Category Archives: ideaexchange

Startup Battlefield Africa by Techcrunch and Facebook

The Techcrunch Startup Battlefield Africa, supported by Facebook, was won by Lori, a logistics platform being developed to simplify the movement of cargo in Kenya.

At the TechCrunch event in Nairobi, 15 startup companies pitched and demonstrated their concepts in between chat sessions on the unique business climate of Africa that featured other seasoned entrepreneurs, advisors, and funders, with moderation by Facebook and TechCrunch staff.

The competing companies were drawn from sectors like finance (WeCashUpAbacus), data collection (Form+Delivery Science), logistics (Lori Systems), sales (Sellio,  SynCommerce), entertainment (Big5 Games, Tango TV, Gazkar from Lomay), health – ConnectMed,  education (M-Shule, Dot Learn), recruitment – Talent2Africa and agri-business – AgroCenta.

Lori won the day and walked away with $25,000 and an all-expense paid trip for two to compete in  TechCrunch’s flagship event: Disrupt SF 2018

Winners will join TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Alumni Network. Alumni have collectively raised nearly $7 billion and produced nearly 100 exits and IPOs to date.

Some excerpts from the day:

  • Brands are creating collections and Michele, Beyonce, Rihanna are wearing African brands – that’s opportunity @KISUAonline #TCBattlefield
  • Most lucrative buyers for @agrocenta are big companies such as breweries, animal feed, soya oil #TCBattlefield
  • Logistics is a $500B market for innovations that eliminate middle-men and make food supply and demand efficient – @agrocenta #TCBattlefield
  • 80% of farmers don’t have access to direct markets and logistic inefficiencies lead for 25% of food being wasted – @agrocenta #TCBattlefield
  • Black Africans in tech are not getting a lot of the money coming into tech – @africatechie #TCBattlefield
  • I’m in Silicon Valley; I may be on a board, but I’m not at the birthday party or talks for the next round – @africatechie #TCBattlefield
  • @big5games builds localized data-optimized easy-to-play games on sports, farming, stocks with partners like Kwese & telcos – #TCBattlefield
  • If you arrange for 20 cargo trucks between Nakuru to Eldoret, 15 will commit, 5 agree on price, but 2 will show up – Lori #TCBattlefield
  • A typical lorry takes 3 days to load its cargo, to make a 12-hour journey, then another 3 days to unload – Lori #TCBattlefield
  • Products cost more in Kenya as the logistics chain is broken; trucks are empty or idle 93% of the time – Lori #TCBattlefield
  • Today @AbacusKe launches Kenya’s first automated investment service – using algorithms to personalize advice – @TheMacharia #TCBattlefield
  • @AbacusKe aims to be Africa’s e-trade; local & foreign investors can make stock debt property & unlisted buys – @TheMacharia #TCBattlefield
  • @wecashup does 1M transactions per month of ~10 euros and partners with banks so they don’t need a license for every country #TCBattlefield
  • @wecashup 2.0 integrates payments whether cash, mobile money, cards, crypto-currencies in 42 countries, and own 6 patents #TCBattlefield
  • You can build a $50M business serving a Lagos neighbourhood; but there’s a daily swing between risk & uncertianity – @EghosaO #TCBattlefield
  • Local investors say – don’t tell me about 10-yr plans when I can bring a container from China and make more money – @EghosaO #TCBattlefield
  • Africa is about iceberg micro-economies; see below the surface – biggest opportunity is organising offline markets – @EghosaO #TCBattlefield
  • Saying Nigeria has 180m people or Africa has 1.2 billion brings wow – but you should think at city levels – @EghosaO #TCBattlefield
  • Our challenges include raisng capital and dealing with regulators & muscled players (non-market forces) – @oviosu #TCBattlefield
  • Nigeria is the biggest market in Africa. River State is bigger than most African countries – @oviosu #TCBattlefield

Huawei in Kenya

Huawei Kenya held a media briefing at their Kenya headquarters near Lavington. This was refreshing as last year when they were to do a demonstration of the Nairobi Smart Cities project; they scaled it down as soon as they heard the Cabinet Secretary was not going to show up for the event.

Huawei has been operating in Kenya for 19 years since 1998. They have done lots of projects mainly in the telecommunications space; they rolled out networks for Safaricom and Telkom Kenya and also launched the Ideos, the $100 smartphone with Google and Safaricom.

