Category Archives: Kenya ICT

Idea Exchange: Food, Fellowship, Counties, Army Worm, Film, Sports, AI, Oil Opportunities

New, and ongoing, opportunities to apply for.

The Africa Food Prize is the preeminent award for recognizing the extraordinary individual or institution whose contributions to African agriculture are forging a new era of sustainable food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.  The deadline for nominations for the USD 100,000 prize is Tuesday 15 May and the 2018 winner will be unveiled at a high-profile gala dinner at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2018 this September in Kigali, Rwanda.

African Food Security Prize Launched to Stop Devastating Crop Pest: Feed the Future, supported by Land O’Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, has opened its call for applications for the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize that offers to fund up to $400,000 in digital solutions that aim to help stop the spread of fall armyworm in Africa-a pest that is devastating agriculture and demolishing billions of dollars’ worth of crops across the continent. The application deadline is 14 May 2018 and applications may involve a range of digital solutions and must demonstrate how the proposed tool(s) will help smallholder farmers and those that reach them, such as extension agents, monitor, identify, treat or report the incidence of fall armyworm.

Africa Innovation Summit II: A call for application has been launched across Africa for innovations addressing the continent’s challenges – which include energy access, water, food insecurity, health systems, and governance. Applications close on 15 April.

The 2018 African Union Research Grant offers up to $9 million of funding. The deadline for applications is May 22 The call supports research on food, nutrition security and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA).

Andela Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria Fellowships:  The recruitment Schedule for Andela Kenya fellowship cycle 29, and Andela Nigeria, cycle 33 deadline is May, while for the Andela Uganda fellowship cycle 9 and boot camp, the deadline is April 27.

Anzisha Prize: Aims to find a young entrepreneur who is making a difference in their community,  aged 15- 22 so that they can have the chance to win a shared amount of US$100 000 and become an Anzisha fellow. The deadline is 15 April.

Asoko, in a new collaboration with the London Stock Exchange Group, PwC and CDC Group is seeking Africa’s leading private companies – companies to Inspire Africa for a leading report showcasing Africa’s 1,000 most dynamic private, high-growth companies. Deadline is June 11.

BAKE Awards 2018: The nominees of the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) Awards 2018, that recognizes and awards the best in Kenyan blogging have been announced  in categories including Technology, Photography, Creative Writing, Best Business Blog, Food , Environmental , Fashion & Style, Agricultural, Best New Blog, Corporate Blog, Sports, Entertainment, Education, Travel, Public Health, County Blog, Religious or Spirituality , Lifestyle, Beauty & Hair, Best Video Blog (Vlog), Social Issues & Active Citizenship, and Kenyan Blog of the Year. Voting for the winners is now on, up to 30 April.

The BMCE Bank of Africa – African Entrepreneurship Award 2018 has $1 million of prizes and a trip to Morocco for entries in categories of innovation or sports entrepreneurship. Deadline is  April 30, and more details here.

Chatham House invite applicants for the Academy Africa Fellowship in the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs in research topics for 2018-19 of
new technologies and their impact on international security (with a focus on artificial intelligence or space), the geo-economics of technology, climate-resilient development ( managing energy transition in a low-income context) and the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) in Africa. The deadline for applications is 29 April.

DEMO Africa 2018: DEMO Africa is a launch pad for emerging technology and trends, attracting over 2000 people from around the globe to experience the finest African innovations. The top five startups from DEMO Africa will be sponsored to Silicon Valley for an all-expense paid trip to be part of the Lions@frica Innovation Tour. Now accepting startup applications until June 15.

EDiT Research Fellows in Applied Development Finance: The Global Development Network (GDN) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have partnered to create the ambitious EIB-GDN Program in Applied Development Finance for deepening understanding of EIB’s investment operations in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Under this partnership, GDN and EIB will identify, train and deploy teams of research professionals in the ACP regions to conduct “deep dive” studies of selected projects funded under EIB’s Impact Financing Envelope (IFE).

