One of South Africa’s largest ISPs leaps into the digital future with SAP, S/4HANA Cloud

BY Gavin Emmanuel 3 MINUTE READ
In a time when an economic slowdown is putting increasing pressure on businesses to maintain costs, how does a leader in the highly-competitive Internet Service Provider (ISP) sector position the organisation to deliver unprecedented value?
 For MWEB, it’s about embracing change and leveraging advancements in technology to help drive their business forward. So it is no surprise that they were the first enterprise on the African continent to deploy SAP’s S/4HANA Public Cloud platform. Imraan Parker, Chief Financial Officer, MWEB said: the highly competitive nature within the ISP sector demands continuous improvement and innovation. “MWEB has and will always be at the forefront of new advanced technology in South Africa. MWEB introduced South Africa to the big black box, were the first ISP in the country to launch Uncapped ADSL to South African homes, and first to provide our customers access to the largest WiFi network in the world. As part of the next phase of our journey, MWEB decided to move our financial processes to the cloud while maintaining costs and continually adding value to our business. We chose SAP as the technology partner to enable us.”
 MWEB was founded in 1997 and was one of South Africa’s first ISP’s. As part of the Internet Solutions group of companies, MWEB provides Fibre, LTE and ADSL connectivity and associated consumer and business services to more than 300 000 customers. For this project, MWEB employed the services of Britehouse, an IT services consulting business that forms part of the Dimension Data group and an SAP partner, with the most extensively certified SAP solutions provider on the African continent to ensure smooth implementation of the project.
 “We trust our partners and we view our solutions providers as extensions of our teams,” says Parker. “MWEB look for qualities such as innovation, integrity and teamwork in our partners, and continuously seek their input regarding how MWEB can achieve its business objectives. Our new public cloud platform is fully supported by our partners in SAP and Britehouse, giving us the confidence to leverage the powerful functionality of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud to develop new ways of providing value while transforming a core part of our IT costs to an operating expense.”
 Gartner predicts that, by 2020, 24% of the total IT market will be cloud, with the global market for public cloud services totalling $383.3 billion. By 2025, the analyst firm expects that at least half of all large enterprises will successfully implement an all-in cloud SaaS strategy.
SAP S/4HANA Cloud is one of SAP’s key plays in the SaaS space, giving enterprises access to the latest innovations and industry expertise without the heavy capital investment of physical on-premise infrastructure. This delivers faster ROI, increased business agility, lower total cost of ownership, and improved governance and compliance functionality through a more intelligent cloud ERP.
Linda-Lee Harris, Senior Manager for S4 Public Cloud at Britehouse, points to a mind shift that needs to transition for organisations wishing to migrate from on-premise to cloud-based solutions. “The SAP S/4HANA Cloud solution gives enterprises access to mission-critical data anywhere, anytime through any device. Since upgrades are released quarterly and are part of the standard service level agreement, enterprises relish access to the latest functionality and exponential technologies such as machine learning and advanced analytics. To realise the true value of such deployments, however, enterprise leaders need to partner with trusted providers to ease the process of change management and avoid costly customisations.”
The SAP S/4HANA Cloud deployment was completed within the expected 12-week timeframe. “The rapid pace of new features and upgrades to the platform, as well as the support of our trusted partners in SAP and Britehouse, means we can innovate with confidence as we continue to grow our business. We were impressed with the adaptability of the platform, since we needed it to cater to specific reporting requirements that our implementation partners enabled for us” said Parker.
Simon Carpenter, Chief Technology Advisor at SAP Africa, says: “As one of South Africa most successful technology companies, MWEB has enjoyed a long track record of ground-breaking innovation. With this latest deployment, MWEB continues its proud history of industry firsts and takes a bold step on its journey toward becoming an Intelligent Enterprise by creating a powerful platform for future innovation.”

African Business Leaders Recognised with Frost & Sullivan GIL Best Practices Awards

