VICE Media and Econet Media have launched ‘Kwesé VICE’, an outfit to focus on the creation and development of original local editorial and video content to be distributed across television, digital and commercial platforms.
‘Kwesé VICE’ aims to open a new bureau and production studio headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with a focus on the development, production and distribution of local editorial content and original video programming both for Kwesé VICE’s channels and third party platforms.
The JV is an extension of the existing relationship between these two companies and will help Kwesé TV produce diversified content for younger audiences across the continent. The venture will launch in 2018.
The partnership will extend Vice’s on-going content agreement with Kwesé TV, set to exclusively distribute VICELAND in South Africa, as part of its continued roll-out across 45 African countries.
Kwesé VICE will open a local production studio, hire the best young creatives, journalists and filmmakers locally, and air tailored lifestyle and culture programming across linear and digital platforms around-the-clock for the young audience in Africa.
In addition to its editorial and content divisions, ‘Kwesé VICE’ will also house the multi-award winning creative agency born out of VICE, Virtue Worldwide. Virtue Worldwide will develop unique branded content specifically for the local African market.
Some of VICE’s clients include Brazil’z Globosat, Moby Group from the Middle East (Moby Group), and Times of India.
Uber has hired a new GM for West Africa as Safaricom-backed Little prepares to launch in a few weeks.
Uber says its new GM for West Africa, Lola Kassim, who is replacing Ebi Atawodi will oversee the firm’s West Africa strategy, improve its UberX service and create additional value for its driver-partners who are said to be joining Little which is heavily recruiting in Lagos.
Kassim, a Nigerian-Canadian is particularly good for Uber#s growth in West Africa because of her public policy experience. She worked as an Governance Advisor with the Liberian Presidency through the Africa Governance Initiative where she was supporting a unit driving delivery of Presidential infrastructure priorities. She has also been part of the Canadian Government where she served as a Policy Advisor whose main responsibilities was developing policy, strategy, and business cases regarding socio-economic development programming for Canada’s Aboriginal communities and foreign policy.
Lola’s vision for West Africa, is to create a friction-less environment for Uber as a sustainable, alternative mode of mobility.
“In addition to creating value for driver-partners and riders, I will also be focused on ensuring that we continue to engage with our key stakeholders and relevant partners with a view to continued positive impact across West Africa,” she said.
Atawodi has moved to Uber Product Design team in Amsterdam.
The Graca Machel Trust has joined UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund and Nailab to see more women join the second round of the IAM Accelerator 2.0. and invest in them.
According to Nomsa Daniels, CEO of the Graca Machel Trust; “The Graca Machel Trust is delighted to team-up with UNFPA Kenya and the Nailab in making IAM 2.0 a ground-breaking success. Too many women entrepreneurs lack access to the necessary financing and support structures to let them thrive. This not only holds them back, but also the families and communities they are part of, and countries as a whole”
The 4 month acceleration programme gives startups seed-funding, training, coaching, and mentoring to fine-tune their innovations, bring it to market, and find the right business models to sustain and facilitate their growth.
The first IAM round which was launched in June 2016 lacked female lead start-ups and the diminished role of female participation in the start-ups and the development of innovations was evident.
Building on the successes of the first IAM Accelerator round and drawing from this important learning, the Graca Machel Trust initiative New Faces New Voices will join UNFPA and Nailab to empower women entrepreneurs for advancing the health and well-being of adolescent and young people in Kenya through IAM 2.0 funding.
“I am pleased to see Graca Machel Trust join the initiative and it’s my believe as we all join forces that we shall see greater impact as we address SRH challenges,” said Sam Gichuru, Founder and CEO Nailab.
Moringa School has launched a women’s bootcamp program in November 2017 with a 50% subsidy to help it graduate over 100 women and test the effectiveness of coding bootcamps on women’s outcomes.
Dubbed Moringa Prep, the bootcamps are targeted at students who want access to world-class coding content.
According to Audrey Cheng, Moringa CEO, “We’ve been testing and iterating our content and education model for the last 3 years and are excited to push more for diversity so that more women can access our high quality education and outcomes program.”
The future of Moringa lies in its innovativeness, readiness to embrace learning or pivot or cautiously expand its course offerings. The firm has hugely focused on its brilliant Nairobi Tech Week event to help it acquire more users and to foot some domestic bills. However, like a power shift, Moringa School’s touch of class is no longer magnetic and Andela is rising to the occasion.
“Supporting gender diversity and inclusion starts with bringing in more female voices into the room,” said Savannah Kunovsky, Moringa’s CTO. “And to do that, we need to train more women to have skills in traditionally male-dominated industries.”
Andela has secured $40M in Series C funding to launch offices in two additional African countries over the next year, doubling its developer base from 500 to 1,000 to meet growing demand.
Andela is present in Nigeria, Kenya and recently launched in Uganda. We don’t want to speculate but the two additional countries are likely to be Rwanda and Ghana.
