FEATURE: The week in startups 15/06/2014

From funding to low cost taxi launches, South Africa has seen an abundance of action in the tech startup space this week.

According to Tim Kelly, lead ICT policy specialist at the World Bank, South Africa is home to the largest number of tech hubs on the continent.

He said South Africa was the first country on the continent to hit double figures, although numerous other countries are not far behind.

“To our surprise, there are now around 90 tech hubs across the continent, and more than half of African economies have at least one,” Kelly said.

International taxi hailing app Uber has launched its low-cost option known as uberX in Cape Town, inviting the public to try the service and receive free uberX rides for the next five days.

The low-cost offering provides the same personal driver service that Uber is known for, although in less high-end cars and at a lower cost.

uberX will run alongside Uber’s high-end service, uberBLACK, which has been operating in Cape Town since last year.

South African financial services firm Clifftop Colony Capital Partners has raised ZAR8 million (US$748,000) in series A funding for the social enterprise platform Wyzetalk.

The recent funding brings the total funding for Wyzetalk facilitated by Clifftop Colony to ZAR20 million (US$1.9 million).

“Working with Clifftop as our corporate finance partner has allowed us to credibly access a high-profile local and global investor base and raise significant amounts of capital for Wyzetalk as a South African startup, whilst also protecting the interests of the founders and the seed investors,” said Gys Kappers, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Wyzetalk.

According to research by venture capital (VC) group Savannah Fund, South Africa is the most expensive country in Africa in which to launch a startup, while East Africa offers the lowest infrastructure, human resources and administrative costs for entrepreneurs.

In a survey spanning six key countries across Africa, Savannah Fund compared the first year costs of startups, including costs of accommodation and office space, web hosting and internet, the cost of hiring entry level and experienced engineers, and a range of administrative costs such as legal, accounting, sales, business permits, and travel.

Newly launched e-commerce platform Raru is providing South Africans with an additional outlet for consumer electronics, music, films and books.

The website, with is currently in beta, was started by the founders of Take2, which after being sold to Tiger Global in 2010 rebranded as Takealot.

According to Wesley Lynch, chief executive officer (CEO) and founder at digital publisher Snapplify, publishers should look at startups with the view they are a way to innovate.

“I think there has been a missed opportunity where publishers need to look at startups more from a point of view as a great way to gain innovation,” he said.

South African startup Trevolta has created a crowdfunding platform raising money for people to undertake worldwide travel.

Trevolta chief executive officer (CEO) of Mark Karimov said Trevolta intends to make travel more accessible, and allows people to make their travel dreams into reality through crowdfunding.

In Kenya, online platform Throughpass is set to launch, providing a professional soccer network for aspiring players to showcase their talents and for coaches to access a database of players.

The platform, which is set to launch alongside the FIFA World Cup in Brazil on Thursday, June 12, was one of the innovations selected as semi-finalists for this year’s edition of the PIVOT East conference to be held in Nairobi on June 24 and 25, though ultimately it was not selected for the final.

Kenyan startup Buymore is offering students discounts on their favourite brands and merchants through an electronic card, and has signed up 20 stores for the programme so far.

Tony Kuchio, business lead at Buymore, told HumanIPO the company, which was founded last October and is incubated at @iBiz Africa at Strathmore University in Nairobi, was looking to allow students to access better quality services while offering merchants better marketing opportunities.

mWakili aims to provide vital legal information to individuals in Kenya for free on a mobile device, without involving a lawyer.

The platform includes legal information relating to the registration of companies, copyrights, patents and trademarks, the vital elements of a contract, how to write a will and general court procedures. It also provides listings for law firms.

Ghanaian startup KodeFusion GH has launched Dumsor, an Android mobile flashlight app that will ameliorate the burden of power outage.

Dumsor is a flashlight application that works on cell phones with in-built flash for camera and runs on the Android operating system. The app converts flash into flashlight.

hellofood, a Rocket Internet-backed online delivery marketplace, has bagged an award at the “The Europas 2014” for being the best e-commerce startup, specifically for its huge expansion in the last year.

The startup is in 40 countries while its affiliate foodpanda has partnered with 25,000 restaurants all over the world.

For startups in Africa and across the world, it all comes down to money. But is there enough of it in the African startup scene? HumanIPO managing editor Tom Jackson investigates.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock



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