Africa set to be next global technology hub, say experts

Africa set to be next global technology hub, say experts

Africa set to be next global technology hub, say experts

It’s no secret that technology across Africa is burgeoning at unprecedented rates. Homegrown innovations that speak to socio-economic bottlenecks are plenty due to increased access to resources, training and development, and investment.

This can largely be attributed in part to the growing number of “technology hubs” being established on the continent that are fostering innovation for start-ups and helping to bridge the gap to a more developed and economically sustainable continent.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) ,  92% of Africa’s investment in technology is won by Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa, which account for a third of the continent’s start-up incubators and accelerators.

While these four regions lead the way in terms of technology hubs, regions such as Zanzibar, Tanzania, through its new initiative ‘Silicon Zanzibar’ are joining the race to attract and relocate technology companies and workers from across Africa and beyond to the island.

The continent has a long way to go if it is to reach the record figures raised by US start-ups. As we continue to bear witness to the continued rise of innovative solutions from the continent, here’s what an increase in local tech hubs could mean for industries and what to take into consideration:

Increased partnerships and collaboration

Africa has been at the forefront of world-class innovation for a long time, especially when it comes to homegrown technology solutions that speak to and solve socio economic problems in communities across the continent.

Countries such as Kenya and Nigeria have been at the forefront, but the likes of Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana are establishing intentional tech ecosystems that foster entrepreneurship and skills development, which will open up endless possibilities, particularly for fintech, an industry that is rapidly growing, evolving and one that has often relied on foreign investment.

“At MFS Africa, we have always believed that the only currency is access, and while we continue to, through our own efforts, create, advocate for, and partner to enable borderless transactions across the continent, the growing ‘tech hub’ culture in Africa will in the long run allow us to identify talent and collaborate with and partner with more start-ups.

“It also has the potential to increase dialogue with governments in regions like Tanzania, where we have partners, as we continue to transform the lives and realities of Africa and the diaspora,” says Cynthia Ponera, regional sales director for East Africa at MFS Africa, a leading digital payments hub in Africa that works continuously with trusted global partners across Africa to connect African consumers to each other and to the global digital economy.

Climatetech: Matthew Cruise is the head of business intelligence at Hohm Energy. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn
Matthew Cruise is the head of business intelligence at Hohm Energy. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Sufficient power for the necessary infrastructure 

“When we talk about Africa’s quest to be a global technology hub we need to ensure that we’re also considering the tech needed to power the foundational infrastructure that supports this ambition,” says Matthew Cruise, head of business intelligence at Hohm Energy.

According to the United Nations, some 570 million people in Africa have no access to electricity, which drastically hampers socio-economic development or poverty alleviation for those without this basic human right.

Renewable energy in the form of solar energy is the most viable option for addressing this challenge, as the continent holds some of the highest solar radiation numbers in the world.

The inability of Eskom to meet the energy needs of Africa’s most industrialised country is widely known. But surprisingly, South Africa’s energy crisis has created opportunities for companies and investors to meet the demand for renewable energy alternatives.

We are seeing considerable innovation in solar solutions locally and throughout Africa for addressing power outages, and many of these will be replicated in Europe and other first-world countries as they too start to grapple with rising fuel costs and power outages.

As the technology to harness this renewable resource becomes both more sophisticated and more cost effective, government and business alike need to embrace this as the solution to one of the continent’s most fundamental infrastructure challenges.

Attracting more investment through unique solutions

Tony Mallam, managing director of bitcoin micro-saving and investing fintech platform, upnup advises that “entrepreneurs wanting to leverage the potential opportunities of a global Africa tech hub wave should think about building solutions that are unique to Africa, such as the huge unbanked and the “Know Your Customer” KYC’ed population, estimated to be at least 57% of the continent’s population.

“The opportunity provided by Africa’s high mobile internet penetration will allow investors to leapfrog last generation infrastructure into cutting-edge solutions. Governments would need to support this opportunity by providing the right infrastructure, a safe regulatory environment, minimal red tape and tax incentives,” explains Mallam.

Training, developing and upskilling will be crucial

Building the continent’s tech and digital capability needs to run parallel with skill development. The World Bank estimates that by 2050, half of Africa’s population of 1 billion people will be under the age of 25, suggesting that the workforce of the future is based here. But in order to effectively harness the potential of this workforce, we need to ensure we’re training, developing, and upskilling people in a relevant and sustainable way.

Salesforce’s Authorised Training Partner and Workforce Development Partners in South Africa are committed to bringing fit-for-purpose skills into the ecosystem to meet the demands of the future workplace and to also ensure we’re leveraging technology for the greater good. And partnerships are central to reaching these objectives.

“Indeed, if Africa is to realise its ambitions of being a global tech hub, it is imperative that all the various stakeholders—government, business, civic organisations and educational institutions – work collaboratively. At Salesforce, we believe business is a platform for change and thus has a central role to play in Africa’s tech future’” says Zuko Mdwaba, country leader and area vice president for Salesforce South Africa.

