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Sub-Saharan Africa

Farmers sponsor platform Farmcrowdy raises $1 million in seed funding to expand to 20 states in Nigeria

Nigeria’s Farmcrowdy, an online platform allowing Nigerians to venture in and sponsor agriculture has closed $1 million in seed funding to scale its operations with plans to expand into a combined 20 states in Nigeria.

The $1m was raised from Cox Enterprises, Techstars Ventures, Social Capital, Hallett Capital and Right-Side Capital; as well as angel investors Tyler Scriven, Michael Cohn,Josephine Group, FC Agro Allied SPV and Dr. Christof Walter.

The money will also see it work with 4,000 additional small-scale farmers and engage a combined 20,000 new farm followers and farm sponsors on it’s platform to learn about the opportunities in Agriculture and partner with farmers.

According to Onyeka Akumah, Co-Founder and CEO of Farmcrowdy, “Today’s seed announcement is a remarkable milestone for us and Nigeria’s Agritech industry as a whole. It will allow us to build on our earlier traction as we continue to introduce Nigerians to this exciting new category of partnering with farmers for impact and return.”

Launched just over a year ago, Farmcrowdy, was the only African startup from Techstars Atlanta’s 2017 cohort and connects small scale farmers with sponsors, who invest in farm cycles. A farm cycle can be anything from poultry [3-5 months] to cassava [9 months].

The farmers receive on-the-ground advice from  Farmcrowdy’s Technical Field Specialists who also give them training in better agriculture practices and provide them with quality farm input. Prior to harvest, Farmcrowdy works with pre-arranged buyers who assist the farmers sell their yield at harvest and earn a decent margin.

The sponsor then gets their original sponsorship +40% of the profit from the harvest, the farmer receives 40% of the profit and Farmcrowdy receives 20% of the profit. Farm sponsors can get between 6-25% returns after harvest depending on the farm type they sponsor.

Farmcrowdy has to-date recorded close to 1,000 unique farm sponsors from Nigerians in Nigeria, the US and UK. The company has aggregated a combined 4,000 acres of farmland across 8 states in Nigeria and worked with more than 2,000 small scale farmers. The site has raised over 250,000 organic chickens on its poultry farm cycles.

Farmcrowdy recently launched their first mobile app which provides an accessible platform for agriculture enthusiasts to experience, learn, do their farming business with real farmers and appreciate agriculture practice first-hand through regular updates, images and videos from the farms. These allows Farm sponsors and farm followers to digitally track the progress of their sponsored farms from their mobile devices. The app has seen close to 5,000 downloads in the 3 weeks since launch, positioning the startup to take on more farm followers and sponsors both locally in Nigeria and globally.

“Onyeka Akumah and the Farmcrowdy team are changing the global dynamics of farming and agriculture.  Techstars is proud and honored to be a continued part of the Farmcrowdy journey via investment from Techstars Ventures, the venture capital arm of Techstars.  We first met the Farmcrowdy team at Techstars Atlanta in partnership with Cox Enterprises and were immediately impressed by their vision, execution, and the vast scope of their potential impact to the world,” said Cody Simms, Partner, Techstars Ventures.

Ghana’s Ahwenepa is merging fashion with big data, augmented and virtual reality to revolutionize eCommerce

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Ahwenepa co-founders at Alibaba and UNCTAD’s efounders Initiative

Merging fashion with Big data, augmented and virtual reality, Ghana’s Ahwenepa works closely with its vendors and designers co-creating and implementing impact strategies, that transform their operation, business and financing models.

The fashion marketplace which focuses on everything African and made by Africans, from shoes, bag, jewelery, dresses interior decor and more aims to grow, communicate and scale social impacts for both businesses and communities.

The company’s business model continuously evolves with the ultimate goal of sharing accumulated value with its vendors , designers and even buyers for the longest term.

TechMoran met Henry Cobblah,27 Co-founder and CTO at Ahwenepa and this is what he told us.

Tell me about yourselves, the Ahwenepa team that went to the Alibaba and UNCTAD’s efounders Initiative in China, your educational background and your roles at Ahwenepa.
My name is Henry Cobblah,27 Co-founder and CTO at Ahwenepa. I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and an M.Phil Health Informatics. My Co-founder’s name is Araba Assafuaba Yelbert who has a BTech Marketing. Ahwenepa was one of the teams selected out of 750 applicants to join the first class of efounders in China organized by Alibaba and UNCTAD

I am very sure most of the readers from the larger African continent are wondering…..what does Ahwenepa mean?
Ahwenepa which comes from the Local Dialect “TWI ” Means ” A quality woven product ”
Ahwenepa is a digital solutions company for African Fashion with a strong sense of data and innovative driven mission to provide the marketplace platform to sell African fashion products from thousands of designers and vendors all across Africa. We provide Digital, financial and cultural inclusion for Africans and our associates.

Ahwenepa is an ecommerce platform for African fashion, as your website explains. Does it only focus on the Ghanaian market, or does it cater for the rest of the African countries as well?
We focus on everything African and made by Africans, from shoes, bag, jewelery, dresses interior decor and more. It just needs to have an African touch and should be made by an African.

