Amazing startups in Africa led by women.

When the word Africa comes up , what do you think of? Safaris? Lions? Discovery channel ? maybe in political problems and violence all across. Well, it may have been like this in the past, although safaris are a big thing in this continent, violence is slowly disappearing  and giving way to a thriving economy and fresh new ideas.

We cannot deny that Africa has a violence history, especially towards women who are  the ones who suffer more in any violent conflict. But it all changing now. New business are popping up, tourism is growing at a fast rate, and women are getting the spotlight they deserve and are cashing in on some new and fresh ideas.

Here are some of the African startups led by women that will impress the world.

BeautyRevNG.
This startup is led by Louisa Kinoshi who from an early stage of her life, was always amazed and attracted to make up  and the way it transformed the looks of women. She felt a little discouraged by the fact that not so many African women or models were featured in top fashion magazines. In order to change that tendency, she created a web page which makes it easier for women in Africa to purchase and discuss both local and international  make up products. Her first pilot had an investment of $5.000 dollars and it quickly turned inti a $57.000 turnover company. He says her aim is simple. She wants people and the fashion industry to turn their eyes on African make up styles and think that it is as cool as any other make-up brand. Even better and more stylish.

KAMOKINI.
Kamokini is a swimsuit company led by Kambili Ofili-Okonkwo. The story goes something like this. She wanted to purchase a swimsuit that allowed her to show some parts of her body but cover others that she thought were a bit too much to show. Having no other options, she had to look at the international market to purchase her swimsuit and there is where she saw an opportunity. With a good educational background, she started to create her own designs based on what women in Africa thought  a good swimsuit should be like. Combined with her knowledge in engineering and supply chain management, she started her company to supply the African market. Now her presence is wide in the emerging beach, pool party and resort markets.

HEELS IN THE KITCHEN.
African food is not as popular as other cuisines such as the Italian or the chinese cuisine. This encouraged Imoteda Aladekomo to start her idea. She has always had the passion for kitchen as she had to cater for her family after long working hours, she enjoys crating and serving tasty meals that can be made easily. Her aim is to become the next big star chef in the TV with a program already filmed. She wants to makes her dishes well known around the world to non-African women and is planning to expand merchandising in the near future.

OMO ALATA FOODS.
Omo alata is the Yoruba name for “spice seller”. Kasope Ladipo-Ajai came up with the idea after understanding that she didn’t have enough time, after a full working day and hours among traffic,  to get home and prepare the traditional stews for her family. After living abroad and seeing the quick service and pre-packaged meals industry worked, she came up with the idea with her husband. She is now tapping into the fast growing middle class market in Africa that are demanding high quality packaged products for their local Nigerian pepper, soups and stews for their meals. She also focuses on the natural ingredients in her products by not using any colouring or artificial preservatives in the production process.

Spice market_startup_africa_cecilia_ibru
Image courtesy of C. Mario del Río at Flickr.com

INSTAHEALTH.
This Uganda based start-up aims to become a pan african health app that can provide health information to lower income communities that don’t have good access to these services. Africa has a vast expansion in technology and some services such as education, electricity and health have not kept up with the change. Telecommunications engineer Brenda Katwesigye founded  her business in her last year at Makerere University to enable users to directly connect with health centres, ambulances , specialists and consultation services using a geo-location and  voice response system. It also provides first aid information to users that are in need of information but cannot be reached ion time by healthcare providers.

U.S. Army Africa medics mentor in Botswana_startups_africa_cecilia_ibru
Image courtesy of US Army Africa at Flickr.com

Africa is now an emerging country where violence has been left behind and new thriving businesses are popping up in every corner. Women are not behind in this trend and now you have glimpse of some of those startups that will have you talking, and why not, maybe looking for an investment opportunity.

Top 8 new Startups Incubators in Africa that are bringing value to the continent

Startups incubators have been originally created mainly for 2 reasons. The first one is to offer and provide funding to the startups that somehow are attractive and interesting for the angel investors that are behind these incubators. The second one is to offer and provide business advisory to the new business initiatives in order to strengthen them and prepare them for the real world and market. In essence, incubators are the entities that help startups speed up or “accelerate” the growth of their business and this basically means one thing for society. It means investors and local government and leaders are willing to support and promote the growth of a country.  In Africa, Startups Incubators are becoming stronger and more numerous every year for the past decade.  From agriculture, to communications, healthcare, banking and education, new Incubators in Africa are not focused on any particular subject, but instead they are interested in the development of initiatives that promote the country’s economy, the social and cultural wellbeing in many aspects. Local and international investors are coming together, forming organizations that seek for new niches and markets that the startups can bring great value to. For the past couple of years several new incubators have been born and established in Africa and are already making a big difference in the African territory. Here are the top 8 new incubators that are making a difference in Africa for the past couple of years.

