Luno launches new feature for users to earn interest on bitcoin

A South African founded and globally recognised cryptocurrency exchange, Luno has launched a savings wallet feature that will allow users to earn up to 4% interest per annum on Bitcoin holdings.

Users can earn up to 4% interest per annum on their bitcoin holdings via the newly launched Luno savings wallet

The new feature will allow Luno users with Bitcoin to “earn passive income” on their balance. The savings wallet allows this earned interest with no penalties and little effort. 

Marcus Swanepoel, CEO, and co-founder of Luno explains that Bitcoin investments offer more stability in the current economic climate and the launch of the new savings wallet feature falls in line with this. 

“In a time of economic uncertainty, the Bitcoin savings wallet is an alternative for anyone looking to get meaningful savings on their money. Almost 95% of our customers have said they want to earn interest on their Bitcoin, and because of the nature of Bitcoin, we are able to offer a much higher interest rate than traditional savings accounts in certain regions (Europe for example) and comparable to flexible interest offerings in emerging markets such as South Africa. As traditional investments have shown vulnerability at a time of crisis during 2020, there has never been a better time to benefit from a currency that does not rely on a healthy economy to determine its value.”

Benefits of savings wallet

The Luno savings wallet has the following benefits: 

1.Up to 4% interest per annum on your Bitcoin balance

There are no fixed terms, no admin fees, and users are able to move their funds into their normal wallet whenever they require it. 

2.Interest is paid on the first of the month 

Users can opt to leave their earnings in their savings wallet to compound and grow exponentially or they can withdraw the funds immediately. 

To put into a clear perspective, saving one bitcoin at an interest rate of 4% per annum would generate the customer 0.04 bitcoin per annum (around R8,000 / $40 at the time of writing).

Interest rates 

According to reports, the current interest rates offered by some of the country’s large banks, range from 1% – 4% per annum on flexible savings accounts. 

A global research report by Luno discovered that 54% of people are currently earning zero interest on their cash savings. The current inflation is above zero and as a result, many of these individuals’ money “will have less purchasing power each year.”

Furthermore, the research conducted by Luno found that 40% of those surveyed lacked confidence in their local currency. In addition, 95% of active South African Luno customers indicated they would utilise a savings wallet that offered interest on their current Bitcoin balance. 

 Marius Reitz, Luno’s GM for Africa explains that a high percentage of South Africans own cryptocurrency for “speculative investment purposes”, holding onto their Bitcoin for the long term. 

“Less than 5% of Luno’s South African customers plan to sell their Bitcoin in the next six months, in fact, most plan to buy more, so the savings wallet means they can earn interest by simply doing what they were planning to with their Bitcoin.”

Reitz added that there are untapped benefits to Bitcoin investment. 

“More than 55% of South African customers indicated that they do not have investments other than crypto. It’s important to diversify investments given how new the Bitcoin industry is. Those who hold Bitcoin will no doubt find the interest-earning potential attractive,” he explains.

A volatile market 

Although the price of Bitcoin is synonymous with being volatile, Luno claims that its long-term price trajectory has steadily risen. 

“In a strong bullish signal, Bitcoin just set a new record of over 84 days closing above $10,000. Bitcoin is currently trading around $11,467 / R196,565 on Luno,” explains Luno. 

Luno claims that Bitcoin has outperformed all major stock market indices, including gold, in 2020. 

Source: Arcane research for Luno

Read more: South African crypto startup Luno goes global
Read more: Stricter taxes on the horizon for SA cryptocurrency traders

Featured image:  Marcus Swanepoel, co-founder and CEO of Luno (Supplied) 

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A guide to understanding fintech business funding options

Ventureburn is hosting a new webinar series in partnership with Bridgement, a fintech startup that assists SMEs to replenish cash flow via an easy-to-use online platform. 

South African fintech startup, Bridgement, helps SMEs replenish cash flow within hours

In preparation for the webinar, Daniel Goldberg, CEO, and co-founder of Bridgement explains what business owners should know about alternative funding options. 

Fintech has been around for several years, and now more than ever people are starting to understand the power of technology in enhancing and automating financial services and processes. 

One such fintech startup, Bridgement, has created a simple and fast funding option – arguably South Africa’s quickest for SMEs. 

Why fintech funding?