Kenyan winners from the Tony Elumelu Foundation announced earlier this year

Fourth Mining 4i: The Strathmore Extractives Industry Centre (SEIC), in collaboration with the Kipya (Africa) Limited and Extractives Baraza, hosts the Fourth Mining 4i, an annual invite-only forum which focuses on the promotion of Kenya’s mineral potential by attracting investment in technological innovation.

Google Africa Scholarship Program:  Web and Android Scholarships available for residents of African countries. Some scholarship recipients may be able to participate in an Andela Learning Community with our partners from Andela. Finally, top students from each track will earn full scholarships to one of our Android or Web Development Nanodegree programs. Applications due by April 24.

Kalasha Kenya: Submit your entries for the #MyKenyaMyStory competition for a chance to walk away with grand prizes worth Kshs 500,000 Check poster for more details.

The Competition Authority of Kenya #CAKuzaAwards2018 is celebrating excellence in Kenyan Broadcasting. Vote for your favorite TV and Radio Station, by sending the word KUZA to 15601. Voting is free.

Merck Accelerator Nairobi Satellite Program: In partnership with Mettā, Nairobi, Merck Accelerator’s satellite program in Nairobi is seeking early-stage startups with no more than 4 years in existence, startups in the fields of Healthcare, Life Sciences, Performance Materials and other search fields such as Biosensing and Interfaces, and Precision Farming. For startups based in East Africa, Nairobi Applications are open to May 5, 2018, and founders that are available are to attend a boot camp on May 15-18 in Nairobi, Kenya, if selected.

MEST Africa Challenge 2018: MEST is celebrating 10 years of supporting aspiring African entrepreneurs with a first Pan-African pitch competition, the MEST Africa Challenge. MEST Africa Challenge 2018 will give winning applicants the chance to meet and pitch to leading investors, corporate and ecosystem partners from Africa and beyond, at the finals in Cape Town. The trip will be fully funded. The winning entrepreneurs could receive, as much as, sh.5,000,000 ($50,000) in equity investment and space in one of MEST’s incubators. Companies that apply must be primarily tech-focused. Details here and the deadline for applications is April 22.

Microsoft Imagine Cup 2018: Microsoft has announced this year’s Imagine Cup, the students’ developer technology and innovation competition that will see winners walk with $100, 000 in prizes. Imagine Cup participants create or join a team of up to 3 students. Together, they make an original technology project from start to finish: come up with a great idea, make a plan, build a project, and submit. This year’s Imagine Cup has three special awards that represent the current state of digital transformation: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Mixed Reality.

Norwegian Accelerator, Pangea, a platform connecting African startups with international investment & expertise, has shortlisted 11 start-ups who will be considered for funding of up to 50,000 USD per startup. The 11 start-ups companies are drawn from Kenya-9, Egypt -1 and Nigeria-1. Pangea plans to launch a crowd investment platform in June 2018, allowing accelerated startups further access to funding.

The 8th Orange Social Venture Prize for Innovative Startups in Africa and Middle East (50,000 Euros in Prizes) aims to reward the best innovative business projects. Application deadline is May 31, but now no more Kenyan firms are eligible after Orange divested from Kenya.

Pitch AgriHack 2018 for young agriculture entrepreneurs is a competition for agriculture startups owned by young entrepreneurs, with reward being capacity building and access to a grant. It is organized by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). 8 winners will be selected from 2 categories and there will be an additional category to reward a woman-owned, founded or co-founded startup by one of the partnering organizations that made Pitch AgriHack 2018 possible. It is open to e-agriculture startups offering digital services in the agriculture sector. Details here and the deadline is 21 May.

She Leads Africa Accelerator is set to provide training and funding for women-led technology enabled businesses. The 2018 Accelerator will consist of three 1-week residencies in Lagos where entrepreneurs will receive training from the SLA team, business leaders and experts. Applications close on May 20.

