via its UK Booking Portal Wakanow.co.uk.

Wakanow’s launch replaces Travelstart which closed local operations in Kenya to leave Jumia Travel and Travel Creations as the only fully online travel agencies in Kenya. With Flights, Accommodation, Visa assistance, holiday packages, and Airport transportation, Wakanow is Africa’s biggest indigenous OTA making it possible for users to book all their domestic and international travel all from one platform beating Travelbeta and Travelfix.

Online lender marketplace Borrocracy launches to match credible borrowers in Uganda to affordable loans

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Founded by Victor Kiruluta, Uganda’s Borrocracy is an online marketplace that matches credible borrowers in need of affordable loans with accredited financial service providers facilitating these loans at reasonable interest rates.

Through the use of big data and machine learning processes, Borrocracy is building a proprietary algorithm that will enable it mitigate default risk and fraud from borrowers using the platform.Similar platforms across Africa include Pezesha and KiaKia.

Speaking to TechMoran, Kiruluta said Borrocracy was inspired by the volumes of nonperforming loans in Uganda over the last three years making banks selective on lending and hence many credible borrowers who would otherwise qualify to get loans and fund their dreams are left out.

“This selective process has hindered financial inclusion,” he said. “This has  inspired us to launch a platform where all credible borrowers would be assessed using a proprietary algorithm that would come up with a  risk score to enable financial institutions give out loans to borrowers who feel left out by the traditional credit scoring models that are still used.”

Kiruluta adds that regulation in Uganda has embraced the fintech ecosystem enabling financial inclusion which makes it possible for Fintech start-ups to scale their businesses and sign up more customers to compete with legacy businesses such as banks and micro finance institutions.

Currently self-funded, the startup is seeking funding to scale and grow this platform starting in Kampala then expanding to other towns. The firm aims to first target financial service providers to adapt the service then sign up to as many borrowers as possible. The firm is also routing to see more people turn to internet so as it can collect enough data on borrowers, user behavior and several other pain points it aims to solve.

According to Internet World Stats, Uganda had 7.6m Internet Users by end of 2016 against its population of 40m people. The firm believes the government can do more to get people online. Apart from internet penetration, the biggest competition to them are telecoms such as MTN and Airtel who offer micro loans to their vast network of users and can leverage the use of their users’ mobile data to come up with a risk score to curb risk.

However, Borrocacy aims to leverage alternative datasets such as social behavioural factors and machine learning processes to build an algorithm that mitigates risk and fraud. The firm also plans to set up its own loans and become a direct lender to help make it the ‘The destination of affordable loans’ and ‘To make loans affordable to reliable borrowers everywhere’.

The Ugandan Market is their first market where Kiruluta says they have to get it right before they eventually scale into other markets like Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. The startup also plans on facilitating lending in Bitcoin or any other future digital currency using blockchain technology. Kiruluta now believes running businesses in East Africa requires a lot of patience, especially if you are operating in an emerging sector such as the ecommerce space.

“I have learnt that the strategies and tactics used to do business in developed countries are totally different than those used in East Africa.  Here, you have to be more practical and apply a lot of offline tactics to gain traction for your business,” he concluded.

 

 

 

 

 

EchoVC partners TPG to launch EchoVC+ to support blitzscaling tech companies in Africa

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EchoVC Partners, a seed, early stage & Growth technology VC fund with investments across Africa and North America has today launched EchoVC+ to identify, mentor and invest in world-class  teams in infrastructure, content, commerce, services, digital media and education and mentorship across Africa.

The Africa-focused fund will continue EchoVC Partners founding vision of finding and investing in high-growth technology companies focused on building the next revolution of Africa.

“To enable us to continue executing on our vision, and in partnership with TPG/Satya, we are pleased to introduce EchoVC+ I, our first vehicle to support blitzscaling tech companies in Africa,” said Eghosa Omoigui, CEO EchoVC. “We are also announcing our first EchoVC+ investment, in Frontier Car Group, which builds and runs used car marketplaces in emerging markets.”

As the founder and Managing General Partner of EchoVC Partners, Eghosa has led investments in Hotels.ng, Printivo and Ma3Route as well as the recent Cars45. Earlier on he was the Intel Capital Director where he was personally responsible for sourcing investment opportunities in various companies such as AdMob, Jaiku, Powerset, Facebook, LinkedIn, Teracent and Pandora. He has also led investments in firms such as GraphScience, Stipple, Frid.ge, Retailigence, Betaworks, Sense Networks among others.

