Top 30 startups selected for DEMO Africa 2015

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Top 30 startups selected for DEMO Africa 2015

By Miguel Heilbron

DEMO Africa

DEMO Africa will launch 30 of the most innovative start-ups in Africa and highlight some of the best new technology innovations from across the continent. The 30 finalists have gone through two rigorous screening processes with the final vetting and adjudication done by a pan-African panel of judges comprised of entrepreneurs, VCs and academia.

The 30 start-ups have been selected from over 600 applicants with four earning direct nominations during DEMO Africa pre-pitch events. The ventures are addressing opportunities in Agriculture, Health, Education, Manufacturing, Retail, Media & Entertainment, Communication, Transport and Logistics, Energy, Finance & Banking, Water & Sanitation, and Waste Management & Recycling. On September 24 & 25, these 30 entrepreneurs will present their plans to a global audience of investors, media, strategic buyers, C-level executives, and other entrepreneurs.

Last year’s giant, Nigeria, tops the list again with 8 representatives followed by Kenya with 6. South Africa is third with 3 representatives while Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon and Zimbabwe each have two. Uganda, Tanzania and new comer Ivory Coast will each be represented by 1 start-up. The presence of Ivory Coast on the list of giants is a strong signal that more African nations are warming up to the ability of the continent to craft her own solutions to various needs. The highest represented category on the 2015 list is Finance and Banking with 8 products. Other popular categories include Education, Transport and Logistics, Retail, Communication and Media and entertainment.

The team at DEMO Africa, and everyone part of the VC4Africa community, would like to congratulate the selected entrepreneurs for their achievement!

Here is an overview of the selected ventures. Click on the tiles to find out more.

abacus65 Abacus – helping investors make smarter, faster and more decisions by providing access to real time market data, news and analytics. Joel Macharia Kenya
airshop-65 Airshop – unleashing the untapped potential of duty-free stores by enabling passengers to make special orders of high value products in advance. Francis Yapobi Ivory Coast
bambapos65 BambaPOS – allowing retail merchants to access point of sale and inventory management automation with any android smart device. Karogi Kamau Kenya
Bitsoko Bitsoko – an Android mobile wallet removing the cost of transferring money between two individuals and increasing access to payment services. Daniel Bloch                    Kenya
bozza Bozza Media – a digital distribution platform enabling artists to connect with fans who want locally relevant content via mobile and web. Emma Kaye South Africa
Carparts Nigeria Carparts Nigeria –  an online car and truck parts and accessories store with millions of inventoried parts and a quick and simple search. Ade Oladapo Nigeria
ECOMC2 Eco-mc² Compressed Air Hydraulic Energy Storage – innovative air- compression storage based products ensure the power stays on, without the disadvantages of battery based systems. Magriet Leaper South Africa
edge books Edge Books – a digital platform for eBooks and other digital platforms such as magazines, comics & Journals. Daniel Oluwagbemiga ben-Daniel South Africa
Ent-Mobile ENT-Mobile – converting human conversation on social media and mobile platforms to actionable and quantifiable data for business decision making. Andrew Kamau                 Kenya
feemwifi Feem Wifi – providing an easy way to transfer music, videos, documents and other files – and listen to music or play videos when you are not transferring files. Fritz Ekwoge Ekwoge     Cameroon
flippycampus Flippy Campus – Flippy Campus is a social application that helps students get updated on what is happening on their campuses. David Mumuni Ghana
iKon Tracker iKon Tracker – iKon Tracker is a conveniently sized bluetooth tracking device paired with a downloadable iKon smartphone application. Adedayo Charis               Nigeria
insureafrica InsureAfrika.com – InsureAfrika.com is an online comparison platform which enables users to compare insurance quotes across insurance categories. Gagan Hayer Kenya
IPC IPC eProductivity – IPC eProductivity is an on-line productivity calculator that helps organisations determine their key drivers of productivity. Lovemore Jokonya Zimbabwe
Koomzo Koomzo – Koomzo is a hosted (cloud based) SaaS School ERP platform that automates core school processes (academic and administrative). Longchi Gide Kanouo Cameroon
lipaplus-65 Lipaplus – LipaPlus helps SMEs accept credit/debit card payments and also manage their sales, inventory and finances using just their phones. Ndeeri Macharia              Kenya
Locname65 LocName – a web and mobile application that gives a short, unique name for your address, which you can then share easily in just 2 seconds. Mourad Ashry                  Egypt
maviscomputer Mavis Computel Ltd – Mavis Computel Ltd provides a Talking Books & Talking Posters education solution. Chizaram Ucheaga Nigeria
OgaVenue ogaVenue – making it easy to search, check availability and book event venues online, by aggregating variety of event venues. Andrew Airelobhegbe Nigeria
PoshRite PoshRite – PoshRite is an online beauty social network that aims to encourage women to express their inner beauty by offering a web platform. Chidimma Nwankwo       Nigeria
raye7 Raye7 – provides a greener, cheaper, nicer, safer and time-efficient way of transporting people aiming for a better tomorrow. Ahmed Negm Egypt
roadrules Road Rules – a mobile app that will disrupt and revolutionize the way individuals study, practice and prepare for their driver’s license exam. Chikosi Tawanda Zimbabwe
Roundbob Roundbob – allows travelers to create travel wallets facilitating travel savings, installment payment options, reducing cost exposure and supporting this with relevant content. David Gonahasa Uganda
shield Shield Finance – a FinTech company using proprietary technology while leveraging on Mobile Money to offer under banked employees affordable salary advances directly to their mobile phones. Kenny R Kenya
simbapay SimbaPay – offers mobile apps that allow for fast, convenient and cheap money remittance to Africa. Nyasinga Onyancha        Nigeria
SmartEdu SmartEdu – an Education Technology Startup that helps Educators and Parents monitor and improve students’ academic performance. Molawi Adesuyi Nigeria
TalkingBookz65 Talking Bookz – a business focused on making learning interactive and entertaining by using mobile application to transform the learning experience for students. Kolapo Ogungbile           Nigeria
tango tv Tango TV – a Tanzanian technology company focusing on integrated media streaming services, beginning with African Movies, music videos and TV shows. Victor Joseph Tanzania
Zeepay Zeepay Mobile Financial Services – Mobile payments for both USSD and smart phones using NFC and supporting international remittances onto PoS. Andrew Takyi-Appiah Ghana
Zuvaa Zuvaa – Zuvaa is an online marketplace for African Fashion. Kelechi Anyadiegwu        Nigeria