The funding round was led by pan-African venture firm CRE Venture Capital with participation from DBL Partners, Amplo, Salesforce Ventures, and Africa-focused TLcom Capital. Existing investors including Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV, and Spark Capital also participated in the round bringing Andela’s total venture funding to just over $80M.
Pule Taukobong of CRE, Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister and Amplo Board Partner, and Omobola Johnson, Senior Partner at TLcom and former Minister of Communication Technology in Nigeria, will be joining Andela’s board.
According to Pule Taukobong, Founding Partner of CRE Venture Capital: “At present, there is more capital to fund ideas globally than there are people to build them. Andela is providing a solution to this global talent dilemma while building a business case for one of Africa’s greatest assets: our people.”
Launched in 2014, Andela aims to combat the global technical talent shortage by investing in Africa’s most talented software developers. The firm has hired 500 developers to date — the top 0.7% of more than 70,000 applicants from across the continent.
Selected developers spend six months in a rigorous onboarding program before being matched with one of Andela’s partner companies as full-time engineering team members. Beyond recruiting elite development talent, Andela is catalyzing the growth of tech ecosystems across the continent by open-sourcing its content and partnering with organizations including Google, Pluralsight and Udacity to provide resources and mentorship to developers.
Some of the partner companies working with Andela to build distributed engineering teams include Viacom and Mastercard Labs, Gusto and GitHub.
Kenya’s Pezesha.com a peer-to-peer micro-lending marketplace for Africa has been selected to participate at the upcoming Blackbox Connect 20 accelerator programme, a two-week residential programme for startup founders from across the globe.
Holding in Silicon Valley in November this year, Blackbox is an entrepreneur-first approach that aims to make entrepreneurs the core engine for global economic growth, and that they need someone in their corner as they build the future.
Blacbox helps talented startup founders emerge as stronger leaders to help them redefine what’s possible for themselves, their company, their community, and the world.
Pezesha, which has given more than 5,000 borrowers from a pool of more than 100 local lenders in just 10 months of operation, says it aims to use the two-week stay to connect with ”fellow talented founders from more than 40 countries to share ideas, networks and partnerships and build relationships with the pool of experienced venture capitalists, and subject matter experts as well as access to strategic resources to fuel Pezesha’s growth and global expansion.”
Blackbox says it’s rethinking the traditional accelerator model which largely focused on creating a pipeline for investors instead of working to create a strong foundation under the founder which elevates their long-term potential, expands their worldview, exposes them to new opportunities, and connects them to their own greatness.
Founded in 2016 by Awoyode Opeoluwa Great and Adedolapo Oguntayo, the CEO, Learnark is a Massive Open Online Course platform with a mission to help people acquire relevant knowledge they can use to improve their lives or simply learn to earn.
According to Adedolapo, Learnark provides high quality courses from top training institutions and leading organizations to help train learners in fields such as Business and Management, Creative Arts and Media, Science and Technology, Academics and Agriculture from wherever they are, at their own pace.
Adedolapo says she started Learnark after being inspired by a social project called the Students and Teenagers Empowerment Project (STEP).
“One of the main activities of STEP was organizing a monthly event where successful people meet with young people and share the lessons and knowledge that has made them successful. Looking back, I can see the influence the sessions made in the lives of many of the attendees especially on my team of teenage volunteers that help organize the events,” she said. “Learnark has been built with the same intention; to help people develop themselves so they can achieve better results in life.”
Users can start learning on Learnark by selecting from its range of courses to help them build successful careers at their own pace to beat illiteracy, unemployment and underemployment.
“At Learnark we thought what if everyone is educated! Will it solve
this huge social problem? We soon realized that there are poor
educated people. So we thought again, What if everyone is educated to earn? What if we
all learn to earn?” thought the team.
Courses are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life to make learning an enjoyable social experience. Learnark mission is to help people acquire skills they can use to
earn by partnering with professionals to provide skills training in fast
growing industries like Real estate, construction, ICT, media,
The platform also connects its trainees with job and business
opportunities in this industries. The platform works simply. Trainees register on Learnark, complete the training, take a few months internship and start a business or Job.
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.
Nairobi-based women-focused lifestyle & fashion site Zumi Magazine raised $250,000 to expand into Nigeria & Ghana.
Co-founded by Ex-Rocket Internet executives William McCarren and Sabrina Dorman, Zumi entertainment, lifestyle and love, fashion, beauty and style news to a smartphone enabled, female audience. The site targets 18-35 year old African women.
“We have just closed our second round of seed funding, having successfully raised $250,000 from equity and convertible debt.,” said McCarren in an email update. “We will be expanding into Nigeria and Ghana in the next few months to continue our journey to build the biggest women-focused digital media and e-commerce platform in Africa.”
The raise puts Zumi’s total equity funding to $370k after it raised $120 in August 2016. The raise will help it expand to the two new markets to bring latest news in fashion, beauty, dating, work, health and self-improvement to young women. Zumi is a sort of a Refinery29 on East and West Africa if it really catches up.