There are many reasons why an SME might consider applying for funding from a fintech. Firstly, if your top priority is how quickly you can apply and access funds, then your best bet is with a fintech, where paperwork-free applications and same-day funding are now a reality.

Speedy application process aside, an SME might already have bank funding, but they’re growing fast and the bank is unwilling to match their growth with an increased facility. Fintech funding presents a great option for that supplemental funding needed to take on a major project or a big client.

Bridgement offers something even more important: lower barriers to access funding – specifically for SMEs with funding needs under R2-million, as well as for businesses in their first two to three years of trading. 

Daniel Goldberg, CEO of Bridgement outlines how a fintech business can assist SMEs with additional funding. 

“Due to the costs and overheads incurred by traditional institutions on small business loans under R2-million, it’s difficult for them to do so profitably. A fintech on the other hand, leverages technology and automation to more efficiently service smaller business funding needs.”

Goldberg adds that with traditional bank funding requirements being as stringent as they are, young businesses and certain industries are often overlooked altogether when applying for funding. 

“Fintechs solve this problem by using alternative data and credit assessments to lower requirements and make funding possible to younger SMEs, even with just a six month trading history,” says Goldberg.

If any of the above rings true, and if the idea of spending weeks filling in a bank’s application forms daunts you, fintech funding might just be the best option for your business.

What fintechs do differently

Simply put, fintechs leverage technology and data to create new financial products and offer the best possible experience. A fintech like Bridgement does exactly this, creating the simplest application, quickest turnaround times, and completely transparent pricing.

As an SME, it can take on average 3-5 weeks to get funding from your bank. Unfortunately, this is time that many business owners don’t have. Fintechs, on the other hand, offer online applications, without the need for lengthy forms and paperwork. 

The Bridgement application process can take as little as two minutes. Automatic assessments enable Bridgement to give applicants decisions the same day they apply – 9.2 hours is their average turn-around time to be exact. 

“Our record to date is getting funds into a first-time client’s account within 90-minutes of them starting their application. This is a game-changer for SMEs in need and sets the benchmark for SME funding in SA. Eventually, we’ll get our turnaround times to a matter of minutes,” explains Goldberg.

Fintechs have also innovated on the way financial products are priced. You’ll be charged a single, transparent fee per withdrawal which represents the total cost of finance – no hidden fees, no surprises. It’s also completely pay-per-use. In other words, if your facility isn’t being used, there’s nothing to be paid. 

Another differentiator between traditional and fintech funding is the response to good behaviour. While banks and other lenders will often penalise early settlements with a termination/cancellation fee, Bridgement doesn’t. Rather, it rewards its clients by discounting the remaining portion of the finance cost.

Fees

Where some traditional credit providers can charge raising, application or initiation fees as high as 3-5% when opening a facility (over and above your quoted interest rate), with Bridgement it’s free to apply and open a facility, no commitment required. Once a facility is opened, it’s completely pay-per-use – there are no ongoing account or facility fees charged each month.

In essence, you will know exactly what you’re in for from the very start, no fine-tooth comb required. With a single, transparent fee, there’s no need to page through a 200-page PDF to understand your bank’s complex pricing structure. 

Bridgement’s minimum requirements

  • Any SME that applies should be a formal business
  • The company must have been trading for at least six months
  • The company must show a minimum of R40k revenue per month 

Your application can be completed online in two minutes, and involves just a few steps:

  1. Create a free account at www.bridgement.com
  2. Submit your trading history by connecting your accounting package, bank feed, or uploading docs
  3. Complete company details

You will typically receive a decision on your application within a few hours. Once approved you will have access to a commitment-free facility that is ready for use when you are. Successful applicants will be able to withdraw from their dashboard at a click of a button and recieve funds within minutes. 

Bridgement keeps its clients at the forefront of every decision, and by removing all of the unnecessary hassle and noise that traditional funders have yet to reduce. 

Bridgement is able to focus on what matters – funding SMEs and helping them grow their business and the South African economy.

Webinar details

Date: 29 October 2020

Time: 11am 

Register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1RWaGB2KR2uCNyX06u1xTQ 

This content has been created in partnership with Bridgement, a company that assists South African businesses solve their cash flow problems by offering instant working capital facilities online. 