BY Gavin Emmanuel 2 MINUTE READ
The 10th annual Growth, Innovation and Leadership (GIL) African Best Practices Awards hosted by Frost & Sullivan, in partnership with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Arkadin, were held on 13 September 2018, at the Table Bay in Cape Town. 
The event kicked off with Frost & Sullivan’s Hendrik Malan, Partner and Operations Director for Africa, presenting the 2018-2019 Global Mega Trends at the CEO Think Tank, followed by a presentation on innovation and supporting start-ups by Sholto Dolamo, Head of Research for the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). 
Awards keynote speaker Tonya Fowler, Frost & Sullivan Global Research Director, discussed the rigorous process based on completed consulting and research  that research analysts go through when nominating companies for Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards. 
Several companies were recognized with Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards for their contribution to the growth of Africa. Award categories included Energy & Environment, Transformational Health, Digital Transformation and Mobility.  
The 2017 and 2018 Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recipients are: 
·        2017 Southern African Dry Sanitation – Company of the Year Award – Enviro Loo 
·        2017 East African Renewable Energy Development and Distribution – Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award – Rift Valley Energy Tanzania 
·        2017 South African Enterprise Software for Retail – Customer Value Leadership Award – redPanda Software 
·        2018 Sub-Saharan African Smart Water Management Solutions – Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award – Utility Systems 
·        2018 Nigerian Pharmaceutical Production and Distribution – Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award – Fidson Healthcare 
·        2018 African Health Product and Technology Distributor – Visionary Innovation Leadership Award – Kiara Health 
·        2018 Sub-Saharan African Communications Services – Enabling Technology Leadership Award – Afrique Telecom 
·        2018 Middle Eastern & African Smart Cards – Customer Value Leadership Award – Gemalto 
·        2018 Sub-Saharan African Tower Infrastructure – Enabling Technology Leadership Award – NuRAN Wireless 
·        2018 South African LPWAN Enabling Technology Leadership Award – SqwidNet 
·        2018 African IoT – Technology Innovation Award – Vodacom 
·        2018 South African Taxi Hailing – New Product Innovation Award – Afta Robot 
·        2018 South African On-demand Logistics – New Product Innovation Award – EmptyTrips .
About Frost & Sullivan
Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, collaborates with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants. For more than 50 years, Frost & Sullivan has been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector, and the investment community. 

Eskom BIC winners inundated with interest at Small Business Expo

BY Gavin Emmanuel 3 MINUTE READ
Reed Exhibitions and Eskom’s 15-year collaboration to boost small business development again bore fruit at this year’s Small Business Expo (SBE) in Johannesburg.
Carol Weaving, MD of Reed Exhibitions, says the partnership, which sees the Eskom Development Foundation’s Business Investment Competition (BIC) finalists showcased at the leading SBE, thrusts South African small businesses into the fast lane – giving them exposure, networking opportunities and a chance to secure new business partnerships.
“The SBE is focused on building small businesses sustainably, and our ongoing partnership is delivering exceptional results for those small businesses who participate,” says Weaving.
The Eskom Foundation’s BIC and Simama Ranta School Entrepreneurship Education competition are key small business development initiatives that seek to help grow small business and drive economic growth in South Africa. At the SBE, finalists and winners in these competitions are given significant exposure to new business opportunities.
Eskom Foundation CEO Cecil Ramonotsi says the BIC and its partnership with the SBE identifies, rewards and supports growth in existing small black-owned businesses in key sectors. “The competition, and our partnership with the SBE, successfully boost viable small businesses, helping them to take their business to the next level,” he says.
This year, Eskom Foundation’s BIC finalists were inundated with interest at the expo, reporting that they ran out of business cards and had scores of business meetings lined up, with promising new business opportunities presenting themselves. The BIC and SBE proved to be an eye-opening experience for the BIC finalists, many of whom had never before participated in an expo such as this.
 The BIC, now in its ninth year, recognises promising and sustainable black-owned small businesses, awarding a total of R300,000 in growth funding to the overall winner. Besides the exhibition space, finalists are also given an opportunity to attend the free business development workshops during the expo.
The rare opportunity to engage with leading enterprises and corporates, and the high levels of interest from potential investors and business partners at the expo caught the BIC finalists by surprise: “The three days of exposure at the expo have been worth more than a year of marketing for me. By this time next year, I think my business will be twice the size it is now, thanks to interest generated through the BIC and the expo,” said Phindile Ncube, Director of Phakama Services Group, first runner-up in the BIC’s Engineering and Construction category.
Ncube said she was stunned by the entire experience: “When they called me to tell me I was a finalist, I was shocked, and when they called my name as first runner-up, I was like ‘what?’ Now no matter how many times I fall, I have to get back up because I know Eskom will be watching. I have to do great things because they are expecting it,” she said.
Both expo visitors and fellow exhibitors proved to be potential business leads, the BIC finalists said. “My entire market is everyone who is here,” Ncube said.
“I’ve never even thought about exhibiting at an expo before. As a business we were lacking on our marketing,” said Nyadzeni Makhado, founder of this year’s overall winner, Prodeliver Group. Prodeliver, based in Rivonia, provides logistics and mining services including transportation.  “The high volume and quality of interactions at the expo have made us realise that expos are definitely worthwhile,” he said.
“The media exposure we gained by winning the BIC has been phenomenal, and our stand in the exhibition area attracted a great deal of interest. Thanks to this exposure, I now have several business and investment meetings lined up that will open new avenues for growth. In fact, I have had so much interest that I believe I also need to get a social media presence and upgrade my site to help deal with enquiries,” Makhado said.
“Through the competition and the expo, I’ve secured industry-specific new business leads. On top of that, I managed to attend workshops on branding and learnt a great deal,” said Mbali Mavuso, founder of construction and manufacturing firm EBR.
“Everyone we spoke to at the expo has been relevant to us – some could provide services we need, and others need our services. I had 600 business cards printed for the expo, and they’ve all been handed out,” said Moses Matshiana, founder of Kgabu Projects and Construction.
“We opened our business in the George area because we saw a need there for well-made, affordable school uniforms,” said Letitia Frans of Sew Happy Primary Co-Operative. The co-operative, launched by Frans and co-founder Janine Bruce, was the second runner-up in the BIC Manufacturing category. “Because of the high level of interest we have received at the expo, we are starting to think it may be worth our while to expand our business to Gauteng too,” says Frans.
Peter Lengweng of South Side Plumbing and Construction in Eldorado Park and winner in the BIC Trade and Services category, said participation in the BIC and SBE would make a massive difference to his business. “Because of the expo, three developers have approached us to discuss new projects. I would not have been able to get that business without the expo.”