Who are your major competitors in this space? What do you do different from them, that is unique to you?
Major Competitors are foreign fashion, individual designer stores.
What makes us unique is
1.Convenient fashion and lifestyle marketplace
Easy buying and selling of African products Stress-free payment and delivery
2.Affordability and accessibility to the international market
Products that fit budgets and easy to export to the international market and diaspora
3.Customization & o2o (Offline to online)
Online customization of products tailored to suit customers and also provide offline 2 online new retail trends for customers
4.Originality
Innovative designs with genuine materials verified by Technology
5.Innovation
Promote Trendy and unique lifestyle fashion designs from African designers
6.Technology
Merging fashion with Big data, augmented and virtual reality
We work closely with our vendors and designers co-creating and implementing impact strategies, that transform their operation, business and financing models. In this process we are using our marketplace, that helps us to identify, grow, communicate and scale social impacts. This generates huge value for both business development and community development. Our company business model continuously evolves with the ultimate goal of sharing accumulated value with our vendors , designers and even buyers for the longest term.

You recently participated in Alibaba and UNCTAD’s efounders Initiative. How would you describe your experience there?
It was amazing and overwhelming. There was a lot of learning just in a short period.
Exposed to bridging the digital divide facing young entrepreneurs in developing countries, the eFounders Initiative helped me to undestand and appreciate digital economy, as called for by the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development .
The eFounders Initiative opened up to Alibaba’s mission to help small businesses succeed in our home markets and beyond by leveraging the power of technology.
Countries with poor infrastructure, regulatory frameworks, skills and local content development, and electronic payment systems, are missing out on what the innovative flare of young entrepreneurs can generate in the fast-growing digital marketplace.
This training was an exposure for me.

What major lessons did you take away from this experience, that can be applied in Africa that Ahwenepa plans to execute? What were you doing before that is going to change after the training?
One big takeaway was BIG DATA – How we capture data, manipulate mine and analyse data
Payment – Strong, cashless , dependable payment platform with big data driven
Rural Digitization using ecommerce – How ecommerce can improve the living of the rural area with the right infrastructure
Ecommerce revolution – Creating an inclusive environment for everyone on trade and in my case clothing and lifestyle.

Who did you meet there that impacted your lives: in what way did they do so?
Amazing people. All 24 founders gave me some reason to be better. My group members “SIMBA MARARA” were awesome with most ideas we shared.

On a lighter note what did you for fun during the training?
A lot.The food,the nightout, the road trips. Everything kind of was awesome.

Where do you think the company will be in the next 5-10 years?
We will be one of the biggest marketplace in the fashion ecommerce, Big Data and AI space.

What do you think about the future of e-commerce in Ghana and Africa at large?
It will bring about an economic improvement, there will be more employment, digital and financial inclusion

What is your advice to those who want to enter the ecommerce space?
It is tough but better done than never. It is creating wealth and impact on the society.
It opens up a country or continent to trade which is one of the most important gateways to economic transformation.

How can one access Ahwenepa services?
Visit www.ahwenepa.com

or visit out social media
facebook
twitter
instagram

or on google playstore

Alosab lets you rent an Apartment, Office Space and even Shops in Nigeria

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Alosab a recently launched startup in Nigeria has made it easy for anyone looking to rent a place to live, run and operate a business and even rent a space in a shop. As it is cumbersome and time consuming to move around looking for the right apartments to live, Nigerians can now rent their desired houses at the comfort of wherever they are.

Students can rent the neighbourhood of their choice through the company’s website which has been made possible with the partnerships Alosab has established with landlords and property owners. Students can therefore book houses that are close to their campuses and save a good sum of money with the costs coming with having to commute to campus premises from a far neighbourhood.

Entrepreneurs and seasoned professions will also enjoy the benefits Alosab has created by providing a platform where they can look for a ready work space within their desired business district and event centers in the Alosab’s pre-approved locations at their convenience.

To the visitors and tourists visiting Nigeria, they can now find secured vacation rental homes and save themselves the hassle of having to look for a home in diaspora. Families can find privately owned homes that would suit their stay in Nigeria. Currently, Alosab has over 300 monthly users, with the self-funded startup is on the lookout for investors.

The procedure on how to book your rental is quite simple and can be done through the company website. Anyone needing the service is required to place a request on the platform and put the necessary details such as name, number and neighbourhood. After that the customer service team from Alosab calls to confirm that the details are correct and the request made is genuine. Lastly, clients agree with the company on the type of home or office space needed and then Alosab begins its work to search for the needed property.

Alosab also provides moving and relocation services in the pre-approved locations to help clients move-out from their old apartments and move-in to a new apartment.

 

Ampion calls it a day, founder moves on to new things

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Ampion or Amplifying Pioneership, the firm that brought us Ampion Venture Bus and Ampion Fellowships in Africa has closed shop, and the founder says the firm will kind of remain active through its various social media groups on Facebook and WhatsApp.

In an update on his LinkedIn profile, Fabian-Carlos Guhl said, “I wanted to connect now to let you know that I have decided to explore some alternative career options which means I will not be continuing with the Ampion adventure. It has been a great journey and I wanted to thank every single one of you for your interest, support and participation.”