Healthtech and fintech: Bongani Sithole is the chief executive of Founders Factory Africa. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn
Bongani Sithole is the chief executive of Founders Factory Africa. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Access is key and healthtech is central to that 

It is imperative that any reference to tech on the continent makes special mention of health tech, where the room for growth is exponential. In fact, the African healthcare market is expected to be worth $259 billion by 2030, pointing to an opportunity that cannot be ignored.

“Three thoughts come to mind of how healthtech can significantly impact the continent’s different markets for the better: It can provide access to cheaper healthcare, provide access to healthcare in your pocket (such as telehealth), and technology can play a role in bridging the skills gap and helping medical practitioners do more with less resources,” says Bongani Sithole, CEO of Founders Factory Africa.

He adds that based on their own experience at Founders Factory Africa, these are problems healthtech can solve, with its ability to improve the lives of users.

“In our portfolio alone, Viebeg is enabling hospitals to order medical equipment without paying for it upfront. Neopenda has developed a product – the neoGuard – that is a clinical vital signs monitor for infants and other patients in resource-constrained areas. Healthtech can be successful, especially when innovation is applied in ways that solve pain points of health users on a daily basis.”

Improved connectivity will improve competition in business

Africa’s internet penetration is currently half the global average of 62.5%. This affects not only consumers but also small businesses across the continent.

This, along with findings that revealed that  South Africa saw a 66% growth in e-commerce in 2020 indicates that in order to compete and even scale, SMEs need affordable access to the internet. Currently, SMEs that have limited or no access to the internet are stunted in their ability to increase market share and reach new audiences.

Head of marketing and communication at online booking platform Jurni, Tshepo Matlou, says, “With more tech hubs in Africa, will automatically come increased connectivity. This  will in turn lead to more SMEs being able to embrace and leverage online opportunities ultimately allowing them to hold their own in a competitive market.”

READ NEXT: Climatetech is about more than just saving the planet’

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Climatetech is about more than just saving the planet’

Climatetech is about more than just saving the planet’

Climatetech is about more than just saving the planet’

Investing in climatetech is critical to the future – not only of South Africa but the world as a whole, argues Matthew Cruise, head of business intelligence at Hohm Energy.

We live in a rapidly warming world. Whatever the shrinking number of climate change sceptics might try and tell you, that’s no longer in doubt. Globally, 2022 was the sixth warmest year on record. It was also a year in which a number of places recorded their highest-ever maximum temperatures, including Cape Town.

The effects of that rapid warming are becoming increasingly catastrophic too. The floods which devastated KwaZulu Natal in April last year were undoubtedly made worse by climate change, as is the drought which has brought Nelson Mandela Bay to the brink of its own Day Zero.

When it comes to mitigating, and perhaps one day even reversing, that warming and its effects on the world, climate-forward technologies (including PV solar) will be critical. But those technologies aren’t just about saving the planet.

They also represent an opportunity to boost economic growth at a time when that’s not easily achieved, to grow employment, and to build up desperately needed skills in the markets where they’re needed most.

The economic power of climatetech 

One of the biggest drivers of the climatetech advances we’ve seen in recent years has been money. As the world looks to divest from carbon-intensive industries, the money has flowed into climate-positive industries, including the climatetech sector.

In 2020, for example, the Scottish Widows Fund announced that it would dump £440m of company holdings that failed its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) tests. A year later, ABP (one of the world’s largest pension funds) announced that it too would stop investing in fossil fuels. China, meanwhile, pledged to stop financing new coal projects in 2021.

All of that money has had to find other places to go and one of the biggest beneficiaries has been climatetech. It should hardly be surprising then that estimates from McKinsey suggest that next-generation technologies could attract between $1.5 trillion and US$2 trillion of capital investment per year by 2025.

Given that South Africa reportedly needs about R1.5 trillion (about $84 billion) for its own energy transition, it would only make sense for it to do everything in its power to attract the money available for investments, including creating the best possible conditions for the manufacturers, sellers, and installers of climatetech.

The imperative should be even greater when you remember that climatetech – including wind, solar PV, and energy management tools – represents the fastest and most affordable way out of the country’s ongoing energy crisis. Getting out of that crisis is, in turn, critical to revving much-needed economic growth.

Building skills, creating jobs 

But climatetech can do much more than that. It’s also essential to creating much-needed jobs and building up skills that will increasingly be in demand in South Africa in the near future. By one estimate, renewables alone could create around 250 000 jobs in 25 years. In a country with an unemployment rate north of 32%, that’s not to be sneezed at.

As important as they are, renewables aren’t the only avenue for job creation when it comes to climatetech. Skilled installers, for instance, are required for energy management devices such as geyser timers. And as those devices become smarter, they’ll require support.

That’s to say nothing of sales staff and all the various other functions needed to keep companies running smoothly. The electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles that will eventually dominate our roads will also need new specialist job functions.

Building up the skills required for these functions could also provide a massive boost to both the country’s economy and job numbers. A skilled and accredited solar PV installer, for example, is in a much better position to start a business than a coal miner. There are dozens of other examples which show why investing in climatetech is so critical to the future not only of South Africa but the world as a whole.

Help build the future now 

The great thing is, you can help build that future right now. By investing in climate technology for your own home, you’re not only making your home greener, less grid reliant, or reducing your energy bills. You’re also helping grow the businesses, big and small, that will be critical to creating a prosperous future for South Africa.