Late payments, ‘tick box empowerment’ undermine SA small businesses

BY Gavin Emmanuel 3 MINUTE READ
Despite their stated commitment to B-BBEE and to supporting the growth of small business, SA state organisations and large enterprises can hamper small business growth through their procedures and procurement approaches.
 This is according to small business experts who were speaking at the opening of the annual Small Business Expo and #BuyaBusiness expo at the Ticketpro Dome in Northriding this morning.
 The expert panel told a media briefing that South Africa presented massive opportunities for entrepreneurs, and that significant support and funding was now available for start-ups, but that small businesses often faced growth challenges once they were past the start-up phase.
 “Our business development strategies in South Africa need to change,” said Dionne Kerr, CEO of advisory firm Siyakha. “If we want to achieve our goals of making small businesses major employers, we have to focus on developing capacity, capability and competence in existing small businesses – we have to focus on growth.”
 She said government initiatives tended to focus on funding start-ups and businesses generating revenue over R100 million, but neglected businesses in the middle.  “Government agencies and large corporates also need to focus on how they buy from SMEs, particularly black-owned companies. There are massive ESD budgets totaling in the region of R82 billion, yet many black-owned SMEs still find themselves at the bottom of the supply chain,” Kerr said.
 While start-up funding is often cited as a challenge for small businesses in South Africa, Andrew Maren, Founder and CEO of ProfitShare Partners, noted that cash flow was a bigger problem. “Large corporates  and state agencies with a policy of only paying in 90 – 180 days severely hamper small business operations. Late payment – or no payment – is killing small businesses,” he said.
 The panel said that although state expenditure with small businesses had moved from 9% to 28% in recent years, small businesses had to be given opportunities to take on key projects, and had to be paid timeously, in order for them to grow. Empowerment could not be approached as a ‘tick box’ exercise, and had to support business growth to be effective, they said.
 Marang Marekimane, Founder of Business Process Mechanics, pointed out that small businesses were encouraged to employ people, but were left unable to pay their salaries while they awaited payment from large corporates and government agencies.
 Another key challenge facing local small businesses was the attitude seen in many procurement departments, they said, with corporate South Africa committed to empowerment at a senior level, but reluctant to award major contracts to small enterprises in practice.
 “Big corporates tend to say they can’t find small businesses to partner with, or that they are not convinced of their track records and capacity,” said Marekimane.
Maren said: “Many excuses come up – corporates can’t find black suppliers, or they are concerned about operational or financial risk. The fact is that corporate South Africa is sometimes lazy within the procurement environment.”
 However, despite the challenges facing small businesses in South Africa, the panel said small businesses still presented massive opportunities for job creation and economic growth. “South Africa is a land of opportunity – you can literally start a business from home,” said Kerr.” And it’s one of the few remaining countries where hard work actually counts for something.”
 “We’re an untapped market – entrepreneurs just need to find a problem and go to market with a solution,” said Maren. “The opportunities are there and this is a good time to be an entrepreneur in South Africa.”
 Noting that “The power to fix South Africa’s problems lies in the hands of South Africa’s SMEs,” panel discussion facilitator and ‘Chief Coffee Drinker’ at the SME Movement, York Zucchi, urged small businesses to take advantage of the support and skills development opportunities available at the Small Business Expo.
 The Small Business Expo and co-located #BuyaBusiness Expo, presented in partnership with the Eskom Foundation, will run until  8 September at the Ticketpro Dome, featuring hundreds of business opportunities and support services, and over 150 free workshops to help small business owners grow their businesses.
 For more information about Small Business Expo, go to https://www.smallbizexpo.co.za   

