Category Archives: Bitcoin

Idea Exchange: Startup Roundup

Recent and upcoming startup events around Africa

AVCA Nairobi: The African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) cordially invites you to an informal evening of networking over cocktails on Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 5:30 – 9:00 pm Sarabi Pool & Supper Club Sankara Nairobi. AVCA Members and Qualified LPs: FREE, Non-AVCA Members: £25

ABLAA Africa: 7th All Africa Business Leader Awards will feature winners from West, Southern and East Africa at the AABLA Finale on November 30th in Sandton, which will be broadcast on CNBC Africa on December 7th. West Africa will be represented by Alloysius Attah, Co-Founder and CEO of Farmerline (Young Business Leader of the Year), Oluwatoyin Sanni, Group CEO of United Capital Group (Business Woman of the Year), Mustapha Njie, CEO of TAF Africa Homes (Entrepreneur of the Year), Guaranty Trust Bank (Company of the Year) and Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank (Business Leader of the Year).

Startups that use drones are welcomed.

The Airbus BizLab initiative in Africa, launched in August this year, targeted African startups innovating for future applications in the aerospace business. Startups that use Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAVs), satellite Operations and Imagery, 3D Printing, Smart sensors, Internet of Things (IOT), smart energy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) were encouraged to apply. There were 11 finalists who were shortlisted included Aerobot Technologies – Kenya, ESIPPS International – Uganda, Kuunda Three Dee – Kenya, Maisha – Ethiopia, QTRON Industries – Kenya, Swahili Box – Kenya, Savannah Circuit Technologies – Kenya, Startup Lions – Kenya, Track Your Build – Sierra Leone, UAV Kenya – Kenya and the overall winner of the Airbus Bizlab  was lluminum, an Agri-tech startup that uses connected sensor technology with its solar panels to automate and enable remote control of greenhouses. Illuminum greenhouses will get a 10-day trip to Europe to meet with Airbus experts as well as present to Airbus Executives and investors.

I Love Black People Tour & Pitching Competition: Blockchain startup BitMari has teamed up with the National Society of Black Engineers to bring you a unique opportunity to tackle financial challenges across the global African Diaspora and has been inviting undergraduate students, graduate student, and professionals across all fields, including developers, designers, product developers, and entrepreneurs, plus businesses that want to embrace the idea of social innovation or initiatives that combine a positive mission with business. Students can now enter the pitch competition and win up to $5,000 for sending a youtube link with a 60 seconds pitch on an idea that uses Bitcoin technology which will qualify them for a hackathon at the end of November.

Innovate Ventures, the leading Somali tech and business startup accelerator launched in partnership with VC4A, Telesom the Work in Progress! Alliance, had their second cohort of 10 startups from Somaliland and Somalia graduate from their programme. This year’s accelerator saw over 400 applications received and the seed investment given doubled from $15,000 last year to $30,000. First place went to Bilan Baby, a startup that sells baby furniture, accessories and baby clothing as well as maternity products. Bilan Baby received $7,000 in seed investment. Second place went to SAMS, an agritech marketplace for farmers and buyers and Almijet, a digital printing company who received $5,000 each. Finally, Brandkii, an online marketing and advertising startup, received $3,000. Further investment was provided to Muraadso, an e-commerce startup and last year’s winners; they received $10,000.

Kenya Bankers Catalyst Award nominees include Barclays, Commercial Bank of Africa, Cooperative Bank, Diamond Trust, Equity, KCB, Kenya Women’s Finance Trust, Lendable /Levanter, National Bank, NIC, Prime, Safaricom, Standard Chartered, and Stanbic among others.

MasterCard Foundation sponsored ‘Client at the Centre’ Prize which highlights best practices in financial services where client satisfaction is a priority. Jumo, a South African based company beat close to 100 financial services firms to win the$150,000 prize in recognition of its innovative and impactful low-cost financial services that serves poor people. The winner was picked by a 400-person audience during the ongoing Mastercard Foundation’s Symposium on Financial Inclusion  2017 Symposium on Financial Inclusion in Accra, Ghana. The other two Prize finalists were ftcash, one of India’s fastest-growing financial technology ventures which aims to empower micro-merchants and small businesses with the power of digital payments and loans, and Destacame, a free online platform in Latin America that empowers users by giving them control over their data to build their financial capabilities and to access financial products.