The Huawei Kenya representatives spoke about ongoing projects with the government such as cloud services for the entire Kenya government, roll out of government fibre to all 47 counties, and police security & 4G networks. Since 2015 they also provide the software for M-Pesa for Vodafone to roll out across Africa and the world. They also provide about 2/3 of the infrastructure of Safaricom and also power M-Kopa solar payment systems.

Huawei is a $75 billion company with 180,000 employees (80,000 who work in R&D), and operate in 170 countries. It is entirely employee-owned by 81,000 employees in China while the founder/CEO owns  1.4% of the shares. They have 300 staff working in Kenya and provide about 100 scholarships a year for Kenyans to study in China.

In 2016, Huawei sold 139 million smartphones – (number three behind Apple and Samsung). They work hard to combat the reputation that Chinese means ‘low quality’ and Huawei is the world biggest patent filer, and have been granted over 62,000 patents. They spend over $10 billion a year in R&D – and build their own its own chipsets, batteries, and some phones have three antennas etc. to optimize their phones.

Microsoft Insiders4Good East Africa

The Microsoft Insider Program connects the world’s largest community of people using technology to make a lasting impact on the world. The #Insiders4Good East Africa fellows were announced on Thursday along with the the concepts they are working on:

  • Mensa Healthcare – Nairobi, Kenya (smartcard-based system enables the centralized storage of digital records for patients and hospitals)
  • Chanjo Plus – Nairobi, Kenya (helps parents keep track of their children’s vaccination schedules and aggregates vaccine supplies)
  • ClinicPesa – Kampala, Uganda (enables individuals to conveniently set aside funds for future health services through their mobile phones.)
  • Kids Comp Camp – Nairobi, Kenya (a coding and ICT training unit aimed at helping youth in tech-scarce areas gain computer skills and enhance their employability)
  • Sahibu – Nairobi, Kenya (offers refugees in camps an SMS platform to connect with each other, share stories and access crucial information)
  • Spurred – Nairobi, Kenya (convenient way for customers to contribute a portion of their points from loyalty programs towards the humanitarian projects)
  • Infoshule – Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania (enables parents to access the academic records at any time, message teachers, and use mobile payments for school fees)
  • Worknasi.com – Dar es salaam, Tanzania (connects startups and freelancers with businesses and office owners who want to share their working spaces and meeting rooms)
  • IV Drip Alert – Kigali, Rwanda (enables nurses to more easily manage intravenous fluids through a wireless alert system)
  • mobScore – Arusha, Tanzania (produces reliable credit scores by analyzing user data from mobile banking and enables Tanzanians to secure affordable loans).
  • Lyons Analytics – Nairobi, Kenya (will develop a system that uses machine learning to track the progression of breast cancer from onset to late stages)
  • Ivomerere – Kigali, Rwanda (enables farmers to manage their watering systems automatically)
  • Sophie Bot – Nairobi, Kenya (an artificial intelligence persona that answers questions about sexual health, providing private, curated, and verified information.)
  • SchoolMaster Solutions – Kampala, Uganda (enables East African schools to use efficient digital systems to manage records and reduce personnel time as result)
  • Mega Gas – Hamisi, Kenya (refines unsorted polythene/plastic waste into clean cooking gas through a process that creates no emissions, residue, or pollution)
  • Mtaalamu Group Limited – Nairobi, Kenya (connects tailors to customers through reviews, a portal, and profile and search functions.)
  • SMART Insider Cheetahs – Nairobi, Kenya (affordable internet to rural and remote areas serving schools, lodges, police stations, and medical centers.)
  • KRHF Managed Telemedicine Hub – Ibanda, Uganda (provides rural clinics with remote access to services of qualified medical professionals)
  • Gawana – Nairobi, Kenya (a ridesharing platform that enables travelers to share long distance journeys and split the cost of fuel)
  • Fem Care – Bweyogerere, Uganda (a phone-like device that provides women with verified information about maternal and child health, in their own language)
  • Azali of (Mayol Ltd) – Nairobi, Kenya (Azali connects borrowers to a multitude of lenders, including small lenders like chamas and SACCOs)

BAKE – Kenya Blog Awards 2017

The Bloggers Association of Kenya – BAKE Kenya Blog 2017 Awards are on again. The nominees,  in 22 different categories, were announced on April 3. Nominees include long time great reads and past winners like Moses Kemibaro, Owaahh, iHub, Mutua Matheka, Niaje, Wandia Njoya,  Mummy Tales, Mzalendo, and Graduate Farmer, with lots of interesting new blogs as well – such as Magunga, Otherwise Podcast,  Daniel Ominde, Penstrokes, and Kenyan Wall Street. The short-listed blogs came from 10,000 submissions, an increase from 4,800 the year before, and the winners will be announced on May 13 in Nairobi.