Climate change is one of the biggest existential threats humanity faces as a species and we all have a role to play in addressing it. But in doing so, we can enjoy direct benefits as consumers, while also contributing to economic, job, and skills growth.

  • Matthew Cruise is the head of business intelligence at Hohm Energy. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Ventureburn.

READ NEXT: 11 disruptive start-ups selected for new ASIP cohort

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SA private equity firm partners with Irish-based fund

SA private equity firm partners with Irish-based fund

SA private equity firm partners with Irish-based fund

Innov8 Group Holdings, a South African private equity firm focused on bringing innovative technologies to the African medical industry through its investments, announced its partnership with an Irish-based fund and family office.

The partnership has resulted in the company being externally valued in excess of R250 million (about $14.5 million), with initial seed investors seeing a 60% return on a partial exit, as well as significant capital appreciation.

“The performance is testimony of the company’s skill and ability to manage the allocation of funds as well as strategic and operational input to underlying businesses yielding top line growth accompanied strong cash returns,” said Abdul Malick Salie, co-founder of Innov8 Group Holdings.

The company’s founders, Dr Chad Marthinussen and Abdul Malick Salie, collectively have almost three decades of experience in both the corporate finance and investment space as well as healthcare and technology industries between them. Both are dynamic entrepreneurs and bring a unique combination of entrepreneurial and financial expertise to the table.

Marthinussen, a medical doctor who graduated from Stellenbosch University, offers a deep understanding of the healthcare industry in which the company operates evident by the development of all the concepts for the underlying businesses.

Salie, a chartered accountant, brings extensive corporate finance experience and a strong track record in managing the allocation of funds and providing strategic and operational input to underlying businesses. Together, they provide a powerful combination of skills and experience that is critical to the success of Innov8 Group Holdings.

“One of our key objectives is developing the real useable datasets and data infrastructure from our medical imaging, primary care, virtual care and biotechnology products and services allowing our technology and AI teams based both locally and internationally to harness the information creating enhanced and innovative solutions for the medical market,” said Marthinussen.

Innov8 Group Holdings is also focused on expanding its asset base, with plans to offer local partners, investors and institutions the opportunity to share in its journey.

Salie added, “The investment roadmap is defined and we will continue to grow our assets organically, through acquisitions and with strategic partnerships, one such partnership has recently been concluded with a pharmaceutical and medical device group for our ultrasound platform.

“This partnership sees significant base revenues being generated and this along with our latest capital partnership we are empowered to execute on our planned roadmap.”

The healthcare technology and biotechnology industry in Africa represents a vast and untapped market, with a rapidly growing population and increasing demand for access to quality healthcare.

The continent’s population is projected to reach 1.7 billion by 2050, and with the current infrastructure and resources, it is challenging to meet the growing demand for healthcare services. This presents a significant opportunity for investment in healthcare technology and biotechnology, as new and innovative solutions are needed to address the continent’s healthcare challenges.

Innov8 Group Holdings is the parent company of several subsidiaries, including Innohealth Technologies, a healthcare holding company controlled and led strategically by  Marthinussen and Salie, which then controls several subsidiaries that operate in various verticals of the healthcare industry.

MyPocketHealth is a virtual care platform developed internally by Innohealth that offers telemedicine and virtual care to the masses. Meanwhile, Innohealth Clinics is a rapidly expanding its digital-first doctor-lead, affordable primary care company.

U-Image Africa is a South African developed wireless ultrasound ecosystem focused on making POCUS accessible to all healthcare providers. AI Biologics Africa is an AI biotechnology platform focused on streamlining the IVD and vaccine development industry. Social Medical is a healthcare marketing agency that oversees all the entities in the group as well as offers services to other industry players. Innov8 Property a healthcare-focused property company.

These subsidiaries are an important part of Innov8 Group Holdings’ strategy to provide a comprehensive range of services and solutions to the healthcare industry in Africa. Together, they are helping to address the continent’s healthcare challenges by providing access to affordable, accessible and quality care to the masses. Innov8 Group Holdings, with its focus on bringing innovative technologies to the African medical industry, is well-positioned to capitalize on this opportunity.

READ NEXT: Healthtech can learn from Africa’s fintech revolution

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Healthtech can learn from Africa’s fintech revolution

Healthtech can learn from Africa’s fintech revolution

Healthtech can learn from Africa’s fintech revolution

Founders Factory Africa chief executive Bongani Sithole looks at what the healthtech industry can learn from Africa’s fintech revolution.

Covid-19 had a profound impact on the globe, leading to changes both seismic and small in how we live our lives. The pandemic has also fuelled a substantial increase in health and biotech investment across the globe.

Biotech continues to gain traction, with Bio Space predicting in April 2022 that the world’s biotech market should be worth about $3.44 trillion by 2030, from $852.8 billion in 2020. This prediction suggests a compound annual growth rate of 17.8% between 2021 and 2030. Furthermore, the African healthcare market is expected to be worth $259 billion by 2030.