Kenya’s Ghafla has also started to shift towards lifestyle from entertainment and gossip but lacks content on women if even its now pan-African. Zumi will also need to be careful and be rooted not to be an all-out entertainment and gossip site.
Sinapis, a social enterprise that empowers entrepreneurs in the developing world by providing them with a rigorous Christ-centered business education, mentoring services, and access to seed capital is set to launch in Kampala, Uganda.
The launch in Uganda is part of its plans to help entrepreneurs practically integrate their faith while building strong businesses all over the world. So far, Sinapis has active programs in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Ghana, Brazil.
We caught up with Asha Mweru, Regional Expansion Manager, Sinapis and this is what we learned about the firm.
Briefly take us through the roots of Sinapis
The roots of Sinapis date back to December of 2008 when our co-founders Courtney Rountree Mills and Karibu Nyaggah, both Harvard graduate students met during a student trip to east Africa. Courtney was a graduate student at Harvard Kennedy School and Karibu was a graduate student at Harvard Business School. Karibu was leading the student trip to his home country of Kenya. They became fast friends during the trip, and soon revealed my vision of setting up an accelerator program for start-up stage entrepreneurs in Kenya.
Later that year, Courtner embarked on her thesis where she received the opportunity to work with the Ministry of Finance in Kenya to help them look at bottlenecks in the private sector, particularly with regards to entrepreneurship. She received funds from Harvard to do research on the subject the summer of 2009 and travelled to Kenya with fellow Harvard graduate, Matt Stolhandske, to diligence the viability of an early stage accelerator program in Nairobi.
Interviewing over 100 professionals from the for-profit, non-profit and government sectors on the entrepreneurship space laid the groundwork for the first version of the business plan for the accelerator program. Increasingly, there was a call to think about how this accelerator program could directly glorify God’s kingdom and increase His presence in Kenya in a practical way. Thus, we decided to make the Sinapis program centered on Kingdom business principles that help entrepreneurs integrate their faith with their business. We named the organization Sinapis, the latin name for the mustard seed found in the mustard seed parable of the New Testament, to reflect this vision. So far the company has scaled its program to entrepreneurs in Mombasa, Kisumu, Ghana and Brazil.
What was the inspiration behind starting Sinapis than any other thing?
For the longest time, a lot of people and Christians per se have separated their day to day lives at work and while running a business from their faith. This dichotomy has caused numerous problems especially around upholding ethical grounds across the board. Instead of business being regarded as an extension of our faith, it has been segregated and has had its own rules governing it. Sinapis’ inspiration is to create a practical bridge of how to build and scale businesses successfully while still integrating your faith thus allowing you to live a seamless integrated life as a Christian business owner.
Take us through a journey of what aspects of training does Sinapis offer entrepreneurs?
The Sinapis Entrepreneurship Academy is an intensive 4-month business training program similar to a mini-MBA but customized for earlier stage ventures. Participants in this program spend approximately 20 hours per week completing prework material, attending in-person class sessions, and doing practical “field work” assignments that allow immediate implementation of lessons learned. Each week entrepreneurs go through class sessions that enable them to answer some of the most pressing business problems they and also gives them the skill to act on it. These include: Who is my customer? How do I price my product? How do I make a sale? How do I ensure I have all the right financial records in place? how do I manage my cash flows not to go bankrupt? How can I compete effectively in the market? etc. As an entrepreneur, you are then given assignments that allow you to practically implement everything you are learning each week so you can see some immediate improvements and feel more grounded in understanding and running your businesses. The entrepreneurs also have each other in class who end up providing a huge network of support and resources.
What has been the impact since you started Sinapis? How many entrepreneurs have been trained since the organization was established in Kenya?
To date, we’ve worked with over 700 entrepreneurs in Kenya and have seen great results thus far. On average the entrepreneurs grow revenues by 166% annually, create 3 new jobs/year and raise 15x more in investment capital after our program as compared to before. They’re also 46% more likely to still be in business after 3 years as compared to the national average. This is an affirmation that we are doing things right. Some of the feedback we’ve received from entrepreneurs is that they would have failed if they hadn’t gone through the Sinapis program.
After the training there is a competition where the finalists pitch the idea, tell us more about that?
Upon completion of the training program, the entrepreneurs are eligible to compete in the Sinapis Business Plan Competition, in which the top finalists compete for $10,000 in seed capital at a live pitch event. The finalists in the business plan competition are then invited to join our Fast Track Fellows Program, which is a 6-month accelerator program that provides the entrepreneurs access to high quality generalist consultants, professional advisors, successful entrepreneur mentors, advanced training, and investor matchmaking.
Who are the other previous entrepreneurs who were finalists in the competition? Highlight for us some of their winning business.