In October 2015, Printivo announced it had closed a six-figure seed round from early-stage VC firm, EchoVC Partners to help broaden its product range, increase headcount, accelerate customer acquisition and scale the business. The investment aimed to give Printivo the capital needed to grow the firm to take on Nigeria’s $200M print market by strengthening it’s online ordering and direct delivery and distribution and tap into Africa’s print industry currently estimated to grow to $9B annually by 2016. This is the same help the firm will be giving to other startups from across Africa.

 

 

Merck accelerator opens calls for new round of health startups | Launches a Virtual Innovator Academy

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Merck has opened applications for the next round of its accelerator programs in Darmstadt, Germany, and Nairobi, Kenya for startups in the fields of healthcare, life science, performance materials and digital healthcare from around the world.

According to Michael Gamber, Head of the Merck Innovation Center: “When we asked for feedback from our current and previous participants, they wanted flexible access to resources outside of the programme of seminars, workshops and expert mentoring we have in place. To provide this, we have set up the Virtual Innovator Academy as a constantly accessible resource hub for all of our Accelerator participants. They also wanted more support in general business and team management, so we have expanded our core training programme accordingly.”

The accelerator has also introduced a new Virtual Innovator Academy, a digital training resource for all Accelerator participants with innovative tools and on-demand training courses, as well as tips and tricks to help founders master their daily challenges.

With the September intake, Merck is also expanding its training programme – startups will now have access to a wider range of tailored courses and workshops, including seminars like “Team Dynamics”.

As in previous rounds, the teams in Nairobi and Darmstadt will have the option to extend their acceleration period via a month-long residency in Silicon Valley. This opportunity allows the startups to test and prove their business model in the United States as well.

The programs in both Darmstadt and Nairobi will start on September 4, 2017, and will end on December 15, 2017. The application period will run until June 26, 2017, via the accelerator website. Owing to the number of highly qualified applications in the last intake, Merck has decided to expand both its Darmstadt, Germany, and Nairobi, Kenya, programs. Each program will take on one more team than in the last cycle; Darmstadt will now have five teams, and Nairobi will take on four.

Stanford Seed Celebrates Five Years of Success in Africa | Announces Expansion to India

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Equity African Leaders Programme (EALP) scholars (L- R) Austin Ojiambo (Victor College), Nitah Onsongo (MIT),), Nancy Wachera (Arizona State University)and Justin Wanyeki (University of Pennsylvania) after receiving their air tickets to join their respective universities. The four were among 40 EALP scholars who received air tickets from the Equity Group Foundation Chairman Dr James Mwangi to study in over 20 world renowned universities abroad.

Stanford University initiative led by the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB), Stanford Seed, has expanded into India after it first launched in West Africa in 2013 and subsequently expanded to East Africa in 2016.

With more than 500 business leaders trained with the goal of promoting prosperity in these regions, Seed Transformation Program applications in India open May 26 while and applications in East and West Africa are due June 30.

“The impact of Seed in West and East Africa has been astounding, with nearly two-thirds of participants reporting increased revenue and job creation,” said Jesper Sørensen, Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Professor of Organizational Behavior at the GSB and Executive Director of Seed. “We are five years into our journey, and just getting started. We believe – and have seen first-hand – that this unique model can help some of the most dynamic business leaders in these regions drive the kinds of firm growth that underlies sustainable regional prosperity. We are very eager to see its impact in India.”

Seed will be located in Chennai with a annual program set to run from August 2017 to August 2018 at the state-of-the-art Infosys corporate campus.

“India is the world’s second-most populous country, known for its entrepreneurial dynamism. We know from experience, however, that starting a company is different from making it grow, and that sustainable economic growth depends on firms solving the puzzle of scaling. The Seed Transformation Program leverages Stanford’s deep insights into the leadership of rapidly growing enterprises. We believe that by transforming leaders and companies through this program we can contribute to increased prosperity for the companies and, more importantly, their communities,” said Sørensen.

Seed is working with partners from across Stanford to empower business leaders to lead their regions to greater prosperity. Seed consists of three distinct yet complementary programs: the Seed Transformation Program, a yearlong, on-the-ground leadership program for the founders and leaders of small and medium-sized enterprises; Seed Student Programs, providing educational opportunities and summer internships at participating companies; and Seed Research, which provides funding for critical research to discover breakthrough solutions to promote prosperity throughout the developing world.

The Seed Transformation Program has trained and mentored 565 entrepreneurs and senior staff members, leading to increased revenue and new job creation throughout the region. In addition, participating companies have raised almost $11 million in funding and 79 percent have grown their customer base.

