Software Companies News Updates 2020
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A Tanzanian agritech startup has won this years MEST Africa Challenge . Kilimo Fresh Foods Africa LTD is an online platform that distributes fresh produce from small farmers to businesses. Supporting local farmers Kilimo Fresh Fresh Foods Africa LTD was founded in 2018 by Baraka Chijenga. The startup has worked to connect local small farmers with various businesses including hotels, supermarkets, wholesalers, and export markets. Through the use of their platform small farmers are able to showcase and outsource their produce including dry foods, vegetables, grains, and fruits to various businesses in Tanzania. The startup has worked with small farmers from the coastal regions as well as the Northern and Southern Highlands in Tanzania to ensure that only high-quality and organic products are distributed. MEST Africa Challenge The MEST Africa Challenge began in May this year with applications from tech entrepreneurs. Applications from countries including Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Cte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Senegal and Rwanda were all welcome. To qualify, the applicants had to be a software company and operational for under two years. The startup had to have raised $100 000 (+/- R1660550.00) or less since it was launched and it had to continue to generate revenue. The finalists for Tanzania were announced on 8 July 2020. The selected finalists included startups such as Flamingoo Foods Company Ltd , Smartwash Company Limited, and Ngwala Inventions Limited. The finalists presented their final pitch on the 12th of August this year. Each one of the finalists was given the opportunity to pitch their business models to a global audience that included fellow entrepreneurs, ecosystem players, investors, and corporate partners. South African MEST finalist South Africas finalist winner was the Popup Shop Shop , a South African online platform that assists emerging and established retail businesses in finding short term leases for popup shops in retail locations. The platform was founded in Cape Town in 2018 and has assisted retail brands in finding locations in Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria, and Cape Town.
the CTO of Airsmat says, " Our innovative and creative approach will use world-class AI-powered software aimed at improving the efficiency of African farmers in terms of yields and productivity using the power of AirSmat Artificial Intelligent (AAI) driven software. The software will provide timely information about the state of their crops and general operations on their farmlands. " He went on further to point out that Nigeria is the first place they will roll-out Smartcrows this October. They will then scale into other countries toward the second quarter of 2021. The management at Zetogon also put out word saying, "The funds will be used to support the launch of the software services designed to change the agricultural landscape by providing AI-driven data that will add value to farming and all agro-allied businesses." With the new software solution, farmers will get more information on their farmlands, ensuring decisions are implemented in a timely manner while resulting in increased crop yield. Find out more on their website at www.airsmat.com . Share
Lahore-based grocery delivery startup GrocerApp has raised $1 million in a seed round led by Jabbar Internet Group, the startup announced in a statement to MENAbytes today. It is Jabbar's first investment in Pakistan and comes just days after it won big with the $360 million sale of Dubai-based grocery startup InstaShop (which it was an early investor in) to Delivery Hero. The round that takes GrocerApp's total raise to date to $1.5 million also includes the participation of former Souq/Amazon MENA executive Asif Keshodia (who has also joined GrocerApp's board), Saudi-based Nama Ventures, Jordan's Nader Group, Pakistan-focused VC Karavan, and a local software company 7Vals. Some existing investors including Pakistan-based Walled City Co, LeanBricks, and Shehryar Ali of Treet Pakistan, also joined the round. Founded in 2016 by Ahmed Saeed, Hassaan Sadiq, and Bilal Zafar, GrocerApp is one of the leading players in the online grocery space in Pakistan, enabling users to order their groceries through its web and mobile apps and have them delivered to their doorstep on the same day. In addition to groceries, it also delivers fruits, vegetables, and meat. The startup that had started in Pakistan's second-largest city Lahore in 2016 and is one of the leading players in the online grocery space there has recently also expanded to Islamabad and Rawalpindi with 1,500 SKUs available on its app, it's co-founder and CEO Ahmed Saeed told MENAbytes . In Lahore, it sells over 4,000 SKUs. GrocerApp uses a pure-play model with its own inventory and logistics so when a user places an order on its app, the products get picked and packed at its fulfillment centers and delivered to customers using its network of freelance drivers. It had started with its own fleet but has recently switched its logistics model to rely more on freelancers as it scales its operations. Covid-19 has helped the startup grow multiple-fold in the last few months. Even though GrocerApp is not experiencing the same growth it was during the peak of Covid-19 in Pakistan, it is still growing between 20 to 30 percent month-over-month, said Ahmed in a conversation with MENAbytes . In a statement commenting on the investment, Ahmed, said, GrocerApp is equipped with sophisticated technology, smart fulfillment centers and efficient logistics network that makes it the leading e-grocer in Pakistan." Our success in this round is twofold. Asif, Hussam, and Samih have shown confidence in GrocerApp and decided to back us, which reinforces our position as a promising e-commerce