On April 6, the summit of startups from emerging and developing countries was held in Lausanne, organized by the Swiss group Seedstarsworld since 2012. A major event that brings together each year the startups that have won competitions organized in 65 countries. More than 3000 startups participated in the 2017 edition, including 12 African women who were selected to come and represent the continent. Panorama of sectors and trends.
E-health: heal the continent
With a third of the startups represented, the e-health sector is in pole position. The needs of stakeholders and populations are multiple: the solutions provided by these companies are diversified and use technology, often low tech (mobile telephony), to improve access to health on the continent. In Mali, Boubacar Keita d´Aikio has developed the MEDfast platform, which allows medical analysis results to be transmitted confidentially and securely by SMS. He won the Orange Mali Challenge Innovation API competition in 2016. In Zimbabwe, Dr Cadx uses the power of machine learning on medical images to help practitioners in their diagnoses. A multitude of doctors and specialists answer questions from users of the Kangpe platform in Nigeria, which is accessible for free on the FreeBasics network developed by Facebook. Finally, Kasha allows Rwandan women to buy hard-to-find products (contraceptives, tampons, condoms) with verified traceability.
FinTech explodes in East Africa
Since the meteoric success of M-Pesa in Kenya, financial services have been booming in the sub-region. Mobile payment allows the creation of value-added services: microfinance, microinsurance, savings, low-income populations are increasingly accessing these new products, for want of being banked. In Kenya for example, iNuka Pap offers emergency loan services through mobile money to SACCOs (Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations): cash advances, electricity, insurance, telephone credit, etc. Kenyans can thus overcome their problems of cash for urgent needs. Akiba’s ambition is to digitize the principle of “tontines” in Uganda, a task that many startups are undertaking in all emerging and developing countries. Ivan Mworozi, the founder, explains that the platform makes it possible to meet the needs of Ugandans that traditional banks have not identified: before understanding the interest of complex products such as financial investments, citizens organize themselves into groups to save and use the money collected to finance their projects. It is therefore not surprising that the Akiba service is also available in Mexico where Ivan’s partner, Alexandre Berthaud, has launched a replica of the project which already has more than 1,000 active users. Finally, where the Kenyan giant Safaricom had failed, Jamii offers a microinsurance service in Tanzania through the mobile money solutions of telephone operators. Two pilot projects were launched in 2013 and 2016 to reach a base of 10,000 customers. As its founder Lilian Makoi explains: “telephone operators and insurance companies do not know how to address the microinsurance market by mobile telephony”.
Edtech: digitizing education
Two West African startups stand out in the EdTech category. In Ghana, Adrien Bouillot, former student of SciencesPo Paris, and Miora Randriambelom, co-founded Chalkboard Education, an e-learning platform for schools and universities accessible without internet (SMS and USSD). In Côte d’Ivoire, Etudesk allows anyone, teachers, schools, hactkivists, to simply create their own e-learning platform and reach out to their community. Wi-Connect is helping to democratize internet access by installing wifi hotspots in Angola that allow free access in exchange for interactions with targeted online advertising.
Reduce frictions in the labor market
In South Africa, IDWork is a marketplace to find the nearest craftsman: plumber, carpenter, electrician, users of the platform rate service providers in order to reduce information asymmetries related to the quality of work performed. In Senegal, Wutiko is a marketplace for job offers with geolocation already with more than 6,000 offers.
Services are growing
The growing adoption of smartphones and increasing internet penetration are driving the creation of new services. Hulubet allows you to book your ticket for an event online by QR Code in Ethiopia. In Botswana, Bua.Spacer builds confidence in businesses by allowing customers to rate them. Finally, in Mozambique, BlackBoxTV is a VOD platform for broadcasting content without internet access.
A message of hope
Although none of the African startups have been awarded this year, the dynamism displayed in increasingly diverse sectors carries a message of hope for the populations: African entrepreneurs also have a say in innovation. and compete in ingenuity to find solutions to the continent’s ills.
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