One such initiative is Gosolar Africa (SMEFUNDS), an international energy company that focuses on developing solutions for individuals with limited access to electricity. Founded by Femi  Oye, who completed the Seed Transformation Program in 2014, the firm has received a $1 million investment from Acumen and sold more than 600,000 stoves and over 7 million liters of biofuel, impacting the lives of more than 3 million individuals.

In addition to Seed, Stanford GSB has a broad range of programs supporting its significant momentum throughout India and Africa as it reaches the world’s most promising entrepreneurs and transforms the global economy.

This year, Stanford GSB is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Africa MBA Fellowship and the 8th anniversary of the Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship, both of which provide assistance for international students with financial needs who wish to obtain an MBA at Stanford GSB. Stanford GSB also offers Stanford Ignite, a certificate program that teaches innovators to formulate, develop, and commercialize ideas and has programs around the world, including India.

 

 

CcHub & its investment arm Growth Capital to invest over $250,000 into startups founded by Nigerians in the Diaspora

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ccHub Diaspora Challenge @ FacebookHQ London

Nigeria has hundreds of entrepreneurs, innovators and scientists based in the UK working, doing business and living their contributing the country’s economic growth and research and development.

However, in a move to develop countries back home starting from Nigeria, Lagos-based Co-creation Hub (CcHUB) has launched the ‘CcHub Diaspora Challenge’, to engage the African communities in the UK and encourage them to source scalable business solutions to social challenges in Africa. The launch kicks off a UK-wide search for early stage ventures focus on Financial Technology, Energy or Education.

According to ‘Bosun Tijani, CcHub Co-founder and CEO, “We have long wanted to build stronger tech community connections between the UK and Africa in order to increase Diaspora community involvement. CcHub is a social innovation hub – we innovate and build to address social problems, and we want to facilitate development-focused dialogues and attract the best talent to help us in our mission. The CcHub Diaspora Challenge is the starting pistol to engaging, mentoring, incubating and investing in Africans in the UK who can help ‘build Africa’ alongside us.”

Held at Facebook’s offices in central London, the launch saw over 300 people meet to hear CcHub’s Co-founder and CEO, ‘Bosun Tijani and Dr. Nelson Ogunshakin. In attendance was Emeka Afigbo, Platform Partnerships, Head of Middle East & Africa and Boko Inyundo, Rachel Jenkins, Iyin Aboyeji, Alae Ismail and Ike Anya, who looked at the challenges of connecting African professionals in the Diaspora with improved development on the continent.

A panel of esteemed judges made up of academics, industry experts and investors will select two ventures from each Thematic Area who will go on to receive nine months’ incubation from CcHUB and investment of $15,000 from CcHub. Ventures which are able to demonstrate sustainability and innovation are then each able to access a further $250,000 seed investment from Growth Capital.

UK-based Africans make up approximately 35% of UK outflow remittances. Although remittances are a noteworthy contribution to Africa’s development, there remain gaps in the Diaspora community contribution to development that needs to be filled. With over 300,000 highly qualified Africans in the Diaspora, and about 10% of which have PhDs, the brain drain occurrence has long been a conundrum and the emigration of African professionals to the West is one of the greatest obstacles to African development. CcHub aims to alleviate the consequences of brain drain by purposefully engaging the Diaspora community, harnessing their intellect and leveraging their network.

Founded five years ago, CcHub is a vibrant community of over 15,200 entrepreneurs and a portfolio of over 55 early stage ventures providing solutions to social problems with technology.

What killed Nigeria’s dating site Linda & What you can learn from its untimely death

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Launched by ex-Carmudi Nigeria employees, Linda.com.ng, was a dating site which expected to make it easy for singles in Nigeria to find and date other singles easily conveniently and lead to long-term relationships and celebrated marriages.

During the launch Jimi Akinleye, the founder of Linda.com.ng said,  “Every single person in the country wants to connect with a member of the opposite sex. They do this because they believe such a connection would lead to a long lasting relationship. Often times, it leads to marriages. We want to be the bridge for such level of interaction. We want to be the go-to place for meeting new people, starting new relationships that would be long lasting and could also lead to marriages.”

Akinleye added that the platform aimed at spurring interaction and engagement. The site also promised to roll-out a couple of packages to increase matches and engagement among users before unveiling premium packages for members. According to a 2016 report by Marketdata Enterprises Inc, the global dating services industry is worth $2.5 billion in the United States alone with online services accounting for 70 percent of the market’s value with sites such as Match.com, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony among others. Linda.com.ng aims to capture some of that market. Unfortunately the site didn’t last.