Stellenbosch’s LaunchLab
This incubator was created with the support of the Stellenbosch University in South Africa and one of its programs called Innovus. It has also partnered with the University of Cape Town and one of the things that it offers to the startups is a series of workshops that will help the entrepreneurs to develop the skills they need for the growth of their companies.

WAARI – West African Agri-Business Resource Incubator
WAARI is considered the very first incubator that is dedicated to agriculture business in West Africa. Founded by the Agricultural Research Forum in Africa, along with the Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation University in the province of Mali, Waari doesn’t only provide training and advisory but it also helps startups to initiate in research programs. This incubator is the proof of the importance agricultural business initiatives are having in West African countries.

The Passion Incubator
The Passion incubator was created with the important purpose of being the premier technology incubator in Africa. With their accelerator program they work on a short term goal which is to launch at least 5 startups in one year.  This incubator does not provide any funding, but instead, it connects startups with their prospect investors. The Passion incubator is located in Yaba.

440NG
440NG was created as the result of a partnership between 2 different entities: L5Lab and 88 mph. The mission of 440NG is to invest in mobile and internet startups in Nigeria. They have a program called Deal Weekend which is a 24 hour event where the incubator evaluates the startups that attend the event and by the end of the weekend, they will know which startups will become of the 440NG startups that receive funding and regular feedback sessions with their new investors.

Think
Think was created by Millicom, the huge telecommunications company. Think is located in Kigali, Rwanda. It is a tech incubator that wants to develop innovative and scalable business in which Millicom can take an equity stake. Think will provide seed financing, well-structured training plans and coaching programs for startups and entrepreneurs.

SWAPP – Sustainable West Africa palm oil programme
This is a program launched in Ghana, supported by the Dutch government in terms of funding and its main interest is to provide funding for new oil palm companies. It concentrates on helping develop farms and mills that work with the oil palm sector, aiming to increase their productivity and profitability.

Oil Palm plantation in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo_crowdsourcing_africa_cecilia_ibru
Image courtesy of Angela Sevin at Flickr.com

The Rwanda Media Hub
The main purpose of this incubator is to support digital media and media production startups in East Africa. It is actually the first one with this purpose. It was founded in 2014 and it aims to fund local media entrepreneurs in Rwanda, providing them with shared offices spaces, coaching, training and seed funding.

Transform Africa_people_crowdsourcing_africa_cecilia_ibru
Image courtesy of Rwanda Government at Flickr.com

Edupreneurs
Edupreneurs was originally launched in India with a great success and now, the incubator wants to do the same thing in Africa. Their goal is to support and promote education entrepreneurships in Africa through the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund.

The top 5 reasons why Africa is in the scope of investors

The African continent is living a digital and social renaissance and experiencing a decade of increasing economic growth, where the middle class population is also increasing and IT infrastructure is much more developed  and available than what it used to be only five years ago. One of the biggest phenomena that is occurring is the technology startup boom that is showing a promising future for African entrepreneurs, as they keep receiving funds from international investments that are continuously showing interest for more. There is a speculation saying that Africa might be the next biggest startup hub, and this is something that is becoming more of a reality every day, with three industries that are leading the activity and trends, such as e-commerce, mobile and “Edtech” (education technology). The rapid evolution for startups in Africa is mostly attributed to the expansion of the mobile and internet market throughout the entire continent and this is something big that international companies, investors and universities are keeping an eye on.

One of the most interesting things about this rapid startup evolution in Africa is that ideas are becoming real solutions for real problems that are not limited to simple issues people may encounter, but to real issues that are essential to be eradicated such as poverty, lack of education or the access to it, lack of technology, power cuts, addressing and location difficulties. These are just some of the subjects the new entrepreneurs are attacking and investors are willing to help with, and that is why Africa will be facing a brighter future very soon.

Here are the 5 biggest reasons why Africa is in the scope of investors throughout the globe.

Population and workforce growth

Africa has a population of more than 1.2 billion people, which keeps growing more than 2% every year. This means the workforce will also be bigger and this is a very important resource for emerging economies. Africa´s young population gives the continent the chance to ensure a prosperity in the coming years, if the right education and skills are offered and developed among them. The world has 12 fast growing countries in terms of population. Six of those are part of the African continent. This means there is a lot to do there and to make the most out of it.