“You helped to make the project very successful and supported the mission to improve the life of people. I think it is crazy and rewarding to see how many life-journeys were impacted through our good intentions. The best way to stay in touch with the community is through the Facebook alumni, the Public Facebook Group and the different Whatsapp Groups. I would be thankful for any ideas on how the brand could be used for further good,” Guhl added.

Just a little history for starters. Ampion Venture Bus was like geeks on a plane but on a bus bringing together young entrepreneurs from country to country and working with them on a bus to build their ventures. The first of its kind trip was held in November 2013 and the firm brought together 41 entrepreneurs from 14 countries from Harare to Cape Town.

Through the bus adventures, various African tech ecosystems got to connect with the outside world. Some entrepreneurs got attend hackathons and pitch events and hundreds of entrepreneurs had a chance to build and launch their own innovations.

Sterio.me, a video edtech platform for connecting learners to tutors in Africa was one of the biggest startups to come out of the first Ampion Venture Bus. However, the Ampion bus model was hard. It was more of a hackathon on the road as it enabled ”like-minded young people from across Africa and the world to form partnerships and found startups” in seven days. Ampion’s work was to help the entrepreneurs discover different startup eco- systems, by visiting investors, technology hubs and corporate innovation centers.

Ampion provided the continued education, tools, funding and was a true catalyst for entrepreneurship and innovation across 16 African countries and had planned to expand further. It’s unfortunate that the firm had to close.

Though Ampion’s demise is being announced in 2017, anyone would have seen that Ampion was in ICU as early as 2016. Most of its activities reduced. There were no noticeable startups coming out of the buses even though Ampion had a huge awareness impact.

Ampion is not in any way to blame for its closure. Hubs and incubators across Africa have pivoted into customer-focused co-working spaces and event lounges for corporate events. Startups across Africa have realized the need to have a customer for their products from day one.

“Whether it’s in a co-working space in the western world or a tech-hub in Nairobi, Lagos or Addis, creating a startup is a daunting task that more often than not leads to failure,”Fabian wrote. “Having founded startups in the past ourselves, and beginning Ampion as much of a dream as a plan, we know how difficult it is for entrepreneurs to find their way.”

Ampion might not have an existing startup today but it did teach somethings to some kids. That most startups are experiments. Secondly that Africa is not a homogeneous market and that startups in Africa need not copy Silicon Valley though they can learn from it.

“When we first ran the Ampion Venture Bus through Southern Africa, my personal goal was to prove that a startup generation concept, which originated in Silicon Valley, could work across Africa. Our team saw a very strong potential in the increased investment and entrepreneurial energy on the continent, facilitating the ability for startups to have a larger effect on a wider range of people,” wrote Fabian-Carlos in his earlier reports.

 

  Jumia Food Hires New Managing Director to Drive Customer Acquisition

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Jumia Food, a Rocket Internet-backed online food ordering and delivery firm has hired a new Managing Director to drive restaurant sign ups to its platform and drive customer acquisition as the festive season approaches.

Shreenal Ruparelia has worked in Management Consulting and eCommerce across Australia, Asia and East Africa and aims to put the customer at the core of the business. Her appointment will also help sign up and retain various restaurants in the city, especially those that have been skeptical about the online business.

“The online marketplace highly depends on the execution offered by operational support throughout the customer journey. With a growing listing of restaurants, a strong customer base and a rapidly expanding technology-oriented marketplace, we are focusing on creating more strategic partnerships as well as investing in more online innovation aimed at driving efficiency,” Shreenal said.

eCommerce is experiencing unprecedented growth in the country and in the African continent at large and her appointment will see Jumia Food continues to bridge the gap between the customer and the restaurant in the online food marketplace, through technology innovation and building on human capital to the success of a seamless digital process.

She says the company is well positioned to take up new markets through sustainable expansion and well supported global investment in technology and infrastructure.

Jumia Food Kenya has over 200 restaurants in Nairobi and Mombasa supplying a variety of cuisines including: Kenyan, Chinese, Indian, Thai among others. Jumia Food is present in eleven countries in Africa including Nigeria, Morocco and Uganda. 

 

Ghana’s TroTro TV Providing Digital Advertising Across the Country’s Public Transport

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Ghana’s TroTro TV has launched to provide business with an exciting way in which to engage with new customers across the country.

With 100’s of installed TV screens across our transport network, the firm says it can help boost businesses brand awareness and maximize profits connecting SMEs to millions of potential new customers.

“Our TV platform is hard wired to the ignition of the buses or trotros and content is played on the go as the bus takes off to its destination so you are guaranteed viewership by mass audiences who ply our busy roads and this is measurable,” said co-founder and CEO Joel Akumiah.

As an advertising platform, TroTro TV aims to utilise a network of hundreds of HD screens in TroTro’s and buses to deliver targeted advertising campaigns on behalf of a client’s business.

The service provides businesses a medium to communicate with millions of passengers during their daily commute and will need to sign up as many buses as possible and convince them to use the platform instead of watching normal TV stations in the country which is a bit of a challenge.

