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These Are The Top African Tech Startups You Need To Know About

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Monty Munford , CONTRIBUTOR

Africa is heating up and on fire.

That statement, for once, has nothing to do with climate change, but with investor interest and technology momentum.

This modern-day scramble for Africa also has nothing to do with the colonization of African territory by European powers between 1881 and 1914, but is rather about the hunt for the Next Big Thing.

No longer the Dark Continent, life expectancy in Africa has increased by an astonishing eight years over the past decade and this burst of life is being replicated in its tech ecosystems.

From Cairo to Kigali, Cape Town to Lagos, Nairobi to Accra and Kampala to Dakar, tech hubs are rising faster than the cities that contain them.

By way of example, earlier this week, African software company Andela raised $40 million to connect Africa’s engineering talent into the global technology ecosystem.

 This financial round marks one of the largest investments ever led by an African venture firm into an Africa-based company and brings Andela’s total venture funding to more than $80 million.

Deals such as these are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg and in the UK others are realizing the opportunity.

Early next month in Brussels and backed by the European Commision, London-based accelerator Wayra UK will launch a trade delegation that will visit South Africa and Cape Town as part of the Startup Europe Comes to Africa (SEC2A) Road Trip, a new initiative that seeks to bring the African and European tech ecosystems closer together.

So, the interest is there, what about the startups themselves. What will be the Next Big Thing from Africa?

Naturally, lists are always subjective and contentious; Africa is a huge continent, but the companies mentioned all represent the best of African talent and a future that will shine far from its continental borders.

VConnect (Nigeria)

Previously described by Forbes as one of African’s hottest tech startups, the Lagos-based company continues to transform the services industry in Nigeria. Its platform matches customer needs with available suppliers.

In a country with a large population, scattered markets and lack of basic infrastructure, even the relatively simple task (in the West)  of finding a plumber or somebody to fix a roof is a major problem.

The company says 70% of the population take five days to find a service provider and still run the risk of bad quality of service or paying exorbitant prices. VConnect brings that time down from days to minutes and now logs more than one million businesses.

VConnect

Deepankar Rustagi is the CEO of VConnect.

MeQasa (Ghana)

Featured previously in Forbes after raising $500,000 in 2015, MeQasa goes from strength to strength in Ghana’s real estate market.

Its platform provides a free service for landlords, brokers and real estate industry professionals by making the search experience for prospective tenants and buyers fast and easy through which was previously a difficult user journey.

MeQasa showcases thousands of property available for rent or purchase – both residential and commercial – from across Ghana. It matches trusted real estate agents with serious home seekers with details on current property listings. Currently based in Ghana, it aims to replicate this all over Africa and the world.

Flutterwave (Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria)

Flutterwave provides smart developer- and customer-friendly payments infrastructure. It provides a range of services that allow its global merchants, PSPs and financial institutions to accept various payment types including Mastercard, Visa, mobile money, bank accounts and more.

The company says this democratises the payments ecosystem by removing the barriers to receiving payments and bringing all payment types into one point. This ensures easy payments and collections for business across Africa regardless of location.

Since inception, Flutterwave has provided the infrastructure for companies across Africa to receive payments from multiple payment sources. An excess of $200 million of transactions across Africa have been facilitated by Flutterwave’s technology.

Sliide Airtime

Sliide Airtime is a mobile advertising startup that gives people free airtime in return for engaging with news and branded content delivered to the lock screen of their mobile devices.

Sliide Airtime uses 65% of its advertising revenues to buy mobile data for its users so they can spend more time online for free. It’s wildly popular in Nigeria and currently fundraising to expand into additional markets in Africa and Asia.

It was named Most Innovative App at the 2017 Mobile World Congress awards, Africa’s Best App at the 2016 Apps Africa awards and its CEO and co-founder Corbyn Munnik was named as one of Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30.

Sliide

Sliide is one of Africa’s most interesting young companies.

Printivo (Nigeria)

Founded in 2014 by Ayodeji Adeogun, Oluyomi Ojo, Ibukun Oloyede, Printivo ships printed material express orders across Nigeria and helps Nigerian SMEs with print marketing.

It works with companies such as Samsung, Google and Uber and has been through two rounds of funding to date.

Last year, the company was voted ‘The Most Investable in Nigeria after beating 31 other Nigerian startups at the Nigerian Startup Matchup competition run by business platform Starta.

LIfeQ – South Africa

LIfeQ is on a mission to maximise people’s health. It brings together knowledge and understanding of human physiology and systems biology to extract and deliver person-specific digital biomarkers from multitudinous curated data channels.