Sinapis is sector agnostic and hence has had a variety of entrepreneurs in different sectors go through the program; from agribusiness to tech to even traditional ones like construction. Some of our well known finalists and winners include Grace Murugi from Cakes.co.ke, Amanda Gicharu from Amanda’s Kitchen, Wanjiku Kandie from Waridi Events, Waweru Kuria, pivoted his business and now runs Inuka Pap which recently joined TechStars. These are but a few of some incredibly talented entrepreneurs who go through the Sinapis Academy, you can read more on them on our website.
So where do you start when you have a business idea and want to join Sinapis?
Simple, apply! We would then call you to take you through an application process and once you go through, you would be getting ready for an unforgettable 16 weeks!
What’s next for Sinapis for the next 5 years? Are you planning to expand the program locally? In East Africa?
As we grow we will continually improve our program to ensure that entrepreneurs can practically integrate their faith while building strong businesses all over the world. So far, we have started programs in Kisumu, Mombasa, Ghana, Brazil and are in the processes launching a program in Uganda.
Kenya marks the first transition of power under a devolved system of governance, one of the major opportunities and challenges for the newly appointed governors will be to create an environment where Small & Medium Businesses can prosper and where job opportunities will be created for thousands of unemployed Kenyans.
One area that deserves special focus is the thriving informal business sector, which employs over 80% of the Kenyan working population. A sector that makes a significant contribution to the economy; nurturing and supporting these businesses so that they can develop into formal businesses. This could have positive spin-offs in terms of boosting tax revenues, ensuring sustainable of employment while encouraging wider regulatory compliance.
One way counties could support business builders is by providing them with habitable, safe and regulated spaces within the towns and cities; where the boda-boda operator, the fruit vendor and roadside mechanic can operate free from discrimination from law enforcement authorities and for coexistence with other functions in the same area. This will enable them to grow their businesses, having in place systems that will enable these businesses operate stop existing as stopgap activities that only run until they arrive at a supposedly permanent business.
Many informal businesses still operate outside the formal banking network and the tax net, settling sales and labour costs in cash, getting by without access to credit facilities. There is an opportunity for county development plans to outline a process of formalising these operations, putting in place incentives that will help them grow and thrive. The effect of which is a beneficial ecosystem where counties have a wider revenue net, increased job opportunities and better urban planning for effective resource allocation.
The goal of devolution being to ensure development and governance at the local level by availing services closer to Kenyans, developing capacity for existing businesses in order that they can absorb more people will help strengthen social and economic growth. A coordinated approach among counties where they exchange ideas and increase trade between them may help in minimizing replication of ideas and the proper utilization of resources.
The national government on the other hand will have a growing chance at better allocation of devolved funds, where areas with the highest growth potential receive more attention to impact the national economy.
As the new county leadership prepares for their induction, the issue on resource management need not be a stand-alone affair, but one that also looks at the dynamics of resource generation. How to harness the power and potential of micro-enterprises in order for all Kenyans to gain from the dividends of devolution.
At Sage, we believe that there are benefits in collaborations between small business forums, big business (including multinationals) and government to nurture the informal and small business sector. We would welcome the establishment of forums where emerging businesses can learn from established entrepreneurs as well as connect with big business and the government.
Entrepreneurship has the potential to power Kenya’s economy with entrepreneurs as the drivers of prosperity and it is in the government’s interest to support them. Business builders take risks to follow their dreams and pursue their passion. By affording small business owners a say in the way resources are utilized not only aligns to the devolution policy but by supporting them, they help to grow jobs and wealth to spur development.
The Writer is the Regional Director for Sage in East Africa
Themed Equity, impact and inclusive growth towards Agenda 2030 and a sustainable African future, the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference (AWIEF 2017) has its sights firmly set on the economic empowerment of women, who have historically been side-lined and disregarded in predominantly patriarchal and tribal societies.
Set to be held in Cape Town on the 5th and 6th October, the third annual AWIEF 2017 is expected to bring together the entire entrepreneurship ecosystem, including business experts, stakeholders and policy makers.
The 2017 AWIEF edition will feature the AWIEF Awards on 6 October to honour and celebrate excellence and outstanding women entrepreneurs in seven different categories. The Awards will feature Norwegian Ambassador Trine Skymoen as Keynote Speaker, popular TV and Radio Personality ShadoTwala as MC, and multi award-winning musician LoyisoBala in entertainment.
Partners and sponsors for AWIEF 2017 include: the African Development Bank, Shell South Africa, City of Cape Town, Old Mutual, South African Tourism, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), WESGRO, Mbekani Group, Shimansky, Ethiopian Airlines, Embassy of Sweden in Pretoria, Mazars and UN Women.
The programme covers the whole business and industry spectrum, from education to innovation and technology, from e-commerce to agriculture and food security, and from infrastructure to finance, procurement and the “creative economy”, which embraces such sectors as fashion and design.
“It is naive to think that we can transform Africa leaving the women behind,” states Irene Ochem, AWIEF Founder and Director. “You cannot ignore over 50% of the population of a continent and hope to harness and exploit its full potential. It is imperative that we overturn traditional mindsets and customs to promote inclusivity in business and industry, tapping into the immense untapped resources offered by women. We need to turn women from being job-seekers into job creators, becoming entrepreneurs and businesswomen.”