Want to see these companies present on stage? 

You can now book your tickets for the DEMO Africa event, to be held in Lagos, Nigeria, on September 24-25, or join as a V.I.P. if you are an investor.

More people continue to book their slots to witness the unveiling of the selected thirty products. The full event will take place between the 21st and 25th September, 2015 at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos Nigeria. Over 500 guests including investors, IT buyers, IT consumers and media are expected.

DEMO Africa is the premier platform for the best and brightest companies throughout the continent seeking to launch their products in front of a global audience. VC4Africa represents the largest community of entrepreneurs building innovative early stage companies.

The selected start-ups will now be placed under a mentorship programme which will run until September 22nd 2015. This programme is aimed at sharpening the pitching skills of the entrepreneurs readying them for the DEMO Africa stage.

This year, DEMO Africa introduces knowledge streams to delve into critical topics including Business Modelling, Scaling Businesses, Creating an unfair advantage, and Raising Capital. Top industry players including Jorn Lyseggen-MEST Founder, Harry Tomi Davies-ABAN President, Folabi Esan-Partner, Adlevo Capital, Jason Njoku-IROKO TV CEO among others will lead the discussion. Other notable activities at the 2015 DEMO Africa event include an investor roundtable forum and the LIONS@FRICA Summit with the uptake of Africa generated technology being expected to dominate the conversations.

The event will be co-hosted by DEMO Africa, Nigerian Ministry of Communication Technology and National Information Technology Agency-Nigeria in collaboration with LIONS@FRICA partnership and VC4Africa.