Founded in Stellenbosch, the company launched in 2015 at the Las Vegas CES show. Its complex combination of sensors and bio-mathematical modeling help its customers better understand their body and fitness.

It plans to grab a significant share of the global £1 trillion healthcare market.

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Other notable African startups to watch out are the finalists in the Appsafrica.com Awards 2017 that were recently announced in sectors such as m-commerce, apps, enterprise and ‘Changing Africa’.

Whether the companies posited in this article change Africa remain to be seen, but Africa is hot right now and if cautious investors decide to hold back, it may be them that will be feeling the heat as Africa surges.

 

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30 under 30

Applications Open for FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 class of 2020

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FORBES AFRICA is on the hunt for Africans under the age of 30, who are building brands, creating jobs and transforming the continent, to join our Under 30 community for 2020.


JOHANNESBURG, 07 January 2020: Attention entrepreneurs, creatives, sport stars and technology geeks — the 2020 FORBES AFRICA Under 30 nominations are now officially open.

The FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list is the most-anticipated list of game-changers on the continent and this year, we are on the hunt for 30 of Africa’s brightest achievers under the age of 30 spanning these categories: Business, Technology, Creatives and Sport.

Each year, FORBES AFRICA looks for resilient self-starters, innovators, entrepreneurs and disruptors who have the acumen to stay the course in their chosen field, come what may.

Past honorees include Sho Madjozi, Bruce Diale, Karabo Poppy, Kwesta, Nomzamo Mbatha, Burna Boy, Nthabiseng Mosia, Busi Mkhumbuzi Pooe, Henrich Akomolafe, Davido, Yemi Alade, Vere Shaba, Nasty C and WizKid.

What’s different this year is that we have whittled down the list to just 30 finalists, making the competition stiff and the vetting process even more rigorous. 

Says FORBES AFRICA’s Managing Editor, Renuka Methil: “The start of a new decade means the unraveling of fresh talent on the African continent. I can’t wait to see the potential billionaires who will land up on our desks. Our coveted sixth annual Under 30 list will herald some of the decade’s biggest names in business and life.”

If you think you have what it takes to be on this year’s list or know an entrepreneur, creative, technology entrepreneur or sports star under 30 with a proven track-record on the continent – introduce them to FORBES AFRICA by applying or submitting your nomination.

NOMINATIONS AND APPLICATIONS CRITERIA:

Business and Technology categories

  1. Must be an entrepreneur/founder aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Should have a legitimate REGISTERED business on the continent
  3. Business/businesses should be two years or older
  4. Nominees must have risked own money and have a social impact
  5. Must be profit generating
  6. Must employ people in Africa
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Sports category

  1. Must be a sports person aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Must be representing an African team
  3. Should have a proven track record of no less than two years
  4. Should be making significant earnings
  5. Should have some endorsement deals
  6. Entrepreneurship and social impact is a plus
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Creatives category

  1. Must be a creative aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Must be from or based in Africa
  3. Should be making significant earnings
  4. Should have a proven creative record of no less than two years
  5. Must have social influence
  6. Entrepreneurship and social impact is a plus
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Your entry should include:

  • Country
  • Full Names
  • Company name/Team you are applying with
  • A short motivation on why you should be on the list
  • A short profile on self and company
  • Links to published material / news clippings about nominee
  • All social media handles
  • Contact information
  • High-res images of yourself

Applications and nominations must be sent via email to FORBES AFRICA journalist and curator of the list, Karen Mwendera, on [email protected]

Nominations close on 3 February 2020.

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30 under 30

Making Of The 2019 Forbes Africa #30Under30 Cover

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This year marks the fifth milestone annual FORBES AFRICA 30 under 30 list, and we have introduced a new category of game-changers. Together, they are 120 in total across four sectors: business, technology, creatives and sport. Meet the class of 2019, a stellar collection of entrepreneurs and innovators rewriting rules and taking bold new risks to take Africa to the future.

