#Africa Africa dominates GSMA Innovation Fund grant winners


Nine startups have been selected to receive up to GB£250,000 (US$322,000) in grant funding, and mentorship from the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund, with seven of the awardees hailing from Africa.

Disrupt Africa reported in July last year the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator announced the launch of its Innovation Fund, with the first round seeking African and Asian startups active in the areas of sharing economy, or mobile services for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Startups could apply for funding ranging between GB£100,000 (US$129,000) and GB£250,000 (US$322,000), to be used for a specific project which aims to achieve a socio-economic impact, such as job creation, or opportunities for youth.

The accelerator has announced the nine first startups to benefit from the Fund, with seven African mobile startups dominating the list.

Kenya contributed two successful startups to the list: Kytabu – a leasing application for textbooks that are downloadable from an online library or via a Kytabu tablet; and Twiga Foods, which provides improved market access to farmers by buying their fresh produce and ensuring a constant hassle-free supply chain for roadside vendors.

Active across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, Optimetriks also made the cut.  The startup is developing solutions for customers to provide feedback and data for companies operating in Africa to better serve their needs.

Rwanda’s Safemotos joins the list, with its mobile-based platform which increases road safety and enables more transparent market interaction between motorcycle taxi drivers and customers.

The final three African grantees are Prepclass from Nigeria – a tutoring marketplace that connects learners and tutors through an online platform; Egypt’s Raye 7, a culturally sensitive carpooling solution for daily commuting which uses the trust reflected in social networks using mobile services; and Mozambican candidate UX, for its product Biscate, which connects workers in the informal sector to customers through USSD and web technologies.

Each of the startups was awarded between GB£100,000 (US$129,000) and GB£250,000 (US$322,000) in grant funding; and will receive between nine and 15 months of support from the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator, including mentorship, facilitation of relationships with mobile operators, and access to networks.

“After months of careful due diligence and fleshing out full applications, our Fund Panel of seasoned experts in the field of mobile technology, development, and impact investment selected our first portfolio,” said Max Cuvellier, head of the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator.

“We are extremely excited to start working with these innovative entrepreneurs, in particular to help them explore synergies with mobile operators, and how to leverage mobile technology to its fullest to maximize socio-economic impact.”

Applications to the second round of the Innovation Fund will open on June 1, and will continue to focus on  start-ups operating in the sharing economy area, and/or developing services for MSMEs.


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