#Africa SA to expand business incubation programme for entrepreneurs

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The South African government is to expand the business incubation programme it offers to local entrepreneurs, establishing township digital hubs in the process.

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who presented his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday (Thursday February 7)

The incubation programme run by the government provides aspiring entrepreneurs with physical space, infrastructure and shared services, as well as access to specialised knowledge, market linkages, training in the use of new technologies, and access to finance.

It currently consists of a network of 51 technology business incubators, 10 enterprise supplier development incubators, and 14 rapid youth incubators, but Ramaphosa said it will be expanded given its impact on the country’s economy.

“Given the key role that small businesses play in stimulating economic activity and employment – and in advancing broad-based empowerment – we are focusing this year on significantly expanding our small business incubation programme,” he said.

As part of the expansion, township digital hubs will be established, initially in four as yet unnamed provinces, with more to follow.

“We expect these hubs to provide most needed entrepreneurial service to small and medium enterprises in the rural areas and townships, but more especially to young people who want to start their businesses. Our greatest challenge is to create jobs for the unemployed of today, while preparing workers for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Ramaphosa.

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#Africa Election 2019: Cross River women demand 50% inclusiveness

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Women in Cross River state have demanded 50% inclusiveness in the next government. The women in the state said it would be important to have many women from the state as commissioners and ministers. The demand was made by the first lady of Cross River state on behalf of the women.

Some women in Cross Rivers state have demanded 50% affirmative action from the next government at all levels across states in Nigeria.

The women who made their demand during the visit of Jennifer Douglas-Abubakar, the wife of the presidential candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar to Cross River state.

In continuation of Atiku’s wife’s series of town hall meeting across states in Nigeria, the first lady of Cross River state Linda Ayade said, although the women would pull out 50% of the total votes, it would be necessary that they get 50% inclusiveness when the government is formed.

Linda who spoke on behalf of the women in the state said it would be important to have many women from the state as commissioners and ministers.

“When we say this state is for PDP 100%, be assured that more than 50% of them are women. We are warriors and we want to assure you that we shall go out there and win the trophy,” Linda said.

“In Cross River, no woman no vote. We shall prove to Nigerians that Cross River state has political weight.

“As we pull our weight and pull 50% in Cross River, we also demand that in this state, the women affirmative be increased to 50%.

“We are going to pull 50%. We’ll contribute 50%, we’ll get 50%. We want some of you here to become commissioners, political office holders,” she added.

In her reaction, Jennifer said the programs and policies mapped out for Nigerian women by her husband would not be possible if the women did not mobilise massively for his victory.

“Atiku will not do anything for you if you do not vote for him to get to Aso Rock. You have to work hard for him to be voted into office. Go and collect your PVCs.

“It is going to be a defining election. It is done. When the sun rises tomorrow, we will send Atiku to Aso Rock,” Jennifer said. Jennifer who was accompanied by Margaret Obi, wife of the PDP vice presidential candidate, told the crowd that, the Atiku and Obi team had a better policy on job creation, restructuring, education and other areas of concern in the country.

Also Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, former special adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo on National Assembly matters said she had to return to PDP for the sake of Atiku Abubakar.

“I served Atiku as Adviser for 4 years. Even me as Adviser, I can make a good President, not to talk of a man who works 24 hours.

“We want human being to be president, not somebody who is not reachable or can not communicate,” Ita-Giwa said. In his remark, the governor of the state Ben Ayade assured Mrs. Abubakar of total support for the PDP candidates in the forthcoming elections. He also urged women in the state to, “come out on Friday to receive Alhaji Atiku Abubakar”, who will be visiting the state for presidential campaign.

Mrs. Abubakar also visited the Obong of Calabar’s palace, where the entire traditional council gave blessings to the aspiration of her husband.Meanwhile, LEGIT.NG previously reported that Atiku had said he would end the lingering strike by university lecturers in the country, from his first day at work.  Atiku made the pledge on Sunday evening at the Silverbird Man of the Year event which took place in Lagos. Legit.ng gathers that the former vice president referred to the ongoing ASUU strike as “disgraceful”; and hence, will receive his first attention as president if voted into office in the February 16 presidential election.

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#Africa SA property startup Flow launches to public post-funding

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South African property startup Flow has officially launched to the public on the back of securing funding recently, with several thousand tenants having already come on board.

