iHub has announced a second cohort of digital startups who will participate in a scale-up accelerator program, Traction Camp.
The 27 startups have been selected for the six-month business acceleration program. The program will see the startups receive mentoring from global and local experts, learn through a tailor-made curriculum, increase their regional visibility, and get access to potential partners and investors.
The programme will culminate in a one-week residency in Kenya, where the startups will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from their mentors, coaches, peers, potential partners and investors.
After successfully completing the first cycle of the program; the second cycle of the program will kick off in March 2018. The first cycle supported 16 high growth ventures from five countries in Eastern Africa namely; Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia.
Some of the members from cohort one are currently fundraising, with some indicating that they are almost closing deals while others have expanded into new markets. A number of the startups have reported growth in their sales revenues and growing their teams.
In Cohort 2, the country composition of the startups are as follows: 17 are from Kenya, 5 from Uganda, 2 from Somalia and Tanzania and 1 startup from Rwanda.
Traction Camp’s newest portfolio companies include the following:
TozzaPlus (Kenya) – is a cloud business management solution for small and medium enterprises.
SolarGen Technologies (Somalia) – is a renewable energy company in Somalia that offers engineering, design, and installation of: Mini-Grids ; Solar Irrigation Systems, Solar Street Lights, and Solar Water Pumps.
Sheria Soft (Kenya) – is a legal practice management system which enables lawyers and legal professionals to easily manage their practice.
GrassRoots Bima (Kenya) – GrassRoot Bima connects (potential) customers with insurers via an integrated insurtech solution – WazInsure, to access insurance services more simply and transparently through both online and offline applications.
SmartFit (Tanzania) – is a social enterprise developing and deploying self-operated water purification and vending machines in sub-Saharan Africa to enable easy access to clean and safe drinking water at an affordable cost.
Bunifu Framework (Kenya) – is productivity tool for software developers that helps reduce their development time through use of pre-made modern custom controls and components.
Nampya Farmers’ Market (Uganda) – is marketplace that connects farmers with customers using a b2b model.
Taimba Limited (Kenya) – is a business to business mobile-based cashless platform that connects farmers to retailers.
Elimisha Tutors (Kenya) – is an online marketplace that helps parents find nearby expert tutors for their children in need of personalized academic attention for core subjects and niche skills.
Be Afrika Media Ltd (Kenya) – is a content creation company that works as a creative collaboration, focusing on building brands in the creative sector in Africa.
Ejenzi Africa (Kenya) – is an online marketplace for building and construction materials and home improvement products.
Optimetriks (Kenya) – is an Africa based company that enable FMCG companies operating in Africa to get a tighter control over their distribution networks, reach their full sales potential and better understand the market dynamics through smarter field data.
Tango TV (Tanzania) – is a video on demand service for African swahili content, focusing on local language films and shows
Zoa (Kenya) – is a cloud hosted branch-less, paperless financial management platform for financial institutions delivered on mobile and web.
Denkim Insurance (Kenya) – is an online insurance service provider that provides an integrated system that connects insurance players in the insurance value chain.
Sauti East Africa Limited (Kenya & Uganda) – is a mobile-based trade & market information platform for MSMEs engaged in cross-border trade in the East African Community.
Yasa (Uganda) – Is a startup in Uganda that has developed sustainable and affordable alternative energy solutions for rural communities.
Baobab Circle (Kenya) – provides personalized health advice/education via mobile phones for those suffering from chronic diseases across Africa.
Skooldesk (Uganda) – is an intuitive e-learning platform that helps kids improve their learning outcomes through tests with automated grading, interactive learning objects and a robust analytics engine that helps identify strengths and weaknesses at subject and topic level.
SomHealth (Somalia) – provides 24/7 on call system that urban poor families can call the center and health care professionals are visiting the family in 5- 15 minutes to increase access to pregnant women and under five children to improve health and nutrition .
Lacel Technologies (Kenya) – is a software company that designs and develops mobile & web apps for small and leading brands.
Uplus (Rwanda) – is a digital crowdfunding platform for Africa, which enables people to pull fund together in a group using their mobile phones, and make something happen, like a savings group or a wedding contribution group.
Azima (Kenya) – is an android based mobile lending app that offers much needed short term liquidity anywhere anytime in Kenya.
B2B Smartlink Ltd (Kenya) – is a platform that generates a single feed of information about the status of a business through capturing of every critical data of the business.
Klientele Ltd (Kenya) – is a provider of mobile lending products for short-term small loans.
Mimea Agricultural Solution (Kenya) – is ensuring food production and processing is done in both a safe and smart way using its envisioned Mimea Point Integrated System (MP-IS).
Ancaps Global Tech (Uganda) – is Africa’s Uber for long distance haulage trucks that supports transportation of goods from one place to another.
The program is backed by the World Bank Group’s infoDev program and supported by the governments of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Kenya.
Top Three Teams Present at BBC Beyond Fake News Conference, Offered Mentorship at Safaricom’s Innovation Hub
Andela, the global technology company that is building a network of technology leaders on the African continent, recently hosted the “Fighting Fake News” Hackathon. Supported by BBC News, the Andela Hackathon was one of many events being held as part of the broadcaster’s ‘Beyond Fake News’ series, a project aimed at tackling the problem posed by the spread of disinformation.