Pitch your business and stand a chance to win R20,000

BY Gavin Emmanuel 2 MINUTE READ
Women entrepreneurs will learn to boost their businesses and stand a chance of winning R20,000 in business funding from Standard Bank, during the upcoming Small Business Expo and #BuyaBusiness Expo.
Standard Bank, a key supporter of women in business in South Africa, will present a three-day series of workshops for women entrepreneurs at the Small Business Expo and #BuyaBusiness Expo in Northriding this week. Standard Bank’s Women in Business Theatre will give women entrepreneurs insights from leading business experts, covering topics such as tools and systems to help you run your business better, the need to take care of self while running a business, and how top women in business conquered the challenges and overcame obstacles on the way to becoming successful in their respective fields.
Visitors to the show will also have an opportunity to go to the Standard Bank Stand and ‘Pitch your Next’ business idea. Entrepreneurs will be invited to record a 30-second pitch, to stand a chance of being selected as one of five successful entrepreneurs to ‘Pitch your Next’ live on stage each day in front of a panel of experts. During the pitches, the shortlisted candidates will get valuable advice from experts on how to craft their business goals. Above all – one lucky applicant will stand a chance to win R20, 000.00 towards their business, courtesy of Standard Bank.
The Small Business Expo, co-located with the #BuyaBusiness Expo, will be staged in partnership with the Eskom Development Foundation from 6 – 8 September at the Ticketpro Dome. Online registration by 2 September is free, or R70 at the door, and visitors will benefit from free training in the Standard Bank Women in Business theatre, the Nedbank Money Matters theatre, Business Services theatre and the Eskom Powering your World theatres. Register today at www.smallbizexpo.co.za
About the Small Business Expo and #BuyaBusiness Expo
The Small Business Expo, running alongside #BuyaBusiness Expo, is devoted to the development of small and medium sized enterprises, providing an invaluable platform for small businesses to market their businesses and interact with business leaders and corporate companies. This expo exposes visitors to a wide range of business models, incubation programmes, business contacts, speakers and other entrepreneurs who will engage them on starting or growing their business.
The #BuyaBusiness Expo showcases business opportunities for small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs, with a focus on franchise opportunities. The Small Business Expo and #BuyaBusiness Expo feature numerous highlights, including free workshops and talks in the Nedbank Money Matters Theatre, Standard Bank Women in Business Theatre, Eskom Powering Your World theatre and Business Services theatre.  
The Small Business Expo is and #BuyaBusiness Expo are presented by Reed Exhibitions in partnership with the Eskom Development Foundation and its Business Investment Competition, and will be held from 6 – 8 September 2018 at the Ticketpro Dome, Northgate. The expo is supported by the Randburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Minara Chamber of Commerce, and is endorsed by the Black Management Forum (BMF) and approved by AAXO.
For more information, visit https://www.smallbizexpo.co.za/ or   https://www.reedexpoafrica.co.za/BuyABusinessExpo/

SAP Africa brings humanoid robot to Mzanzi

BY Gavin Emmanuel 2 MINUTE READ
The world’s most advanced human-like interactive robot has made her debut on South African shores, Sophia, a humanoid robot that has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, was the star at SAP NOW, a two-day interactive knowledge-sharing showcase of the latest breakout technologies hosted by SAP Africa.
Sophia is an innovation by Hanson Robotics, and the company’s most famous and advanced robot featuring remarkable expressiveness, aesthetics and interactivity. Since making her debut in March 2016, she has graced the cover of Elle Magazine, and has been a guest of multiple TV shows including CBS 60 Minutes, the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Good Morning Britain. A featurette of Sophia by CNBC garnered more than 6.5 million views on YouTube and elicited more than two billion engagements on social media.
“Sophia is a shining example of what is possible when innovation and ambition meets exponential technologies such as AI,” says Cathy Smith, Managing Director of SAP Africa. “As we look toward a new tool set of breakout technologies to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges and achieve the ambitions of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, innovations such as Sophia will be instrumental in inspiring a new wave of innovators, disruptors and digital champions.”
Sophia can animate more than 60 facial expressions including smiling, frowning, anger, disgust, confusion and happiness. Built-in cameras enable her to track people’s eyes and faces to maintain eye contact and build rapport with people, while advanced AI capabilities and voice recognition, along with scripts and chat bots enable her to hold natural conversation with her human counterparts.
Sophia joined Smith on stage for an interactive conversation on Thursday 30 August before the rest of the SAP NOW program kicked off. The event followed the theme of Tomorrow is Already Here and focused on innovation, with a view to showcasing how the best run businesses help the world run better through innovative use of technology.
With topics ranging from ‘Let’s map, build and inspire a future we all want to live in’ to ‘The Journey to the Intelligent Enterprise’, SAP NOW was designed to encourage a collective learning experience while unveiling top industry innovations and sharing the latest knowledge and industry know-how.

