10 African startups to watch

by MMC
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The 2016 World Economic Forum on Africa has passed, but the lessons learned at the successful summit held in Rwanda remain relevant.

Other topics discussed during the three-day event included the digital economy and how it can fuel growth in Africa. Inspired by this theme, we take a look at some of the startups making an impact on the continent.

SafeMotos – Rwanda

Billed as Africa’s answer to Uber, SafeMotos does more than just connect riders to rides. The app is aimed at Rwanda’s famous mototaxis and is designed to prevent the growing number of road accidents, by encouraging safer driving and rewarding responsible drivers. Eighty percent of road accidents in Rwanda involve motorcycle taxis, and SafeMotos addresses this clear need to make the roads safer for Rwandans.

Interested drivers with at least three years of experience have a smartphone and the SafeMotos application installed on their motorcycle taxis. The app records drivers’ speed, acceleration, GPS and gyroscope data – and the information is analyzed remotely and combined with feedback to give an overall safety rating.

The company has over 5,000 registered users, has taken over 20,000 trips, driven over 500,000 km and raised over $130,000 in funding.

DabaDoc – Morocco

After realizing how difficult it was to make a medical appointment in her home country of Morocco, Zineb Yacoubi sought to solve the problem. She teamed up with her brother to create DabaDoc, an app that allows users to find doctors online and make appointments.

Launched in 2014, the startup expanded to neighboring Algeria and Tunisia in 2015, with more than 2,000 doctors joining the platform. DabaDoc was also recently launched in South Africa and Nigeria as part of its expansion plan into the pan-African market.

The startup has brought real change to communities, enabling more people to access medical help. This earned DabaDoc well-deserved recognition, having been selected as one of 10 startups in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region to participate in the Aspen-Blackstone Entrepreneurship Program in Silicon Valley.

Mozambiquebikes – Mozambique

Mozambikes improves the lives of rural Mozambicans, one bike at a time. The Maputo-based social enterprise manufactures affordable bicycles for rural communities, where no other means of transportation is available.

The startup generates revenue by selling advertising space, allowing companies to pay to put their logo on bikes. Mozambikes then sells the bikes at considerably low prices, making them affordable for low-income people.

The company also allows organizations to purchase, brand and distribute the bikes to their employees, customers or communities, as part of their corporate social responsibility. Additionally, Mozambikes runs a charity and allows visitors to its website to donate a bicycle to those in need.

Giraffe – South Africa

Giraffe is a mobile recruitment platform that aims to streamline the job search process for job seekers in South Africa by connecting them with relevant opportunities. The startup also helps employers recruit the most suitable candidate, quickly and inexpensively.

Employers wishing to recruit staff make a request on the website. The platform then identifies suitable candidates, contacts them via SMS and schedules interviews at a suitable time and location.

With over 70,000 registered users, Giraffe is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing technology companies in South Africa. The startup was crowned the 2016 global winner at the Seedstars World Summit, taking home the grand prize of $500,000.

DIYlaw – Nigeria

The tech-legal sector appears to be gaining momentum in Africa, and Nigeria’s DIYlaw is one of the leading players. The company’s mission is to create easy access to legal services on the continent, starting with Nigeria.

The company offers do-it-yourself registrations, for things like company and trademark registrations, as well as VAT and TIN registrations. If you are looking for business or personal legal documents – such as the mutual non-disclosure agreement, privacy policy, board resolution and employee contract – you can also easily access them from within the startup via its DIY Documents offering.

DIYlaw will soon offer a new service that will allow users to hire a lawyer or ask a lawyer a specific legal question by choosing from their extensive database of lawyers. You can read the opinions of other DIYlaw users before choosing a lawyer.

RecycloBekia – Egypt

The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) shows that Egypt has overtaken South Africa as Africa’s second-largest economy. With the rise of technology and startup culture in the North African country, it’s no wonder that Egypt’s economy has seen steady growth in recent years.

Among the country’s impressive startups is RecycloBekia, one of the region’s first companies offering green recycling of e-waste. The company – whose name comes from the Egyptian Arabic words “roba bekya,” meaning “old stuff” – collects unwanted electrical parts, dismantles them, filters them and recycles them.

Started with capital of just $1,000 in 2011 by a team of students from Tanta University, the company has grown to include four warehouses and sells about $2.4 million worth of e-waste per year.

MeQasa – Ghana

Finding suitable accommodation in Ghana was a daunting process, until the meQasa real estate platform came onto the scene in 2013. meQasa has improved the real estate sector in Ghana by providing a free service that helps property seekers, brokers and owners to effectively conduct their business online. .

The startup made headlines in 2015 when it secured a $500,000 investment from Frontier Digital Ventures, a global venture capital firm based in Malaysia. MeQasa promised to use the funding to expand its mobile and web services and eventually expand to other African countries.

In less than three years, the company has experienced remarkable growth, with nearly 18,000 real estate listings. In 2016, meQasa was nominated for several awards for progress in making it easier to find property in Ghana.

Safari Yetu – Tanzania

Safari Yetu makes booking trips across East Africa by bus an enjoyable experience. The company offers a mobile and online solution to book and purchase bus tickets, saving passengers time and money. The startup eliminates the frustration of having to go to the bus station to buy tickets, allowing travelers to purchase them online.

After reserving seats and making payment, passengers receive their tickets on their phone or by email. Safari Yetu recently won a few awards for its efforts to simplify bus travel in Tanzania.

Mawingu – Kenya

Technology is driving economies and changing lives around the world. But the flip side is that almost 4 billion people around the world still do not have access to the Internet and therefore do not take advantage of the opportunities offered by connectivity.

In Kenya, Mawingu is determined to change this reality facing the rural population. The company, whose name means “cloud” in Swahili, brings connectivity to rural communities in the East African country. Its solar-powered WiFi routers connect villages to an easily accessible, but largely underutilized, wireless Internet signal known as “TV white space.”

Schools, libraries, clinics and young entrepreneurs all benefit from Mawingu’s innovative idea.

NerveFlo – Nigeria

Accessing African content like movies or music online has always been a challenge compared to how you can easily buy an Adele song or the latest Hollywood movie. But all that is changing quickly, thanks to a host of proudly African companies like NerveFlo, a digital content marketplace. The company is similar to online giants iTunes and Amazon, but with a range of digital content.

NerveFlo enables digital content creators to quickly distribute their work to the ever-growing African market. Here you can find everything from short films to music to comics to lectures to e-books. The platform also gives Africans the opportunity to showcase their products to the global market.

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