Orange  announced the winners of the 7th Orange Social Entrepreneur Prize 2017 in Africa and the Middle East. 49 local winners who were drawn from Orange’s 17 subsidiaries in Africa and the Middle East were entered into the international contest. The winning projects this year were: 1st prize was awarded to Manzer Partazer in Madagascar, a startup that aims to reduce food waste by sharing excess food from restaurants, hotels or supermarkets.  2nd prize was awarded to City Taps which has developed a solution which bridges the gap between water services and the most disadvantaged citizens.  3rd prize was awarded to eFret.tn in Tunisia a website that links up foreign exchange senders with transport and transit professionals in Tunisia .Also a Special Content Prize was awarded to Génie Edu in Cameroon, an e-learning platform which aims to help students having problems by providing online video courses and Internet users were also invited to choose their “User Favourite” project and this was the Malagasy project Majika that facilitates access to renewable electricity and support for rural entrepreneurship.

Reuters Journalism Training Programme (Middle East & Africa): The Reuters Journalism Programme is an opportunity for recent graduates, early career reporters, or professionals with proven experience who are looking to switch careers into journalism. The programme in 2018 will consist of 6 months of formal and on-the-job journalism training, initially in our London newsroom, followed by one of our other main reporting newsrooms or bureaus in the Middle East or Africa.

 

USAID: Enterprises within the Kenya Innovation Engine (KIE), a USAID-funded program Feed the Future initiative have leveraged $8.2 million worth of private sector investment, and created more than 6,000 jobs at the business and farm level. In the course of implementation, in order to ensure sustainability, KIE-supported enterprises formed 56 strategic public-private partnerships with progressive local and international organizations such as Safaricom, Equity Bank, Microsoft Corporation and VISA. Over 670 innovation applications received in four solicitation waves and over $4.2M invested in a total of 26 awards made to date. Project awardees: Stage I (proof-of-concept): M-Farm; Quest Agriculture; The Real IPM Company; University of Nairobi; Virtual City; Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI); Maseno University; Caytree Partners; and Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies (KENDAT). Graduated to Stage II (pilot-roll-out): Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Kenya Livestock Marketing Council (KLMC), iProcure, Amtech Technologies; Wanda Organic; and Kenya Biologics. Direct entrants at Stage II (pilot-roll-out): Lachlan ; Indicus Kenya.; Value Farms and Takaful Insurance.

Village Capital is launching the Fintech Africa 2018 program in collaboration with PayPal. The U.S. headquartered VC firm is recruiting a cohort of 12-14 early-stage fintech startups to go through a three-month investment-readiness program, early next year. They are recruiting from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda and are looking for startups that address insurtech, pensions and savings, cooperative finance, and financial literacy; leverage data for credit scoring and consumer insights; and apply fintech to other sectors of interest: agriculture, energy, education, and health. Two startups will be peer selected by fellow entrepreneurs to receive $50,000 investment each. The deadline for applications is November 24.

XL Africa: Twenty of the most promising African digital start-ups will take part in the XL Africa  residency, the flagship initiative of the business accelerator launched last April by the World Bank Group’s infoDev program. The residency will conclude with the XL Africa Venture Showcase, a regional event organized in association with the African Angel Investor Summit.  With support from African investment groups, XL Africa will help the startups attract early stage capital between $250,000 and $1.5 million. Selected from a pool of over 900 applicants, the startups participating in the event are: Aerobotics (Data, South Africa), Asoko Insight (Data), Coin Afrique (Marketplace, Senegal and Benin), Edgepoint Digital (Jamii) (FinTech – Insurance, Tanzania) , Electronic Settlement (FinTech, Nigeria), Lynk Jobs (HR, Kenya), MAX (Transport, Nigeria), ogaVenue (Venue Platform, Nigeria), Ongair (SME Services, Kenya), Pesabazaar.com (FinTech, Kenya), Prepclass (EdTech, Nigeria), Printivo (Printing, Nigeria), Rasello Company (SME Services, Tanzania), Rensource (Energy, Nigeria), Sendy (Delivery, Kenya), Snapplify (Publishing, South Africa and Kenya), Sokowatch (Delivery, Kenya), TalentBase (HR, Nigeria), Timbuktu (Travel, South Africa), and Tizeti Network (Connectivity, Nigeria)