Read more: Local fintech startup aims to financially assist SMEs

Featured image: Daniel Goldberg, CEO and co-founder of Bridgement (Supplied)

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Township entrepreneur to launch South African e-hailing service

A Mamelodi Township resident and entrepreneur, Karabo Mogajane, will be launching a new local ride e-hailing service in South Africa. 

Mogajane has plans to launch the e-hailing platform, Ambee, at the Innovation Hub by the Festive Season or in the early months of 2021.

Speaking to Ventureburn, Mogajane described himself as a “very passionate entrepreneur” that aims to assist in developing South Africa’s tech infrastructure.

“I believe there is so much untapped potential, especially within our youth, developing innovative and sustainable solutions to tackle environmental, economical, and social problems are where I believe we can truly make an impact and drive our nation forward,” said Mogajane.

Ambee aims to provide solutions that both drivers and their clients face with a subscription-based model for the drivers. Drivers will pay a monthly fee and keep the profits that they make from the rides.

Personalised relationship with drivers

Mogajane first got the idea to develop Ambee in 2018 after speaking to a driver for a popular e-hailing service, while on his way home from an event at the University of South Africa (UNISA). 

He explained that he was shocked when learned that drivers felt that they were being unfairly treated and that they were unable to earn money due to the market being oversaturated.

After this initial conversation, Mogajane decided to visit the e-hailing “hot spots” at shopping centres and in commercial areas in Pretoria to find out if other drivers shared the same problem.

“To my surprise, 9/10 drivers had the same problem. After conducting more research I saw an opportunity not just to create a new business but to tackle a problem that can change a lot of people’s lives and then Ambee was born,” said Mogajane.

With Ambee, Mogajane aims to develop a personalised working relationship with drivers through having a controlled amount of drivers to match customer demands.

Karabo Mogajane, Founder of Ambee (Supplied)

Successful trial testing of Ambee

The first trial test for Ambee was conducted in December 2019. The involved leasing out an e-hailing platform so that Mogajane and his team could become familiar with the infrastructure and internal processes of an e-hailing platform.

“We went around malls in Pretoria and Johannesburg recruiting drivers and talking to them while refining our concept. We managed to conclude the first trial with a database of 200 drivers,” said Mogajane.

Mogajane explained that it took his developer seven months to develop the beta version of the app. He explained that one of their biggest challenges was the limited resources and funding.

“We had to scrape up the money for resources and meetings. It was really stressful and challenging as we received multiple offers from development companies that could give us a top-notch app but we didn’t have the financial muscle,” said Mogajane.

He added that there were times when he and the team felt that the platform would not take off because of the low resources. But the support that they received from the drivers, pushed Mogajane and his team to keep going.

Ambee had been funded through Mogajane and his team’s personal resources. 

The incubation facility, Mlab has provided Mogajane and his with office space as well as business skill programmes and seminars and events.

However, the startup has been in talks with an investor and they are open to including an external partner to provide funding for the startup to fine-tune the app and expand.

Read more: SA tech startup expands platform to provide e-hailing service for women
Read more: Local startup launches Uber competitor 

Feature image: Ambee, Facebook 

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Top startup web events in South Africa this week [19/10/2020]

This week will focus on empowering young and female entrepreneurs in Africa. Key players in the business sector will share their expertise in this week’s line up of webinars.

Ventureburn has updated its existing weekly series that highlights all the top startup events in Africa, by shifting to focus only on web events broadcast from Africa. This includes webinars as well.

If you have any event recommendations for us to add to the list, or next week’s, please let us know in the comments below or send us an email. Please notify us by Friday of the week before the event.

Not all the events are free and some will require booking in advance. Please click on the event names to find out more information.

All times below are set in South African time unless indicated. These events are free of charge unless otherwise indicated.

Women in Business and Entrepreneurship 

Lifecheq will be hosting businesswoman, Dr Anna Mokgokong for a discussion about women in business and female entrepreneurs. During the webinar, Dr Mokgokong will discuss what it takes to overcome the challenges that society places in front of women who wish to join the entrepreneurial sector.

Dr Mokgokong is the Executive Chairperson and Co-Founder of Community Investment Holdings (CIH). Shas become known for her work in the Healthcare and Commerce sector. She has worked as a social activist and worked to empower women and to bring about equality in the South African economy.