Founded by Daniel Levy, Gil Sperling and Jonathan Liebmann, Flow rewards tenants for registering, adding their property details, paying their rent on time, and looking after their homes.

Disrupt Africa reported last month the startup raised a ZAR20 million (US$1.47 million) funding round, with half coming from South African venture capital firm Kalon Venture Partners and the other half from an international VC, to fuels its growth and add to its service, and the Flow platform has now formally launched to the public.

“Before then we were in stealth mode with several hundred tenants and landlords using the app while in beta. Since launch in the past week we’ve had several thousand tenants come onboard and engaging with several transactions made,” Sperling, who is Flow’s chief executive officer (CEO), told Disrupt Africa.

He said Flow is a long-term rental platform that is an end-to-end solution for home rentals.

“Our vision is to create a globally recognised and trusted rental brand where tenants and landlords meet to experience the full rental journey from searching to signing a lease, moving in, paying rental and then getting rewarded for being a great tenant,” he said.

The Flow founding team has serious pedigree in the entrepreneurship and property spaces. Sperling and Levy previously founded Popimedia, an ad-tech company that was sold to Publicis in 2015. Liebmann founded and developed Maboneng, a regenerated area of the Johannesburg CBD. Sperling said the property space was ripe for disruption.

“Proptech is one of the least advanced verticals of technology, relative to fintech, adtech and healthtech. There has been relatively little development in the technology that the property industry uses, and most specifically when it comes to tenants – that’s where we play,” he said.

Flow is currently available across South Africa, and has plans to expand into other markets. At this point it makes money by charging landlords license fees, but soon it will also have revenue shares through its reward partner marketplace and premium product offerings.

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#Africa Applications open for Founders Factory Africa accelerator

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The Johannesburg-based Founders Factory has opened applications for its African accelerator, a six-month, corporate-supported programme that aims to give startups an “unfair competitive advantage”.

Founders Factory launched in London in 2015 and has already built 70 startups, raised GBP100 million (US$130 million) in funding, and implemented 60 pilots with its corporate partners.

Disrupt Africa reported in October Founders Factory had launched its African operations in Johannesburg, from where it plans to design, build and scale 100 disruptive tech startups across Africa over the next five years.

The African launch took place in partnership with Standard Bank, which made a multi-million dollar investment into Founders Factory Africa. The company will grow existing businesses through its bespoke six-month accelerator programme, whilst an incubator will build completely new businesses focused on addressing key issues on the continent.

Applications for the accelerator are now open, with Founders Factory looking for startups in the fintech and e-health spaces to apply. Participating startups will also have access to global capital, talent and knowledge transfer through the Founders network, which includes world-class entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and successful startups across Africa, Europe, the UK and the US.

Standard Bank will provide access to market, supply chains, customer acquisition channels, data and IP to the startups. These resources and infrastructure will deliver an “unfair competitive advantage” to the businesses that Founders Factory Africa scales.

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#Africa Garage to global – how this SA startup develops VR solutions for major firms

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South African startup bizAR Reality, a software development company that specialises in augmented and virtual reality (VR) solutions, started life in a garage four years ago. Now it develops immersive software for mobile devices, virtual reality headsets and augmented reality smart glasses for some of the world’s biggest companies.

Though it started small, bizAR Reality always had grand goals, and the startup has worked with some of the world’s largest brands, including Avatar Agency, Nestle, AIG, Adidas and Burger King.

“We are driven towards creating futuristic, sustainable and immersive experiences for both businesses and individuals in South Africa,” sales and marketing director Richard Melvin told Disrupt Africa.

“When we started the company, augmented and virtual reality were terms that felt like science fiction to many South Africans. We saw this as an opportunity to travel abroad to places like Silicon Valley, Argentina and Finland to get a better understanding of what was happening abroad.”

By strategically analysing the overseas markets, the founding team was able to identify opportunities in South Africa and used this knowledge to build a thriving business. This was boosted by some seed funding in 2015, with bizAR reality since then funded by its revenues.

The company has reached a number of impressive milestones.

“In 2015, we were the first company to develop an AR to VR Content Management System (CMS) for mobile applications, allowing us to offer both augmented and virtual reality capabilities in one application that could be updated in real-time, without waiting for approvals by the relevant app stores,” Melvin said.

2018 proved a particularly promising year, which won a host of awards for its applications, but it is always looking to adapt.