IROKOtv Opens New Offices in Accra & Rolls Out 25 Kiosks For Data-Free Downloads Across the City

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IROKOtv has finally launched its operations in Accra, Ghana, weeks after TechMoran announced the firm’s move to double down on Kenya and Ghana.

IROKOtv has rolled out over 25 bright pink kiosks across Accra, that will enable users to download Ghanaian and Nigerian movies and TV series directly onto their mobile devices, without using any of their data allowance.

Apart from Jollof rice, Nigeria and Ghana have a number of similarities and are each others trading partners. The country was also a natural first choice for the company due to its proximity and their near-similar culture. Ghanaian movies and Nollywood are also the very best of African storytelling.

According to Jason Njoku, CEO of IROKO says: “We know that our Ghanaian neighbours cannot get enough great content, but that data costs have all too often been prohibitive to them watching content online. We hope that with the launch of the IROKOtv kiosks across Ghana that provide data-free downloads, and a one year subscription to IROKOtv at just GHC 25, we will be able to build an even bigger community of online Nollywood fans here in Ghana”.

IROKOtv says it has put together a team of nearly 30 and expect the number of staff to increase to 140 by the end of November, to bring the GHC 25 for a one year subscription TV series to subscribers everywhere they are.

IROKOtv kiosks will be staffed six days a week – from Monday to Saturday – and movie fans can purchase subscriptions, download the app on their smart phones,  and download movies directly onto their phone, data free.

Kiosks can be found in areas including Accra Mall, A & C Mall, Oxford Street Osu, VVIP Circle, KFC Haatso, Pure Fire Ministry Achimota, Adenta SSNIT Fats, Accra Polytechnic, National Lottery, Accra Central and Lagos Avenue.

Some of the most recent movies and TV series include Stalemate, Ghana Must Go and Black and White.

This girl wants to connect startup founders and mentors from around the world virtually

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Mentorat-Club, a platform that aims to help startups to easily access mentorship and knowledge has launchedmake experience and knowledge easily accessible for Startups by collaborating Startup founders with mentors all around the World. With Mentorat-Club, Startups can leverage on the experience of mentors to accelerate their growth and avoid common pitfalls.

See below how it works.

For startups

1- Create an account.

2- Register your startup.

2- Search mentors.

3- Send mentoring request.

4- Start mentoring relation.

5- Follow your favorite users and Startups.

For mentors

1- Register

2- Request to become a Mentor.

3- Fill your profile by adding your area of expertise and experience.

4- Within 24 hours we study your request and validate it, to check if it meets our criteria.

5- After validation you have the possibility to receive mentoring requests.

6- Start the mentoring relationship.

7- Follow favorite users and startups.

TechMoran talked to Hadjara Idriss on why she founded Mentorat-Club and why entrepreneurship is so important to African youth today.

Briefly tell us more about yourself-where you were born, went to school and worked.

My name is Hadjara Idriss, I was born in Jos, Nigeria. I graduated from Secondary School in Mali and proceed for a Bachelor’s Degree in University of ESGIS, Republic of Benin. I worked as a freelancer for some companies for a few months then I decided to start working on my startup called Mentorat-Club.

Hadjara Idriss

At what point in your life did you feel like you needed to stop other things and start Mentorat-Club?

At the end of my Master’s degree in Software Architecture and my training with WHISPA (Women High Impact Startup Preparation Academy) on Digital Skill, I decided to focus on Mentorat-Club. I believe if there is an opportunity for Startups to have access to mentors to guide them through this journey and share there experience with Startups, it will make them achieve success in no time and even be as a source of inspiration to both parties.

Why is mentorship important in business and life in general?

Mentorship is important for many reasons:

  1. Guidance – having an experienced person to learn from and to guide you through.
  2. Accountability – being fully accountable to someone to reach your goals.
  3. Support – knowing that there is someone who deeply loves and cares for your Start-up.

Have you ever benefited from mentorship yourself?

When I started with Mentorat-Club, at a point I get confused on how to face some challenges like how to approach customers and how to go about with the MVP. I had to make Entrepreneurs at TEKXL my mentors and they were able to help me through that phase which helped me to find a way to launch my MVP. Their mentorship didn’t end there, it still continues till date and all thanks to them for making this a dream come through.

How do you aim to reach out to people who need mentorship?

We use Social media, Blogs and Email Marketing to reach out to our target audience. 

What are challenges of running a business as a woman in Africa and as a Muslim?

As a woman the main challenge is always from the family, they didn’t see things from my own perspective just because they don’t understand my mission. I’m a Christian, but I do not think religion is really a challenge, the challenge came from an angle that I’m an entrepreneur. Whether you’re a man or a woman is complicated, but I think as a woman it’s much more complicated with loved ones.

What are your numbers so far?

We currently have more than 584 users, including 97 startups and 47 mentors. More than 150 relationships mentors & mentees.

How do you make money out of the platform?

At the moment everything is free but we working on a revenue stream and I think the success of Mentorat-Club should be the main aim for now because we’re still growing.  

Any new things we should expect from you or Mentorat-Club in the next year or two?

By next year, Mentorat-Club will launch a more improved version and probably another Startup which will be integrated with Mentorat-Club.

