Canada becomes next silicon Valley, billion-dollar companies seek for friendly space – Lessons for African countries

After the global pandemic, the world will not be the same. The global economy is going to change and billion-dollar companies are ready to change everything. US, UK, and EU companies are ready to take manufacturing from China to other countries. Donald Trump asks local companies to focus on different states, but many giant companies in the tech industry are willing to close offices in China and establish their business in Canada or African countries. Nigeria has to be ready for global market changes and the government should send offers to China-based tech companies for establishment. Canada’s government already took the action and has offered many tech-giants to have a safe place in Toronto and Montreal. Nigeria’s government should replicate the successful blueprint from Canada. 

Canada is becoming one of the most attractive places for billion-dollar tech companies and start-ups. In recent years, it has attracted many of the most successful technology companies in the world. One is Deep Genomics, a genetics medicine company that makes use of artificial intelligence to find a cure for rare genetic diseases. When they first thought of the idea, Canada was not ready for their developments, but after a few years, they welcomed the idea of setting up a lab in Toronto.

Canada is preparing for ‘best chance’ from 2017

Justin Trudeau became the leader of the country in 2016. As soon as he became the prime minister, the government decided to start focusing on technologies, 5G, and the crypto revolution. Justin Trudeau decided to focus on the digital economy as he believes that the digital industry would run the world’s economy in the next decade. All the companies are welcome in Canada with a very liberal law and tech-ready guidelines. Canada’s government has created a tech roadmap for Canadian companies. Trudeau’s team is implementing a roadmap in every 3-5 years. With the help of a digital roadmap, many online industries transformed and increased the revenue, therefore, the contribution to the economy. iGaming space was first to get many benefits from the digital roadmap. After the start of the first cycle, online casino companies increased their reputation due to the government’s decisions. First of all, Trudeau’s team allowed online casinos to offer international players games of different-genre. International gamers can play the best online slots and roulette on the same website. It’s a big advantage for gamers who love managing online games in one spot. The Bitcoin revolution was another decision that helped iGaming space to flourish and grow exponentially. Online casinos have contributed up to 20 billion CA dollars in 2019 and it happened because of the government’s liberal decisions. The Crypto revolution was a big benefit not only for iGaming but also for tech and shopping companies based in Canada. The Bitcoin revolution has been the biggest benefit for Shopify and other online shopping companies. Experts believe that Shopify will be the main competitor of Amazon and eBay in a few years. Due to the liberal legal framework, Canada offers safe places to business giants. 

The lever is the first successful example of Canada’s strategy to obtain US-EU companies

Lever, a software company that uses analytics to match clients with potential hires, became attracted to Toronto. They brought their business to Toronto to service clients that were on the East Coast of the USA. Why Toronto?

Lever wanted to be near Toronto’s newly acclaimed technology sector. CBRE Group, a US-based real estate, and investment firm confirmed in its Tech Talent Report that Toronto had become North America’s very own Silicon Valley. But one of the characteristics that genuinely attracted Lever to Canada is its diversity and inclusion. They could hire from the budding talents locally that were guided by the technological universities Canada is known. Canada has also opened its immigration to powerhouse talents and welcomes them to the country, and businesses can hire as well from other countries.

However, what’s genuinely making Canada so attractive to investors and tech companies is their bold move to provide principles guidelines on how everyone should utilize and share digital information. These are principles that businesses, governments, and citizens must follow. Canada’s Digital Charter promotes trust, safety and security, and fairness between companies and citizens, and the government.

The Charter also highlights a precious piece of agreement that the Government of Canada will encourage businesses in all sectors to embrace technology to help them compete and progress in today’s digital world. Apart from this, the promise of transparency allowed Canadians to warm up to the Tech Industry. These principles would create a symbiotic relationship between government, people, and businesses. However, this would only be effective if this is a legal document.

This Charter, although not legal, has given Canadian a sense of peace that they are protected and that their information would not be shared. The challenge now is on businesses on how they will respect this Charter and follow it. Companies are known to be notorious and demanding to have access to personal information of their users.

Still, with this charter model, businesses are being challenged to be creative and more innovative on how they can improve their services without compromising trust. When Canada’s Digital Charter becomes legal, many businesses will be affected if they violate any of the principles. When a company complies, perhaps an incentive will be provided. However, when found to have violated, financial consequences may also take effect.

The Canadian government knows what to do and how to do it. However, their lack of a healthy muscle to implement the Digital Charter and make it into a legal document can be worrisome. With or without the Digital Charter, Canada would still be attracting more business start-ups and tech companies, because of its value placed on inclusivity and diversity.

#Africa Ethiopian startup Gebeya partners IFC to train female software developers


Ethiopian software development training and jobs startup Gebeya has partnered the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, to implement the Digital Gender-Ethiopia Programme, aimed at increasing the number of female software developers.

Disrupt Africa reported in 2016 on the launch of Gebeya, which aims to graduate 5,000 students in Ethiopia over the next five years. The startup also launched in Kenya in January of 2017, and has since expanded to Silicon Valley, the UK, Djibouti and Senegal.

The startup trains individuals in software development and entrepreneurship, and then helps place them in relevant jobs. It has now partnered IFC and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) to implement the Digital Gender-Ethiopia Programme, which will provide training to 250 female software developers and seed funding to 20 female entrepreneurs whose digital business ideas will be supported by Gebeya.

Selected entrepreneurs will receive technical and strategic guidance on business development from Gebeya, alongside advisory services from IFC worth US$50,000, to support mentorship programmes from globally recognised digital entrepreneurs.