Confirmed Ministers and Dignitaries participating in the event include: Esperance Nyirasafari, Minister of Gender and Family Promotion of Rwanda; Jean A. N. Kalilani, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare of Malawi;Nyasha Chikwinya, Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development of Zimbabwe; Elizabeth Thabethe, Deputy Minister, Department of Tourism of South Africa and several listed here.
As a build-up to the conference, the AWIEF launched a Growth Accelerator Programme in August, sponsored by Mazars, to assist 15 female entrepreneurs from South Africa with business modelling and growth strategy required to scale and to get their businesses “investment ready”.
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.
Wala is a digital banking platform for Africa making banking FREE for everyone and completely changes the way consumer’s access, engage with, and use financial products and services.
From accounts, to payments, to insurance, Wala aims to make personal finance easier or more affordable for all. It’s philosophy is different. By working in partnership with banks and other financial services providers, Wala can offer zero-fee and below market rate products to mass market consumers. The Wala platform sits in between banks and customers eliminating many costs thereby creating a more efficient system for everyone. Building a savings culture is imperative! Wala’s number one priority is to protect customers and ensure they get zero-fee banking and affordable financial products so they can get on the path towards financial stability.
What inspired you to launch Wala? Is Wala a result of your work in Uganda?
My work in Uganda absolutely influenced me to start Wala. I was spending time in Kitgum, Uganda where I had launched a mobile cash transfer solution for subsistence farmers in one of the most underserved areas of the country. We were doing some really incredible and impactful work, but I was conflicted. The women we were providing cash transfers to would receive mobile payments, go to an agent and pay a fee to cash out, and then place that money in cash boxes in their huts. They had no safe place to guard it, to grow it, or create more value from it. Whether a subsistence farmer living in rural Uganda or an Uber driver in Johanessburg, South Africa the problems remain the same- financial services are extremely costly and generally inaccessible due to reasons of inefficiency and distribution. It was my time in Uganda that I realized banking was the problem, but also the answer. And from here, Wala was born!
What have you done before Wala?
Prior to Wala I founded two companies and devoted my time to socially innovative initiatives in areas including microfinance, economic development, and women’s empowerment. My previous work ranges from cash transfer solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa to the development of an investment fund for underserved markets. I received my Masters of Public Policy from the University of Chicago’s Irving B. Harris School with a concentration in Development and Behavioral Economics. It was there that I began learning how small scale improvements could make lasting impacts through methods of financial innovation.
How does it work?
Once a user registers and download the app they can digitally register for a current account. At minimum, a user needs an ID book to register. Users can then open savings accounts. From here, users can deposit and withdraw money through partner ATMs and agents, receive direct deposits and inbound payments, send p2p payments to friends and family in the Wala network, buy airtime and pay bills, and login to check balance, move money between accounts, get insights into spending habits and history.
In the future, users will receive debit cards/prepaid cards to transact directly with merchants, get access to insurance, international payments, loans, and credit all through the Wala mobile platform!
Do you think South Africa is the right market for Wala? Why did you decide to launch in South Africa first?
While consumers throughout every African country need better banking and financial services, we strongly believe that South Africa is the best country for Wala to launch in given the customer base and financial industry.
The most important part of Wala is creating what I like to call a “consumer-driven” financial solution. Everything we do is for consumers and our goal is to provide zero-fee accounts to all Africans so financial empowerment becomes a reality. Over the last 10 months, we have seen a huge increase in our customer base specifically in South Africa. We have almost 1M South Africans who have signed up for a Wala financial community via Facebook and given how quickly that number is growing we want to focus our energy here.
Additionally, South Africa is the financial hub of Africa. Most banks are headquartered in Johannesburg, industry experts reside throughout the country, and the banking infrastructure is developed and very advanced. We need to make sure we are not only close to our partners, but also valuable resources that will help us grow.
What is Wala’s business model?
The beauty of the Wala business model is that we make money when our customers save more money! We work in partnership with banks and other financial services providers to offer free or below market rate products. The Wala platform sits in between banks and customers eliminating many costs thereby creating a more efficient system for everyone.
We don’t generate revenue by charging fees on transactions or cross-selling products. Instead, our partners pay us for bringing assets into their banking system. We built our model this way so that we always stay in line with the needs and financial stability of our users. If they improve their financial lives, Wala succeeds.
Do you have any investors?
Wala is currently backed by angel investors that recognized a massive opportunity to innovate the banking industry throughout emerging markets while also solving a global problem impacting billions of people.
Do you have bank partners?
We are working closely with a number of banks and financial services provider so we can provide zero-fee banking and below market rate financial products to our users.
How is Wala helping to improve users savings culture?