Of note is the number of healthcare deals incrementally increasing between 2020 and 2022. Specifically, deals in the pharmaceuticals, biotech and life sciences verticals have shown modest acceleration since 2020 – rising from one such deal in 2020 H1 to a dozen in 2022 H1.

Keeping this in mind, it is valuable to consider what levers drove fintechs on the continent, whether these levers apply to the healthtech sector, and how they may affect the  opportunities that exist for the continent’s healthtech founders.

Fintech’s levers of success

In fintech, innovation has been driven by finding contexts and challenges that can be solved within tight infrastructure restrictions. As a result, African fintechs have been able to increase financial inclusivity by offering services that bring previously untapped users into the financial system.

Whether through payment gateways, innovative loans, or digitally-enabled points of sale, they’ve created products and services that cater to the wants and needs of their customers in ways that traditional financial players could not.

Fintech’s success has been a net positive for the African tech ecosystem and its end users. While fintech has been able to innovate within tight technological environments, the telecommunications infrastructure that existed at the time (and which has further matured) is a vital lever in the vertical’s success.

Flutterwave is an example of a company that has enabled other companies to transact on top of this infrastructure, with customers only a mobile device away from being able to participate, creating viable ways for capital to move within the ecosystem.

The second lever of fintech’s success is services. These are companies that have built solutions on top of existing infrastructure, with the mobile money revolution an example of this service lever. Without it, companies like M-Pesa and Mukuru would not have succeeded since the velocity of capital that has supported these ventures would not be possible.

Does healthtech have the same levers to pull as fintech?

When dealing with any form of technology, there are constraints and opportunities. When comparing healthtech and fintech, for example, it’s clear that infrastructure plays a vital role in the healthcare sector, as do services but, the deeper you look, the more nuanced healthtech can be due to the nature of the problems it intends on solving compared to fintech.

Often, fintech plays an important role in a healthtech solution but, ultimately, you are addressing a healthcare constraint in a given market.

So what about the infrastructure? Compared to fintech, healthtech and the health sector more broadly requires deeper infrastructure investment since healthcare at its core is actualised in the user’s physical experience.

Healthcare infrastructure, using a broad definition, includes not just clinics and hospitals but the beds that patients sleep in, chairs, medical equipment, ambulances, and even tools for medical professionals to do their work.

Skilled staff are also vital, with these skills taking years to cultivate. I have not even mentioned pharmaceuticals, which can take years to successfully develop and receive regulatory approval. These can all be constraints. While fintech is very much digital – healthtech is more deeply connected with the physical world.

Moving onto services, three thoughts come to mind about how healthtech can significantly impact the continent’s different markets for the better:

  • Providing access to cheaper healthcare.
  • Access to healthcare in your pocket, such as telehealth (which Covid-19 advanced significantly).
  • How technology can play a role in bridging the skills gap and helping medical practitioners do more with fewer resources

Based on our own experiences at Founders Factory Africa, we know these are problems healthtech can solve, with its ability to improve the lives of users.

In our portfolio alone, Viebeg is enabling hospitals to order medical equipment without paying for it upfront. Neopenda has developed a product – the neoGuard – that is a clinical vital signs monitor for infants and other patients in resource-constrained areas.

VitruvianMD seeks to solve the skills gap that exists in many African countries through building low-cost camera technology that instantly digitises any analogue microscope. When combined with AI, it enables the delivery of predictive diagnostics in various pathological fields anywhere, even in the most remote locations.

Healthtech can be as successful as fintech, especially when innovation is applied in ways that solve pain points of health users on a daily basis. Yet, we must be careful to conflate healthtech’s success as inevitable.

For that to happen, we need to have a clear understanding of the constraints facing healthtech. While it may share similar levers to fintech, these levers need to be finessed in ways that acknowledge the unique challenges facing the broad African healthcare sector.

  • Bongani Sithole is the chief executive of Founders Factory. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Ventureburn.

READ NEXT: Rise of wealthtech: Boomers lead fintech wave

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Top Telecommunications Trends to Watch in 2023 – 5G, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, IoT and Mobile VoIP

Top Telecommunications Trends to Watch in 2023 – 5G, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, IoT and Mobile VoIP

Top Telecommunications Trends to Watch in 2023 – 5G, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, IoT and Mobile VoIP

According to Arnoux Maré, co-owner of MJL Communications and CEO of Innovative Solutions Group (ISG), there are new telecommunications trends in 2023 that companies need to be aware of in order to stay competitive.

Telecommunications is a rapidly evolving industry with a significant impact on businesses and individuals worldwide. To stay competitive, companies must stay on top of trends and adjust their telecommunication systems accordingly.

In 2023, we can expect to see several trends that will influence the industry, including 5G, cloud computing, cybersecurity, IoT solutions, and mobile VoIP.

5G is the fifth-generation of wireless for cellular networks and is designed to increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks, enabling ultra-low latency and superior bandwidth. As 5G networks become more commonplace, they will result in faster speeds and more consistent connections for better quality apps and services.

Cloud computing refers to the delivery of various computing services over the internet and offers increased flexibility, scalability, and cost savings. In 2023, the telecom industry is likely to migrate to virtual networks and transfer crucial IT infrastructure to the cloud.