Upstream Oil & Gas Awards: The Upstream Awards 2018 is a ceremony to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievements from within the emerging upstream oil and gas industry. Nominations have closed for, among others, nominees for company of the year, drilling contractor, oil field services ​company of the year, upstream CEO, upstream woman of the year award, local community award, local supplier, oil & gas future leader, upstream financier of the year, journalist of the year, legislator of the year, engineering award, life achievement award, and upstream county award.

USAID and Feed the Future have issued an invite to Sub-Saharan Africa women in agribusiness for the Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs Prize 2018. It is open to women helping smallholder farmers increase access to agricultural input (seeds, fertilizer, etc.), technology (ICT, irrigation, etc.), financial and risk management services. Winning applicants will enjoy access to capital to scale and improve their work. Details here and the deadline for applications is 25 April.

Visa will open the first Visa Everywhere Initiative for Sub Saharan Africa to young developers at this year’s Nairobi Tech Week (NTW) taking place from April 19- 21. Developers who win the Visa-led hackathon during the tech week will automatically gain entry into the Visa Everywhere Initiative where they will have an opportunity to compete for a chance to win up to US $50,000, at a regional event in the region.

WTO 2018 Essay Award for Young Economists:  The WTO has issued a call for young economists to submit papers for the 2018 WTO Essay Award. The award aims to promote high-quality research on trade policy and international trade co-operation and to reinforce the relationship between the WTO and the academic community. Essays must be submitted by 1 June 2018, must address issues related to trade policy and international trade co-operation and cannot exceed 15,000 words.

2018 World Travel Awards:  Nominees have been selected and voting for African winners in is open up to 19 August in categories including (*Kenyan nominees in brackets) – Leading Luxury Private Villa (Cottar’s Bush Villa, Maasai Mara) Africa’s Leading Tented Safari Camp(Elephant Pepper Camp Masai Mara, Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Finch Hattons, Mahali Mzuri, Porini Amboseli Camp, Selenkay Conservancy) Africa’s Leading Safari Lodge (Borana Lodge, Kicheche Bush Camp, Loisaba, Ngerende Island Lodge, ol Donyo Lodge, Sirikoi),  Africa’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre 2018  (The Kenyatta International Conference Centre), Africa’s Leading Serviced Apartments (Cowrie Shell Beach Apartments), Africa’s Leading Private Island Resort (Manda Bay, Rusinga Island Lodge) Africa’s Leading Luxury Hotel Villa (The Cliff Villa, Alfajiri Villas) Africa’s Leading Hotel Residences (Palacina),  Africa’s Leading Hotel (Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel), Africa’s Leading Green Hotel ( Nairobi Serena Hotel, The Aberdare Country Club) Africa’s Leading Family Resort (Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Leopard Beach Resort & Spa), Africa’s Leading Business Hotel 2018 (Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel, Radisson Blu Hotel, Nairobi Upperhill, Tribe Hotel), Africa’s Leading Boutique Hotel (Giraffe Manor, The Safari Collection,  Hemingways Nairobi, Lion in the Sun)  Africa’s Leading Beach Resort (AfroChic Diani Beach, Almanara Luxury Resort, Swahili Beach, The Majlis), Africa’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort 2018 (Diamonds Dream of Africa) Africa’s Leading Tourist Board 2018 (Kenya Tourism Board) and Africa’s Leading National Park (Masai Mara National Reserve).  

Kenya Airways has been nominated for Africa’s Leading Airline – Business Class, Africa’s Leading Airline – Economy Class, Africa’s Leading Airline, Africa’s Leading Airline Brand 2018 and Leading Inflight Magazine (Msafiri). Also nominated are Fly540 and Jambojet, for Africa’s Leading Low-Cost Airline 2018  and AirKenya, Fly540, Mombasa Air Safari, Safarilink Aviation, Tropic Air for Kenya’s Leading Domestic Safari Carrier 2018.