According to Akinleye, the site was shut down because of some reasons.

High customer acquisition costs

“We were unable to acquire as many customers that we needed to keep us afloat. Customer acquisition costs for dating sites can be quite high, and the only way to recoup your cost is via native ads or user subscriptions,” Akinleye told TechMoran. “While the native ads was a long shot due to the engagement levels on the site, the subscription model was quite possible but it never really took off.”

Too low numbers

Linda.com.ng’s numbers were too low and for every $2 paid by the customer, the firm had to split it 20:80 with the mobile network providers. The telecoms got the larger share and this meant that Linda.com.ng had to fork out thousands of dollars to acquire and engage the users only to receive cents each time.

There were lessons various lessons the team learned too.

Bad timing and poor choice of market

“Choose your market carefully,” said Akinleye. “We launched this business in Nigeria because we are Nigerians. A better country would have been one with a moderate population and mobile money access. Sites like Badoo, Twoo, and even Tinder are operational in Nigeria, but I’m sure they make more money from countries like Kenya or North American countries like Brazil and Argentina. As at then, when we launched, it was a bit difficult getting a favorable deal from the telcos when it comes to mobile payment, but I think its better now.”

If it were online today, Akinleye says Linda.com.ng would focus more on offline and build organically because acquiring thousands of users who visit the site once a week or whenever they get a newsletter is not as cool as building a tribe of users who understand what it is you do and why they joined.

Simplify your product

By simplifying one’s product growth would be slowed, but it also means your users would become more addicted said Akinleye. The firm regrets not launching channels where people could share their relationship problems and get comments from others. This could be in the form of a blog which would be publicized on high traffic blogs because everyone likes to comment on issues.

Akinleye says entrepreneurs should embrace failure if they have to grow.

“Working on Linda taught me a lot, and that experience has helped other startups that I have been involved in either as advisors or as a consultant. The experience you get will give you first-hand knowledge of what to do better next time,” said Akinleye who’s now deeply into e-commerce and owns a few niche commerce businesses in Nigeria and Ghana. He also heads a content marketing agency based in San Diego which helps online businesses in creating excellent content for blogs and social network.

Did you learn anything from this story?

Tell us about your failure in the comments section below.

After a stint in Malawi DonorSee’s Greg Gyler raises $150,000 to make donor aid effective & more personal

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After stints in the donor aid industry in Malawi and Haiti from 2013 to 2016, Gret Glyer knew it wasn’t working. He realized that a majority of donor organizations are chasing a mirage in the name of lack of infrastructure instead of doing the actual aid.

Gyler went ahead to raise $150,000 to start DonorSee, a platform that empowers aid workers across the globe to identify people in need so that they can directly and effectively help them and fight extreme poverty. The platform helps its users raise money from donors directly and openly shows the donors how their money is working in people’s lives and not annual reports.

Like HopeMob, a crowdfunding platform for communities of color, DonorSee also simplifies fundraising and giving as its open to everyone around the world. DonorSee allows anyone to just hit the upload button and upload their projects or start donating. According to the firm, the donations go directly from the donor’s credit card to the bank account of the aid worker posting the project giving the aid worker full responsibility for deploying the funds and providing visual feedback on each donation.

Gyler says the platform works on pure trust and a donor should give to people they trust and a donor knows  no one using DonorSee  they can find some very worthwhile projects from its Staff Picks section. However, we hope the firm will find a way of helping new donors and new aid workers easily connect and join hands to do what they have got to do.

A big percent of donor aid money ends up mismanaged. However, DonorSee has built features to help donors keep track of their projects. These features are helpful as not all donors have the time to visit the project communities and an unfaithful aid worker can easily post photos of projects which they didn’t fund. By following aid workers who post projects on the site, donors get notified everytime a new project or milestone is posted on the site.
Already working in almost 40 countries, the platform is available on web, iOS and Android and late last year helped fundraise for disaster efforts in Les Cayes, Haiti. Early this year US govt volunteer programme Peace Corps, the one of the biggest beneficiary of donor money banned its staff from using DonorSee as any support to DonorSee is a threat to Peace Corps finances and other international governmental and non governmental programmes and organizations like it.

With Peace Corps fear  behind him, Glyer aims to make $75 million in revenue this year from the 4% fees charged on donations. DonorSee has also launched monthly donations so that donors can specify a certain amount each month to give to those in need.