Cybersecurity threats are becoming more sophisticated and widespread, so network operators and organisations will need to take more proactive steps to protect themselves from these threats. This includes implementing technologies and strategies such as firewalls, intrusion detection, and prevention systems, and encryption.

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the connection of physical devices equipped with sensors, software, and other technologies that can communicate and exchange data with other devices and systems through the internet. By implementing IoT solutions, businesses can gain valuable insights and data to make better decisions, improve processes, and drive growth.

Mobile Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows users to make voice calls using an internet connection rather than a traditional telephone line. As 5G grows, the performance of VoIP on mobile devices is expected to improve, and VoIP mobile integration will become the standard.

Overall, telecommunications remains a rapidly evolving industry with a significant impact on businesses and individuals worldwide. Business leaders will increasingly need to invest in robust and reliable telecommunications infrastructure to remain up to date in the year ahead.

Read next: Technology trends affecting the security sector in 2023

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5 golden rules to enable funding for SMEs

5 golden rules to enable funding for SMEs

5 golden rules to enable funding for SMEs

Small and medium businesses are the lifeblood of South Africa’s economy.  One of the main challenges entrepreneurs face is access to capital to inject into their businesses. Funding is a critical part of ensuring that these businesses can hit the ground running in the new year.

Nobesuthu Ndlovu, director of SME for Old Mutual Corporate’s SME unit. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn
Nobesuthu Ndlovu, director of SME for Old Mutual Corporate’s SME unit. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Nobesuthu Ndlovu, director of SME for Old Mutual Corporate’s SME unit says, “Old Mutual has been supporting SMEs for a very long time and we have geared our SME offering towards actual challenges identified by business owners.

“Investors are specific about what they’re looking for when investing, and we offer holistic solutions to address SME challenges more seamlessly to help run and grow their businesses.”

Ndlovu shares five golden rules when it comes to enabling financing.

SMEs must be upfront when applying for funding

Don’t hide anything. It’s always best to be upfront with a funder on the financial performance and position of the business. Even in instances where there may be some adverse information such as a judgement – there are funders who truly are partners to SMEs and can find a workaround for certain challenges such as a remedy or even pre-investment support.

Manage your funds effectively

This may sound counter-intuitive, but business owners should be weary of expanding their business too quickly. Whilst accessing funding can be a challenge, once it is approved and disbursed, managing that funding in the business also requires focus from the business owner and finance managers.

More cash in the business means more controls are required over activities to ensure that it is used appropriately.

If steps to increase business income are not bearing fruit, reduce your loan amount or operating expenses. Misuse of funds often becomes the root cause of many businesses failing to repay their debt on time, and gradually falling into a debt trap. You can effectively manage budgets to track expenses and look for the best interest rates when consolidating debt.

Know how much funding is enough

There are risks to applying for too little or too much funding. The risk of applying for too little funding is that the potential growth (and access to cash flow for operations) may be constrained particularly where there is a purchase order or contract.

And of course, we all know the perils of taking on too much debt, the repayments required by the funders need to be considered over a longer period. And this has become even more evident now with the worsening macro-economic environment. The funding ranges differ for funders.

Be familiar with the steps to apply for funding

Before applying for funding, make sure your admin is in order. While different funders have different requirements, most will expect your company to be registered and your documentation should be in order. Funding requirements usually include:

  • Businesses should have a minimum annual turnover of R1 million;
  • Time in business – 12 months;
  • Trading for more than 6 months; and
  • Business registration, bank, and financial statements.

SMEs must have a clear strategy 

Demonstrate a clear strategy that proves you have access to markets for your products and services.

The technical ability to deliver should be clearly articulated. Entrepreneurs should show their ability to manage personal and business finance.

Directors should have business acumen and be able to respond to changes in the market. Most importantly, the compliance-related issues in your industry such as tax, and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should all be in order.

Ndlovu concludes, “There are many funding opportunities available, and the key to any kind of business funding is having a solid business model and strategy to prove why the funding is necessary. When you understand why a business may need funding and how to get there, you can access the right capital to help get you off the ground and ultimately grow your business more efficiently.”

READ NEXT:  How small business funding has changed in 2022

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Rise of wealthtech: Boomers lead fintech wave

Rise of wealthtech: Boomers lead fintech wave

Rise of wealthtech: Boomers lead fintech wave

The use of finance apps jumped by almost two-thirds in 2022 – with boomers the fastest growing demographic. This is according to new data from one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations.

deVere Group, which does business in more than 100 countries globally, reports that usage of its suite of fintech apps has soared a staggering 65% year-on-year.

Up to 78% of baby boomer clients (those born from 1946 to 1964) said that they had increased their usage of fintech tools, such as wealthtech apps, in 2022.

Meanwhile, 71% of Gen X (those born from 1965 to 1980) and 67% of millennials (those born from 1981 to 1996) said the same. Over the last five years, deVere has developed and rolled out a suite of ground-breaking wealthtech apps.

These include Vault, a global e-money currency app and multi-currency card; deVere Crypto, a cryptocurrency app to store, transfer and exchange major cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin; Core, an app to monitor your investments in real-time on-the-go, keeping you informed with news and events that impact investor returns; and Catalyst, a low-cost investment and savings app, amongst others.