leader. Secondly, the tons of experience these investors bring will usher in a new era of growth for GrocerApp, he added. Ahmed told MENAbytes that they will use the latest investment to make their supply chain more efficient, automate different processes to help it scale, and fuel its expansion in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. GrocerApp will also explore the option of expanding to Karachi next year. Jabbar, the lead investor in this round was founded in 2009 by Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury, two internet veterans of the Middle East who had previously co-founded region's leading ecommerce company Souq that wad acquired by Amazon in 2017 for $580 million and Arabic portal and email service Maktoob that was acquired by Yahoo for $164 million. Samih Toukan, commenting on the investment, said, "We see great potential in Pakistan for technology businesses. To seize the opportunity, we have made our first investment in Pakistan in GrocerApp because of our confidence in the business and resilience of the cofounders. We are determined to see GrocerApp grow even further, now that the Pakistani market is ripe for a digital revolution." Asif Keshodia, the former Souq/Amazon MENA executive who had overseen Souq's sale to Amazon, said, "Pakistan is a huge market with great potential for ecommerce companies to grow. GrocerApp has shown that promise and I am thrilled to become a part of an amazing team that is leading this company. Collectively, the investors bring weights of experience in e-commerce which is going to help the company soar to new heights. It is also going to develop the overall e-commerce market in Pakistan and I look forward to this exciting journey ahead." Pakistani mass transit startup Airlift has also recently expanded into grocery delivery but GrocerApp is not too concerned about the competition. In a conversation with MENAbytes , the CEO of GrocerApp explained that the market is big enough for multiple players to co-exist, "Yes, we want to become the leading player in the online grocery space in Pakistan but that doesn't mean that we'll capture the entire market. It is just too big and has to be served by multiple players."
South African based business accelerator, Grindstone has launched a new Venture Capital Fund, Grindstone Ventures, dedicated to providing early-stage equity funding to its cohorts of companies and alumni. Grindstone Accelerator is a structured entrepreneurship development programme that is jointly owned by leading venture capital fund manager Knife Capital and market access specialist Thinkroom Consulting. The programme assists South African SMEs with proven traction through an intensive year-long review of their strategies and provides them with the necessary support to build a foundation for growth to become investable, sustainable and exit-ready. During the programme, key growth gaps are identified and addressed which can open up early-stage funding opportunities in order for these startups to accelerate market access. It must be noted that the availability of risk capital remains one of the main challenges to the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa. Andrea B?hmert, Partner at Knife Capital explains that the availability of risk capital is addressed throughout the programme. Linking a funding vehicle to our Accelerator model complements the Knife Capital value chain approach where companies can be de-risked before raising follow-on capital from our Series A and later-stage funds. The Grindstone Programme is essentially a thorough due diligence exercise to identify the best opportunities already narrowed down from hundreds of applications, she adds. Venture Capital Fund Grindstone Ventures is an open-ended venture capital fund structure, set to invest up to R5-million per opportunity in scalable innovation-driven ventures likely in co-investment arrangements with Angel Investors and Corporate VCs. Not only will the Venture Capital fund providing assistance and help small and medium enterprises grow but it also will facilitate the growth of a community of business leaders to help one another to grow their businesses. In essence, all future Grindstone Accelerator cohort companies will obtain a stake in Grindstone Ventures, thereby creating a vested interest in each other by a community of high-growth scale-ups A few of our past Grindstone entrepreneurs have subsequently exited their businesses and became VC Investors with Knife Capital. We are now starting to teach our investee companies to think like investors early on because we back them to succeed, says B hmert. Some of South Africas best scale-up companies have been through Grindstone, including radar startup iKubu; augmented reality animation gaming company SeaMonster (see this story ); online payment gateway Payfast ; financial inclusion business Picsa ; geospatial data analytics company Locstat and on-demand grocery delivery service OneCart . Knife Capital invested in ticketing solutions provider Quicket and warehouse management software company Granite via its SARS Section 12J Venture Capital Company: KNF Ventures. Keet van Zyl, Partner at Knife Capital says the first Grindstone Ventures investments are imminent. The initial capital contributions are from Knife Capital, Thinkroom and our programme partners, but encouragingly, past Grindstone cohort entrepreneurs are coming on board and respected Angel Investors in the SA startup ecosystem are looking to invest. We already identified the first investment opportunities. The new Grindstone Accelerator cohorts 6 and 7 of ten companies each in Cape Town and Johannesburg are currently being finalised and will be announced soon. Read more: Sea Monster bags $1-million investment Read more: Cape Town startup SweepSouth raises over R50m in new funding round Read more: Entrepreneur-driven Venture Capital Fund E4E Africa launches in SA