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Samurai Incubate Japanese VC closes a $18.6M fund for African startups

in March 2021 managed by Samurai Incubate , a venture capital firm based in Tokyo. The fund was oversubscribed above the initial $18.4M target, raising $18.6M instead. Over 54 investors joined in as LPs - one among them was the Toyota Tsusho Corporation. Samurai Incubate Inc. operates in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, and other areas. It was founded by Kentaro Sakakibara where it began investing in Africa through Leapfrog Ventures. In August 2018, $2.5 million was invested in 20 African startups through this new firm. In June 2019 it was renamed Samurai Incubate Africa. Toyota Tsusho was founded in October 2019 and runs a subsidiary CFAO SAS, established as Mobility 54 Investment SAS, runs as an investment company dedicated to the investment and financing of mobility-related to startups across Africa. Since its establishment, Mobility 54 has thus far invested 12 million USD in four startups. Among the areas targeted by the fund are medical healthcare, transport mobility, agriculture, finance insurance, e-commerce retail, and logistics. More on the press release at Toyota Tsusho Corporation Share

apr 17 2021 5:42pm
newsarticle News : Startups
Ghana fintech BezoMoney raises $200k in seed capital to accelerate growth

was founded in Mubarak Sumaila and Diana Osei in August 2019 when he took part in the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology programme ( MEST ). BezoMoney accompanied the announcement with a new product line that aims to serve mobile money account users. The platform called BezoSusu helps the users save, receive bulk capital in group savings, and building a credit and savings history. BezoSusu operates on USSD and is integrated with mobile money in a manner that helps users transact with their mobile money wallets. To achieve the industry-required regulatory standards, BezoMoney has made partnerships with mobile operators and financial institutions to get past the regulatory requirements of the $1.2 billion global mobile money market. The startup raised the US$200,000 after graduating from MEST in a pre-seed funding round from GOODsoil VC , a venture capital fund operating out of London. BezoMoney will stand out as an African fintech, building and providing financial services to young unbanked consumers. Africa has 161 million active mobile money account users. The number of registered mobile users across Ghana rose elevenfold between 2013 and 2017, according to the IMF data. Mobile money is the fastest-growing income source for wireless network operators like MTN and Vodafone. Share

apr 16 2021 5:45pm
newsarticle News : Startups
Applications to the Grindstone Accelerator Programme now open

Share Grindstone's accelerator programme, has rolled out an initiative is tailored towards scaling up high-growth and innovative-driven SMEs across South Africa. The fund is run by Knife Capital , a venture capital fund mainly funded by the SA SME Fund but backed by the partners such as Deloitte Digital, Google for startups, and Thinkroom. Grindstone entrepreneurship development programme does not demand equity from participant teams. It however provides training and support that helps SMEs remain sustainable and receive funding. Starting back in 2014, there will be the 8th Cape Town cohort and 9th Johannesburg cohort of the programme. To participate in the Grindstone Accelerator Programme one must: Be a South African citizen Be part of a dynamic team Should have revenues of at least R500k Posses a scalable model Display innovation as the prime equalizer startups that take part in the accelerator are business support services comprising elements of mentorship, corporate advisory, funding, training, mentorship, and coaching. Among the specific interventions tailored to the companies are go-to-market strategy, intellectual property assessment, and strategic financial valuation. Share

apr 16 2021 5:45pm
newsarticle News : Startups
SU Techpreneurship programme connects students with tech internships

The newly launched SU Techpreneurship Centre has announced the graduation of its first cohort of South Africas Stellenbosch University graduates, SU faculty, and corporate employees that have completed the six-week programme. According to SU LaunchLab, at the end of the programme 70% of SU graduates were offered full-time internships after completing the course. As a result, the SU Techpreneurship Centre is creating a much-needed link between graduates and the SA tech industry, offering a way for techpreneurs to get their foot in the door. In a press release, Joshua Romisher, CEO of SU LaunchLab views the success of the initial cohort as a huge verification of an innovative hybrid model that brings together various SU Facilities and affiliated entrepreneurial service providers such as SU LaunchLab . In terms of SUs Vision 2040, the initiative contributes to creating a transformative student experience in that this learning journey will provide a seamless transition into the workforce through practical experience with SU LaunchLab startups and its partners, said Romisher. The programme With 70 applications received only 18 participants were selected for the six-week bootcamp training. SU Launchlab has reported that the majority of the participants were engineering graduates, followed by participants with backgrounds in mathematics, economics, management sciences, computer science, natural sciences, and humanities. Altus Viljoen, coordinator of the Techpreneurship Centre provides insight into the mechanics of the programme. During the six-week programme the participants acquired new industry-relevant technical data science, machine learning, cloud computing, and IT soft skills. They were also given insight into the fundamentals of entrepreneurship in terms of personal development and growth, as well as developing an entrepreneurial mindset through design thinking, said Viljoen. We have also seen great interest in the employability of our graduates - companies have interviewed 90% of our graduates seeking internships, and 70% have received offers so far. According to reports, the SU Techpreneurship Centre plans to host and facilitate three additional programmes this year. The next programme is expected to take place in June 2021. Tanya Meyer, a participant in programme explains that it was instrumental in fast-tracking progress for her MEng research project in Machine Learning and Data Science. It skyrocketed my Python programming skillset whilst developing my previously non-existent, soft tech skills with lots of guest speaker talks, entrepreneurship sessions, and colleague collaboration. The SU Techpreneurship Centre The SU Techpreneurship Centre is new data science and entrepreneurial development upskilling initiative developed by the SU LaunchLab. Prof Stan du Plessis, SUs Chief Operations Officer, expresses that the Universitys investment into the LaunchLab is proving to be a sound one. When we made funds available from SUs Strategic Fund, we expected a good return. So far, our expectations have been exceeded. It is heartwarming to know that we are bridging the gap between the academic world and the private sector with a creative programme that gives each participant the tools to make a smooth transition into work life.

