This week East Africa has seen a flurry of activity in its incubators and accelerators, while Nigerian startups gained international recognition and attention.
Millicom is to launch a tech incubator in Kigali, Rwanda, which will build businesses in which the global mobile, television and broadband giant will take equity stakes.
The incubator – named “think” – will house a “small number of high potential entrepreneurs” developing digital solutions, to be selected by Millicom and announced by pan-African subsidiary Tigo’s local operations.
Also in Rwanda, Microsoft has launched its Imagine Cup competition, offering youth in the country the chance to win RWF34,000 (US$50,000) in prize money allow them to compete on the world stage.
Open to all students in Rwanda aged 16 years and above, the competition requires students to apply in groups of four.
“Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition and we invite all eligible students to use their imagination and passion to create a technology solution in one of our competitions and challenges,” read a statement from the corporation.
The Kenyan capital of Nairobi this week hosted its first Startup Grind, which promises to bring together the startup community for education, inspiration and connection.
There will also be monthly fireside chat interviews, startup mixers and annual conferences, offering a number of opportunities to continuously interact with the brains behind Nairobi’s startups.
Kresten Buch, managing director if 88mph, this week explained the opportunities in emerging markets in Africa and Asia are so large startups no longer need to expand to the United States (US) and Europe in order to scale.
Speaking to journalists as the 88mph accelerator programme in Cape Town unveiled its seven startups to the media, Buch said emerging markets in Africa as well as the likes of India and Indonesia were where opportunities lay for investment funds and the startups they put money into.
Two Nigerians, a Ghanaian, a Ugandan and a Kenyan have been announced as the winners of Google’s Africa Connected competition, walking away with US$25,000 each in prize money.
Nigerians Eseoghene Odiete, who used Google Search and YouTube to learn how to make the handbags she now sells, and Eric Obuh, a former dump site scavenger who records songs and documentaries shares them on YouTube, figured amongst the winners.
Ghanaian Christopher Panford, who uses Google Maps to help run his transport company, Kenyan Sitawa Wafula, who runs a mental health blog, and Ugandan Eunice Namirembe, who runs the Medical Concierge Group which helps Ugandan communities access quality healthcare information, completed the list of winning entries.
In West Africa, MajeOfficial.com, an entertainment platform that offers users free access to independent series, movies and visual art has been officially launched following months of beta testing.
Executive director Derek Ofodirinwa told HumanIPO the MajeOfficial style and standard made it unique from its contemporaries, with contents on the platform carefully selected.
DEMO Africa executive producer Harry Hare has said the size of the Nigerian economy and its growing startup ecosystem make it an African market that cannot be ignored.
Hare said with the economy growing, the size of the population and government investing in infrastructure, Nigeria was now becoming a necessary destination for business.
A Q&A with Hare can be found here.
Also focusing on Nigeria, EntrepreneurshipCircle.com has been launched to bridge the entrepreneurship gap, with the company saying the website will enable entrepreneurs to contribute to the nation’s economy.
The platform offers Nigerian entrepreneurs a free mobile responsive online discussion community and premier resource centre for entrepreneurship and business development.
Nigeria has become a centre for investment in startups, writes HumanIPO managing editor Tom Jackson, marking a move away from Kenya forming the centre of the Africa’s startup scene.
Targeting the whole of Africa, Global mobile operator Orange has launched its first startup accelerator programme, with African money remittance platform Afrimarket included in the seven-strong class of startups.
Orange announced seven startups have been selected for its Orange Fab France accelerator from 156 applications, with the successful seven presenting to investors, entrepreneurs and telecommunications players in Paris, France, today, ahead of the three-month programme.
Eligible startups may benefit from grants of up to EUR15,000 (US$21,000) in the form of convertible bonds.
In South Africa, Cape Town-based startup Dream Mobile has launched a website offering free SIM cards for all local networks, in a bid to facilitate access to mobile communications in South Africa.
South African consumers can visit www.simplesim.co.za and order a Micro or Nano SIM card for any network free of charge, which will be delivered via post.
Also in Cape Town, diarize.me is seeking to simplify the making and managing of appointments for businesses and customers in the beauty industry, with plans to expand to all appointment-based industries.
Founded by chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Raa and currently participating in the 88mph accelerator programme in Cape Town, diarize.me allows customers to find a salon, select a treatment, choose a stylist, see the stylist’s schedule and book an appointment online, after which they can rate the salon they visited.
South African entrepreneurs Paul Cartmel and Nic Haralambous have launched AfricanUp.com, a website dedicated to connecting startups, accelerators, investors and technology hubs around Africa.
Users can post their own entrepreneurial stories on the website and recommend their peers, with the end goal being to allow users to grow their professional profiles and reputations.
Local video content streaming startup Wabona has partnered with Cape Town-based Gravel Road Entertainment to launch the Mayibuye film festival, bringing previously unseen African film content to television, as well as making it available online and mobile via Wabona’s services.
The festival – to start on April 13 and lasting three weeks – will see two unseen African films aired for the first time each Sunday on the SABC1 channel, and two hours later the content will be available for free on Wabona’s platform and its mobile platform Cinemo.