Why is entrepreneurship so important in Africa today?

Entrepreneurship the best way to develop Africa which can effectively create more jobs for the youth. Africa is the best place to start business and invest today because there is a huge market filled with diversified opportunities.

What were your biggest challenges and how did you solve them?

Building the product was the first challenge, making people use it was the most difficult part. People didn’t trust us at the beginning. They were afraid of sharing their information with us. But my mentors helped me to establish and execute a marketing plan which helped us to gain users trust which is very important in any business.  

Engineers Without Borders Canada invests in startup SME lending marketplace Bloom Impact

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http://4526.com/short-loans/mx1157.html

Ghana’s Bloom Impact, a machine learning loans marketplace accessible from smartphones has raised undisclosed funding from Engineers Without Borders Canada, EWB Ventures, an early-stage investor in innovative Africa-based social enterprises.

EWB has also invested in M-ShuleNumida TechnologiesFarmDrive and Rent-to-Own. Its latest investment in Africa will allow MSMEs to create a digital profile, learn about and apply for financial services, and receive offers that best meet their needs.

According to Elena Haba, Legal and Investment Officer with EWB’s Strategy and Investment team, “For us, the unique approach and scalability of Bloom’s potential impact was most compelling. By working on closing the financial gap faced by MSME’s, Bloom is helping these small businesses grow and generate much-needed employment opportunities for underserved individuals.”

EWB believes that by supporting MSMEs to thrive, the jobs generated through them and the wealth created by them can ultimately help alleviate poverty. EWB also thinks Bloom will be particularly useful for women, who face many barriers in accessing traditional banking and financial services.

In addition to the tremendous convenience and cost savings Bloom Impact provides for MSMEs, creating financially educated business owners is also a critical component.

Bloom Impact also partners with banks and microfinance institutions and it disrupts their customer acquisition approach by cutting costs and providing digital, eligible, validated, scored and financially-educated customers.

The investment will help Bloom Impact to grow its product adoption, referral and incentive programs, as well as advance product development.

“EWB understands the barriers that prevent scale and growth in emerging markets and how social enterprises can have an impact,” says Bloom Impact Co-Founder and CEO, Carol Caruso. “We are delighted to partner with EWB due to this experience on the ground, our shared mission to drive inclusive finance and EWB’s wealth of talent management support, which is critical to our success.”

How Omidyar Network helped built the Nigerian tech scene

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Chairman And Founder Ebay Inc. and Omidyar Network
Pierre Omidyar, chairman and founder of eBay Inc and Omidyar Network

The founder of eBay sold the company after 3 years, and became a billionaire.  His name is Pierre Omidyar, and for many in the U.S, this is not a household name.

But the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm has become one of the most significant investors in the African technology scene, and since actively investing, has created an out-sized impact on the continent.

In Nigeria alone, Omidyar Network has invested in 6 of the largest Nigerian technology companies, and has introduced its blend of combining impact with profits to make them uniquely different from their American equivalents. The big African technology companies have turned out more gentle, more social and seem to be more caring about the growth of everything around them than just metrics compared to their western equivalents.

One of Omidyar Networks’ early investments was in an incubator and innovation centre in Lagos called CcHub. For many years, the CcHub served as the capital of the Nigerian tech scene – it was where the various little startups were created that went on to become many of the larger ones today. CcHub is a profitable enterprise, and it’s a mix of WeWork and Ycombinator – part co-working space and part incubator.

One of the success stories that came out of CcHub was another company called BudgIt, which focuses on transparency in government budgets. A B2G company that has gone on to win large contracts to make government budgets open to the public. The investment not only became a commercial hit, but also pushed one of Omidyar’s goals – which is in leaving a significant impact.

In 2015, Omidyar Network made a surprise investment in a company called Hotels.ng – a simple service for booking hotels. On the surface it seemed unclear what type of impact this would have – but it turns out that before then, there was no online hotel booking service in Nigeria. The company has grown to become the second largest OTA in Africa, netting ON a tidy return.

Hotels.ng also represents an example of how the ON philosophy is filtering down to the companies it backs – even though it operates the seemingly boring business of online travel, the company has become one of the biggest trainers of local software developers – it runs huge software developer internships with more than 2000 participants per year, all of whom get put back into the local market. The philosophy of the company is that if they don’t create the talent, they won’t have anyone to hire.

Omidyar also co-invested with Mark Zuckerberg in a company called Andela – which basically grooms local software developers to a level that they can then work for western companies and recently raised a Series C round of $40 million. It maintains huge offices where local software developers work in a remote “managed” environment for foreign companies.

Omidyar has not been afraid to challenge the status quo – he also invested in a radically anti-government newspaper called Sahara Reporters. The founder of the paper is an unafraid rebel – he publishes breaking scoops on government bribery and other corrupt practises – and has to sneak into the country most times as the government of the day is always against him.

The Omidyar Network is probably one of the most interesting investment companies in the world, and it will be interesting to see what else they will be investing in. One thing is clear – they are not afraid to push the boundaries, and they are not afraid to go where others fear to tread.