SA Startup SkillUp Tutors is future-proofing the next generation with coding skills

BY Gavin Emmanuel 3 MINUTE READ
In the new knowledge economy, a solid education is core to the success of each individual and the prosperity of a nation as a whole. And while South Africa is battling to overcome an ongoing education crisis, the world is moving on, driven by technology. Most young people that currently enter the workforce face newly emerging job categories and jobs that will be radically affected by automation. It is now more important than ever to be professionally future-proof. And that future looks technical. 
Sure, it is a buzzword, but being ‘future-proof’ essentially means that you are prepared and taking the necessary steps to ensure that you will remain being a valuable asset in years to come. To diminish the impact of disruptive change on employment, computer programming has become a skill that schools in many countries regard as intrinsic to primary education as maths and English. Long story short: coding is basic literacy in the digital age. It is what makes the next generation future-proof.
SkillUp is a Cape Town based EdTech Startup that offers parents and students across South Africa access to thousands of highly skilled and carefully vetted tutors based on grades, subject, location, and budget. The SkillUp platform makes it easy to find and communicate with tutors and facilitates the purchasing and scheduling of both in-person and online lessons. 
SkillUp recently developed and launched its own coding course, utilising its proprietary Teaching Kids to Code software. The course teaches kids coding fundamentals and a team of expert tutors assist kids to build their own websites using HTML, CSS and an introduction to JavaScript – a foundational start to their coding journey. 
SkillUp launched its pilot coding project in partnership with Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School in Cape Town. Since the start of Term 3, SkillUp has been teaching more than 300 girls from grades 3 to 6 at the School how to code. Each week, the girls build a website based on a variety of topics including: South Africa, Our Solar System, Geography, Finance, Maths, and, most recently, their own Wikipedia page on Famous Women in History – fitting for Women’s Month in South Africa.
“The program is intended to equip kids with a fundamental and ubiquitous skill to help them navigate the ever-changing world of technology. These young girls we are teaching have been highly engaging and are already adding employable skills to their yet-to-exist CV’s. In a short couple of months these 8 to 12-year-olds will be streaks ahead of their contemporaries, not only in South Africa, but on a global playing field,” says Matthew Henshall, CEO and Co-Founder of SkillUp. “We’ve even had some parents asking if we can teach them what their kids are being taught at school,” Henshall adds.
Earlier this year, SkillUp received a Series A funding round from leading venture capital firm Knife Capital. The funding is being applied to accelerate user acquisition of learners and tutors, leverage partnerships with content providers and scale the business internationally. 
“A lot of EdTech Startups are all about removing humans from the education coalface, while SkillUp is all about scaling knowledgeable and vetted humans into the education space using technology,” says Andrea Bӧhmert, Managing Partner at Knife Capital. “The SkillUp kids coding course is relevant, affordable, homegrown and most importantly – it has the potential to future-proof young students into a broad range of career opportunities and open many doors for them” she says.
While the pilot coding project is currently being implemented at Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School, soon many schools and individuals will be able to be a part of the coding revolution. SkillUp has plans to expand its offering to more schools in Southern Africa and even further abroad in 2019, with a couple of key schools and partners already signed up.

Africa, our time has come

BY Gavin Emmanuel 2 MINUTE READ
It’s time for Africa to come to its full potential by developing products and services that are credible and inspired by the continent. It’s time to take Africa to the World.
The SA Innovation Summit aims to challenge and inspire conversations around the impact on our environments and identify how we can effect meaningful change. The Summit also provides numerous opportunities to learn, network and witness innovation from the brilliant minds in Africa. Preparing you for Industry 4.0 is a key theme, because it’s happening and you don’t want to be left behind.
As a giant accelerator for the South African Economy, the Summit focuses on how businesses can venture successfully and the different funding opportunities to enable this. The Summit model also focuses on three key areas of the economy, namely; Idea and Research Phase, pre-commercial and Start-up/Scale-Up Businesses. 
Additionally, they function as an Ecosystem Enabler: supporting new research, ideas, inventions and the tech entrepreneurs to become investible businesses. They achieve this by bringing together entrepreneurs, inventors, investors and policy makers into one space; giving them the opportunity to meet and network. Start-ups are given the opportunity to showcase and pitch their products and services to investors in multiple Pitching Dens and the Inventors Garage during the Summit.
What the Summit has to offer
Thought leadership sessions: discussions centred around Agritech; Biotech; Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Space; Cities of the Future, Edutech and Fintech, identifying the key issues and possible solutions.
Master Classes: professionals lending their expertise in Corporate Venturing, Angel Investments and Intellectual Property Protection. TMARA and Sea Monster will also be hosting the Blueprint for Disruption and Product Market Fit.
Workshops: learn how to build a robot in just ONE hour and understand the world of block-chain technology.
CEO Panel Discussion: CEO’s from leading corporations will unpack the importance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Corporate Venturing in South Africa.
Match & Invest Lounge: one-on-one pre-scheduled meetings during the Summit providing a platform for targeted and effective business-matching.
The Summit was birthed out of how little was being done to commercialise technology from South Africa into new industries through start-ups, private sector involvement and enabling government absorption of new ideas. 
The first Summit started with getting the roles and language between government, industry and academics aligned. The content migrated over 11 years into making the Tech Entrepreneur centre stage and the hero of taking the economy forward. 
We invite you to join us this year as we explore new ideas and take Africa to the world. Our time is now, and there’s no better time to prepare ourselves for the future to come. 
View the programme, book your tickets, or read about our opportunities below to see if you fall under our areas of focus. We look forward to hosting you!