The definition of “wealthtech” – a portmanteau of the words “wealth” and “technology” – encompasses digital solutions that facilitate the processes of various strands of wealth management.

Along with digital payments, regulatory technology (regtech), insurance technology (insurtech), amongst others, wealthtech is one of the sub-sectors of the fintech industry.

Wealthtech: Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of the deVere Group. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn
Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of the deVere Group. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Of the data’s findings, deVere Group CEO Nigel Green, says: “We were, even pre-pandemic, already in an exciting new era driven by the lightning pace of the digitalisation of our everyday lives.  But like so many areas of our lives, the pandemic accelerated this trend.

“Now, like never before, people are embracing the convenience of immediate, low-cost access to, and use and management of their money through wealthtech apps. What’s clear is that the way we save, invest, use and manage our money has changed forever and continues to do so rapidly.”

He continues: “Fintech is already the ‘new normal.’ This is backed up by the figures revealing that 90% of people in the U.S use fintech services now – and we expect it to be a similar picture in most other major developed countries.”

With boomers being the fastest-growing sector of fintech consumers in the last year, Nigel Green notes: “The results bust the myth that it’s just the ‘digital native’ generations who are users of financial technology.

“The findings confirm that older generations are increasingly tech-savvy and that they are recognising the massive potential benefits of fintech apps, including that they can save you time and money, as well as giving you more control of your finances.”

Most experts agree that the growth of the wealthtech sector – which includes tools covering tax planning, investments, wealth protection, estate planning, retirement structuring and planning and broader saving – is assured for many reasons including the availability of and access to the apps.

Another significant driver is the Great Wealth Transfer. During the next couple of decades, baby boomers, who represent the richest generation in history, will transfer more than $30 trillion to their children, who themselves belong to more tech-orientated Generation X and Millennials.

Fintech companies really took a foothold in the financial services market, as a concept, in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, when traditional financial companies, were in most cases, caught off guard by the crash.

Fintech businesses filled the void left between what traditional financial services companies, especially banks, were offering and what customers are now expecting, especially in terms of customer experience.

The global wealthtech industry is booming, having had a phenomenally successful 2022, despite funding levels were off the all-time highs of more than $25bn experienced the year before.  But this should be expected considering the bleaker global macro-economic landscape of last year.

However, with more favourable market and economic outlooks for 2023, the wealthtech sector is predicted by most experts to surpass the 2021 levels of venture capital, private equity, M&A investments and research and development.

The deVere CEO concludes: “We are witnessing a personal finance revolution and it’s driven by technology. The shift is far-reaching and permanent. The fintech genie is out of the bottle.”

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Plant-based start-ups eligible for up to $300k

Plant-based start-ups eligible for up to $300k

Plant-based start-ups eligible for up to $300k

The ProVeg Incubator – the world’s first and leading alt-protein start-up accelerator – has increased the amount of investment it makes in start-ups that join its programme.

Start-ups that join and complete the programme can now benefit from up to €300 000 (about $327 000) investment, including €75 000 worth of in-kind services. The new package is an increase on the previous cap of €250 000.

Pioneering founders can apply now for the tenth edition of the ProVeg Incubator programme.

“We are looking for mission-driven founders and teams who are developing the next generation of plant-based, fermented, and cultured alternatives to animal-based products and ingredients,” said Albrecht Wolfmeyer, head of the ProVeg Incubator.

“These are very challenging times for founders. With our new investment scheme and a fully revamped programme we want to help start-ups persevere and grow in the face of adversity.”

What’s the deadline and when does it start?

Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until the final deadline, at the end of February 2023. The programme is open to start-ups from anywhere in the world and will be hosted online, kicking off in April.

Interested founders should apply online.

While the next programme cohort starts in April, companies that join sooner will be able to enjoy the benefits of being part of the incubator’s community as soon as they are on-boarded.

Which start-ups can apply?

The ProVeg Incubator is designed to support mission-driven start-ups working on plant-based, fermentation, and cultured-food products and technologies. Start-ups must have the potential to remove animals from the global food system, either by providing alternatives or with supporting technology.

The ProVeg Incubator, which is based in Berlin, Germany, is particularly interested in receiving applications from start-ups developing egg, seafood, and chicken alternatives, as well as other meat and dairy alternatives, ingredients and technologies that can help substitute animal-derived staple products on a mass scale.

Focus areas include functional ingredients, precision fermentation and biomass fermentation, cell-cultivation and molecular farming, along with the enabling tech, processes, and platforms.

What does the ProVeg programme include?

Start-ups that join the ProVeg Incubator are supported with a tailor-made accelerator programme, one-on-one expert mentoring, access to the Incubator’s extensive networks of industry contacts, and up to €300 000 in funding and in-kind services.

Since its launch in late 2018, the ProVeg Incubator has supported more 80 start-ups from around the world.

This includes Remilk, Better Nature, Vly Foods, Bosque Foods, Haofood, Omni, Kern Tec, Greenwise, Mushlabs, Formo, Hooked, the Live Green Company, and the Nu Company.