Voting runs up to May 9, and the 2017 awards are sponsored by, among others, Safaricom, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford, Xpose, EatOut, Vivienne Tea, and the Kenya Human Rights Commission. Please vote for Bankelele in the best business blog category.

Idea Exchange: Blog, Fintech, Food, scholarships, SGR, Bellagio, Uber opportunities

Africa Food Prize: The preeminent award that recognizes outstanding individuals or institutions that are leading the effort to change the reality of farming in Africa from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives. Now in its second year, the US $100,000 prize celebrates Africans who are taking control of Africa’s agriculture agenda. It puts a bright spotlight on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent to create a new era of food security and economic opportunity for all Africans. The Africa Food Prize began as the Yara Prize, and was established in 2005 by Yara International ASA in Norway to honor achievements in African agriculture. The deadline for nominations is 05 June 2017 and the winner will be unveiled at a high-profile gala dinner at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), 4-8 September 2017 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

ACF is an innovative US$7 million financial support mechanism designed to provide local power project developers and originators with project development support, technical experience, expertise and funding required to bring their renewable energy projects to life. Now in its third year,  ACF 2017 is a financial support mechanism designed to provide local developers and entrepreneurs with the technical expertise and funding required to bring their renewable energy projects to life edit

BAKE Awards:  Since 2012, the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) Awards first run in 2012, has recognized and awarded exceptional Kenyan bloggers in different categories every year. You can now submit your blog, or even a blog you like, in the BAKE Awards 2017., in 22 different categtors including technology, photography, creative writing, business food, governance , best new blog, corporate sports, travel etc. Deadline is 10th March

BBC: Komla Dumor Award 2017: The BBC is seeking a future star of African journalism for the BBC World News Komla Dumor Award, now in its third year.Journalists from across the continent are invited to apply for the award, which aims to uncover and promote fresh talent from Africa.The winner will spend three months at the BBC headquarters in London, gaining skills and experience. Applications close on 15th March 2017 at 23:59 GMT.

British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA):  The (GIGA) Institute of African Affairs (IAA) is looking to fund a limited number of research projects by doctoral students and early career researchers in economics, political science or other social sciences based at research institutions in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular in South Africa.edit

Centum 2017 graduate program runs from 10th to 31st  March 2017 edit

Citi Tech For integrity Challenge:  Citi and its Allies are proud to present the Citi® Tech for Integrity Challenge (T4I), a global initiative to invite and encourage technology innovators from around the world to create solutions to help public sector entities increase transparency and promote integrity. Tech innovators can now apply to the challenge by submitting an application form and one-page document explaining their solutions. Applications are reviewed by Citi and allies for the Accelerator program. edit

EcobankFintech: Developers, programmers and fintech innovators all over Africa are joining forces with Ecobank, the continent’s biggest banking ecosystem to transform finance through technology and innovation. Ecobank is challenging Africa’s new generation of entrepreneurs to find lasting solutions to the continent’s most pressing banking issues. Submit entries in one or more of our key areas of interest for your Chance to win up to $500,000 funding. Deadline 14th April.

EJEA III – The 2017 edition of the Energy Journalism Excellence Awards competition is open to Kenyan based professionals, those directly employed or freelancers, reporting about Kenya through print, broadcast or digital media. edit

Google: If you’re in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa (for Africa), apply now to Launchpad Accelerator.  Apply here by 9 April 24, 2017 for training at Google HQ (that) includes intensive mentoring from 20+ Google teams, and expert mentors from top technology companies and VCs in Silicon Valley. Participants receive equity-free support, credits for Google products, PR support and continue to work closely with Google back in their home country during the 6-month program.

GrowthAfrica is looking for ambitious, committed and innovative entrepreneurs in Kenya and Uganda to be part of GrowthAfrica’s Accelerator Programme. The program will equip participating entrepreneurs with skills and knowledge on business and growth strategies, business models, and access to investments. The programmes will be led by experienced facilitators who are carefully selected from GrowthAfrica’s vast pool of industry specialists, who understand the dynamics of running a business and can provide valuable insights to the selected entrepreneurs. The application deadline for Kenya and Uganda is March 12th at midnight 2017.

