Google Africa concluded an intensive three-month Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme last week Friday. This was the first cohort of the Google Developers Launchpad on the African continent, launched in Lagos, Nigeria.
The programme consisted of 12 startups from six countries, with 35 founders and over 4.5-million users impacted. These groups received $120,000 (~R1.58-million) in equity-free funding from Google and raised $7-million (~R92.3-million) in funds. There were 40 mentors dedicated to seeing to it that each of the startups received the support necessary to get through the "high touchpoints", or boot camps, which took place over three months.
Altogether the startups — which represented Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda — have created 132 jobs spanning four industries: 41 percent finance, 25 percent media, 17 percent agritech and 17 percent health.
HuffPost interviewed five of the startups, to get a sense of what it is that they aim to achieve with their tech innovation — and how this would serve in addressing some of the pressing needs in Africa. Further, we wanted to know how effective their particular business model was at achieving the outcomes they had projected.
1. Kudi, founded by Yinka Adewale and Pelumi Aboluwarin — Nigeria
Kudi allows people to send money and pay bills online via multiple channels — web, messaging, mobile apps and a network.
- Payments are made through a conversational interface.
- It connects payment methods by integrating all Nigerian banks in one place, providing a synchronised approach to banking.
- The app is targetted mainly at Nigerians aged 18-45, and people who pay monthly bills.
Adewale and Aboluwarin hope to be the leading digital payment platform in Africa through ensuring that people no longer have to wait in long queues at banks or have to hop from one bank to the other, as they will have everything easily accessible to them at the touch of a button.
2. SwiftVEE, founded by Andrew Meyer, Russel Luck and Alexander Molde — South Africa
SwiftVEE is an independent technology platform for the livestock sector, inspired by South Africa's crippling droughts, which have an impact on livestock mortality.
- Providing technological power to a stagnant livestock sector, enabling value proposition and competitive benefits within the sector.
- Connecting multiple stakeholders within the agri value chain onto one platform.
- Ensuring easy access to the livestock value chain in the country.
SwiftVEE's main aim is to mitigate the inefficiencies within the livestock sector that lead to cattle dying due to drought. They plan to align themselves so the app can be expanded beyond the borders of South Africa, continuing to connect stakeholders and provide services through their platform.
3. OkadaBooks, founded by Jude Nwoko and Okechuckwu Ofili — Nigeria
This platform serves as a marketplace that allows African users to get their work published quickly — the same app can be used to distribute and sell the content.
- OkadaBooks differentiates itself by fusing the simplicity of blogging with e-commerce.
- It strips down the publishing process by allowing for a fairly easy process of publishing work without non-critical requirements that are financially obstructive to the African market.
- They leverage the penetration of mobile devices to digitally distribute and sell books.
OkadaBooks affords the authors authority over much of the process, utilising payment gateways that ensure that they are paid directly into their bank accounts.
4. Teheca, founded by Ruyonga Daniel and Namugambe Asha — Uganda
This is a health-tech company using mobile technology to ensure a better experience for mothers during pregnancy, delivery and postnatally.
- Individually tailored care plan for women.
- Linking healthcare practitioners and caregivers to mothers, therefore empowering women to make informed decisions.
- Providing developing-care packs and toolkits for mothers — as many of the women who fall pregnant are young and unemployed, so this gives them something to start with.
The company ensures that there is a constant mode of communication between the health practitioner and the mother at all times, by offering both online and offline channels — to help beat the high mortality rates among new mothers in sub-Saharan Africa.
5. ThriveAgric, founded by Uka Eje and Ayo Arikawe — Nigeria
ThriveAgric connects farmers to buyers through crowdfunding initiatives.
- Focuses on optimising yield for farmers through informed data.
- Connecting smallholder farmers to a market that wants a service provided.
- Information or knowledge to "grow right".
ThriveAgric found farmers had many challenges that often got in the way of ensuring that they are able to perform in their market and contribute on a regular basis to the economy. The primary difficulty for farmers was access to finance, which prohibited farmers from scaling up their farms successfully.
It is clear that Africa is ready to start being a key player in the digital revolution, with innovative solutions tackling some of the major socioeconomic issues facing our continent. Africa's time is now.