The next wave of African innovators

BY Gavin Emmanuel 6 MINUTE READ
Startupbootcamp AfriTech is the Africa leg of a global family of industry-focused accelerators. Post rebranding from Startupbootcamp Africa to AfriTech, the accelerator is now in their second consecutive year and once again selected ten of Africa’s very best tech entrepreneurs to catapult onto the global innovation stage.
Startupbootcamp AfriTech’s mission is to empower the top innovative African tech startups, linking them to the fastest-moving corporates on the continent. It is the only multi-corporate backed accelerator of its kind. 
Earlier this year the SBC team embarked upon an intensive 3-month global scouting tour, travelling across 15 countries, and hosting 19 FastTrack events and 220 face-to-face startup engagements, searching for the ideas that will alter the future. 
The programme received 1,004 applications from 73 countries in total, attracting double the applications from its inaugural launch in 2017. 
The applications were shortlisted to the top 22 startup teams that were flown down to pitch their businesses over 2-days to some of the most progressive leaders in the innovation space in Africa, including corporate sponsors, mentors and investors. 
The SBC AfriTech programme ended on a record high in 2017 with 32 corporate agreements in pilots and proof-of-concepts signed by close of the accelerator. 
“Our inaugural year was big, it was bold,” comments Zachariah George, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of SBC AfriTech, “Our phenomenal success of last year has made us the only truly global accelerator for tech ventures in partnership with dynamic corporates on the African continent – we are accelerating the next wave of innovation in Africa.”
This year Startupbootcamp AfriTech has appointed a female lead as their Programme Manager. 
“It’s exciting to be able to shape and lead these top innovators through the SBC experience to ensure accelerated growth in their business in order to have impact on both the continent and the global community,” states Nsovo Nkatingi, the Programme Manager for the SBC AfriTech Accelerator.
 “We look forward to seeing the 2018 cohort engage with our corporate partners and grow the future of innovation in Africa over the course of the next three months.”
Post an intensive scouting and selection process, the top 10 for 2018 are:
Akiba Digital, South Africa: A financial savings platform and personal savings coach that leverages A.I., machine learning and gamification to democratize wealth in Africa.
“Being a part of SBC AfriTech means that we can leverage off the corporate partnerships and them helping us FastTrack ourselves into being an African-led business,” comments Kamogelo Kekana, COO of Akiba Digital. 
Bankly Technologies, Nigeria: A goal-based savings product that digitizes cash and enables in-country, peer-to-peer transfer services through the use of vouchers available nationwide.
“I’m so glad to be part of Startupbootcamp AfriTech, a global accelerator, because I believe Africa should solve Africa’s problems,” states Tomilola Adejana, co-founder and CEO of Bankly.
Brandbook Analytics, South Africa: A mobile application providing users free gift-card coupons for completed purchases with the ability to harvest vast amounts of consumer data and improved forecasting and analytics.
“Making into SBC Afritech’s top 10 is an amazing opportunity for company to showcase our product to the world,” says Rorisang Posholi, founder and President of Brandbook. 
Digitech Group, Ivory Coast: Provides incumbent insurance companies an omni-channel and cloud-based digital platform to sell insurance products through mobile and web.
“Digitech feels very privileged to have been selected out of more than 1000 total applications, especially as the last mile selection was extremely competitive. We are very excited now at the beginning of this journey as we want to transform the continent,” states Alexandre N’Djore, CEO of Digitech Group.
Inclusive Financial Technologies, Ghana: Inclusive FT’s API helps digital financial services reach the most remote customers across Africa by enabling them to onboard, verify and monitor them via digital channels. 
“Being selected for the SBC AfriTech programme is a great opportunity to further our pan-African dream of creating economic opportunities for Africans by connecting them to the global economy,” comments Paul Damalie, CEO of Inclusive Financial Technologies. 
Kudimoney Bank, Nigeria: A no-charge, full-service, online-only bank making banking services more affordable and more accessible by offering an interest-earning spending account with zero charges, a savings account with above-average interest rates and access to low interest instant loans. 
“We are looking to make banking affordable for everybody because banking is currently just too expensive. The SBC brand is a global brand and we are hoping to become positioned to become a viable startup and to really learn from different mentors on how to progress and accelerate our business,” states Babs Ogundeyi, CEO of Kudimoney. 
