Over the past four months, the LaunchLab, a network of university campus-based business incubators, in partnership with Nedbank, one of the largest banks in South Africa, ran an entrepreneurial challenge across partner university campuses in the Western Cape to unleash innovation in the banking industry.
The challenge, which formed part of the LaunchLab’s Breakthrough Innovation Platform, officially kicked off with a Briefing Workshop which was held on 16 August 2016 at the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab. Here participants had an opportunity to engage with the LaunchLab and Nedbank teams, as well as to connect with other aspiring Fintech entrepreneurs. Attending this workshop also helped participants to better understand the Challenge, stimulated their thinking and provided clarity about the value of their ideas.
More than 50 aspiring and practicing entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from the Fintech, Big Data, ICT and Financial Services industries attended the workshop. These industries have seen a great deal of disruption due to new technologies and changing banking behaviour in Africa.
Nedbank has identified the need to tap into these breakthrough innovations to find new ways of using mobile technology to further promote financial inclusion, enhance client experiences using connected devices and find innovative methods to on-board and activate new clients. Nedbank’s partnership with the LaunchLab enables access to these disruptive innovations.
The LaunchLab provides a link to a unique community of campus-based entrepreneurs as well as an environment where start-ups can test new technologies and business models without the usual corporate restrictions.
Philip Marais, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the LaunchLab comments: “This Fintech and Big Data Challenge gave entrepreneurs the opportunity to not only win incubation support for their Fintech solutions but to also gain access to the exciting market that Nedbank can provide. The LaunchLab facilitates the relationship between the start-ups and our corporate partners to ensure a win-win scenario for both parties.”
Ideas were either pitched at participating campuses or submitted online. The LaunchLab received a large number of sign-ups and pitch submissions, which were narrowed down to nine finalists. The finalists pitched their Fintech and Big Data innovation ideas during the final event held at the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab on 20 October 2016. The judging panel consisted of five members selected from the innovation and business development teams from Nedbank.
The 5 winners each won seed funding and incubation support from the LaunchLab which they will use for the next 6 months will to launch and grow their business ideas. Nedbank will be carefully monitoring the development of these business ideas during this time to gauge their potential and see if they can add value to Nedbank’s service offering.
“We are encouraged by the depth of exciting ideas and entrepreneurs we engage with through the LaunchLab. Most importantly, the fast-growing traction of Fintechs and usage of Big Data intelligence gives us a great sense of comfort that South Africa is firmly poised not just to participate in the global innovation arena – but to lead it,” Chris Wood: Executive Head of Emerging Payments, Strategy and Regulatory at Nedbank.
The Nedbank Fintech and Big Data Innovation Challenge winners, who will now participate in the LaunchLab Knowledge Acceleration and Countdown Programmes, are:
- Desmond Mongwe from MoWallet – Enables banks with a white label digital marketing solution to deliver incentives to customers with lower income
- Njabulo Makathini from Airbuy – A solution to purchase goods using airtime
- Conor Foley from Inku – A peer-to-peer digital lending platform
- Sebastian Daniels from StokVella – A digital stokvel management and accountability tool
- Yolisa Ncanda from Fingertips – Online payments done via a student card.
Africa’s Top 10 Tech Start-Ups Selected For #Africa4Future Accelerator Programme
Airbus and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) have announced the top 10 African tech start-ups that will take part in the latest Airbus Bizlab #Africa4Future accelerator programme. They were selected after an open public pitch event in front of experts, potential investors, the media and other stakeholders in Kenya’s capital city.
#Africa4Future is a joint business accelerator initiative of Airbus and GIZ’s Make-IT in Africa initiative together with the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a non-profit seed fund and pan-African organisation that brings together startups, entrepreneurs and the tech community, and Innocircle, the South African-based innovation consultancy.
The top 10 start-ups were selected from 314 entries representing 19 African countries that were received when the challenge was opened last October. These were assessed by a panel of Airbus and other independent experts.
The programme aims to encourage and support entrepreneurship in Africa. The continent’s young and increasingly techno-savvy population is likely to be the driving force behind Africa’s socio-economic development. The competition identifies Africa’s own pool of talented entrepreneurs using innovative aerospace based solutions to tackle the continent’s most pressing challenges such as transportation, agriculture and healthcare.
As a global aerospace accelerator, Airbus BizLab is ideally suited to help African startups transform innovative ideas into viable and valuable businesses. In doing so, it increases the aerospace industry’s engagement with hardware and software innovators and entrepreneurs in Africa while helping to nurture the establishment of competitive entrepreneurial ecosystems on the continent.
The Nairobi event kicks off an intensive 6-month business incubation and accelerator programme involving technical, commercial and mentorship activities in France, Germany and South Africa. This includes workshops and coaching sessions with Airbus experts, GIZ’s Make-IT in Africa, MEST and Innocircle coaches.