Collectively, the ProVeg Incubator’s alumni have raised more than €250 million, with products stocked in over 15 000 stores worldwide.

Start-ups that join have access to a global network including mentors such as Stephanie Downs (Uncaged Innovations), Lisa Feria (Stray Dog Capital), Mark Post (Mosa Meat), Ryan Bethencourt (Wild Earth), David Benzaquen (Mission: Plant LLC), David Brandes (Peace of Meat), Frank Cordesmeyer (Good Seed Ventures), among many others.

What do alumni companies say?

Chris Kong from Better Nature said, The ProVeg Incubator has a global network of top-tier experts working with them. They’ll help you grow your business and take it to the next level.”

Meanwhile, Isabella Iglesias-Musachio from Bosque Foods added: “The exposure you get, from media to events, is exceptional. ProVeg really puts your start-up in the spotlight.”

ProVeg Incubator was the first incubator for plant-based and cultured food start-ups when it began in 2018 and continues to lead the charge. All funds are reinvested in ProVeg’s overarching mission to reduce global animal consumption by 50% by the year 2040.

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Bitcoin to hit $29k in 2023 – new price predictions report

Bitcoin to hit $29k in 2023 – new price predictions report

Bitcoin to hit $29k in 2023 – new price predictions report

The price of Bitcoin (BTC) is set to rise in 2023 but will stay well below its all-time high, according to Finder’s latest BTC price predictions report.

Finder’s panel of 56 cryptocurrency and fintech specialists predict that BTC will peak at $29 095 in 2023 before dropping to $26 844 by the end of the year.

Seasonal Tokens creator and founder Ruadhan O thinks BTC will peak at $27 000 and says Bitcoin’s price is still suppressed by worries around the financial health of centralized businesses in the industry.

“The price is low because possible imminent catastrophes are being priced in. By the end of the year, market sentiment will have changed, and after the fear goes away, the market will rediscover the scarcity of Bitcoin.”

As it is, 65% of panelists including FxPro senior market analyst Alexander Kuptsikevich think BTC is underpriced. Only a fifth (20%) say it’s priced fairly, while the remaining 16% say it’s overpriced.

“The phase of the most active cryptocurrency sell-off is over. 2023 will be a year of careful price recovery. However, a real FOMO market is unlikely to come until 2024-2025,” Kuptsikevich said.

In fact, the panel predicts that BTC will jump to $77 492 in 2025 and $188 451 in 2030.

Finance Magnates senior analyst and editor Damian Chmiel thinks BTC will be worth $70 000 in 2025 and says Bitcoin needs two things to rebound: the return of bullishness on Wall Street and the Fed’s exit from its rate-tightening policy.

“The former will not happen without the latter, and we are left to wait patiently for now. In the long term, however, I believe Bitcoin will become a popular choice among traders.”

However University of Canberra senior lecturer John Hawkins is more bearish and is part of the 16% who think BTC is overpriced. Hawkins predicts that BTC will close the year at $10 000, before dropping to $5 000 in 2025 and $500 in 2030.

According to Hawkins, Bitcoin has no useful role as an asset after it’s been “spruiked as a payments instrument, safe haven, inflation hedge and diversification asset.”

“In the short term, more of the crypto companies that are shedding staff and restricting withdrawals, and no longer have FTX to bail them out, will fail, putting downward pressure on the Bitcoin price,” he continued.

While BTC is currently rallying above $20 000, the panel expects it to drop to $13 067 at some point in 2023 – the lowest it’s been since October 2020.

Following the recent market crash and FTX collapse, a fifth (21%) of Finder’s panel believe institutional investors will leave the crypto market for other asset classes this year. However, the majority (75%) think otherwise, while the remaining 4% are unsure.

AskTraders senior cryptocurrency and forex analyst Nick Ranga believes institutional investors will leave crypto this year. Commenting on BTC specifically, he says:

“With inflation still uncomfortably high and recession risk looming, overall market sentiment remains risk-off. US interest rates are expected to peak at around 5% in the first half of 2023 so we could see investors return to riskier assets later in the year. In the short term there could still be more downside.”

Rouge International managing director Desmond Marshall is part of the majority who think institutional investors are here to stay:

“Unless there are more sudden surprises like FTX, the market is now undergoing a cleanup of scammy & faulty exchanges and companies. After this cleanup and with the Fed interest continuing to hike, and with the BTC upcoming halving in 2024, there should be stronger support during H2 of 2023.”

Overall, 50% of Finder’s panel say now is the time to buy BTC, 37% hold, and 13% sell.

You can find the full report here.

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Blockchain to rebuild African financial system, says Putter

Blockchain to rebuild African financial system, says Putter

Blockchain to rebuild African financial system, says Putter

Africa has an enormous cash and informal trade economy, however, at the root of many challenges that Africa currently faces is financial exclusion. An alarming 900 million are unbanked in Africa due to numerous challenges, including accessibility to banks, occupation bar riers, financial limitations, gender issues, and a liquidity crunch.

The incumbent financial system (FS) leans toward the urbanised, serving a limited uniform people group and has contributed to slowing down inclusion in the past. It requires uniformity to be successful; those who do not fit the mould that the financial system is designed to serve, struggle to save, participate in the economy, and generate wealth.