Seedstars World adds Cameroon, Sudan, Zambia & DRC to its 2017 tour | Puts out call for startups

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Less than two weeks after announcing Philippine’s Acudeen Technologies as the global winner for its 2016 competitions, Seedstars World has put out a call for applications to startups operating in over 23 cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, adding Cameroon, Sudan, Zambia, Mauritius, Madagascar and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to its 2017 list.

Claudia Makadristo, Regional Manager for Africa at Seedstars World says applications for startups in Africa are open from Monday, April 25th.

“We have been absolutely humbled by the talent we witnessed being showcased on the continent. Our tremendous growth has been fueled by our amazing local Seedstars Ambassadors, our partners and many others who truly see the value in collaborating with these startups,” Makadristo said in a statement.

Makadristo said that this year Seedstars World will not only to support the winner of each local event, but aims to support more entrepreneurs in the ecosystem financially, through skills development and strategic relationships. The call is open to startups which are less than 2 years old, have raised less than USD 500,000 in funding and have a minimum viable product with traction and ability to scale regionally and globally.

The winner from each country will represent their country at the Regional Summit in Africa and is invited to the final at the Seedstars Global Summit in Switzerland to compete for up to $500,000 in equity investment and additional multiple prizes and perks. Local winners will also have a chance to be  part of the “seedstars growth program” ,  a structured 3-month  global acceleration program starting in December.

Since it’s launch , African startups have had significant successes with 2 of its entrepreneurs winning the global prize in the past: SimplePay (Nigeria: 2013) and Giraffe (South Africa: 2015). In last years’ edition Africa reached a new record when two women entrepreneurs made it to the top 12 at the Global Summit: Kasha (Rwanda), Jamii (Africa).  With hopes of repeating this success for African startups in the upcoming summit, Seedstars World is kicking off this year’s tour on the 26th of May in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Seedstars World will accept applications from  startups in South Africa, Mozambique , Democratic Republic of Congo , Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Cameroon, Rwanda, Angola, Zambia, Mauritius, Madagascar, Botswana and Zimbabwe amongst others through www.seedstarsworld.com.

 

 

 

Former Safaricom’s Michael Joseph Appointed to MFS Africa’s Board of Directors

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Pan-African fintech firm MFS Africa, has appointed Michael Joseph to its Board of Directors as an independent Non-Executive Director in order to help the firm strengthen relationships with mobile network operators, money transfer organisations, banks and other financial institutions across Africa.

Michael served as CEO of Safaricom in Kenya from 2000 to 2010, and is widely credited with spearheading M-Pesa, the world’s most successful mobile money service. His new role will see him engage with regulators, development organisations, and other relevant stakeholders to advocate an open and inclusive cross-border digital payments infrastructure and as well give the firm corporate governance and guide its strategic direction.

According to Dare Okoudjou, CEO of MFS Africa, “Michael’s the father of mobile money. His experience in making M-Pesa a near-ubiquitous service in Kenya and in many other Vodafone markets has helped create a rich ecosystem, rapidly and at scale, which will be invaluable to MFS Africa’s growth,” said . “Taking the lessons learned from M-Pesa and applying them across the entire region will help us achieve our mission: scaling mobile financial services so they serve the millions of un- and under- banked people across Africa.”

Since 2011, Michael has been the Director of Mobile Money at Vodafone Group and also serves on the Boards of Vodacom Group South Africa, Vodacom Tanzania, Vodacom Mozambique and Safaricom Limited in Kenya. In 2011 he was appointed as the first fellow of the World Bank to drive expansion and uptake of mobile money services across member states. Last year, Michael Joseph was appointed Chairman of Kenya Airways.

Last year, MFS Africa said it was connected to 120 million mobile wallets in Sub-Saharan Africa through partnerships with mobile network operators including Airtel, Econet, MTN, Orange, Tigo and Vodafone. It’s MFS Hub scales transactions across networks and borders to create greater value for customers and service providers, support regional and international trade, and boost financial inclusion.

“There are over a billion mobile phone users in Africa and only one in ten are using mobile financial services,” said Michael. “Despite the success of in-country schemes, consumers are increasingly demanding further ways to transact across networks and across borders. If we’re to create the “network effect” needed to drive financial inclusion and build a strong digital economy across the continent, new solutions need to be found,”

By joining MFS Africa, Michael aims to help the firm connect to more mobile wallets in Africa as well as help it achieve its financial inclusion objectives on the continent.