What other opportunities are there for readers to apply for?

Economic Forecasts from Citi, Barclays, World Bank, Brookings, Oxford

A roundup of recently published economic forecasts, reports, and surveys.   

AfDBThe African Development Bank’s interactive platform, #MapAfrica, maps the locations of the bank’s investments in every country across Africa.   

Also the AfDB launched their 2018 African Economic Outlook report. 

Barclays: In Nairobi this week, Barclays Africa launches the 2017/18 macro-economic report as well as the Africa Financial Markets Index,  which is a survey of 17 African stock markets.

Citi: Citi Research has just published two reports on frontier markets and one on food inflation in AfricaCiti found that frontier markets did better than developed markets and that Kenya did well (36% return on equities) despite the banking interest cap law and the prolonged election season which has now ended.

Citi’s forecasts of top picks for frontier markets in 2018 are Sri Lanka, Romania, and Kenya and they see weaknesses for Argentina, Morocco, and Egypt. The Citi rankings consider six factors: macro growth, macro imbalances, monetary factors, valuations, earnings momentum and price momentum for their forecasts. Citi also ranked five top stock for frontier markets BGEO Group (Georgia), Humansoft (Kuwait), IDH (Egypt), KCB (Kenya) and MHP (Ukraine). For KCB they like the growth profile of corporate and salaried customers from which the bank will grow market its share even if the banking law remains the same.

The Citi forecasts also looked at the Kenyan currency (shilling) which has remained stable relative to other African currencies and how it will continue to do so even with the country’s balance of payments deficits and heightened politics. But they found that one problem with making Kenya predictions is that a significant portion of inflows that offset the current account deficit is classified as other flows, and their timing is not predictable. They assume that the inflows are from the East and Central Africa region that sees Kenya as a safe haven, despite the politics of the second half of 2017. Another finding was that devaluation of currencies have a bigger impact on food inflation in sub-Saharan Africa but Kenya which had drought and food security issues in 2017 is able to draw on food production from its neighbors (Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda) that keeps food inflation in check even though the food trade data is not captured in official statistics.

World Bank: Meanwhile the World Bank is taking heat after one of their economists admitted that the WB “Doing Business” rankings for Chile had been manipulated for political reasons. The Doing Business reports are cited by leaders of several countries such as Kenya, Rwanda, India as indicators of their good performance in office, But this one admission of political interference could trigger fall out as to the credibility of other reports, country economic forecasts, growth statistics, inflation measures and discussions with governments that the World Bank does.

The Oxford Business Group: The Oxford forecasts reviewed the year Kenya in 2017 in which growth was expected to be about 5% (down from an initial forecast of 5.8% for 2017), but still above the sub-Saharan Africa average of 2.7%. It noted the mixed agriculture performance was due to the drought that affected maize, sugar, tea. Also that Kenya’s Supreme Court decision to nullify the presidential election set a good path for the country in 2018 despite the added cost of staging two elections in 2017 affecting the government’s ability to meet budgetary targets and which later resulted in Moody’s considering a downgrade of Kenya’s debt rating.

Brookings: The Brookings forecasts are contained in Foresight Africa, an Africa-focused report  that celebrates Africa’s growth and highlights priorities for the continent. For Kenya, it contains a sum up of the ability of the country to leverage technology and innovation for things like revenue collection and uptake of products and mobile bonds (M-Akiba), M-Tiba, and IFMIS. It mentions that Kenya can balance the impact of special economic zones and infrastructure from China against politics and that the successful launch of the SGR in May 2017 could one day serve Uganda Rwanda, Burundi and even Tanzania South Sudan and Ethiopia. It has special sections on the 2017 Kenya election and the M-Akiba bond (“The KSh 150.04 million (approximately $1.5 million) uptake of the M-Akiba bond was mainly dominated by small investors who invested less than KSh 10,000 (approximately $100)”)

Huawei Mate 10 Kenya Launch

Huawei has launched its Mate 10, a premium phone in Kenya in conjunction with e-commerce platform Jumia. The company which now sells 140 million phones a year, and aims to power past Samsung and Apple in the global phone sales race, has been in Kenya for 19 years powering base-stations, communications, surveillance, and fibre networks, devices and systems including M-Pesa and will next do intelligent traffic lights starting in Nairobi.

