Late yesterday (05.03.20), Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)-listed technology investment group, Ayo Technology Solutions (AYO), launched a R200 million fund to support African start-ups, grow. The announcement was made at the Fast Company SA Most Innovative Companies Awards evening by AYO’s Chairman, Advocate Wallace Mgoqi and the AYO Technology and Innovation Fund’s Head of Talent, Snow Mokgalabone (who also oversees the AYO Academy).
The pair confirmed that the R200 million would be an annual amount and that it would be allocated to qualifying companies, organisations and entrepreneurs, to scale their businesses.
R100 million of the fund is to be allocated to South African companies of which, 50% will be geared to specifically supporting black-owned start-ups. R100 million will then be apportioned to grow companies founded and operated on the African continent beyond South Africa’s borders.
Addressing the award winners, nominees and invited guests at the awards, Snow Mokgalabone said: “I think it is fair to say that technology and innovation are critical to the advancement of not just our society here in South Africa, but everywhere. To effect real change though, we are going to need more bright minds and yet more companies like yourselves, who can work together to fix our societal, economic and environmental issues.”
However, as noted by Advocate Mgoqi, “there are thousands of brilliant business ideas out there, but the sad reality is that few make it to the big time. The necessary funds to take these ideas from bud to blossom and then fruit, can often be in short supply. Which is why AYO has committed to launching an annual fund aimed at supporting as many bright ideas and innovations as possible. With this, AYO can help turn ideas into action.”
AYO will invest in organisations that are creating new technologies or using existing ones in novel ways to solve pressing business and everyday needs. There will be strict criteria and appropriate due diligence measures.
A note: The fund is aimed at second round funding opportunities for companies that have a proof of concept and that are ready to scale.
AYO also recognises that the ongoing success of investee companies will depend not just on an injection of monies but also professional assistance and support. AYO will therefore use its stable of companies to offer beneficiaries a variety of opportunities for self and business acceleration, through access to professionals, services and marketplaces within the Group. Investee companies will also be in a position to offer their own skills and support to companies within the greater AYO group.