#30Under30: Business Category 2019
#30Under30: Creatives Category 2019
#30Under30: Technology Category 2019
#30Under30: Sport Category 2019
  • Words: Karen Mwendera    
  • Edited by: Unathi Shologu
  •  Assistant: Garreth Mtuwa  
  • Creative direction by: Lucy Nkosi  
  • Lead photography by: Motlabana Monnakgotla
  • Co-photography by: Gypseenia Lion   

Judges of the 30 Under 30 class of 2019

The category experts whose role it was to survey all finalists of the 2019 30 Under 30 list, rank them and provide commentary on each candidate:

  • Business: Anthea Gardner, Founder and Managing Partner at Cartesian Capital
  • Technology: Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at University of Johannesburg; he also deputises President Cyril Ramaphosa on the South African Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • Creatives: Yasmin Furmie, creative and business partner of fashion brand SiSi The Collection, South Africa
  • Sport: Nick Said, the Africa sports correspondent for Thomson Reuters
  • Audit partner: SNG Grant Thornton

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Forbes Africa #30Under30 list: Business, Technology, Creatives and Sport

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THE FORBES AFRICA 30 UNDER 30 LIST IS THE most-anticipated list of game-changers on the continent and this year, we bring you 120 of Africa’s brightest achievers under the age of 30 and for the first time, four categories featuring 30 in each: Business, Technology, Creatives and Sport.

From elevator manufacturing, solar energy design, to under-30s conquering the Alps and selling out the Apollo Theatre,  this year’s list demonstrates how enterprising and extraordinary the African youth is.

This list celebrates these pioneers who are building brands, creating jobs, and innovating, leading, transforming and contributing to new industries, in turn, changing the continent. 

“The future belongs to Africa and the future belongs to its youth,” says Jason Pau, Chief of Staff for International to billionaire Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba. He says the journey for young entrepreneurs, especially in Africa, is not always easy. Many startups fall by the wayside due to a lack of resources. In South Africa, it is estimated that the small enterprise failure rate is at almost 80% within the first three years.

Chances at success are very slim, yet Africans continue to see opportunity where many do not. The select few celebrated in this list represent those individuals who continue to persevere against the odds. It also serves as a reminder that it is possible.

“People don’t really give enough time or spend enough time in providing the right environment for entrepreneurs to grow,” Pau tells FORBES AFRICA.

So if entrepreneurship is the answer, ensuring that an environment is conducive for business sustainability is imperative.

Together with our audit partner for this list, SNG Grant Thornton, the senior editorial team worked night and day scrutinizing each candidate. For entrepreneurs, we delved into how profitable their businesses were and if they showed signs of potential growth and sustainability.

However, not only does the list look at the financial impact of each candidate, but also their reputation, resilience and ability to be role models to other young Africans.

For FORBES AFRICA, this meant endless background checks, fact-checks, emails, phone calls and research, sifting through over 1,000 nominations that poured in over the last few months. Lastly, the one factor that also played a role in the determination of the candidates was their online presence. Followers are a valuable new currency, and today’s achievers have found a way to leverage off them. This year, when FORBES named Kylie Jenner the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, it observed that her business was built mainly because of her social media and fan following. Many on our list have also been able to build on this in their own way. The creatives and sport stars lead in this regard.

This year, Sport is the newest category, opening up the list to the game-changers who are also Africa’s next generation of leaders. They have won awards, broken records, made social investments and pushed the boundaries by challenging the status quo on policies in sports. However, some of the challenges they still face include lack of resources, a gender pay gap, and an immense pool of untapped talent not yet given a chance to be in the limelight.

But no matter where they are from, these 120 list-makers share one common goal, and that is to build a better Africa.

Being an under-30 myself, I am proud to have curated the FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 class of 2019. At the time of going to press, all facts on the following pages were verified to be correct.

The list is in no particular order:


This year marks the fifth milestone annual FORBES AFRICA 30 under 30 list, and we have introduced a new category of game-changers. Together, they are 120 in total across four sectors: business, technology, creatives and sport. Meet the class of 2019, a stellar collection of entrepreneurs and innovators rewriting rules and taking bold new risks to take Africa to the future.

#30Under30: Business Category 2019
#30Under30: Creatives Category 2019
#30Under30: Technology Category 2019
#30Under30: Sport Category 2019
  • Words: Karen Mwendera    
  • Edited by: Unathi Shologu
  •  Assistant: Garreth Mtuwa  
  • Creative direction by: Lucy Nkosi  
  • Lead photography by: Motlabana Monnakgotla
  • Co-photography by: Gypseenia Lion   

Judges of the 30 Under 30 class of 2019

The category experts whose role it was to survey all finalists of the 2019 30 Under 30 list, rank them and provide commentary on each candidate:

  • Business: Anthea Gardner, Founder and Managing Partner at Cartesian Capital
  • Technology: Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at University of Johannesburg; he also deputises President Cyril Ramaphosa on the South African Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • Creatives: Yasmin Furmie, creative and business partner of fashion brand SiSi The Collection, South Africa
  • Sport: Nick Said, the Africa sports correspondent for Thomson Reuters
  • Audit partner: SNG Grant Thornton

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