IFC: Offers a wide variety of financial products for private sector projects in developing countries. To be eligible for IFC funding, the project must: be located in a developing country that is a member of IFC;Be in the private sector; Be technically sound;Have good prospects of being profitable; Benefit the local economy. Also IFC does not lend directly to micro, small, and medium enterprises or individual entrepreneurs, but many of our investment clients are financial intermediaries that on-lend to smaller businesses.

IFRA-Nairobi is offering fieldwork grants to masters and doctoral students to conduct their research in 2017 in one of the five East African countries covered by the Institute: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.IFRA’s main research themes include: political dynamics, culture and society, economy and land issues. The following topics are IFRA’s priority areas: Elections in Kenya (2017) : mobilization, devolution, culture & technologies, Violence & security : police violence, daily security practices, Informal trade and rural-urban linkages, Social inequalities, morality and authority. edit

Interswitch Group: Pan-African payments company Interswitch Group has announced the extension of a US$10 million ‘ePayment Growth Fund’ (KSH 1 Billion) to East Africa.  The company is looking to collaborate with African entrepreneurs and startups that are developing innovative products that empower Africans to participate in emerging payment ecosystems. The fund is open to any African startup at growth stage that has come up with disruptive concepts within the digital commerce payments industry in Africa. edit 

Mbugua Rosemary Foundation – Young Entrepreneurship Program: The Foundation selects and supports a group of extraordinary emerging-market entrepreneurs who have the potential to transform themselves and their communities through an in-depth training program. It is a resourceful set of classes designed specifically to help you develop a solid plan and learn what it takes to build a thriving business. This program also aims to nurture creativity and develop the participants into socially responsible business leaders and entrepreneurs to support the local economy. The individuals selected will have a strong and viable start-up idea or a business that has been running for a maximum of 3 years. edit

Orange: Call for candidates for the 7th Orange Social Venture Prize in Africa and the Middle East. The OSVPAM will be awarded to innovative projects which make use of information and communication technologies to improve living conditions for the peoples of Africa and the Middle East in fields such as health, finance, education and agriculture. In addition to national prizes, the three international winners will receive 25,000 euros, 15,000 euros and 10,000 euros respectively, along with support from professionals in start-up creation and funding.OSVPAM is open to any student, employee or entrepreneur over the age of 21 whose initiative is less than 3 years old and who lives in Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Tunisia, Jordan, Liberia or Burkina Faso.

(The) Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, is seeking applications for data-driven journalism projects related to land rights and property rights..We are seeking data-driven stories that utilize the tools of the trade—satellite imagery, 360° cameras, drones, sensors, data visualizations, and interactive maps/graphics ..They will award three grants for a total of $75,000. Apply by May 1, 2017. edit

Rockefeller Foundation BellagioCenter 2017/2018 Academic Writing Residency Program. The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, through a combination of conferences and residency programs, supports the work of scholars, artists, thought leaders, policymakers, and practitioners who share in the Foundation’s pioneering mission to “promote the well-being of humanity around the world. The Academic Writing residency is for university and think tank-based academics, researchers, professors, and scientists working in any discipline.Successful applicants will demonstrate decades of significant professional contributions to their field or show evidence of being on a strong upward trajectory for those earlier in their careers. Applications are available on the online application portal along with detailed instructions and further information on applying to the Bellagio Residency Program http://www.opportunitiesforafricans.com/rockefeller-foundation-bellagio-center-20172018-academic-writing-residency-program/. Application Deadline: May 1, 2017

Sage: The Sage Foundation launches $1 million Enterprise Fund to inspire innovation and change in Africa. The new $1 million fund is open to non-profits in Africa with enterprising ideas to help improve the lives of military veterans, young people or women and girls. The $1 million will be split between two rounds of $500,000; with the second round ready for release in July 2017. Applications for the first round are open until April 5; grants between $5,000 and $35,000 will then be awarded to successful applicants.

SGR Photography Competition: China Roads and Bridges Corporation (CRBC) presents SGR photography competition, the 2017 edition, an artistic project to nurture creativity and use photography to tell stories.