Lüla, South Africa: A mobility-as-a-service platform that connects stakeholders to improve mobility by providing transport that is convenient, accessible and safe and enabling operators, cities and passengers to have easy access and understanding of transport. 
“Startupbootcamp AfriTech 2018 means it will take my business to the next level, it’s going to help me leverage the networks, partnerships and lessons learnt by previous entrepreneurs and other partners in the programme. It will help us scale faster and help us do what we do more specifically,” comments Velani Mboweni, co-founder and CEO of Lüla.
MPost, Kenya: A patented solution providing legally recognized physical addresses for the 95% of the African population that do not have a postal address.
“We are excited to be part of Startupbootcamp AfriTech and are looking to leverage the programme to scale up,” says Twahir A Mohamed, founder and CTO of MPost.
Pago, Ireland: Pago is an South African online payments system that supports carrier and airtime driven online payments as a financially inclusive alternative to traditional card payments. Pago is a digital wallet and users can top up their Pago wallet using a partner mobile network operator’s airtime voucher pin. 
“Pago is excited to be on the SBC AfriTech 2018 programme because Africa is an important market for us. Being on the programme gives us an opportunity to be on the ground running as we introduce our product to the market,” states Philip Mngadi, co-founder of Pago. 
Prospa, South Africa: A micro-savings solution for low-income earning South Africans, allowing users to purchase savings vouchers at traders that entitle the user to a set amount of savings which are deposited into a mobi-savings account.
“Fundamental to the success of Prospa is relationships with corporates to allow us all to interact within an environment to drive financial inclusion in South Africa. The programme will make it possible for all this to happen within the 3 months,” says Dhanyal Davidson, CEO of Prospa.
These ten startups now have the opportunity to leverage the guidance and mentorship of the fastest-moving corporates on the continent, RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Nedbank, PwC and Old Mutual, and being backed by the experience and expertise of the entirety of the Startupbootcamp AfriTech team.
“Our focus is to help startups connect with the corporates and not just the corporates in the programme, but corporates who are our clients as well,” states Paul Mitchell, Fintech and Blockchain Lead for PwC, “The startups need to understand what businesses want from them, whether its methods, innovation ideas or new models. Startups should use the SBC programme to get a clear idea of what the right way is to engage with the corporates.”
The corporate sponsors have been present every step of the way for the scouting and selection process of the 2018 SBC programme. And in order to have made it to the Final Selection Days where the top 10 were selected post intensive discussions and pitching, at least 2 sponsors had to agree to potential proof of concept projects for each of the startups that were selected. The startups this year are showing significant market traction and the corporates want to work with them already. 
“Asking questions will make your solution get to market quicker,” comments Natacha Baumann, Head of Innovation for SUN Region BNP Paribas Personal Finance, “The startups can count on us as much as we can count on them. Of course, we have been working with fintech startups all over the world, so ask as many questions as you can and team up with us and we can strive for good business. We can be successful together.” 
“At Nedbank we view startup culture as something that’s going to increasingly become pervasive and it’s something that really excites us,” adds Stuart van der Veen, CIB Head of Disruption and Innovation at Nedbank. 
“Old Mutual is really looking forward to bringing these startups into the corporate to see if we can scale them and make much more meaningful impact not only for the corporate Old Mutual but also for the community, South Africa and Africa at large,” states Evelyn Olwagen, Strategic Partnerships and Alliances of Old Mutual. 
“We’re seeing a lot of different startups, this year we’ve seen quite a lot of focused startups and also a lot of cross-border territories within Africa. What I’ll be looking out for specifically is solutions that we don’t necessarily have in South Africa where we primarily trade, and how we can adapt those particular solutions to our environment,” states Regan Adams, CEO of RCS. 
To the Top 10, Philip Kiracofe, CEO and co-founder of SBC AfriTech, says: “You are here because your solution is market-ready and the sponsors want to work with you starting from today. The next 3 months are going to be absolutely exhilarating. We are going to be here side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, pushing you, cajoling you, encouraging you, nurturing you, mentoring you and helping you achieve 12 – 18 months’ worth of growth in a 3-month span. On Demo Day you’re not going to believe that just 3 months ago you were standing where you are today. Congratulations and good luck.”