The Wala philosophy is different from most financial companies. Rather than focusing on lending we focus explicitly on savings. There is no shortage of companies that are willing to offer consumers loans and that’s because they can do so at high interest rates that end up costing people an arm and a leg. Loan businesses are very profitable as long as they are run properly and loan businesses that target the poor or people with bad credit can even be predatory, making it worse for the consumer long-term.
Of course there are banks and companies that do provide good loans but we believe financial health starts with something more basic: a bank account. A bank account allows you to safely store your income, grow your savings, and even hold your loan money. Having an account helps you build a financial history, which will allow you get loans at lower interest rates in the future. With Wala, consumers can easily send payments to their community, pay bills, and access other great financial tools. But again, it all starts with a bank account!
Any plans to launch in new markets?
Of course! We plan to expand throughout Africa in the coming years to markets including Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Mozambique, Egypt, and many more. Wherever customers are in need of better banking, Wala will be there.
Which services compete with Wala and how is Wala unique from them? How different is Wala from a basic debit card or mobile money account?
Wala is the only company that can provide ZERO-FEE banking. From traditional banking to mobile wallets and payments to loans, most financial products in Africa are transactional-based meaning they charge consumers for any type of transaction. If you use mobile payments with a telecom provider you will incur fees to send money, receive money, hold money, withdrawal money, etc. But with Wala, we cover all fees for you and make the experience convenient through a digital only tool so that you don’t have to deal with the additional financial stress. No more hidden fees. No more long queues. Just Wala.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Change in any form is extremely difficult to accomplish and we are pushing boundaries on multiple fronts- banking, technology, policy. Everyday we have a new challenge, but we have an incredible team driving forward every step of the way.
As a financial company, most startup founders would agree with me when I say the greatest challenges are:
Acquisition- It takes time to build trust when you are dealing with people’s money. Fintech isn’t like building another social media app, it’s creating solutions for the most important asset in people’s lives- money.
Policy- Many regulators are risk averse and implement policy for a reason making it often times difficult to navigate complex systems. It can take a long time to build relationships with regulators and to get them on your side and in the startup world time is our most precious commodity.
Fundraising- Even if you have the greatest idea, solution, product, customers, etc. investors always want more especially when you are in underserved markets so you need to figure out how to stay lean and continue to build and grow with limited capital.
Founded in 2013, by Zim Ugochukwu, an American born of two immigrants from Nigeria, Travel Noire has been acquired by Blavity, a new media platform focused on black millennials a for an undisclosed amount.
The Minnesota born founder and travel enthusiast said she had used her $17,000 in savings to start Travel Noire to create tools and resources for explorers of color and other unconventional travelers to help them lead more global lives.
“Since the very beginning of Travel Noire’s life, I knew that I wanted to build something special. Something that didn’t conform to any of the conventional rules,” Ugochukwu said, adding that she wanted to transform the way people of colour thought about work and travel.
Travel Noire will join Blavity but will largely remain independent under the Blavity umbrella. Blavity is one of the fastest growing digital media outlets on the web and reaches more than 7M millennials a month and is still run by its founders Morgan DeBaun, Aaron Samuels, Jonathan Jackson, and Jeff Nelson.
The site combines user generated editorial content, original video, and a custom designed backend to put power back in the hands of black millennials to own their story and share their perspective. Blavity says its vision is to economically and creatively support Black millennials across the African diaspora, so they can pursue the work they love, and change the world in the process.
The acquisition of Travel Noire will help the firm create content to empower both travel and culture among blacks in the US and globally.
Over the past year, 163 million women were starting businesses across 74 economies worldwide—this is according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2016/17 Women’s Report released on September 7th 2017.
“This not only shows the magnitude of impact women entrepreneurs have across the globe, but highlights the contribution they make toward the growth and well-being of their societies,” said Babson CollegeProfessor and report co-author Donna Kelley. “Women entrepreneurs provide incomes for their families, employment for those in their communities, and products and services that bring new value to the world around them.”
Among the 63 economies surveyed in both this and the last report, GEM found that Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) among women increased by 10 percent, and the gender gap (ratio of women to men participating in entrepreneurship) narrowed by 5 percent.
These same economies show an 8 percent increase in women’s ownership of established businesses, and a near 10 percent increase in women’s opportunity perceptions across Europe, North America, and Asia.
The 2016/17 GEM Women’s Report also adds a new consideration—that of women as entrepreneurial investors. While participation rates vary, the participation of women as investors suggests a strong resource foundation from which business owners may build.
GEM economies in the 2016/17 survey cover 69 percent of the world’s population and 85 percent of the world’s GDP. In its 18th consecutive year, GEM continues to serve as the largest and most comprehensive single study of entrepreneurship in the world.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2016/17 Women’s Report:
Entrepreneurial intentions increased among women by 16 percent from 2014 to 2016 across all economies that participated in both this report and the previous one.
Although intentions increased globally, self-perceptions around opportunity and capability vary significantly between development levels.