Date: 24 October, 11am
Location: Webinar

Building a successful career 

Respected businessman, leader, and South African author, Professor Bonang Mohale, will share his wisdom about what it takes for entrepreneurs to build a successful career. Professor Mohale is the Chancellor of the University of the Free State and the Professor of Practice in the Johannesburg Business School (JBS) College of Business and Economics and the Chairman of The Bidvest Group Limited.

In 2018, Mohale published his book titled “Lift as you rise” which details the issues that he is most passionate about. The issues have included empowering people, transformation, leadership, integrity, and constructive collaboration.

Date: 20 October, 5:30pm
LocationWebinar

Why you should invest in African Female Founders

This week the Startup Grind will be hosting a webinar discussion on why we should be investing in African Female Founders. The webinar will include prominent speakers such as the Founder of Future Females Invest, Aysha Julie, and the CTO of Future Females Invest, Zulaika Sunthbocus.

Julie is a respected Gender Parity expert and has worked as a consultant and speaker for private and multilateral organisations and leading public organisations that have provided support to initiatives that empower women.

Sunthbocus has also co-founded an IT consulting and software development company, Spoon Consulting. She is a prominent figure in the IT sector and has worked closely with IT academic institutions and shared her expertise with those in the public and private sectors.

Date: 20 October, 11am
Location: Webinar

Feature Image: PICHA Stock via Pexels

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Enter fintech innovation hackathon to win R100 000 in cash 

Ozow, a South African digital payment tech startup has partnered with AfricaArena to host a digital hackathon. The hackathon is aimed at encouraging tech startups to help deliver a new wave of fintech innovation leveraging the new Ozow API. 

Participating teams stand the chance of winning R100 000 in cash

Thomas Pays, Founder and CEO of Ozow comments on the importance of new products in the fintech sector and how the hackathon will play a role in the promotion of innovation. 

 “The growth of the fintech industry has been accelerating throughout the pandemic, and digitization of payments is at the forefront of the economic transformation of many businesses. Since its inception, Ozow has been an incredibly dynamic and innovative South Africa based company. Our world-class tech team is putting the best developer minds in the country to the challenge with the AfricArena Ozow challenge. We are looking forward to receiving very disruptive ideas using our new Ozow API and to work with the finalist teams to continue to deliver amazing innovation to the market.” 

Established in 2017, South African-based AfricArean has established itself as one of the continents leading ecosystem accelerators and is endorsed by various major international sponsors. 

Christophe Viarnaud, AfricArena founder comments on partnering with Ozow in establishing the hackathon. 

“We are very proud of partnering with the Ozow team, a challenge winner at AfricArena 2017, to work on this amazing Hackathon and engage with the brilliant tech community in South Africa for applications using Ozow technology. Ozow has been an incredible success story since its creation and has become a reference in fintech. We hope this will unlock further innovation and enable many developers across the nation to show their metal.” 

The hackathon 

Startups are encouraged to apply to the hackathon via the online platform . Entries closed on 2 November at 5pm. 

Entrants will be required to develop a concept that demonstrates new and novel ideas that are directly designed to disrupt the current payments space. In addition, the product must support the mission of Ozow that focuses on enabling anyone in any location to participate in the digital economy. 

Entrants products must cater to the following: 

-A dynamic banking details (dynamic payment target)

-Variable amounts 

– Payment requests (URL/SMS/Email)

– Configure payment set up, to include the reference number, static or variable amounts 

Participating tech developers will work alongside the talented team from Ozom to create a new and innovative fintech product. 

During the event, participants will be required to present their idea and code using the Ozow API in order to demonstrate how their product or tool works. 

Three finalists will be selected to compete in the AfricArena Summit, which will take place from 24 – 25 November 2020. At the summit, they will be required to pitch their product concept in front of an international group of investors, entrepreneurs, and corporate executives. 

The winning team will walk away with a cash prize of R100,000, and the finalists will earn R25 000. 

Read more: SA tech startup partners with FlySafair
Read more: Ozow nets follow-on funding from Kalon Venture Partners for Series-A round

Featured image: Founders of Ozow (Supplied) 

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Nigerian tech startup acquired by US fintech

Nigerian fintech startup, Paystack, has recently been acquired by an American fintech to establish a convenient payment system in Africa. 

 The startup assists with payments for various companies such as MTNFedEx, and UPS process payments all over the country

The American fintech, Stripe will ensure that online and offline payments are more convenient for businesses in Africa. 