 

STARTUP ADVICE | How you can start your Startup when you have no finances

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African change makers sometimes find themselves in a compromising situation where they have interesting ideas to execute but unfortunately their deep pockets have a good number of holes drilled. It is not new that so many potential entrepreneurs have failed to take up the first and most crucial step of having their vibrant ideas happen. As much as it is essential to take the ‘founders risk’ of putting both feet in the ideas they believe in, you need more direction other than the finances. Here are some of the most important hacks that would help you build a self sustaining startup.

Find someone with the Vision/Idea

This is the person who has the most perfect picture of what the solution you are trying to work on is. Initially, it is the first primary founder but eventually it can be anyone else who has the same motivation.

Provided they can map out the entire startup tree- from its roots to its fruits and believe in the value the startup is meant to give.

Find someone with the Money

This is neither the Venture Capitalist nor Angels who finance startups. It is the one who pays for the fare when you are going to meet up with the VC’s and other Investors – or the one to fund the promotion of a Facebook Ad or pay for the purchase of the web domain and hosting or app development.

Find someone with the Skills and Expertise

A technical partner is really important for a startup, they are the ones who have done something before or at least they know what it takes to do it at the moment. They know the what-is-what and the ‘how its done’ depending on what your idea is about. It may involve multiple aspects.

Someone with the Connection

These people know the waters you are exploring. They know the ‘who-is-who’ and the ‘where to go’

While all of this can be one person, the good news about starting a startup is you do not actually have to do it alone. Think about these things and determine which one of them best describes you and if you cannot satisfy all, you will need partners

Measuring what you Need

Rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 for each of the hacks above and then think about people who would fit well into the others. Since we have a financial concern, we do not need a prophet or a wizard to tell us to find a financing partner. Once you find one, use the same scaling method to see where else they fit. It is possible you need more people now and you can determine that using the same model.

Choosing a Financing Partner

If there were a simple answer to this, it would have been popular knowledge by now and I would not have to repeat it. Many founders prefer to choose partners from friends who they have known in other conditions and they exist with mutual respect. By now you probably have met enough people to choose from but if not, you will need to find people who meet the second important condition – Believing in the long term benefit of sticking to the vision.

Nigeria’s Legitng.com launches 24 hour free online legal consultation service

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Legitng, an online legal content and referral platform committed to opening up access to legal knowledge and services to everyone in Nigeria.

The online platform also works as a start-up registration and advisory platform providing onboarding services to new Nigerian businesses and NGOs across several sectors of the Nigerian economy.

As part of its goal of easing access to top notch legal expertise, Legitng on October 1st launched its online 24 hour legal consultation platforms where a team of Nigerian law experts are available to answer questions on Nigerian law within 24 hours for FREE.

Legitng is able to provide this service through a well cultivated network of on-call legal experts specializing in different aspects of Nigerian law available to provide information on request.

According to co-founder Enyioma Madubuike,  Legitng team lead, this service is targeted particularly at startups and new Nigerian businesses who constantly struggle with accessing quality legal expertise needed in the early years of a company’s growth. Enyioma, who had before joining the team worked extensively  in one of  Nigeria’s most prestigious law firms explained that where the desired level of needed expertise is found, it is often priced above the reach of normal Nigerian startups.

Legitng is committed to ease of access to quality legal information and continues to experiment with models to provide legal information to those who really need it. It has also launched the #Asklegitng hashtag for its twitter page for the same purpose.

If you need excellent legal advice on Nigerian law, head over to their website or you can use the #Asklegitng hashtag and tweet @legitng on twitter and expect a response in 24hrs.

 

Digital Economy in the Sub Saharan Africa

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Growth of the digital economy which can be defined as the various economic and social activities powered by ICT including banking, buying and selling and accessing education and entertainment activities via the internet through connected devices in Africa at large has tremendously increased giving a positive outlook of the continent. This has been possible through factors such as improved data connectivity, increase affordability of smart devices and falling data prices that have played a major role of fueling the digital economy in the region.

According to Ericsson, a giant technology company: In the two years to early 2015 there was a double increase to the number of mobile data traffic. It is forecasted that there will be a twelve fold increase for data in the next five years which has encouraged the growth in number of operators of data service and a boost in their earnings. For instance, the MTN Group with operations in around nine countries of the Sub Saharan Africa reported a 27 percent data revenue share of the total revenue in 2016 which was a 4 percent rise from the previous year as per the data reports posted on the company’s website and reported by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA).

According to GSMA, the number of SIM cards in use reached 731 million at the end of 2016 in the Sub Sahara and the number is expected to rise to nearly one billion by 2020 with an increase of broadband connections to half a billion which is more than double the number at the end of 2016. Smartphone connections have also doubled over the last two years to about 200 million with a strong growth in demand in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and DR Congo.

With the growth of internet users across Africa, mobile money services are significantly raising financial inclusions and easing the cost of conducting business making the Sub Saharan Africa a global leader on the use of mobile money as a primary means of financial transactions. All this has indeed offered new opportunities for productivity and efficiency gains to national governments, businesses and individuals. The mobile money platforms have enabled financial transactions through the transfer of money from one party to another either in the form of cash, mobile money or mobile payments enabling consumers make purchases of goods and services such as phone credit, water, electricity and other household utilities.