The programme will culminate with Demo Day events at the biennial Paris International Airshow and a special event in Germany from 19-26 June, when finalists will launch their products, define their collaboration with Airbus and announce their investment commitments in front of representatives from across the aerospace industry.
1. Astral Aerial (Kenya) – using drones for humanitarian cargo transport, surveillance and emergency response.
2. Cote d’Ivoire drone (Ivory Coast) – locally-manufactured drones for various applications.
3. Elemental Numerics (South Africa) – applies computational fluid dynamics techniques to the design of machines and components, ranging from aircraft to heart valves.
4. Lentera Limited (Kenya) – applying remote sensors to monitor and transmit environmental data to enable more efficient and smarter farming.
5. Maisha ICT Tech PLC (Ethiopia) – deploying locally built drones for delivering medicines, blood and healthcare items to remote and rural areas.
6. MamaBird (Malawi) – provides a platform to help Governments, NGOs and other organisations deliver vital life-saving supplies to remote communities.
7. Map Action (Mali) – a solution offering real-time online urban mapping to identify problems affecting water supplies, hygiene and sanitation.
8. MobiTech Water Solutions (Kenya) – an online real-time water monitoring solution that allows businesses, homes and water-service providers to manage their available water using an app-based dashboard and instant messaging.
9. Track Your Build (Nigeria) – a novel infrastructure management tool for construction and operations.
10.WiPo Wireless Power (South Africa) – offers reliable and convenient wireless power chargers for businesses, conference centres, airports, restaurants and other venues for the charging of mobile devices, laptops and drones.
Related: 21 Steps To Start-Up Success
Top Sectors For SMEs In 2019
“As such, SMEs in the construction, communications and electrical fields are all likely to benefit from supply and sub-contracting agreements over the coming years.”
While the South African economy has been underperforming for a number of years, the first positive signs of turnaround started to become visible by the second quarter of 2018, and by the end of the third quarter, data supplied by Statistics South Africa showed that the economy had indeed grown by 2.2 percent, compared to the previous quarter. This uptick is expected to have a positive effect on business confidence in 2019.
This is according to Jeremy Lang, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who says that certain business sectors have already seen an increase in opportunities for small businesses and start-ups.
“While these sectors will not be without challenges, the following four industries are likely to offer the best opportunities for small and medium enterprise (SME) owners to grow their enterprises in the coming year.”
The World Travel and Tourism report 2018, revealed that the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to South Africa’s GDP has been projected to rise from R136bn in 2016 to R197.9bn by 2028 – set to make up a total of 3.3 percent of the country’s total GDP, says Lang.
“Although this sector experienced some setbacks in 2018, such as the drought in the Western Cape and stricter visa regulations for children entering the country, both the water restrictions and visa regulations have been relaxed and the sector is once again poised for growth,” he says.
Statistics South Africa has credited this industry with being the biggest driver of growth in the country’s GDP, having expanded by 7.5 percent in September 2018, says Lang. “To bolster this, Government has made a concerted effort to stimulate small business growth in this area with initiatives such as the Black Industrialist Programme and the SA Automotive Masterplan.”
He adds that businesses in the manufacturing sphere could therefore likely see significant opportunities in the form of outsourcing contracts and new partnerships with large corporates.
“The debate around land expropriation has occupied most of the discussions surrounding the agricultural sector in 2018, with some questioning growth prospects of this sector. However, this industry has a lot of growth ahead of it, as demonstrated by its 6.5 percent growth over the last three months of 2018,” explains Lang.
“Further to this, the industry is also already taking significant advantage of seven climatic regions in South Africa, with the export of a wide variety of high quality fruit and vegetables increasing substantially,” he points out. The recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease that has resulted in the suspension of the country’s FMD-free status will however significantly impact meat exporters.
In terms of opportunities for SMEs, he says that these may most likely be found in the rural and underdeveloped regions, where the need for resources like efficient transport, state-of-the-art cold storage, better irrigation and private power generation will be key to making agriculture projects more productive and competitive in the export market.
Data and information technology
Connectivity and information technology infrastructure are both crucial to business and employment growth in South Africa, says Lang.
“With many municipalities and the Western Cape government committing to providing all of its residents with free data as part of a plan to expand public Wi-Fi network access, it is clear that this is also becoming a high priority on a state level.”
It has also been reported that South Africa is awaiting the arrival of three international data centres, and large players in the communications sphere, including Vodacom, Telkom and Vumatel, are making huge strides in drastically growing the country’s fibre optic backbone, he adds. “As such, SMEs in the construction, communications and electrical fields are all likely to benefit from supply and sub-contracting agreements over the coming years.”
In conclusion, Lang says that as South Africa’s economic growth has started to turn around, business owners should keep their ears to the ground as 2019 is highly likely to be a year of opportunity.
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