“The project will enable the company to increase its scope beyond the current student-paid model to include a cohort of female software developers whose training will be financed through this scholarship programme,” said Amadou Daffe, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Gebeya.

“Women constitute 50 per cent of Africa’s population but only contribute 39 per cent to its Gross Domestic Product. This is a result of their inability to afford tuition, societal misconception around women and career ability, inadequate familial support as well as gender stereotypes. We can no longer stand back and watch as intelligent, capable African women are pushed to the sidelines. We have to do our part to close the gender gap in technology where females are highly underrepresented.”

Gebeya will be responsible for identifying talented candidates who can benefit from the programme based on needs. The training will be conducted in four, six-month cohorts.

“IFC is committed to helping women find opportunities through skills development that lead to good-paying jobs. Gebeya’s training differs from others in the market through its blended curriculum that includes basic and advanced programming and real-world, job-readiness skills,” said Henriette Kolb, manager of the IFC Gender Secretariat.

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#Africa Real estate crowd investment platform Coreum launched in Nigeria


Nigerian startup Coreum has launched its platform allowing individuals to co-invest in property and earn returns from rental income and capital gains.

The Lagos-based Coreum, which went live today (February 1), aims to make investing in real estate accessible to more people, regardless of age and economic status.

It offers a wide range of products tailored to each individual’s financial capabilities and goals, including rental income generating assets such as residential and commercial real estate to capital gain assets such as land.

“I tried to purchase land in a choice area in Lagos State but couldn’t because my savings at the time as a salary earner weren’t sufficient. After critically analysing the possibility of saving more, I realised it might be impossible to still get the property as real estate prices appreciate over time,” said Coreum co-founder Oluwafunsho Awoniyi.

“After speaking with a few friends, we thought of the possibility of coming together to co-invest in properties and make returns over time but we had to put a legal framework behind how this will work. We have spent the past year putting the legal framework and structure together, not just for our benefit but for people like us who would like to co-invest in real estate.”

The startup has partnered FBN Quest Trustees to protect the interests of co-investors and members and ensure there is transparency and accountability. All assets are acquired and held in trust by the firm.

Each property on Coreum is divided into 100 equal slots, with each valued at one per cent of the property price. As a co-investor, users can purchase however many slots they desire, and diversify by investing across different locations and property types.

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#Africa 6 Egyptian startups named winners of Start IT competition


Six Egyptian tech startups have been named winners of the country’s Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre’s (TIEC) Start IT competition, winning a year-long incubation package, business services and cash.

Launched in 2010, TIEC is an affiliate of Egypt’s Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), created with the aim of driving innovation and entrepreneurship in ICT, and mobilising the different components of the ecosystem.

The nationwide Start IT business plan competition is hosted by TIEC, targeting Egyptian entrepreneurs with ICT-related prototypes or proof of concepts, and who wish to commercialise their ideas and turn them into enterprises.

Six winners of the Start IT competition have been selected, with each securing a one year incubation package at TIEC, and a range of business services and cash valued at EGP180,000 (US$10,200) total.

The winning startups include Garment IO – a smart IoT platform providing garment factory managers and owners a complete overview of production processes, labour performance and production cost calculation; cloud PoS platform for small shops  El Zatona; and Green Fashion Store – enabling users to market recycled products such as clothes and bags produced by households using factories’ fabrics remnants.

The list is completed by mobile app Mowafer Care, which facilitates the provision of medical services for individuals who cannot afford to have medical insurance; Marketizer – a PoS platform for management and sales of inventory for small shops; and culturally-sensitive matchmaking platform Harmonica.

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#Africa SA ed-tech startup Zelda eyes expansion after raising angel round


South African ed-tech startup Zelda is looking at expansion to other African countries and Europe on the back of raising an angel round and seeing strong organic uptake.

Founded in 2017, Zelda is a bursary management platform that helps organisations find and filter talented youth to support through university.

The platform combines personality assessments with machine learning to help students make more informed career decisions and improve their chances of success while studying, and helps companies make a positive impact on South African youth while creating a strong pipeline of talent for future hires.

Zelda was launched by Jasanth Moodley, Carla Wilby, and Dominic Schorr, three engineers who met at the University of Cape Town, in response to the growing discourse around university funding and access to higher education.

“We all had our own issues with higher education and decided to try make sure that other students didn’t face the same struggles. We noticed that one of the biggest gaps was the lack of personalised guidance – there are loads of articles on the internet that give advice, but very little that tells you as a students exactly what you’d best be suited to doing. We’re filling that gap,” said Schorr, now the startup’s chief executive officer (CEO).

“So where previously someone would have to fork out a couple of grand to see an educational psychologist and sit for three hours to take a psychometric assessment, we try and make that accessible to everyone. That’s not to say that those services aren’t useful or important, but not everyone can afford it.”

Now everyone can, they are taking advantage of it. Zelda has already had over 500 student downloads, without any marketing at all, and the potential of the platform has been spotted by many. It was accepted into the Injini ed-tech incubator programme essentially upon launching, securing funding and support, and closed its angel round at the end of last year.

“Having grown a tech-heavy team of eight engineers since starting, we’ve predominantly focused on the machine learning and career guidance platform for students,” said Schorr.

“With this latest round of funding Zelda will be focusing on sales and improving our client-facing services, leveraging the experience and networks of our investors.”

The startup has a three-tiered subscription model. Tier one has a zero monthly fee, with a substantial commission on successful placement of applicants, while tiers two and three have greatly reduced commission but higher monthly fees for added features. It is still early days, but Schorr and his team are confident of success, and planning expanding into other markets once they perfect their model in South Africa.

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