A Digital Economy offers Africans the knowledge of leveraging technology to make lives better by enhancing understanding of markets, expansion of education systems and creation of employment to grass root levels and still deliver monetary benefits for the informal sector and government. Today, customers use their phones for almost every single service or task therefore through this technological empowerment SME’s can better monitor and cater to their customers wants and needs.

Putting in place all the factors and pillars to strengthen Africa’s digital economy is worthy. From the recommendable growth of African nations GDP’s and other parameters of measuring national wealth and income it is certain that it plays a major role in unlocking Africa’s potential.

Pay-As-You-Go Solar platform Angaza raises $10.5 million in Series B financing

 Angaza, a Pay-As-You-Go solar tech platform and clean energy products manufacturer targeting off-grid consumers, has closed a $10.5 million in Series B financing led by Emerson Elemental, and included investments from Rethink Impact, Salesforce Ventures, Social Capital, and the Stanford StartX Fund.

The firm says it will use the funds to grow its global team and continue to expand the suite of technology tools and support services they offer their manufacturing and distribution partners. In doing so, they will enable these partners to efficiently scale their services to the 1.2 billion off-grid consumers that still lack access to modern energy services.

“This funding milestone is a testament to the power of partnerships which can collectively deliver affordable, clean energy to millions,” said Lesley Marincola, Chief Executive Officer at Angaza. “Angaza is excited to leverage this financing to further enhance the technology that enables our manufacturing and distribution partners to quickly and confidently scale their Pay-As-You-Go operations.”

Launched in early 2016, the B2B firm provides Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) technology solutions to solar device manufacturers and distributors worldwide and has rapidly expanded to work with distributors in over 30 countries spanning Latin America, India, and Sub-Saharan Africa and to date allows over 2 million people to transition to clean energy sources in their homes and small businesses.

By allowing off-grid consumers in emerging markets to purchase clean energy devices in small, affordable micropayments over time, manufacturers utilize Angaza’s proprietary embedded software and hardware to add metering and monitoring capabilities to their solar devices; the devices then remotely activate and deactivate according to payment from the end-user.
Distributors leverage Angaza’s comprehensive software platform to seamlessly manage their PAYG operations at scale. The Angaza software suite consists of the Energy Hub cloud-based web portal and the Activator mobile application, which are designed to address the specific complexities of credit sales in rural emerging markets. Angaza allows its distribution partners to accept mobile money payments from end-users in addition to traditional cash transactions.

Angaza’s manufacturing partners produce PAYG products such as solar water pumps, smartphones, and clean cookstoves, making a broad range of life-changing products affordable to end-users worldwide for individuals, SMEs and corporate clients.

Bitkoin Africa is a bitcoin exchange based in Nigeria to help you trade in bitcoin

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Bitkoin Africa is Person-to-Person bitcoin trading platform allowing users to sell and buy bitcoin from other users.

Founded by Timi Ajiboye, the Lagos based platform aims to cater to Nigerians in Nigeria who are interested in trading bitcoin.

“With Bitcoin Africa , you can now buy and sell as much Bitcoin as you want, at whatever price you want, securely and conveniently. You can buy with your Debit cards (Visa or MasterCard) and when you sell, you get paid directly into your bank account,” Ajiboye posted on Twitter.

Bitkoin Africa aims to be different by allowing users to buy, sell, store or transfer Bitcoin – as conveniently and quickly as possible. Timi says users are assured of instant settlements on all trades, without the need to communicate with corresponding buyers or sellers. This makes us the only Bitcoin exchange platform to bring instant payments and settlements on all Bitcoin trades to Africa.

The platform provides secure Bitcoin Wallets, offers escrow services for traders allows various payment methods using Paystack. Users buy or sell bitcoin by creating or responding to Trade Postings or ads such as ads seen in classified platforms with users able to create Trade Postings indicating how much they are willing to buy or sell among others.

Bitkoin Africa, through its escrow services ensures that users don’t need to interact with each other during transactions to avoid fraud. The platform also hosts all bitcoins traded on the platform in the in-house bitcoin wallet.

“We act as the middleman in all transactions, thereby protecting the parties involved in a trade from fraud,” says Timi. “Each Bitkoin Africa account comes with a bitcoin wallet that enables users store, receive and send bitcoin. Bitkoin Africa transactions are carried out online and are facilitated by users’ Nigerian bank accounts or Naira debit cards.”

Legal SaaS platform Libryo secures $1M to expand across Africa & Europe to help solve regulatory complexity

UK and South Africa-based online legal compliance platform Libryo has closed a £787k ($1million)to solve the problem of regulatory complexity in organisations.

The round was led by Seedcamp and Nextlaw Lab as well as Innogy UK Innovation Hub, Force Over Mass and various angel investors including Steve Gledden and Chris Field.

According to Tom Wilson, Investment Manager at Seedcamp: “We’ve been really impressed with the Libryo team since our initial investment and are delighted to be following on in this round. We see a real demand in the market for their product as evidenced by their strong traction to date across a number of jurisdictions. We’re excited to see the team take the business forward and are confident in their ability to execute on their vision.”