Deloitte on African Art and Finance

The value of African art can grow tremendously over the next decade with investment and support from buyers both within Africa, and others who live beyond the continent, as well as from African art schools, governments, museums, galleries, art professionals and banks to stimulate and support more interest in African art.

These are some of the findings from the Art & Finance Report 2017 that was unveiled at Deloitte’s 10th Art and Finance conference at the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan this week and which estimated that the value of art owned by Africans collectors was $12.7 billion in 2016 and that it  could grow to $20 billion by 2026. This still accounts for less than 1% of the global art market currently estimated at $1.6 trillion with an annual turnover of $50 billion.

Some key findings of the report which looked at the global art markets include:

  • The art market should be self-regulated and there is great support for art to be part of wealth management offerings to customers at more private banks.
  • Banks need more specialists to properly value and manage art markets.
  • Art can be used as collateral, enabling art collectors and galleries to realize liquidity without having to make unfavorable sales to meet short-term cash-flow needs. See this on how to borrow against art.
  • Art as an investment class poses risks that are no different from others that banks manage and have to guard against, including vices like price manipulation, insider trading, money laundering and terror financing.
  • The top categories in the global art market are  “post-war & contemporary art”, followed by “modern & impressionist art”, “Chinese & Asian art” and ” jewels & watches”.

Some excerpts from the report on the African art market include:

  • International dealers and auction houses like Bonhams and Sotheby’s are seeing a gradual shift in the African contemporary art buyer base from mainly African art collectors to a more international and diverse group of art collectors.
  • London experienced a 12.5%  rise in African art auction sales between 2015 and 2016, with Bonhams controlling a 65% market share.
  • Sotheby’s London joined the African art auction trend in 2017 with its first auction focused purely on African contemporary art. It achieved total sales of over $3.6 million and 79 of the 116 lots were sold.
  • In 2017, record-breaking hammer prices recorded at auction for contemporary art were achieved by Nigerian artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby, whose work sold for less than $100,000 at auction in 2016. However, less than a year later, the artist’s piece “Drown” sold for a record-breaking US$1.1 million at a Sotheby’s auction and a few months after that, her 2012 painting “The Beautiful Ones” sold for US$3.1 million at a Christie’s London auction.

There is currently an inter-section of art, wealth, and technology with the possibility that bitcoin / block-chain can be used to assist banks and financiers with tools to help with transparency authentication, copyrights and ownership of art objects and there are already platforms such as Blockai, Ascribe.io, Chainmark, and smArtchain etc. in use.

The greatest demand for African art is currently from high net worth individuals in Nigeria and South Africa, which are the two largest economies in Africa. The report also notes that there is increasing demand from corporations such as the Nigeria Stock Exchange

Elsewhere In Kenya, Stanbic was working on investor management portfolio offerings that include wine and African art, while Nigeria has Access Bank in Nigeria. There are also other innovations coming up in African art and finance from leading banks and galleries in Kenya, South Africa and Europe.

Kenya CMA drafts Sandbox Rules to test Bitcoin and other Fintech

Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has proposed rules to create a regulatory fintech sandbox for innovations which do not fit within the country’s current financial regulatory framework.

The proposed draft rules to enable the introduction and testing of financial technology (fintech) products such as peer to peer finance (crowd funding), cryptocurrencies, distributed ledger technology (blockchain technology), artificial (e.g. algorithmic trading), big-data, RegTech credit rating, online lenders, and online banks. 

