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I’m responsible for telling people “no”. And for making sure that people do what they’re supposed to do, and what they say they will do.
What’s something you wish you knew earlier in your career or life?
I wish I knew that there wasn’t one way to be an entrepreneur. In the early days, I spent a year trying to fit into the idea of what I thought a founder should look like, behave like, or speak like.
It turns out that I achieved the best and the most success when I decided to be myself.
What would you say is the most promising thing about tech in Africa?
It’s the people. Oh, gosh, we have such resilient, brilliant people in the African tech ecosystem. And it’s not just because we keep churning out all of these products. It’s not just from building or from being founders; it’s from the people who work in the companies, as well as the people who make up the team.
People who work in African startups, I think, are some of the most resourceful people. And, quite possibly, in a few years, talent is going to be Africa’s best export. I’ve been very privileged to work with some of the smartest people in the world through African tech. And I firmly believe that this, the talent, is the most promising thing about this ecosystem.
What’s one misconception being had about people management?
I suppose it would be blanketing talent, you know, and turning Western practices into a blueprint for Africa. I also think that people are wrong when they say that Africa will run out of talent because of the brain drain.
It’s not a bad thing for us that our talent is being exported. Now, do we wish that has been done at a slower pace? Probably, yeah. But is it a good thing to have these ambassadors already working in those spaces? Yes. So, in the short term, it will be difficult for startups to retain, but in the long term, it makes it easier for startups to expand.
What single achievement are you most proud of?
The very existence of PiggyVest.
I’m incredibly proud of it. From 2016 till now, every single working day has been joyful.
What’s something you love doing that you’re terrible at? What’s something you really don’t like doing that you’re great at?
The thing that I’m worst at is habit-forming. And I’m constantly trying to do it. I’m constantly downloading self-help apps every day, but it’s still difficult. I get distracted easily, but that does not stop me from trying. I love the aspect of continuously trying, and failing at forming new habits.
What do you think about web3?
So the thing about tech is that it’s really good at efficiently distributing inequality. And it seems like web3 will just be doing a lot more of that if we’re not committed to fixing the existing challenges with web2.
I’m consistently learning a lot about Web3, but I think that if you’re going to build something on web3, it has to be because it has some mass-market appeal that web2 doesn’t have. That’s what will end up being special.
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The South African government has launched its app store, DigiTech, to showcase homegrown applications. The purpose is to encourage public and governmental adoption of South African-developed applications.
The launch of the store coincided with World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. Several apps highlighted on the launch of the store perfectly reflected this year’s theme which emphasises how technology can assist people to remain fit—”Digital technologies for older individuals and healthy aging”.
What kind of apps are in the store?
Currently, it offers apps such as Senso, a sound assistance app for deaf people; Boxfusion, an automated administrative tool; and Cattle Watch, an application that visualises geo-location of livestock to farmers. There are 24 other applications in the app store.
There are already plans for expansion
The founding department of DigiTech, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT), is already thinking big. Reportedly, it will announce the platform’s expansion into Botswana, Namibia, Madagascar, and other countries across sub-Saharan Africa in September 2022.
Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, calling for support of the local products on the platform, said, “What is not created in Africa cannot be consumed by the African market.”
While that is contradicted by Africa’s consumption of foreign tech products ranging from entertainment to finance, crypto, e-commerce, and more, he does make a good point.
Homegrown tech solutions can uniquely address our needs in the African context and add more socioeconomic value to the continent.
With South Africa being notably tech-friendly, will African tech players respond to this call?
Fintech startup MooveBeta has merged with ImpalaPay. The purpose of this merger is to build a connected financial ecosystem across Africa and the diaspora.
MooveBeta helps users send money using the voucher system that its app implements. It has a mission to enable microtransactions via mobile money from anywhere on the globe, to Africa and within Africa. It has rolled out the first phase of its differentiated payment solutions in 17 African countries including Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Why MooveBeta made this move
MooveBeta wants to leverage ImpalaPay’s 10+ years of experience in operations. ImpalaPay, a fintech blockchain payment, has presence in 42 African countries and 134 worldwide. It operates B2B payments on behalf of companies like Airtel and IMT partners across 17 countries in Africa.
It has also carried out interoperability between Airtel and MTN in Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire. Furthermore,, ImpalaPay facilitated interoperability between Airtel with M-Pesa, UBA and Africash thereby powering more than 200 million wallets with over $1.8 billion transactions between 2018 and 2021.
John Kamara, co-Founder and CEO of the incubator Adanian Labs asserts that this merger will be a game-changer for the new financial world which Is characterised by quick and interoperable payments.
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Egyptian startup, Instabug, raised $46 million in Series B funding in a round led by global software investor Insight Partners, with participation from existing investor Accel as well as new investors Forgepoint Capital and Endeavor.
Here are the other deals of the week:
Victory Farms, an aquaculture startup based in Kenya received $5 million in funding from Ed Brakeman, a senior managing director at Bain Capital, and Hans den Bieman, founder and ex-CEO of Mowi, one of the largest salmon businesses globally.
South African agri-tech startup, Nile, received a $5.1 million equity funding round from Naspers Foundry. Participating investors include Platform Investment Partners, Raba Capital, and Base Capital.
Kenyan retailtech Bamba, secured $3.2 million in seed funding in a round led by VC firm 468 Capital, with participation from Presight Ventures, Jigsaw VC, Mato Peric, Leonard Stiegeler, Laurin Hainy, and Thomas Stafford.
Nigerian logistics startup Topship raised a $2.5 million funding round from Flexport. Other investors in the round include Y Combinator, Soma Capital, Starling Ventures, Olive Tree Capital, True Capital, Capital X, and angel investors including Mercury founder Immad Akhund and Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi.
Kenyan startup TopUp Mama closed a $1.7 million seed funding round led by Ventures Platform and JAM Fund. The round also features Next Billion Ventures, Future Africa, Jedar Capital, HoaQ Fund, First Check Africa, and DFS Lab.
Nigerian fintech startup Bridgecard raised $440,000 in pre-seed funding round from investors including ABV Fund, Ingressive Capital, Voltron Capital, Venture Platform, Velocity Digital, and Berrywood Capital.
Kenyan fintech startup FlexPay raised an undisclosed amount in funding from the Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund
“Fintechs and banks build symbiotic relationships and leverage on their structure to help them move quickly into the market.”
– Tomilola Majekodunmi, CEO of Bankly.
At the first edition of the Ecobank Fintech Breakfast Series, we spoke with several industry experts about what strategic fintech-bank collaborations entail and how they can be structured to benefit both sides.
Speakers included Tomilola Majekodunmi, CEO of Bankly; Gbenga Ajayi, Partner and Head of Africa Investments, QED Investors; Daniel Ahouassa, co-founder and co-CEO, Weblogy; Isaac Kamuta, Group Head, Cash Payments, Cash Management and Client Access, Ecobank Group; and Tayo Oviosu, founder and CEO, Paga Group.
Each speaker shared different but equally useful insights on how to structure partnerships that work, how to navigate the power dynamic, how to manage challenges that may arise from partnering, and how to expand across the continent by leveraging partnerships.
According to Gbenga Ajayi, “Fintechs and banks have the best of both worlds,” and as such, partnerships help them combine their strengths productively.