apr 16 2021 5:45pm
newsarticle News : Startups
SA VC firm increases investment into Sendmarc

an SA-based venture capital fund has invested an undisclosed amount into Sendmarc. The innovative cybersecurity startup is run by Keith Thompson, Sam Hutchinson (CEO), and Sacha Matulovich. On the website , Kalon claims to have closed a successful 2021 capital raise in both its funds totaling R100 million each. Among its top investees are: Automated Electronic Fund Transfer solution Ozow , conversational AI service provider FinChatBot , Proptech marketing company Flow , and user-friendly enterprise tool Mobiz. Sendmarc is an email security company that helps protect your company staff, brand, and customers from email impersonation and attacks from phishing. Sendmarc automates your domain from being used in impersonation. This helps organizations configure SPF, DMARC, and DKIM while authorizing legit senders. Last year the company was shortlisted as one of the SME entries at the BCX Innovation Awards. Here is a video that explains DMARC (Domain Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) and how it protects your brand from phishing and impersonation attacks. Share

apr 16 2021 8:26am
newsarticle News : Startups
Kenyan fintech tech startup secures funding to regionally expand

Nairobi-based fintech startup Tanda has secured an undisclosed amount of funding from Cape Town-based venture capital (VC) company HAVAC , Zedcrest Capital, DFS Lab, Victor Asemota, and three other investors. According to reports from the fintech, the funding will be used to expand its operations across Kenya. In addition, Tanda has secured strategic partnerships with Mastercard and Interswitch, both of which will assist in the fintech's growth. Rob Heath, Partner at HAVAC explains why the VC decided to invest in Tanda. Tanda is solving one part of the very deep and complex problem of financial inclusion that is not only Kenyan but a problem across all emerging and undeveloped markets. HAVAC believes that the wider Tanda team has the right mix of skills, technical expertise, geographic market knowledge, and real-world experience to understand the challenges facing those left behind in the financial ecosystem. Tanda Founded in 2017, Tanda has created an innovative solution catering to MSME's across Africa by offering access to inventory credit and by mobilizing these MSME's to become access points for Airtime, Utility payments, and M-banking along with Insurance for their customers. The fintech has risen to success due to its successful pioneering and establishing the viability of the interoperable agent and merchant model in Kenya. Tanda claims that its network supports 58 banks and saccos, four telecoms, 18 billers, 12,000 merchants and agents, and has served over 300,000 unique customers. Geoffrey Mulei, CEO of Tanda explains that the fintech is hungry for further expansion and growth as it seeks to secure more valuable partnerships. Our team will continue to run the aggressive agent and customer acquisition drives across the region while securing more strategic partnerships in these new markets to further support Tandas growth and strategy as we pursue our goal of digitising payments across Africa. Tanda is excited to be at the forefront of the rapid shift towards innovative digital-first solutions, especially in markets that are ripe for disruption. The fintech plans to grow its footprint in Kenya to 100 000 agents and merchants with an additional expansion into the Ugandan, Tanzania, and Rwandan market within the next 24 months.

apr 15 2021 6:20pm
newsarticle News : Crowdfunding
SA agritech launches innovative commodities trading platform