They give a safe legal status and safe space to investors and developers to confidently test and unlock these unique financial innovations tailored for Kenyan consumers. The draft rules were drawn after consultation and in lines with rules in  Australia, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia and UK as guides.

The fintech tools must be ready for testing in a live environment; this will allow them to be tested for defined periods of time and for them to be reviewed by peer groups who work with the CMA. Once companies apply to the CMA, they are to get decisions within 21 days, and at the conclusion, they are to give the CMA a report of their outcomes.

Also
• The CMA will have an annual fintech day that will feature all the sandbox participants.
• Participation in the sandbox can be revoked if a company does not do what it says it intended to, has a security breach, or harms the public, among others violations.

The sandbox rules aim to position Kenya as an investment destination of choice. CMA has in the past drafted rules on REIT’s, bonds and venture capital. Will these new fintech sandbox rules lead to more M-Pesa-like innovations? Will they enable the legal use of bitcoin in Kenya?  Review the rules (download)  and give the CMA feedback by July 26.

Make Innovation the Centre of your Business and Job or Face Disruption

These were the words of Brett King, a futurist and bestselling Author spoke about disruptive innovation to guests at a business forum at the Capital Club, Nairobi. He had been invited by KCB Group, Kenya’s largest bank, which he is advising on a digital finance strategy.

He said that companies that are based on innovation and technology ( E.g Google, Facebook, Alibaba, Baidu, have ten times more profit (~$500,000 per employee) than traditional companies of ($30,000 per employee) or banks ($50,000 per employee)  as they are more efficient at converting production to profits

Other comments:

  • Historically technology that is cool but disruptive ,is resisted and he compared Luddites who smashed factory machinery in England in 1812, to taxi drivers smashing Uber cars in France 200 years later.
  • He expected more contextualization of financial service a based on location and behaviour: e.g. walk into an Apple Shop and you get a finance offer on your phone about a new device you have been longing to buy.
  • Bitcoin’s ability to be a currency is hampered because owners of the coins are hoarding them like gold so they appreciate in price (which is now $1,000). They are not using the bitcoins to make payments which are what currencies are meant to do.
  • There’s a bright future for peer to peer (P-2-P) insurance (more than P-2-P lending).
  • The service jobs there today will be replaced by automation/robotics. But this creates even newer service jobs (every job lost to technology create 2.6 others), and students considering careers should ask themselves how they will compete with Artifical Intelligence (AI) or work in jobs that enable the future e.g. solar adapters.
  • Entrepreneurs should create businesses that take advantage of AI. The mid-2030’s will be an exciting time as there will be more energy from renewable sources than fossil fuels and more robots than humans.
  • On Kenya’s revolutionary M-pesa, which had facilitated the fastest financial inclusion shift in history, he said it was clunky as it was designed for feature phones.

Kenya Community Currencies

This morning at a session on currencies and value I got re-introduced to community currencies. Two years ago there was a mini storm about the legality of  a currency called Bangla-pesa that has since quieten down.

There are five Kenyan community currencies that circulate mainly in slum areas of Nairobi and Mombasa.

Community currencies in Kenya

Community currencies in Kenya

Community currencies in Kenya

Community currencies in Kenya

Nairobi:

  • Gatina
  • Kangemi
  • Lindi

 

Mombasa:

  • Bangladesh
  • Mikindani

The papers notes are by the Grassroots Economic Foundation.  They are not backed by local currency but have the same value as Kenya shilling notes. Member of groups which have constitutions and rules before they join, each gets currency worth 400. They actually only get 200, and 200 from each member goes to a community fund – to carry out community projects such as trash cleaning and hosting sports events.

The lesson today showed how hawala, bitcoin, mpesa had different applications in communities, with a focus on uses away from the formal sector. Also that 10 years after formal  financial inclusion, there is still a lot of money being handled through informal sectors.