57 percent of women in factor-driven economies believe there are good opportunities around them for starting a business, while only 39 percent of women in innovation-driven economies hold these same beliefs.
67 percent of women in the factor-driven group believe they have the capabilities to start a new venture. Under 35 percent of women in the innovation-driven group feel the same.
On average, women exhibit a 20 percent or greater likelihood of citing necessity as a motive for starting a new business when compared to men. However, opportunity still accounts for the majority of entrepreneurial motives.
In the innovation-driven group of economies, women are over three and a half times as likely to cite opportunity versus necessity motives.
Interestingly, GEM found that women entrepreneurs have a 5 percent greater likelihood of innovativeness compared to men. The highest level of innovation occurs in North America, where 38 percent of women report having innovative products and services.
Women in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are more likely than men to state they had exited a business in the past year, and around 56 percent cite either unprofitability or lack of finance as a reason. Discontinuance levels among women are lower than men in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America—this is consistent with lower startup levels compared to men in these regions.
Ten percent of all women entrepreneurs operate their businesses solely and have no intentions to add any employees in the next five years. Europe has the highest frequency of one-person female business activity, while North America has the lowest.
Sub-Saharan Africa maintains the highest regional average TEA rate and strong average growth expectations, which translates into a lot of employment by women entrepreneurs in this region.
The MENA region reports the highest average female growth expectations at 37 percent. Over half of the women entrepreneurs in UAE, Qatar, and Tunisia expect to hire six or more employees in the next five years. Moreover, women in Saudi Arabia and Morocco are more likely than men to have these ambitions.
North America shows the highest education rates among women entrepreneurs, with 84 percent having earned a post-secondary or higher education. Europe is notable for having more highly educated women than men entrepreneurs: 22 percent more, on average.
Women participate in entrepreneurship at equal or higher levels than men in Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, and Brazil.
“Although the gender gap in education and labor force participation decreases at higher stages of economic development, we find that the entrepreneurial gender gap not only persists but increases,” says Smith Economics Professor and report co-author, Mahnaz Mahdavi. “By providing entrepreneurial education, colleges and universities can improve women’s competencies and increase their rate of business startup to more closely match that of men.”
Office, co-working and event space provider Nairobi Garage has moved to a 33,000sqft premise as demand for shared offices skyrockets in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa’s biggest economy.
Now taking up three floors of an entire office development, the new Nairobi Garage is located on Ngong Road’s Pinetree Plaza, just a few minutes away from its previous premises.
“We’re thrilled to unveil the all-new Nairobi Garage // Ngong Road today. With our old premises at full capacity, we embarked upon an ambitious project to design and create a state-of-the art headquarters for Kenya’s entrepreneurs and business leaders. Today we’re excited to open the doors to the new and improved Nairobi Garage, and look forward to welcoming old and new faces,” said Hannah Clifford, director of Nairobi Garage.
The new space also has a club membership model allowing entrepreneurs, creatives and investors to walk in, use the space on-demand whenever they need to instead of paying for a full-time office space. The development highlights the growing demand for serviced shared offices and co-working spaces in Nairobi and globally as tech hubs and incubators look to new business models. Nairobi Garage began as a tech hub complete with a startup fund but its accelerator arm has since been quietly closed after the firm said it would pause fundraising and doing seed stage investments.
iHub went all out for this shared office space model limiting which groups of entrepreneurs access and use the space as a tech hub. Nailab has also intensified its efforts to provide companies a place to work and do their events from. The shift is not just happening in Nairobi, WeWork,which runs shared office space in the US and various parts of Europe has sold these flexible office dream to hundreds of enterprises and its continuing with its global expansion.
WeWork, now runs in over 200 locations in 50 plus cities and is reportedly worth over $20bn and is among the world’s 10 most valuable start-ups, according to a report by the FT beating oldie Regus which is run in 3,000 locations in 1,000 cities but valued at just $4.1bn. Though Nairobi Garage is yet to launch in as many locations as its global counterparts, it’s targeting entrepreneurial cities such Nairobi and Lagos with plans to expand further. These expansion in Nairobi could be its great start to launching Garages across Africa and probably exiting to WeWork in the near future.
The Golden Age for women entrepreneurs has finally begun. The stars have aligned to help trigger the trend as robust ecosystems churn out enterprising females equipped with inspiration, know-how and funding. In recent years, the rate of women entrepreneurs has been growing at a percentage at least double that of their male counterparts. Just in case you haven’t fallen into the trend, here are a few inspiring messages from successful women that prove that you can do it too:
Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure you do things differently from everyone else.- Sara Blakely, Spanx Founder
Don’t you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct.- Barbara Corcoran, Entrepreneur
If you push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking risk, really amazing things can happen.- Jen Sincero, Authour
I’m tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want, if that makes me a bitch, okay.- Madonna, Entertainer
The thing women have to learn is no one gives you power, you just take it.-Roseanne Barr, Actress
It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective of success.-Ellen Degeneres, Comedian
If you want it bad enough you have to be willing to fight for it.- Charlene Johnson, Entrepreneur
Focus on what you can do to help other people, not what you can get.- Carrie Green, Female Entrepreneur Association
If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.- Maya Angelou, Poet.