After a 24-hour sprint involving 52 software developers, 16 teams presented their ideas to a panel of judges comprising of Jackie Christie [BBC Head of Partnerships – Africa TV Co-Productions], Shikoh Gitau [Head of Products – Safaricom], Frank Tamre [Software Engineer, Instructor & Mentor] and James Smart [Journalist]. Three teams – Thibitisha (Kiswahili word meaning confirm), iCODEAI, and SeeTheLight – presented the strongest concepts according to the panel. Their winning prototypes utilized Artificial Intelligence (AI), image manipulation detection techniques, and crowd-sourcing to fact-check, verify and distinguish fake news from legitimate news on text, video, and photos. Each of the teams – comprising of 11 members combined – were invited to pitch their solutions at the BBC Beyond Fake News Conference held in Nairobi on November 12th. Most recently, the teams have also been offered a six-month mentorship opportunity with Safaricom at the firm’s Alpha Innovation Hub to receive mentorship.
“We began the Safaricom Alpha Innovation Hub to drive our purpose of transforming lives by exploring innovations and partnerships that create additional value for our customers. Our collaboration with Andela seeks to harness the power of technology for social good to empower people in making informed decisions,” said Joseph Ogutu, Chief Special Projects Officer, Safaricom.
Themed ‘Technology for the public good: countering fake news online’, the Hackathon was held to showcase how technology can be used for the public good, to counter fake news online. It opened with a diverse panel of experts including Brice Nkengsa [Co-Founder & Director of Engineering, Andela], Joshua Mwaniki [Country Director, Andela Kenya], Jackie Christie, Pinky Ghelani [Speaker, Presenter & Moderator] and moderator Rehema Kahurananga [Communications Manager, Andela] who provided further context as to why curbing the consumption and spread of fake news is vital and requires a multi-pronged approach including technology.
“There are many forms of misinformation but we define fake news as the deliberate spread of false information for political or commercial gain,” said Christie. “Trust underlines everything that we do. When trust is undermined we’re in trouble as a society. We’re using media literacy to educate both the young and old in fighting fake news.”
Winners of the 2018 Ecobank Fintech Challenge were announced at a ceremony held at Ecobank’s headquarters in Lome, Togo on 30th August 2018. Nala, from Tanzania, beat the ten other finalists to emerge as the overall winner of the competition. Virtual Identity from South Africa and Wallet.ng from Nigeria were the first and second runners-up. They won cash prizes worth US$10,0000, $7,000 and US$5,000 respectively.
Nala, based in Tanzania, is a mobile money application that works offline, without an internet connection. Nala provides a unified user experience in which multiple financial services can be connected through one application. It can host multiple SIMs, enabling users to manage their spending and take control of their finances.
Second-placed Virtual Identity is an innovative platform designed to disrupt traditional customer onboarding for banks. The process is fully digital, creating a virtual video conferencing link between the agent and the customer. Its easy to use web-based solution allows the client to complete tedious KYC processes from anywhere, making it both convenient and time-saving.
The third-placed prize winner, Wallet.ng, is a start-up providing an alternative bank for a growing generation of digital natives. Its core strength is building a banking platform that is as native to customers’ devices as Facebook and WhatsApp.
Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO praised the finalists for their innovative solutions and welcomed them to the Fellowship: “We are proud of the impressive start-ups that made it to our 2018 final. They are shining examples of the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity that will propel our continent’s global competitiveness in the commercial services markets, and I sincerely expect some, if not all, of them to be the business titans of tomorrow. They have my congratulations and we look forward to working closely with all eleven Fellows over the next year to deliver innovative banking services at better price-points that will improve the lives of Africans.”
This year’s Fintech Challenge was keenly contested with applications from over 412 innovative fintech entrepreneurs from across Africa, Europe, North America, and Asia. All eleven (11) finalists were inducted into the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship, a one-year business program where they can explore opportunities for commercial partnerships with the Ecobank Group, to launch and scale products across Ecobank’s 33 country markets in the continent.
Launched in 2017, the second year of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge brought together fintech start-ups and innovators, policymakers, investors and development organizations from across the world to network, witness the 2018 finalists’ exhibitions, and celebrate the induction of the finalists into the 2018 Ecobank Fintech Fellowship. Also present at the finals was the Honourable Alhaji Dr. Ibrahim Awal Mohammed, Minister of Business Development of Ghana, who commended Ecobank for this initiative and urged more support for young African entrepreneurs to improve job creation on the continent.
The Ecobank Fintech Challenge and Fellowship is designed and managed by the advisory firm Konfidants and supported by FMO, Microsoft4Afrika, Accion Venture Labs, Cellulant and FinConecta. More information on the fellows, their innovations and the Innovation Fellowship can be found on the programme website at www.ecobankfintech.com
In recent times, drone delivery has become a global phenomenon. However, in countries like Rwanda, these drones not only deliver goods, they save lives. The drones owned by Zipline, serve as a lifeline for Rwandans who require blood in some of the most remote areas of the country; areas where bad roads hamper the on-time delivery of medical products during emergencies.
Even though Zipline launched its operations in Rwanda barely two years ago, its drone-delivery has recorded remarkable success and impacted thousands of lives. The drones have completed more than 1,400 deliveries across 12 regional hospitals in the countryside of Rwanda. In addition, the drones have also totted up more than 5,500 units of blood deliveries to patients in dire need of blood transfusion.
The California-based startup which was founded by a team of technology enthusiasts (Keenan Wyrobek, Keller Rinaudo, Peter Seid, Phu Nguyen, and William Hetzler) at the Silicon Valley in the US has its base in Muhanga. The town is located around the Southern province of Rwanda, approximately 45 km from Kigali the country’s capital. So far, Zipline’s success since it launched in Kenya could place East Africa at the forefront of an evolution.
“Some of the biggest, most powerful technology companies in the world are still trying to figure out how to do this. But East Africa is showing them all the way. “The work in Rwanda has shown the world what’s possible when you make a national commitment to expand healthcare access with drones and help save lives,” Keller Rinaudo, Zipline CEO and Co-founder explained in an interview in January 2018.