Kwesé TV scores exclusive rights to bring the 2018 FIFA World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 to Africa

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Econet Media’s Kwesé TV has secured the rights for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 to its impressive roster.

Just months after it brought NBA, ESPN among others on board signalling a growing rivalry between it and South African Multichoice.

Kwesé says it will give Africa a front row seat with all the action LIVE on Kwesé.

The broadcaster has secured exclusive free-to-air (FTA) rights for sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa). Kwesé will broadcast the tournaments through its pan-African FTA channel Kwesé Free Sports (KFS) currently Africa’s largest FTA channel which boasts a potential audience in excess of 100million.

In addition to its exclusive FTA rights Kwesé has also secured non-exclusive Pay-TV rights for sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa. Kwesé’s broadcasting rights will include coverage on all Kwesé platforms including TV online and mobile platforms.

“There is no doubt that the FIFA World Cup is a highlight for sports fans all over the globe and Africa is home to some of the game’s biggest fans.  We had to have these major sporting events on our platforms. With exclusive rights to broadcast the tournament free-to-air, we are staying true to our intention to deliver the best sporting programming to as many people as possible across the continent”, said Joseph Hundah, President and Chief Executive Officer, Econet Media.

The exclusivity of the FTA rights for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 means Kwesé is the only platform on the continent licensed to bring live action from these two iconic events free of charge.

FIFA Chief Commercial Officer Philippe Le Floc’h said FIFA has decided to award media rights to Econet Media because it trusts Kwese’s professionalism and capacity to provide a high-quality viewing experience through the Kwesé network.

“In Econet Media we believe to have found a reliable partner exploring new distribution paths, particularly on the digital side, working with Econet Media’s growing Free To Air network Kwese Free Sports as well as established broadcasters in the region to give millions of fans an unforgettable experience of the 2017 and 2018 FIFA events,” he said

The deal includes FIFA U-20 World Cup 2017, FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017, FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2017, FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2018 and FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2018 on all Kwesé platforms including Kwesé Free Sports, Kwesé Sports 1 & 2, KweséSports.com and the Kwesé App.

Uganda’s MamaOpe wins [email protected] 2017 competitions

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Uganda’s MamaOpe, a biomedical application for diagnosis and continuous monitoring of pneumonia patients has been declared winner of the 2017 [email protected] competitions beating Kenya’s Kuza Automotive and Nigeria’s Tuteria.

Established by the Duke of York less than three years ago, [email protected] helps entrepreneurs to take their businesses to a global audience of influencers who can catapult it to the next [email protected] has helped over 247 businesses grow, with some now enjoying huge global success.

Business selected to compete at [email protected], were invited to attend a Boot Camp, where they received support and guidance in developing and sharpening their pitches and their business needs. [email protected] gives investments, introductions, strategic guidance among others.

MamaOpe designs a smart-vest and biomedical application for diagnosis and continuous monitoring of pneumonia patients. The vest is specifically designed for children under the age of 5 years who are most affected by Pneumonia which is normally misdiagnosed with malaria, asthma and tuberculosis.

MamaOpe promises a cheaper solution to most of the alternative solution available, is easy to use,  promises shorter time for diagnosis and supports telemedicine.

Chivas Regal Unveils 30 Finalists Pitching for its $1m Global Prize

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Chivas Venture, a global search to discover and reward the world’s most promising social entrepreneurs, has released 30 startups as finalists of its $1m third edition global competition out of almost 6,000 applications across six continents with Sanivation representing Kenya.

The 30 finalists will travel to Los Angeles in July where they will compete for a share of $1 million to make their dream of creating a better future for the world a reality.

According to Richard Black, Chivas Regal Global Brand Director,  “We were blown away by the calibre of entries for this year’s Chivas Venture competition. The businesses are a great example of the ingenuity and passion of entrepreneurs across the world who are committed to creating a better world for generations to come.”

One finalist will represent each of the 30 participating countries. The 30 finalists are attending a five-day Accelerator Week programme  to develop leadership skills, take part in practical workshops and be inspired by global experts on critical topics that affect social startups at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship within the Business School at the University of Oxford.

From Monday 1st May to Sunday 4th June, the public will be able to show their support for their favourite finalist through a live vote. Over the course of five weeks, the public’s vote will determine how the first $250,000 in funding is split among the finalists.

The winner(s) of the remaining $750,000 in funding will be decided on Thursday 13th July at the Chivas Venture Final in Los Angeles, after a high-stakes pitch in front of the judges and a live audience.