Fear is a mindset, and so is the will to succeed.- Bethenny Frankel, Founder of Skinny Girl.
The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), in collaboration with partners Power Africa and General Electric, has announced the winners of the 2017 Women in Energy Challenge in Uganda, where only 20% of the population is connected to electricity. Joint Energy and Environments Projects (JEEP) and Conservation and Development Uganda Limited (CODE) will each be awarded a grant of $100,000 to expand their renewable energy enterprises to reach women beneficiaries.
Joint Energy and Environments Projects (JEEP) and Conservation and Development Uganda Limited (CODE) will each be awarded a grant of $100,000 to expand their renewable energy enterprises to reach women beneficiaries. Dr Maria Bawabya Senkezi, JEEP’s Chairwoman, says investing in women entrepreneurs is critical because “women invest money back into the community.”
The Women in Energy Challenge, part of the Off-Grid Energy Challenge, was launched in 2016 by USADF and GE to identify and accelerate enterprises either led by women or benefitting women and help African entrepreneurs compete in the global economy.
The Off-Grid Energy Challenge is a part of Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid initiative, which aims to drive private investment in off-grid and small-scale renewable energy solutions. By funding energy entrepreneurs, USADF is bridging the energy gap for some of Uganda’s most vulnerable populations.
“We launched these Women in Energy Challenge to find the best and the brightest female entrepreneurs that are making a difference in bringing electricity to rural communities. We are very pleased to see that these women-led enterprises are showing promise in finding alternative solutions to Uganda’s energy crisis,” says C.D. Glin, USADF President and CEO.
“Providing energy access to these Women population is a priority for us,” said Jay Ireland, President & CEO of GE Africa. “The Women in Energy Challenge is one of our commitments towards supporting local entrepreneurs and we are delighted that African women-owned enterprises are solving local challenges.”
About Joint Energy and Environments Projects (JEEP)
JEEP is a 100% women-owned enterprise in central Uganda. With a $100,000 grant, it will install 6 green power units in Kalangala district, a remote island district in Lake Victoria. Fishing is the main industry in this island district in Lake Victoria, but commercial ice to preserve fish is both expensive and limited. As a result, a significant amount of fish is lost before it can be sold in the market. The 6 green power units which JEEP establishes will each have solar-powered cold storage facilities for preservation, phone charging and solar home systems for sale, and each will be run by a women’s group trained in bookkeeping. The green power units will each repay a portion of their profits to JEEP to be used to replicate the model throughout the region. This will not only provide local jobs but will increase incomes for local women.
About Conservation and Development Uganda Limited (CODE)
CODE is a majority-women owned enterprise in western Uganda where surrounding national parks limit the amount of available firewood, and as a result, women bear the brunt of energy poverty, walking long distances in search of firewood and cooking fuel. Through the grant, CODE will sell an initial 350 Agro-Eco kits using a flexible repayment financing model, which will provide alternative and safer fuel sources. Using a low-cost distribution system using Village Savings and Loan Associations, CODE will collect revenues and expand their business to impact more and more households in the region.
Senga, Kenya’s one-stop shop for trucks ranging from pick-ups to semi-trailers has today launched nationwide pick-up and delivery services after expanding to various counties and local towns across the country.
In a Facebook post, the firm announced, “Senga is taking the #shiphappy experience nationwide. Now in Nairobi, Chuka, Embu, Kerugoya, Kisii, Kutus, Nakuru, Narok, Nyahururu, Ruiru, Rumuruti & Thika. COMING SOON to Baringo, Eldoret, Kericho, Kiambu, Kisumu, Machakos, Maragua, Matuu, Muranga, Nyandarua & Taita Taveta.”
Founded last year by June Odongo,Senga connects vetted truck and pick up drivers to clients who need to transport their cargo by road by finding the right transporters for you or your companies’ goods via a mobile and web application just like Uber Technologies for cabs. Senga works with vetted and trusted transporters and offers predictable pricing to make it easy for both cargo owners and transporters.
Though initially launched in Kenya, Senga aims to expand across Africa and the local expansion is in line with its pan-African expansion dream. locally the firm competes with Lorisystems, a web- and mobile-based freight management provider that coordinates truckers and shippers in Kenya. Sendy has also been aiming to expand its product portfolio to include long distance trucks and pickups but with this local expansion seems Senga is not moved by new firms trying to copy its model.
Now serving Kenya, Senga promises users straightforward, transparent, fair and predictive pricing regardless of time or season. Senga also adds that it works with a wide network of vetted transporters who are happy to move cargo across towns and cities. Senga has an escrow-like platform paying the transporter once he or she has verified delivery and the client is satisfied with the condition of the goods. Business owners have access to dashboards for summarized report curbing theft and losses.