South Africa-based agritech startup TonnUp has launched an online trading platform that assists farmers in marketing and selling their agricultural produce in a structured and transparent environment. Stephen Krger, the director of TonnUp and a maize producer based in Viljoenskroon, explains that the platform has been geared toward supporting local farmers and buyers. TonnUp is the result of a fundamental need for farmers to extract a fair price for their inputs and risk. Our farmers are the starting point of the food value chain but have the least ability to create a fair price for their product. They take all the risks and create the real value. We think theres a real opportunity to lift the veil on the commodities market and help the farmers get the best prices for their products, said Krger. TonnUp Established in the last Quarter of 2020, the newly launched and innovative platform aims to empower farmers to dictate the pricing, marketing, and distribution of their products. South Africas current grain market is between 14-16 million tons, and less than 25% of that is traded in a formal market. This means that potentially, 75% of the grain crop is available to be traded on a formal platform, with full pricing and location transparency. Our value proposition is to bring together buyers and sellers, and to create a spot market where everybody gets a fair deal, adds Krger. TonnUp claims that its one-stop platform is cost-effective when compared to other existing mechanisms available to local farmers. The benefits of the platform include the following; Listed farmers get the maximum value output for their products Buyers are able to make more informed purchasing decisions Fosters a transparent and efficient market. How does it work Farmers are able to list their commodities on the platform at their preferred price after consulting with their brokers or silo owners. Buyers such as millers and processors are able to bid on these listed commodities, regardless if there is currently stock or not available at all registered delivery points. The platform has essentially reduced the admin and paperwork involved from process of the producer to consumer. In addition, the trading platform enables buyers to bid for a preferred delivery location. Ultimately, were using agri-tech to empower farmers to manage their own products at a fraction of the current cost, and from anywhere at any time, comments Krger. Addressing delayed payments, a problem faced in the traditional trading commodity market, TonnUp has implemented a trade plus 2 (T+2) working day settlement cycle. TonnUp provides insight into this process. "While silo owners will continue to guarantee the quality and quantity of the physical stock on the storage certificates, TonnUp facilitates the cash-flow process so that sellers receive their payments and buyers receive their stock quickly and efficiently." To ensure financial security for all parties involved in the transaction, the platform only enables customers to trade from pre-funded accounts. Customer's funds are held in segregated accounts which are distinct from operational accounts. The initial focus of the platform will be on grain but the agritech plans to expand into a range of other commodities such as oil cake, fertiliser, soya, and sorghum.

apr 15 2021 6:20pm
newsarticle News : Startups
5 African startups receive grant funding from the GSMA Innovation Fund

Share 5 African startups receive funding as part of the GSMA Innovation Fund on Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion. The fund also ran previous offerings and is supported by the UK's DFID and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The fund's objective is to address the barriers facing mobile internet adoption, affordability, accessibility, security, affordability, digital skills, and safety. The initiative looks to support SMEs offering innovative new products, business models, and services capable of addressing key barriers to mobile internet adoption and use. Thus far a total of 598 applications have been received from startups and SMEs spread across Asia and Africa in 44 countries. They have all gone through a rigorous evaluation process followed by a selection from a panel of experts. Among the nine grantees are Nigeria's ScholarX , Zambia's WidEnergy , Ethiopia's Africa 118 , Uganda's Ensibuuko , and Zimbabwe's Zonful Energy . The prize money will comprise grants ranging from US$137,000 to US$344,000. Source article at DisruptAfrica Share

apr 15 2021 8:09am
newsarticle News : Startups
JGo Africa, a Zambian startup launches "WeChat of Africa" app

pointed out the aspiration to be a one-in-all African app with the intent of adding wallet integration and social networking. Thus far the app has over 420 users, has conducted over 1,500 trips and other transactions. The app charges a commission for services on its platform. JGo is now in 18 countries and keeps growing fast. Through its financing models, the app plans to expand to all 54 African countries, and raise $1.5 million.

apr 15 2021 8:09am
newsarticle News : Startups
Uganda fintech raises US$2.3M from NMS Africa

Share In the past decade, the African fintech sector and other key sectors have been vital throughout the region. Today fintech is a viable alternative to traditional banking held in rural and urban areas. Fintech creates an enabling environment that opens the financial sector to value chains the promote efficiency gains. Across most African countries, fintech is improved through financial inclusion, stimulating innovation, and productivity in many sectors. Numida has raised over US$2.3 million in their latest seed round. Formed in 2017 by Ben Best, Mina Shahid, and Catherine Denis Numida aims to become East Africa's biggest fintech targeting semi-formal small and micro-businesses. Uganda fintech startup Numida is working towards tackling this problem in the eastern part of the country. Initially, Numida created a bookkeeping tool that helped microfinance institutions access data from the SMEs and extend unsecured credit to that market segment. Unfortunately, most MFIs still remained hesitant to offer credit facilities to that market segment and revise their underwriting practices. Numida decided to lend credit to businesses on its platform that meet a proprietary score yet lack collateral, loans of up to $3500 in less than 2 hours. Original article at TechCrunch Share

apr 15 2021 8:09am
newsarticle News : Startups