Disrupting The Continent And Writing The Future


After 13 weeks of intensive coaching and hard work, the top ten startups in the 2019 Startupbootcamp (SBC) AfriTech cohort were finally ready to show off their ventures to the world at a Demo Day on Thursday, 7 November 2019.

Opening the event, SBC AfriTech Programme Director, Nsovo Nkatingi, said: “By the end of the century, one third of all people on the planet will be African. Within the next 80 years, the population of Africa is projected to increase to a staggering 4.5 billion people and all of that growth will happen in urban areas. African cities are growing at a rate that is unprecedented in human history and this tectonic shift will profoundly impact every aspect of our lives – food, commerce, transportation, housing, financial services and communication. Everything will be fundamentally disrupted by this. New and unique challenges cannot be addressed by trying to cut and paste solutions from other markets. They require a deep understanding of the local context and cultural nuances. African challenges are best solved by African innovators and corporate startup collaboration is critical for their success. In the midst of the most dramatic transformation in human history all across the continent, the future is being written by disruptive African startups collaborating with innovative corporates and leading investors who are scaling African solutions to African challenges.”

In addition to shining a spotlight on cutting edge technologies from across the continent, the event served as an opportunity for each startup to reflect on how the past three months had impacted their businesses.

Tekwane Mwendwa, Co-Founder and CEO of Kenyan company, Asilimia, shared that one of the biggest highlights had been winning the Africa Cup at the SA Innovation Summit, which saw him walking away with a R5 million (US$350,000) investment offer from the Unicorn Group and three weeks of acceleration. This will help the startup make mobile money cheaper and easier for informal traders to use whilst enabling them to rechannel the transaction fees saved into critical services and products they couldn’t previously afford and access.

Cinnamon Clubs CEO and Founder, Dickson Mushabe, revealed that during the course of the SBC Afritech programme, he acquired many skills that have benefited his company, which in turn will help the treasurers of savings and investment clubs to automate the club’s bookkeeping. As a result of their learnings, Cinnamon Clubs has now made history by becoming the first company to offer insurance on loans to informal savings and investment clubs in Uganda.

Henry Ifeanyi Mascot, CEO of Curacel Systems said that prior to joining the programme, his team had only dreamed about scaling the business across Africa. Now, it is becoming a reality thanks to their proof of concept with Old Mutual which will see their AI fraud detection and health claims solution being implemented in Uganda and four other east African countries where UAP Old Mutual offers health insurance coverage.

For Databotics Director, Paulo Scholle, the programme has enabled him and his team to build a scalable, repetitive business model as opposed to the consulting model they were using initially. By offering their robotic process automation solution to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, the startup can now generate annuity income and effectively scale. They enable companies to liberate employees from routine, repetitive tasks so they can focus on more strategic, value-adding roles.

One of the biggest achievements for HouseAfrica was powering Nigeria’s very first blockchain-based real estate transactions. COO, Ndifreke Udo and CEO, Uba Nnamdi Chukwuebuka said that this was an offshoot of their collaboration with the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company which will give the blockchain-based land registry the opportunity to exclusively service 100,000 land titles across six states and soon it will be expanding across the whole of Nigeria.

Over the past three months, Africa’s first on-demand rental platform, Rentoza, has grown substantially. The company’s CEO, Chris Govender shares that, to date, there have been over 2,000 users on the platform, a 250% increase in traffic to the site and 167 transactions.

Snapslip Holdings’ Founder, Lynton Naicker, said that Startupbootcamp taught him not to fall in love with the solution, but to rather fall in love with the problem. “This has revolutionised the way we’ve provided what customers need and want through our offering.” After taking a top spot at the inaugural Prosperity Games hosted by the UK SA Tech Hub, the digital receipting solution has been awarded an opportunity by the UK Government to scale within the country and participate in the first ever UK Africa Investment Week. They are currently running a pilot project, servicing 350 stores in the RCS retail network.

Stephan Eyeson, CEO and Co-Founder of Survey54 shared that the programme has encouraged the survey intelligence platform to put more machine learning into their product in order to deliver smart insights. Additionally, the company has benefitted from introductions to corporates like MTN and Distell, particularly in terms of getting commitments for its fundraising rounds and completing pilots.

Yobante Express CEO and Co-Founder, Oumar Basse, divulged that before the end of the year, the web and mobile platform that connects e-commerce retailers, businesses and individuals with independent and casual couriers that will handle deliveries from point to point, will be operating in Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Nigeria and Ghana. Already, the company is working with the likes of Jumia (‘The Amazon of Africa’), Delta, Chiwa, and OuiCarry.

Zimbabwean startup, YouFarm, which provides farmers with access to collateral-free finance by getting people to invest in crops and livestock and share the profits when the produce goes to market, has successfully launched in South Africa, with plans to enter Mozambique, Tanzania and Namibia in the near future. The company’s CEO, John-Paul Matenga shared: “We are hoping to take over the SADC region and fund as many farmers as we can in southern Africa.” One of the first projects available for investors is a new vineyard project in Khayelitsha, which will be the first crowd funded wine farm in South Africa.

SBC AfriTech CEO and Co-Founder, Philip Kiracofe, concluded the event by saying: “For these 10 startups, this is just the beginning. It is the latest validation that corporate-startup collaboration can produce extraordinary solutions for Africans, by Africans.”

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