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5 African Cleantech Startups You Need To Watch

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5 African Cleantech Startups You Need To Watch

A woman uses a solar light from M-Kopa. Image: Georgina Goodwin/M-Kopa

Africa is extraordinarily rich in energy power potential. According to McKinsey and Company’s 2015 Brighter Africa report, the continent has 10 terawatts or more of potential capacity for renewable energy. If sub-Saharan Africa pushes renewables, it could result in 27 percent decrease in carbon emissions worldwide.

But sub-Saharan Africa is in an energy crisis. Two out of three Africans lack access to electricity — that’s 621 million people. The Brighter Africa report also stated the sub-Saharan Africa region has 13 percent of the world’s population, but 48 percent of the share of the global population without access to electricity.

African entrepreneurs and technologists are coming up with solutions to solve their own energy problems. In 2014, Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicted that 1.8 gigawatts of renewable energy would be commissioned. That’s a huge leap from the previous 14 years. And in the first quarter of 2015, Bloomberg reported, South Africa emerged as one of the top clean energy leaders.

Here’s a look at five African cleantech startups bringing power to the continent.

M-Kopa Solar

M-Kopa started a pay-as-you-go solar revolution in Africa by capitalizing on the popularity of mobile phones on the continent. Customers replace kerosene lamps with a solar light and radio/phone charging stations over several months in installments via SMS messaging on mobile money networks. The company was started by the founders of M-Pesa, Kenya’s incredibly popular mobile money system that has served as a model for the rest of the world.

Quaint Global Energy Solutions

This Nigerian company develops renewable power projects, and recently received a US Trade and Development Agency grant as part of Power Africa, a US government initiative. Quaint Global is working with California-based Tetra Tech, an energy project developer, on a feasibility study to determine the best way forward with the project. The effort will bring 50 megawatts of clean energy to Kaduna State, a state in Nigeria, and could also leverage more than $160 million.

Freedom Won

This South African company was founded in 2011 to grow Africa’s clean energy and electric vehicle solutions. The first electric vehicle prototype they developed was Freedom1, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and since then, they have built several more, mostly for safari drives for wildlife tourism.

More recently, Freedom Won created a wall-mounted Tesla Powerwall-like system called the FreedomCOR, which uses lithium-ion batteries to store renewable energy. The modular batteries range in size from 5 kilowatt hours to 30 kilowatt hours for residential, and even larger for industrial, and reportedly last up to 13 years.

African Clean Energy

According to this company, three billion people worldwide cook on open fires or with dirty, dangerous fuel, and accidents resulting from that kill four million people a year. To help solve this massive problem, African Clean Energy developed the ACE 1 Ultra-Clean Biomass Cookstove, which burns any type of biomass cleanly and smoke-free indoors or outdoors. It reduces fuel use about 70 percent, saves 50 percent of costs, and drastically improves the lives of women and children, who do the majority of the cooking.

iCoal Concept Ltd.

Earlier this year, the World Bank’s Kenya Climate Innovation Center launched a crowdfunding mentorship program for entrepreneurs in East Africa, to provide them financial services and mentorship. One of the startups chosen was iCoal Concept Ltd., which turns the waste from charcoal into modern energy. The company collects charcoal waste from the community and repurposes it into  charcoal-based briquettes that are 35 percent cheaper than regular charcoal.

Kenyan households use 700 tons of charcoal per day. But now that iCoal has a handle on the market, the startup is producing three tons of its own SmartCharcoal per day for hotels, farmers, and residential communities.

Source:Forbes.com Lyndsey Gilpin

#AFRICA – Inside the Continent’s New $14bn Social Media Industry

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SocialMediaWeek

 

Source: Ventures Africa

“Africa is projected to have the largest working population of any continent by 2020 according to a 2012 report by Euromonitor International. With the steady rise of its middle class and increasing income levels, internet usage across the region will only increase, making it potentially the largest social media growth market in the world. Businesses ought to take note: Africa is trending, and they should definitely follow.”

http://www.ventures-africa.com/2014/06/africa-inside-the-continents-new-14-billion-social-media-industry/

What Africa Needs – Part 2

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Here you go! Part 2 of the 5 part series, What Africa needs: Increased Inter- Africa trade.