Stripe is an American tech company that provides an economic infrastructure for the internet. 

Shola Akinlade, CEO and Co-Founder of Paystack, comments on the acquisition and joining Stripe. 

“Paystack is a growth engine for modern businesses in Africa, and we couldn’t be more excited to join forces with Stripe, whose mission and values are so aligned with ours, to nurture transformative businesses on the continent,” said Akinlade.

While Paystack has joined with the US business, it will continue to work independently to expand its business in Africa and provide universal payment options. 

Paystack’s already capable platform will be immersed with Stripe’s Global Payments and Treasury Network (GPTN) which manages global transactions in 42 countries.

Assisting businesses in Africa

According to reports, in Africa, the online economy has grown rapidly with an overall increase of more than 21% per year. This surpasses the global average by 75%.

In Ghana and Nigeria alone, there are more than 60 000 businesses that use Paystack services to secure online and offline payments. The platform has also assisted businesses in launching new enterprises and improve their customer service.

The startup has also managed more than half of the online transactions in Nigeria and has plans to expand its services across the African continent.

Years in the making

Stripe led Paystack’s $8-million Series A financing round with Visa and Tencent in 2018. Since then, the US company has guided Paystack as the startup grew to meet its customer’s needs.

In a statement to Ventureburn, Matt Henderson, Stripe’s business lead in EMEA, explains that Paystack has achieved more in five years than most fintech’s in decades. 

He added that by joining with Stripe, Paystack will have access to more resources and support more businesses in Africa.

“We can’t wait to see what they will build next and how their growth can turbocharge the African tech ecosystem,” said Henderson.

Read more: Nigerian based drone tech startup secures $100 000 funding
Read more: Nigerian fintech launched to help gig economy workers

Feature image: Founders of Paystack (Supplied)

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SA security startup selected to join African Early Stage Investment Summit

A South African security startup, AURA, has been chosen to be part of the African Early Stage Investment Summit (AESIS) and the Venture Showcase. 

This year the events will take place virtually from 3 -4 November 2020

The annual event aims to display the best startups in Africa and provide the startups with access to consultations with experts, webinars, and a chance for entrepreneurs to learn from their peers.

In 2019, the AESIS brought together more than 350 investors who were focused on investing in Africa. This year, AURA was one of the top ten startups in Africa to pitch its security platform to stakeholders.

AURA (Subheading)

The startup AURA was chosen out of thousands of applicants for the Venture Showcase. 

Warren Myers, founder, and CEO of AURA stated to Ventureburn that they were excited to have been chosen.

“We are thrilled to be selected to be part of VC4A’s Venture Showcase and the African Early Stage Investment Summit and look forward to playing an even bigger role in delivering innovation into the rest of the continent,” said Myers.

AURA provides a security app

Myers founded AURA in 2016 to increase efficiency in the South African security industry. To achieve this the startup partnered with armed response security companies and medical response services in South Africa.

In the past, security companies were only able to provide security to homes and office buildings. However, AURA aims to provide safety and security even while individuals are outside the comfort of their homes or offices.

Myers explained that there are approximately 7000 security vehicles that are only able to service about 2% of the population and these vehicles would only operate 5% of the time.

“AURA makes use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to hone its system and ensure that the closest responders are dispatched to a distress call,” said Myers.

The AURA digital platform makes use of GPS, smart technology, and an app. The app provides a panic button that the user would be able to press in an emergency situation. Through GPS the app would be able to connect an individual to the nearest response unit. The user would also be able to monitor the response unit in real-time through the app.

The app and the AURA platform will ensure that respondents reach users faster and will eliminate the need for call centres that have been used in the traditional security sector.

The startup aims to bring together security companies across South Africa onto one digital platform. This platform would ensure that users would have a quick response to those who have an emergency at any time and any place.

As stated on the platform’s website, their aim is, “To make effective security more accessible and affordable in SA, by creating and deploying smart, scalable and disruptive technology.”

Read more: Local tech startup implements security system in townships
Read more: How Moroccan entrepreneur chose SA to launch wearable security device Seon

Feature image: Warren Myers, founder of AURA (Supplied)

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SA tech startup launches platform to assist rental professionals

A new South African tech startup,  reOS has just launched and aims to assist rental professionals with the management of commercial properties. 