“As technology advances, so should we. After many years of research and development, our dynamic team has designed and developed one of Africa’s first remote expert system using augmented reality smart glasses. Due to its popularity and growth potential, a strategic decision was made to branch the product off from bizAR Reality into its own company brand called FusionBloc,” said Melvin.

The startup foresees further growth as technologies such as VR continue to grow exponentially, which they will do due to the fact they have numerous applications and value-adding benefits across multiple industries.

“Therefore, bizAR Reality operates on a project-based level having done projects for numerous companies across varying industries, ranging from mining to fast food chains,” Melvin said.

“Currently, our augmented reality smart solution is tailored towards connecting field technicians with remote experts and we are in the process of developing the software solution to cater for both warehouses picking and workflow processes. Our vision for FusionBloc smart glass technology includes rolling the system out into South Africa and then to rapidly expand across the African continent.”

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#Africa Applications open for Startupbootcamp AfriTech FastTrack Tour

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The Startupbootcamp AfriTech accelerator has opened applications for its FastTrack Tour, which will host 19 events across 14 countries to source startups for its third programme in Cape Town later this year.

The corporate-backed Startupbootcamp AfriTech programme is opening applications for its third edition, offering startups access to seed funding, mentorship, training, business support services, and the chance to securing partnerships with corporates.

Over the three-month programme’s first two years, 20 companies have signed 52 pilots and commercial agreements with large corporations, and the search for the third cohort will begin with the FastTrack tour, comprising 19 events in 14 countries.

FastTracks are informal events that give the Startupbootcamp AfriTech team, mentors and sponsors the opportunity to meet the most suitable early-stage companies interested in joining the programme. This year’s accelerator is anchored and endorsed by leading corporate sponsors Old Mutual, RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Nedbank and PwC. Leaders from these corporates will be present at the FastTrack events to engage and mentor.

At each event, 10 startups will receive instant feedback from a panel of industry mentors, be able to network with the Startupbootcamp AfriTech investment team and learn more about the programme. Attending a FastTrack will boost a startup’s chances of joining the accelerator by 20 per cent.

“The Startupbootcamp AfriTech FastTrack Tour for 2019 is an open canvas for forward-thinking startups to initiate a shift in traditional thinking while networking with hundreds of other innovative, like-minded people wanting to set new benchmarks in the African tech industry”, said programme director Nsovo Nkatingi.Interested startups can go here to find the FastTrack nearest to them and submit their application.

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#Africa African e-health startups invited to apply for Sanofi challenge

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French multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi, through its Afric@Tech innovation lab, is inviting e-health companies to submit solutions to three challenges.

Sanofi first launched the Afric@Tech challenge last year with the goal of identifying and rewarding the startups revolutionising practices in the health sector in Africa, with the first edition won by South African mobile diagnostics startup Vula Mobile.

This year, Sanofi is looking for solutions to three challenges: enhancing awareness, diagnosis and disease management of patients suffering from Diabetes, improving access to medicines in remote areas, and supporting decision-makers in getting better usage of available health data.

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to present their solutions at the Viva Tech event in Paris in May, which brings together 10,000 startups with top worldwide investors, companies and global tech leaders.
Applications are open here until February 15, with Sanofi looking for African startups with at least a proof of concept, with relevant solutions and developed business models.

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#Africa South African AI startup Cortex Logic raises funding to expand beyond Africa

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South African artificial intelligence (AI) startup Cortex Logic has secured investment as it bids to expand its reach to new clients in Europe and the United States (US).

Founded in 2015, Cortex Logic leverage its AI engine to help businesses solve strategic and operationally relevant problems by mobilising data science, the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data analytics.

Cortex Logic is already consulting with and supporting some of the most prominent brands in South Africa and global businesses in a range of sectors, and has now secured funding – the amount and source of which is undisclosed – to expand operations further afield.

“Every sector of commerce will be impacted by AI and we are now attracting interest from Europe and the US, so this is just a natural step in our growth plan,” said founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Dr Jacques Ludik.

“The investment is a great endorsement not only of our team, products and growth strategy, but also an acknowledgement of the reality that enterprises around the world are now deploying artificial intelligence powered solutions to secure a competitive advantage.”

Cortex Logic will use the investment to on-board more staff. It is currently recruiting data scientists, developers and analysts with experience in machine learning, deep learning and complex solution development.  