It has been challenging to make this model work on a continent so diverse. Africa needed a financial system that could bridge its economic and cultural richness and be successful because of it. Africa needed a new economic infrastructure designed for Africa.

While the popularity of blockchain began to rise in 2009, some of the conversations happening on the topic of blockchain do suggest that the concept of the new technology may still be perplexing to many.

It was first introduced as a peer-to-peer network transferring value that is built on the internet and formed part of the Bitcoin proposal. However, this new technology has changed the world as we know it and it is clear that blockchain technology is the answer to Africa’s financial needs. Exactly the kind of disruption needed to even the playing field.

Ian Putter, head of Blockchain COE at Standard Bank Group, and the founder and regional director of Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) Africa. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn
Ian Putter, head of Blockchain COE at Standard Bank Group, and the founder and regional director of Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) Africa. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Commenting on how blockchain technology can bridge the financial gap, Ian Putter, head of Blockchain COE at Standard Bank Group, and the founder and regional director of Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) Africa says, “Africa needs a win-win environment, not a winner-takes-all.”

Many have heard the reference that Africa “leapfrogged” past the fixed telecom phase and moved straight to mobile surpassing the adoption rate of the US and Europe as early as 2013. The term “leapfrog” suggests that Africa skipped the steps of a predetermined trajectory.

However, the mobile business model was more successful in the African context than the landline because it can bridge economic diversity and allow for a unifying experience across borders. Much like the incumbent FS, the fixed telecom business model was not localized for the African context and had low adoption rates.

On the contrary, following the mobile trajectory, Africa grabbed onto the blockchain promise because it does not demand uniformity to be successful. Blockchain’s decentralized economy integrates hierarchical economical systems into a single economically aligned class called community.

In simple terms, everyone can participate, and all who participate are not only consumers but contributors who are economically incentivized. Although blockchain technology is not an African innovation, it caught on like wildfire to the extent that Africa has been given the title “the crypto continent”.

The Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) Africa is researching the blockchain opportunity and how it can fill the real market need in Africa.  This is being achieved through the facilitation of syndicated support, education, and research that benefits companies moving from Web2 to Web3, with the upliftment of Africa at the heart of every step.

According to the African Blockchain Report 2021, $127 million of venture capital was raised by blockchain companies in Africa of which 95% of funding went to Nigeria, Seychelles, Kenya, and South Africa.

These four countries have now earned the respectable title “The big 4”.

Fintech as a category represented a significant 53% of blockchain venture funds, giving Africa hope in the soon actualisation of an inclusive financial norm.

Although human behaviour is said to evolve slower than innovation, enabled by rapidly increasing smartphone penetration rates, Africa’s crypto adoption growth rate between 2021 and 2022 was 2467%.

Furthermore, digital assets now have regulator’s attention in South Africa after the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) defined crypto assets as “digital representations of value” recognizing them as financial products that can be used in trade for payments and investment on the 19th of October 2022. This marks an evolution in crypto education and adoption as financial advisors may formally advise their clients on crypto investments.

It is no longer a matter of what blockchain technology can do, but what it is already doing.

Africa has seen the successful development and launch of Nigeria’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), the eNaira. The Central Republic of Africa (CAR) is the second country in the world to have adopted Bitcoin as a legal tender.

Coronet – an African company whose blockchain enables African retailers to source quality authenticated products from vetted manufacturers – has enabled transparency and accountability in the supply chain. Among the use cases for fintech in Africa are peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, widely used to enable the informal and small business ventures at the beating heart of many African economies.

Locally, we already see communities adopt decentralised ledger technology (DLT) to build solutions for challenges they have otherwise not been able to overcome. In South Africa, the Grayton House school tokenised their student’s art into nonfungible tokens (NFTs) to fundraise for their scholarship program.

Another fantastic example of blockchain’s ability to overcome Africa’s diverse economic challenges is an initiative called Bitcoin Ekasi.

In the heart of Mossel bay, South Africa, young adults, shop owners, and consumers are being educated on decentralised finance and digital wallets, transforming the community as local kiosks and other retailers and service providers started accepting payments via cryptocurrencies to avoid cash theft and accommodate those who do not have a bank account but have access to a mobile smartphone and internet.

Africa is transitioning from Web2 to Web3 as Web3 is a system better designed for Africa. Adopting the new technology into existing businesses might be expensive and challenging at first, but it will be the difference between companies that will drive Africa forward and companies that will stay behind.

BRI Africa provides research about the application and implementation of blockchain technologies in the African context, to solve African problems, using input from a grass-root level.

BRI Africa drives their research, pilot project/ use case facilitation through their ecosystem members, creating a community that facilitates pan-African peer-to-peer learning across verticals.

Interest in the BRI Africa organisation and the Web3 movement it supports is growing across the continent and globally. This speaks not only of an opportunity to rewrite the African narrative but an opportunity for businesses and investors to form part of this story. Blockchain technology is the infrastructure that is unifying Africa. “We want to rebuild Africa from the ground up with blockchain,” concludes Putter.

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