Huwaei’s traditions of innovation, research, engineering, patents and new technology are all seen in the Huawei Mate 10 which is compact than its Mate 9 predecessor, but with the same screen size. The Huawei Mate 10 runs on Android 8.0 and is powered by the Kirin 970, a powerful Huawei-made chipset which enables the artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities for the phone to study the phone user’s habits, and predicts future usage and allocates phone resources to enhance the user experience.

The AI also allows real-time translation on the phone, by voice or of documents, by taking a picture (e.g. of a page of Chinese text) of 50 languages (and counting). This happens on the phone, not in the cloud, and this provides better privacy & security for the user, minimizes data usage and is faster. Huawei has a partnership with camera maker Leica that has seen them enhance photography capabilities; e.g. the Mate 10 camera recognizes millions of images of people, scenes and objects like food being photographed and optimizes the settings to produce better pictures from the combination of two 20X and 12X cameras.

For practical use in many markets, the Mate 10 is a dual SIM phone capable of holding two 4G SIM cards, and the new powerful battery will easily last two days with normal use despite the large screen and fast processing speeds – and a quick charge of the phone for just 20 minutes should be enough to get a full day of use. The Mate 10 has a curved back for easy grip and is spill and dust resistant.

The Mate 10 can be plugged into a screen to work like a desktop for the user to make edits and show items like demos and presentations right from the phone. The split-screen allows true multitasking of functions and the user can still take calls or check social media while working on other projects.

The Mate 10 phone is now available exclusively on Jumia for Kshs 79,999  (~$775) and for the Black Friday sale period, Jumia is offering a free power bank and a Kshs 2,000 shopper voucher. In the coming weeks, there will be more variants of the Mate 10 offered on Jumia, at Safaricom shops and the open market including the Mate 10 Lite phone that will retail for about $500.

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)

Future of Financial Services in Africa and the Middle East

Technology will continue to offer great opportunities for millions of unbanked people including groups of women, Muslims and governments in Africa, Middle East and South Asia (MEASA) and new companies who design financial services in these space.

These are the findings from a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit that was sponsored by the Dubai International Finance Centre which highlights that:

  • Findings Gaps in financial services present an opportunity for financial companies—both traditional and non- traditional players.
  • Overcoming a strong preference for cash in the MEASA region will be imperative to move towards a cashless economy
  • Blockchain has the potential to change the financial architecture in MEASA, particularly for banking.
  • New business models are being developed to reach the “missing middle” of retail investors and medium-sized businesses.
  • In Islamic finance, the approach is shifting from “sharia-compliant” to “sharia-based”
  • Governments and regulators have a crucial mandate to drive financial innovation.

It notes that there is a prevalence to use cash in the three continents (to receive wages, pay school fees and for utilities etc.) and that current regulations which require the use of ID cards are a barrier for women who need ID cards and other documents to receive these services.

The 3 billion people on the three continents will be a source of demand and supply for better financial services, and governments have a role, regulators should balance prudence with innovation, and financial service providers should collaborate for everyone to benefit.

There are opportunities for wealth and private equity funds and individuals (through crowd-funding) to support the growth of new players to take on financial sectors such as insurance, whose levels of penetration can be increased through the mobile phone as has been seen for banking and Islamic financing, by promoting sharia-based products, more than ‘sharia-compliant’ ones. Technology has the ability to address financial exclusion and scale services to millions while reducing costs and creating new revenue models; this can be through smart data to improve credit scoring models and the use of bitcoin to replace money transfers (with banks and currency conversions to international dollars).