The startup assist landlords to digitally manage their monthly tasks such as collecting rent and scheduling payments

Craig Buckley, managing director of reOS, told Ventureburn that the startup has managed to raise more than R12-million in the last 18 months in seed funding and has plans to raise more funding in early 2021.

Solving challenges in the rental industry

reOS saw a gap in the market that needed to be addressed, providing a solution for landlords to manage their commercial properties effectively. 

Buckley explained that most landlords have not employed a professional to manage their rental property which often caused them to fall behind in terms of customer services. He added that privately rentals are often seen as a last resort.

He added that similar “tech-enabled disruptors” who have tried to solve this issue have been unable to offer a suitable management solution to landlords. According to Buckley, these startups have focused on cheaper DIY tools that don’t compare to services that are offered by qualified rental agents.

“More importantly, we realised that there is an ‘iceberg’ of transactional, financial, and customer complexity that newcomers to the industry fail to appreciate (until too late) and that seasoned rental professionals have been grappling with for years,” said Buckley.

He further stated that these challenges inspired the idea of using the best disruptive, automation, and tech principles to assist agents to manage their businesses more efficiently.

Development of reOS

The process of development of the startup has taken nearly 10 years, in order to address all the critical issues faced in the rental industry. 

Three years ago the startup had begun experimenting with a D2C solution for rentals and this was what convinced Buckley and his team to focus on providing a “game-changing” solution.

“The development process has been a slow and steady one. The platform has been operational for the better part of a year, although we have kept it in beta and on an invite-only basis,” said Buckley.

The biggest hurdle in the development of the platform has been ensuring that there were no mistakes in their system.

“When one is dealing with a fully transactional system, we’ve always believed that ‘slow is steady and steady is fast’. Errors aren’t really an option!” said Buckley.

Last month, the reOS platform was a soft launch and has become available on the professional market.

Services offered by reOS

The startup assists their clients to run their businesses more effectively by automating more than 60% of the monthly tasks. The platform also provides auto-reconciliation of funds received and handles the scheduling of outgoing payments.

Its platform is completely cloud-based which allows its clients to have access at any time and anywhere. The platform also includes security protocols to ensure that their client’s data is safe and secured.

“reOS enables our clients to run better businesses. It saves time and energy by automating repetitive tasks – like customer communication and money-management – which they can invest in relationships and growing their books,” said Buckley.

Read more: HouseME looks to change the rental market in SA with app
Read more: Kenya startup launches country’s first peer-to-peer private car sharing service

Feature image: Erik Mclean via Unsplash 

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Nigerian startup to launch import and export deliveries

Nigerian  trade and tech startup, MVXChange has launched a new product offering titled MVXTransit, expanding its range of services for small African businesses. 

The new platform, MVXTransit is a convenient and easy-to-use digital freight booking and management platform for African businesses

Digitally managing shipments

Forming part of MVXchange, a digital platform that provided a multi-product booking platform to combine the supply and demand of end-to-end services, the new trade product offering aims to simplify and organise the flow of import, export, regional and in-country freights for proudly Africa-based businesses. 

MCXTransit assists businesses in managing their imports and exports in and out of Africa whether it’s by sea or air. 

The startup provides an in-house customs team with local partners to speed up the delivery process, reaching customers faster. 

Their team ensures that the deliveries are classified accurately and that they comply with custom duties and policies. This is done before the delivery is picked up and when the delivery arrives.

In an interview with Ventureburn, Tonye Membere-Otaji, founder and CEO of MVXchange explains that he and his team found that it was challenging and expensive for small businesses (SMEs) to import and export their goods in and out of Africa. 

Membere-Otaji attributes this to the intricate chain of intermediaries and service providers involved in a shipment of one 20ft container.

“During one of our many sprint sessions, we realized our existing technology could be modified to simplify these challenges in the freight market. That’s how MVXtransit was born.”

Expansion is on the cards for the Nigerian trade and tech startup as it aims to provide solutions to increase the purchase of African goods. 

“Our long term purpose is to facilitate the flow of exports out of Africa. We strongly believe trade is the quickest path to development across the continent; the quicker we get products exported, the faster the continent grows,” commented Membere-Otaji.

Launching during a pandemic 

The Nigerian tech startup launched the new product offering in March 2020, amidst the global pandemic. 

