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.”