Co-founded in 2016 by Peter Flynn, Garth Watson and Malcolm Gray as a platform for multinational companies to understand the legal regulations faced at each operation.

Libryo offers its users (who are often not legally trained), intuitive search, real-time updates and truly site and context specific regulatory information, anywhere, at any time. For Lawyers, the platform is helping to alleviate some of the legal research work, which their clients are often unwilling to pay for, so that they can focus on adding premium value to their clients in other areas.

“We’re already seeing a huge appetite for our service across Africa, particularly in the legal domains of environment and occupational health and safety,” said Flynn. “We’re at a key moment in our business as we look to expand our offering even further across the world and into other legal domains.”

Since inception, Libryo has expanded from a global reach of five to 50 countries (45 across Sub-Saharan Africa). The $1million seed round will enable further expansion across four continents; Africa, Europe, North America and Australia – in the next 18 to 24 months.

 

 

Video Streaming Platform kweliTV Launches to curate content on the global black community

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 kweli.tv, a subscription VOD service focused on the global black community has officially launched to the publish with documentaries, films, web shows, children’s programming, news and more to its audience in North America, Europe, Latin America, The Caribbean and Africa.
kweliTV also features independent filmmakers of color from across the globe to showcase their content after their film festival runs.
With subscription plans of $49.99 a year or $5.99 a month; Rental – $3.99 per 24-hour; Live TV – Free,  KweliTV says its mission  is to curate content from African descent to both African and non-African audiences.

“We believe that by doing so we not only giving much needed platform for black filmmakers and producers to showcase their work, but also change how people of African descent are portrayed in mainstream media,” said DeShuna Spencer, founder and CEO. “Our community is overwhelmingly absent from leadership roles in film and production studios, which is why we end up with scenarios in which black man and women are portrayed unjustly…this is why media perception and authentic representation matter. It is critical that as a community we create and control our own narratives through media ownership.”

kweliTV currently has nearly 200 titles (more than 7,000 total viewing hours) and will be adding five new titles every Wednesday. More than 50 new films will be added between September and Christmas.

kweliTV is available on Roku, Google Play and Apple TV for subscribers and is fully integrated with both Chromecast and Apple Airplay. Additionally, kweliTV offers a free live TV stream and member discounts/perks to black-owned businesses, weekly subscriber contests, and more.

 

This Nairobi-based firm is using chatbots to screen talent & help firms hire based on competency

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Recruiting is a challenge for many HR professionals and employers who spent time and resources as finding the right person for a role is demanding and time consuming for both the company and the talent to be hired.
However, Shortlist which recently raised $1m in funding, is using chatbots and data-­‐driven talent screening tools to automate applicant vetting using online competency-­‐based assessments rather than pedigree to simplify hiring.
The firm says its platform highlights employee strengths to be considered for jobs based on demonstrated potential and fit, not merely their educational background and formal work experience. Some of the firms working with the firm include Ather Energy, M-­‐KOPA, MicroEnsure, and Xynteo among others and it has served nearly 200,000 jobseekers.
Using predictive chat-­‐based interviews and online competency-­‐based assessments, Shortlist says it helps employers skip the most time-­‐consuming and bias-­‐ prone phases of hiring.

Shortlist’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.

TechMoran caught up with Olivia Wold, Communications Manager at Shortlist and this is what she told us.

How is recruitment different in Kenya from other markets you operate in.

Kenya has an extremely vibrant talent pool with many motivated professionals seeking jobs where they can learn and grow. In our experience, Kenyan companies are willing to invest in finding and cultivating talent, and see recruitment as a key strategic priority, which is great to see. 

What are your expansion plans?

While our primary African market is Kenya, we’ve been working selectively with Kenya-based clients who have regional operations on positions in Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda. We look forward to strengthening our understanding of the talent pools and recruiting practices throughout East Africa, while remaining focused on serving clients in Kenya. In addition, we also operate throughout India. We plan to use this seed funding to enhance our online data-driven talent screening tool and increasing value for both employers and candidates alike. 

What is your view on the perceived skills gap in Kenya?

In Kenya there is dialogue around a perceived skills gap, where companies says that university graduates are not entering the workforce with the skills they need to succeed in competitive jobs. There is certainly some truth here and we are looking at ways we can also help young professionals access the training and skills they need to succeed in a modern workplace. However, we also believe that many candidates who don’t appear “qualified” via their CV are actually quite capable of the job — this is why we focus on giving companies the assessment tools to see “past” the CV to determine who has the skills and competencies to succeed regardless of CV or pedigree.

Shortlist Raises $1 Million to Help Employers Across Africa & India Hire Based on Competency

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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.

 

 

iHub, World Bank’s Traction Camp accelerator to showcase 21 promising digital innovations from East Africa

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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.

DreamAfrica, Kenya

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.

Kokote, Tanzania

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

MobFit, Uganda

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.

MyAfya, Kenya

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.

SapamaERP, Kenya

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, Kenya

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

Mobilized Construction, Uganda

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.

Totohealth, Kenya

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.

Yubeyi, Rwanda

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, Ethiopia

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.

 

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