Membere-Otaji outlines that the biggest challenge faced while launching the new platform was performing imports and exports during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“The quarantine period for ships calling at ports and the general decline in global trade affected our launch, regardless, we quickly switched gears to focus on in-country haulage demand by providing river barges and tugs to move containers in and out of Apapa ports to avoid gridlock,” said Membere-Otaji.

MVXchange and MVXenergi

MVXchange was founded in March 2019 as an online platform that matches vessel charter requests with available offshore support vessels (OSV). MVXchange initially focused on the energy sector but has since gone to expand its offering catering to a variety of client needs with innovative solutions in the trading market. 

Its platforms have assisted their clients with access to charter vessels while reducing costs and improving their performance.

MVXchange have also launched their platform, MVXenergi. This platform has reportedly incorporated approximately 15% of Africa’s OSV, especially in West Africa. 

Since these vessels have been incorporated they have logged more than 350 hire days.

In 2019, MVXchange had closed pre-seed funding led by Oui Capital and had raised approximately US$100 000 (+/- R1644040.00). 

Since their first round of funding received, the startup has raised even more funding from Founders Factory Africa and Kepple Africa Ventures.

“We’ve received funding from amazing investors and VC’s helping to fuel our growth plans,” said Membere-Otaji.

Read more: Startups scramble to reform shipping industry
Read more: Advice for startups that ship large quantities of products

FeatureD image: MVXchange, Facebook

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Cape Town-based tech startup receives prestigious international award

An award-winning AI manufacturing local tech startup, DataProphet, has won the 2020 European Prescriptive for Autonomous Manufacturing Technology Innovation Leadership Award by Frost & Sullivan, an international research firm. 

This is the fourth international award that the cutting-edge tech startup has won 

Frans Cronje, CEO, and co-founder of DataProphet, comments on receiving international recognition. 

 “It’s a wonderful achievement to be acknowledged by Frost & Sullivan for this award, once again reaffirming that the development & introduction of our AI Suite is a solution that is shaping the future of technology.”

The prestigious award recognises companies that are leaders in the development and successful introduction of high-tech solutions for customers. 

In addition, it highlights companies or tech startups that are shaking up the industry or business landscape with their unique product offering and business model. Frost & Sullivan measures the success of its awardees based on the impact that the technological product has on growing the business. 

The acclaimed award has placed the startup as a thought leader in the field of AI for manufacturing and is a testament to the quality of technical skills employed and created at DataProphet. 

An award-winning tech startup 

This is not the first award that the Cape Town-based tech startup has received. In 2019, Dataprophet was named a World Economic Forum Tech pioneer and received the AIconics Award for Innovation in Deep Learning. 

In 2020, the company received recognition in CBInsights as one of the 100 Most Innovative Artificial Intelligence Startups 2020. 

Sankara Narayanan, Senior Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan comments on the product offering created by DataProphet. 

“DataProphet’s technology focuses on self-directed feedback, arrives at sophisticated AI-driven analysis, proactively provides optimal prescriptive recommendations to machine operators, and automates the next best action for operators, without depending on experts or data scientists.”

DataProphet

Founded in 2014, DataProphet is a leader in artificial intelligence. Their innovative tech product enables manufacturers to utilise autonomous manufacturing and optimise their service offerings and production process.

The PRESCRIBE product offering created by the startup is a prescriptive Expert Execution system powered by AI. The system assists in rapidly updating a manufacturer’s journey to autonomous manufacturing. 

Not only does the system accelerate this process using AI technology, but it also guides manufacturers in addition to assisting them in optimization analysis. 

Essentially, PRESCRIBE provides a solution as machine operators are able to process parameter changes, avoid defects in products, scraps, and errors along with increasing the overall yield in their production process. 

Dr Michael Grant, CTO of DataProphet, highlights the broad number of industries DataProphet’s PRESCRIBE system has impacted, such as iron foundries, Aluminum die casters, long steel, and Aluminum rolling mills, plastic injection molding, and mineral processing. 

“Our clients are achieving uplift that exceeds any classical approaches tried previously, and we’re consistently discovering complex interdependencies that were only previously described anecdotally and were poorly understood. We’ve managed to build an abstracted self-consistent system that is readily applicable to many different manufacturing processes,” explains Grant. 

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Featured image: Frans Cronje, CEO, and co-founder of DataProphet (Supplied)

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