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According to the Economist, “The bulk of the Africa’s trade is with Europe and America: only 12% is with other African countries, according to research by Ecobank, a Togo-based bank. By comparison 60% of Europe’s trade is with its own continent. The same is true in Asia. In North America the figure is 40%.”

According to Reuters Africa, it costs South African grocer, Shoprite $20,000 a week to secure import permits to distribute goods in one country. As if that isn’t enough, in order to send one of its trucks across the border to neighboring Zambia, 1600 additional documents are required.

An excessive amount of border check points  are yet another problem.  To transport goods from Nigeria to neighboring Ghana, you have to go through about 5 border checks. Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama admits that he is aware of the problem and states that Ghana is working to reduce the number of border posts to just one. In my humble opinion, zero would be better but you have to start somewhere right? The legal and illegal payments made at these borders are all costs that are passed on to consumers in order for the traders to make a profit. At one checkpoint in Mali, border agents extort as much as $4,000 every day. In addition to the aforementioned high costs of trade, unclear policies are another hindrance. Seeds from Kenya can be held indefinitely at an Ethiopian border because they don’t meet Ethiopia’s standards. Tanzania may ship corn to Kenya only to find out there is now a ban on the importation of corn.

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The issue of infrastructure also needs to be addressed. Lack of adequate road, rail, and other physical infrastructure continue to impede trade within and between African countries. According to a report from the UN Economic Commission for Africa, only about 30% of African roads are paved and, as a result of this “shipping a car from Japan to Abijan costs $1500 while shipping that same car from Addis Ababa to Abijan would cost $5000.” Some of these unpaved roads have potholes big enough to swallow an SUV. The railways in Kenya and Uganda face multiple constraints, including ageing equipment and infrastructure with some over a century old.

These are just some examples of red tape and trade barriers that are costing Africa billions of dollars and depriving the region of new sources of economic growth. However, in spite of all this, there is reason to be optimistic. It seems that for the past few years, this issue has become too dire to ignore and strides are being made to rectify it.

In 2012, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma unveiled a plan to spend $97 billion on infrastructure by 2015 to upgrade roads, ports, and transportation networks. At the World Economic Forum held this May in Abuja, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta called on African leaders to work together in removing obstacles that hinder movement across the continent. In his speech, he said free movement would help Africa meet its development targets. He also announced plans for Kenya and Nigeria should sign agreements that will boost trade and investment between the two countries. Since then, the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, NEPC, and its Kenyan counterpart have pledged to explore the vast market opportunities in Africa to promote trade and investment

Also at the 2014 World Economic forum, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote spoke on the matter of visa issuance stating that presently, he and other Nigerian businessmen are required to obtain visas to enter about 38 African countries but a foreigner has more access to these same counties than he does because all they need to do is get a visa at the airport and pass through.Steps are being taken to streamline the visa process so that African businessmen and investors can invest in other countries with ease.

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In Kenya, barriers that formerly prevented professionals like doctors and lawyers from practicing in Rwanda have been removed. Now, a Kenyan lawyer can practice law in Rwanda without sitting for the bar all over again. This will also lead to a reduction in unemployment because new graduates will have more job options and not so new graduates will have more opportunities to provide services.

At the end of the day, increased inter Africa trade is the best way for Africa to use all of its resources and talent become self sustainable, grow and thrive. The less cumbersome the trade process is, the lower the cost of goods and services will be. The lower the cost of goods and services, the more people can afford them. The more people can afford them, the more people will be empowered and gradually lift themselves out of poverty.

What Africa Needs – Part 1

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What Africa Needs – Part One: TRADE NOT AID

After taking some time figure out what I wanted my first post to be about, I came to the conclusion that I want to address what I feel are some issues holding the continent back. I also wanted to use this opportunity to give my opinion on what I think some solutions are. The goal is to spark something within someone (or myself) that will eventually result in some of these issues being further addressed and hopefully resolved. Another goal is to vent my frustrations. Ha! With that said, I present to you, Part 1 of a 5 part series entitled “What Africa Needs”.

africaaid  
Part ONE: Trade Not Aid:

“Trade Not Aid” is a popular phrase used by proponents of the idea
that instead of giving ‘free money’ to Africa to fight poverty and
hunger, donors should support job and business creation through
foreign direct investment. Dont get me wrong, not all aid is bad. I am
not referring to emergency aid given in situations like a natural
disaster. Nor am I referring to donations given to help a child go to
school or clothe an orphan. My sister actually runs a non profit,
Change A Life Africa (www.changealifeafrica.org) that is focused on
providing disadvantaged children with a quality education. I have seen
the difference such organizations can make and I applaud and support
them.