“Housing our core team in our new Cape Town Office HQ means we have a great working environment to offer new staff allied to an excellent talent pool for growth,” said Ludik.

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#Africa Ghana’s Complete Farmer to expand to Ivory Coast, launch mobile app

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Ghanaian agri-tech startup Complete Farmer is to expand operations to Ivory Coast this year, while also building its user base with the launch of a mobile application.

Founded in 2017, the MEST-incubated Complete Farmer aims to ensure food security in Ghana while allowing users to earn money from farming remotely.

Users can sponsor farm managers, monitor progress from the comfort of their homes, and earn returns after harvest, as Complete Farmer sells produce to purchasers.

The startup only launched its platform in July of last year, but it has already set ambitious goals for 2019, geared towards doubling its impact in the African agriculture industry and delivering a higher level of satisfaction to users.

Complete Farmer will expand its operations to Ivory Coast by the fourth quarter of the year, which will enable it to grow crops that thrive in specific regions of Africa. As the crops menu increases, Complete Farmer will also increase its database on proprietary crop cultivation protocols by gathering more data through the extension of its field sensory networks for specific crop species.

The expansion will begin with some pilot projects in Ivory Coast to gain a good understanding of farming conditions in the country, with Complete Farmer also exploring other countries in other regions of Africa.

The startup is also working on a mobile application which is expected to further simplify the farming experience for users. The app will incorporate a host of features, including a chatbot for faster customer service, and social media integration to enable users to share photos and videos of their farms. Complete Farmer will also launch its crowd farming service for universities and diaspora communities as it looks to acquire a larger customer base.

“This year is going to be a big year for the company. We are redefining farming and are projecting to reach 90 per cent yield expectation with the new technologies we are introducing. We are working hard to make farming a fun and rewarding lifestyle,” said Complete Farmer chief executive officer (CEO) Desmond Koney.

In terms of production, a major target for the startup in this year is to increase its contribution towards an increased food production by farming 2,000 acres, up from 200 last year. It also aims to grow seven crops for the export market, and irrigate 80 per cent of company farm lands.

“Complete Farmer has started hiring talents to deliver on these promises and to position the company amongst the likes of global giants and to get the whole world farming from the comfort of their homes,” said Koney.
Complete Farmer is one of 10 innovative tech startups from across Africa that will be pitching live on stage at the Africa Startup Summit in Kigali next week. If you are interested in attending, you can get a 20 per cent discount on the cost of your ticket courtesy of Disrupt Africa right here.

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#Africa African startups invited to apply for Bulgaria-based blockchain accelerator

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African startups have been invited to apply for the Bulgaria-based blockchain accelerator run by æternity Ventures, which offers funding of up to US$100,000 in AE tokens.

æternity Ventures, the investment arm of decentralised smart contracts platform æternity, runs the Starfleet Accelerator programme each year, with Kenyan startups UTU Technologies and RideSafe among those to secure funding from last year’s edition.

The Starfleet Accelerator supports seed-stage projects utilising blockchain technology, with participating startups given access to mentorship and support from leading blockchain and business experts. As part of the program, æternity Ventures will provide selected teams with funding of up to US$100,000 in AE tokens or services.

Applications are open until February 17 for the programme, which commences on March 11 in Sofia. Selected startups will undergo mentoring in areas such as business models, token economics, æternity apps architecture, blockchain infrastructure and tooling, pitching to investors, and media relations from recognised experts.

The most promising startups will be invited to proceed to the Acceleration Stage, a four-week programme of mentorship and further rigorous training. At the culmination of the programme, on Starfleet Demo Day, selected teams will have the opportunity to present their projects to an audience of investors, thought leaders, media, and the global community of æternity, and compete for the funding and the opportunity to build their products on the æternity blockchain.

“Last year, we were delighted to select nine cutting-edge projects for investment, who we believe have the potential to revolutionise a variety of sectors. As these projects continue to flourish this year, Starfleet Accelerator welcomes a new wave of participants from all over the world that share our vision for a future built on powerful, user-friendly decentralised applications,” said Nikola Stojanow, æternity Ventures’ chief executive officer (CEO).

“The blockchain sector is still in its infancy and ripe for development but, without the right support, brilliant ideas may never come to life. By opening the application process for Starfleet Accelerator 2019, we’re calling on the next-generation of blockchain innovators to step forward.”

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