Silicon Cape launches new innovation support model for Africa’s biggest tech hub

BY Gavin Emmanuel 5 MINUTE READ
Silicon Cape as a leading ecosystem connector recently launched their new Africa-first strategic membership plan to enable the accelerated inclusion of diverse tech startups and grow the dynamism of the ecosystem.
Silicon Cape, the leading organisation for supporting technology innovation and entrepreneurship in South Africa, launched their Africa-first 2021 Strategic Plan alongside a new membership model for those seeking to connect to the local and global tech scene. 
The strategy aims to connect stakeholders, amplify the stories of the continent’s tech innovators, advocate on behalf of the ecosystem as a collective and build bridges with other international hubs in order to grow the continent. 
“It is great to see the energy in what is developing here in this ecosystem in the Southern tip of Africa, the kind of entrepreneurs that are using this space to not only develop solutions and innovations for our region in Africa but using this region to develop innovations and solutions for the world,” shares Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities.
The new membership model offers different paid-for plans that provide local and global innovation stakeholders curated access to the ecosystem, access to support resources and access to marketing opportunities through the Silicon Cape platforms. Plans start at only R500 annually.
Membership also incorporates bespoke tech tours for visitors to the ecosystem; highlighting the work being done by key startups and innovation spaces. There is also a strong focus on building the networks for student entrepreneurship to capitalise on and accelerate the rising number of student ventures. 
“I’m very excited about the launch of the Silicon Cape membership model,” states Xabiso Lombo, CEO and co-founder of Guardian Gabriel, “As an aspiring entrepreneur and as a student entrepreneur I urge them to target entrepreneurs in universities because that’s where the passion lies, that’s where the spirit is, and this is the space I believe student entrepreneurs should be in. 
The network that is being created is of great value to student entrepreneurial spirit and can help them propel their entrepreneurial ventures into the world.”
Financial Independence and Sustainability 
As an NPO, Silicon Cape has created a model that benchmarks itself against international best practice to effectively ensure independence and achieve financial sustainability. 
“Silicon Cape’s new Africa-first membership model launch gave them an opportunity to update their members on what they are doing in helping us create this amazing ecosystem, this tech innovative space, where we can do things in Africa for Africa,” comments Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde. “What stood out for me from the launch is how they’ve come up with an innovative model where no one member can take an overbearing role in the organisation and I believe that in itself will be an innovative way in which business chambers and other sector bodies are going to look at the way they fund themselves. This is the most amazing way for government to become a member of an organisation like Silicon Cape.”
The shift away from a single source of corporate or government donor funding aligns to the strategic goal to stimulate inclusivity. Critically, the new model allows Silicon Cape to hold a closer working relationship with a wider range of stakeholders through clearly articulated relationships. 
The 2021 Silicon Cape Strategy incorporates the inputs of ecosystem clusters post a series of “Courageous Conversations” to gain insights from innovation incubators, accelerators, enablers, service providers, funders and entrepreneurs.
Across the four 3-hour conversations, 34 members of the Silicon Cape ecosystem, representing a variety of stakeholder clusters, shared their views and ideas around Silicon Cape’s potential value proposition.
Throughout the conversations participants shared a concern that, just as South Africa, the Western Cape and Cape Town itself are grappling with persistent inequality of wealth and access to opportunity, so is this the case within the Cape tech ecosystem. 
There was strong agreement that Silicon Cape must stand for the accelerated inclusion of more and more tech entrepreneurs and ‘wantrepreneurs’ into the widening tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Cape region.
“The research from the recently released Endeavour Insight report on the broader Cape ecosystem, emphasised how well networked the ecosystem is, but, also, how critical it will be to continue to grow connections between stakeholders if we are to maintain the dynamism of the ecosystem. Our community’s strength comes from our connections. 
That parts of our ecosystem are good at talking to each other and leveraging collectively, I think, speaks to Silicon Cape’s success historically. However, it also positions this membership model going forward. 
This is how we plan to grow the connections more inclusively and maintain the dynamism of the ecosystem,” comments Kerry Petrie, General Manager of Silicon Cape. 
The Membership Plans
The Orange membership plan is billed at R500 annually and the Yellow at R1500 annually. Benefits for both include preferential rates to the Silicon Cape Showcase, access to other members and thus opportunities through the website, inclusion in meetings, access to online resources, preferential rates for VC hours as well as preferential rates and access to partner events. 
Entrepreneurs joining the Orange membership plan will also have access to the Silicon Cape networks for advocacy issues. What sets the Yellow membership plan apart is that it also includes a curated presence for members at the Silicon Cape Showcase, a profiling of the member during Tours of the SA ecosystem, preferential rates and access to the international trade-show and Silicon Cape will also profile Yellow members’ events on their social media pages as well as profile members themselves in the official Silicon Cape newsletter.
The fees for corporates are reasonable for what is expected and offered in exchange. The rates range from R15 000 annually to R200 000. Corporates, sponsors and investors will be able to tap into a pool of African tech talent, have their events or needs and visions profiled on the Silicon Cape social media pages and in the newsletter, have their presence felt at trade shows and showcases, and in exchange will merely need to agree to be a speaker on behalf of the Silicon Cape ecosystem at the odd occasion. 
Sponsors and investors opting for the Purple membership plan, which clocks in as the most expensive plan at R200 000 per year, will also at times need to open their doors as a venue for Silicon Cape events.
Moving Forward with Strategic Partnerships
In a first for Cape Town, Silicon Cape has now partnered with Startup Guide to bring its popular entrepreneurial guidebook series to Cape Town with support from SAP Next-Gen.  
Packed with city essentials, practical information, in-depth interviews and insightful tips, Startup Guide Cape Town will guide, empower and inspire entrepreneurs in the coastal South African city to transform their startup ideas into reality. 
To ensure an accurate and trustworthy guide, the book is co-created with the local startup community – with Silicon Cape leading the charge.
“Silicon Cape is thrilled to be partnering with Startup Guide to produce the first ever African and Southern Hemisphere guide for Cape Town,” says Kerry Petrie, General Manager at Silicon Cape, “We are always looking for ways to tell the story of our local ecosystem, its innovative stakeholders and its strong network connections. 
Startup Guide allows us to tell this story to a wider, international audience. We are excited for Cape Town to join the network of cities such as London, Hamburg, Tel Aviv and Paris.”
The key network players of the startup community is starting to put Cape Town on the international innovation map.