The type  of aid I am referring to is government to government aid. I
feel it is time we realize that this type of assistance is not only
the least effective in terms of poverty reduction but it is also
destructive. It is stunting the growth of a middle class that is
needed to spur economic growth. Zambian-born economist and author of
the best seller, “Dead Aid,” Damiso Moyo states that “Over the past
60 years at least $1 trillion of development-related aid has been
transferred from rich countries to Africa. Yet, real per-capita income
today is lower than it was in the 1970s, and more than 50% of the
population live on less than a dollar a day, a figure that has nearly
doubled in two decades.”  If this economic development model is
CLEARLY not working, why is it still being used? Why is it being used
in Africa only? China moved 300 million people out of poverty in 30
yrs. India has approximately 300 million people in its middle class.
They did not achieve this by relying on aid to the extent that African
does today and has for the past half century plus.

A serious issue is that African governments are now relying on this
aid  as a source of income like a welfare recipient waiting on their
monthly check, instead of looking for alternative means of revenue
generation. Some say that aid promotes government corruption because
the funds are just moved to private accounts abroad. I am certain that
this happens a lot of the time,however, that is not the only issue.
Even where there is no corruption involved, you have a situation where
African governments are relying on western countries to provide the
people with goods and services that they should be providing e.g
education, healthcare, infrastructure etc. Who will respect a leader
that does not care for his own people? That is a huge reason why
African ‘leaders’ get zero respect in the global community. They are
looked at as beggars. You are sitting on priceless natural resources
that can be traded, yet you beg for money from countries that are in
actuality, broke themselves. But I digress…


June_13_Selling_land_for_AID!
Another issue is that aid does not create a meaningful amount of jobs
or opportunities to start and grow a business in Africa. Aid also
comes in the form of goods donated. Why not invest in local producers
of these goods or invest in a manufacturing plant to produce the goods
that are being shipped to Africa? This is a sure way to spur job
creation and invest in a local business instead of flooding the market
of charity goods that will put local producers out of business.There
is no way to reduce poverty if there are no jobs or means for
individuals to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors as a means to increase
their income and start to create wealth for themselves. Therefore, if
there is no middle class to drive the economy you are left with a
situation similar to that in Nigeria where there are extremely wealthy
people and extremely poor people with a few middle class citizens
sprinkled in the middle. I’m sure you can see how this would also lead
to an increase in crime, whether its fraud or good old fashioned armed
robbery.
foreign aid1
The good news is, in recent years due to the slowed economic growth in
Western countries, the amount given in aid is now slowly reducing.
Now, more than ever, the focus has turned Africa, not just as a poor
desperate continent in need of help, but as a place where Western and
Eastern countries need to do business in order to survive. This in
addition to business friendly policies in African countries  has led
to economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. This performance boost is
attributed to rising investment in among other things, natural
resources and infrastructure. China, for example has invested almost
$30 billion in Africa since 2012. According to the consulting group,
McKinsey&Co, “natural resources, and the related government spending
they financed, generated just 32 percent of Africa’s GDP growth from
2000 through 2008. The remaining two-thirds came from other sectors,
including wholesale and retail, transportation, telecommunications,
and manufacturing. This growth acceleration has started to improve
conditions for Africa’s people by reducing the poverty rate. But
several measures of health and education have not improved as fast. To
lift living standards more broadly, the continent must sustain or
increase its recent pace of economic growth.”

This to me is proof that we do not need handouts. What we do need is
to be taken seriously as players in the global trade market. We have
the resources, we have the talent and we have the potential. What we
need to do now is phase out aid and continue to increase the amount of
trade deals and investments that help move the continent in the right
direction.