Stanford Seed Transformation Program:  The Stanford Seed Transformation Program is a 12-month, intensive leadership program for established business leaders which includes four, week-long immersive sessions spread over a six month period. Designed specifically for business owners, the program is delivered in-country (Nairobi, Kenya) and led by Stanford Graduate School of Business faculty. The ultimate goal: to create a detailed action plan to help you grow and scale your company. Take advantage of a world-class curriculum from Stanford GSB and the innovative thinking that has shaped some of the most successful companies in Silicon Valley. Target is founders and senior leaders of for-profit companies, across all industries, with annual revenues between US$150,000 and USD $15 million and that are headquartered, legally registered, and currently operating within East Africa.

WCSJ News Thanks to generous support from foundations, science and media organizations, and individual donors, WCSJ2017 is excited to offer travel fellowships for professional and student attendees from the U.S. and abroad. These fellowships are intended to enable those who otherwise could not attend to join us for the conference in San Francisco, October 26-30, 2017. The grants will provide full or partial support to cover economy airfare, accommodation for the duration of the conference, and reasonable ground transport, up to a maximum amount based on the traveler’s location and circumstances. Fellowship recipients will receive complimentary meeting registration.

World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator: The United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) and Singularity University have teamed up to launch the [on/su.org/foodgic]Global Impact Challenge – Food in Emergencies, a contest open to social innovators and entrepreneurs worldwide keen of solving the issue of providing sustainable sources of food in emergencies. The challenge runs over about two months, since the official launch by the Executive Director in Davos at the World Economic Forum last month until the 10th March. Apply for the 2017 Global Impact Challenge

Yale University initiatives support African students:  The path to a university education in the United States has become smoother for African school kids thanks to the introduction of Yale University’s Young African Scholars Program (YYAS).The idea of the program to help talented secondary school pupils in Africa discover academic opportunities in the U.S. came from African undergraduates studying at Yale. In partnership with the HigherLife Foundation and Yale University, YYAS is free of charge to participating pupils and the application is open until March 16, 2017. http://www.your-bizbook.com/en/Club-Africa-News/yale-university-initiatives-support-african-students

Recent Ones (Now Closed)

Andela: Every month we receive applications from talented aspiring developers interested in joining the Andela Fellowship Program. In 2016 alone, we hired 70 developers in Kenya, 30.5% of whom were female. You may be asking, with such great success why an all female cohort? Why an all female cohort? Having an all female cohort encourages women to venture into tech as it counters the narrative that tech is a male dominated field. The only requirements are that the candidate is female, hardworking, detail oriented and has a passion for technology. The application submission deadline is February 15, 2017. Applications are at http://bit.ly/AndelaCohortXVI

Blackbox  The Blackbox Connect Female Founders Edition is an exclusive cycle for high potential female entrepreneurs. The target is to bring at least 17 female founders to the Silicon Valley for a two week immersion program where they will have the opportunity to live and collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs from all around the world and take part in an intense agenda of meetings and workshops with entrepreneurs, investors, experts and executives. The Blackbox Connect, Female Founders Edition is powered by Google for Entrepreneurs The application is officially LIVE and will be open until March 8, so get those nominations finalized as soon as possible!

Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF):  Africa’s largest business incubator is now accepting applications from African entrepreneurs, with business ideas that can transform Africa. Successful applicants will join the third cycle of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, TEF’s 10-year, $100 million commitment to train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs in every African country. Since inception in 2015, the Programme has assisted nearly 2,000 entrepreneurs and created hundreds of jobs across the continent.

#UberPITCH Powered By Mettā:  Uber and Mettā in conjunction with Nairobi Innovation Week are giving entrepreneurs a chance of a lifetime. We’re giving you the opportunity to have your ideas heard. On March 6, startup heroes, CEOs and investors will listen to your ideas, all in the back of an Uber through #UberPITCH powered by Mettā Nairobi and the rides won’t cost a thing. The theme of this year’s UberPITCH powered by Mettā will be ‘Innovation to solve pressing local and global challenges’. The top teams will be invited for a special event with some of Kenya’s leading investors and business leaders. Find out more and submit your application → http://t.uber.com/pitch254 We are teaming up with Uber during Nairobi Innovation Week 2017 to give entrepreneurs the chance of a lifetime! On March 6, request an UberPITCH and pitch your idea to an investor. For more information, visit t.uber.com/pitch254