Mozambikes_africa
Image courtesy of DIVatUSAID at Flickr.com

Infrastructure

Infrastructure improvement has been the focus of countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. Power generation and telecommunications are the first priorities and considered to be the basic resources for the development a country needs in terms of technology, education and economy. The social development will be therefore also empowered and these better life conditions will be responsible generating a better environment for people to grow, learn and prepare themselves for the new promising Africa.

Participants from Liberia and Malawi_africa
Image courtesy of UN Women at Flickr.com

More consumers

In the same way population is growing, so is the consumer base in Africa. Middle class is increasing, which means the amount of possible consumers is also increasing. According to the African Development Bank, there are more than 123 million people in Africa that are considered having a stable middle class condition. This number is the 13% of the entire population, which is very interesting for new businesses and investors, because of the potential it represents for their present and future sales.

Education

African countries are finally understanding the importance of education and what it represents for the future development of their economies. The level of education is improving and more people are getting secondary and tertiary education. There is more access to scholarships and access to superior education for those who are showing real entrepreneur and leader characteristics, which are needed for the business and the economy of the Africa of future generations.

Thika Library _africa
Image courtesy of Book Aid International at Flickr.com

Leadership is becoming a trend in young people

Due to the high and increasing amount of young people in Africa, the amount of young new leaders is also growing. Young generations are representing important business initiatives that are driving the economy. Only in Kenya, 60% of the population is 25 years old or younger. Young leaders are becoming great influencers in education as well as in the socio-political environment, and the most disruptive ideas for startups and new technology projects that are being developed and applied to society have also been created by young minds of Africa.

Young African Leaders Presidential Summit_africa
Image courtesy of Exchanges Photos at Flickr.com

The top 6 digital events in Africa in 2016

international convention center
Image courtesy of Lorenia at Flickr.com

For the past decade, the entire African continent has been generating an overwhelming and increasing amount of business initiatives in the form of startups and economic groups that tend to lead the new generations to a development that is already opening many opportunity doors in terms of education, technology, health, economy, employment and many other fields.

Year after year entrepreneurs in Africa have found support in many ways. This necessary support has been given to them by important institutions and with the funding they have received from different sources like economic groups such as incubators and accelerators that believe in the potential the initiatives of startups in Africa have. Many genius ideas have given birth to small business, young entrepreneurs are now fighting for, in order to become big and successful one day. Networks of talented people and amazing ideas are becoming the focus of great investors. In order to continue the growth of these networks and the creation of new connections between the principal actors of the leading innovation entities among Africa, it has become important to generate the proper spaces for this magic to continue happening. Therefore a series of important events, spaces and meeting are being continuously planned and held throughout every year, inviting startups, entrepreneurs, VCs, accelerators, incubators or a big variety of attendees that will happily participate because of the huge opportunities they can find in this type of events that will benefit all of them.

This year, like every year, an important number of events have already been announced to take place all around Africa. Some African countries have shown more interest than others, but the truth is that young startups from all around the continent are already planning to assist and participate in these events with the interest and purpose of making the right connections and growing their network of possible influencers that can become a key part in the journey their businesses have started.

Here you will find the list of 6 of the most attractive coming events for African startups and digital initiatives in 2016.

Africa is growing in a way it has never grown before. There is hope in people, in the young generations and the children that will become the future of the continent. Silicon Cape is now claiming its place in the tech universe and the world is discovering the great things Africa can offer the digital universe.

Startup Safari 2016

When: From January 14, 2016 to January 25, 2016
Where: New Delhi, India

Event description: The event is a 10 day startup journey for young African entrepreneurs to interact with leading and successful startups from the world, to attend to masterclasses at important Indian universities, to get mentored by recognized Indian CEOs, participating in a Pitching Room with possible VCs and angel investors and many other interesting and enriching activities for their future growth and development.

Mobile West Africa 2016

When: From April 21 to April 22, 2016
Where: Four Points by Sheraton, Lagos, Nigeria

Event description: It is the 18th version of the MWA. This event´s main purpose is to contribute to the growth of the mobile sector in West Africa. It is the leading technology event in the region.  It organizes business oriented conferences and facilitates industry development by gathering stakeholders and entrepreneurs together, encouraging interaction and evolution among them.

IAD 2016 (Innovation Africa Digital)

When: From April 19 to April 21, 2016
Where: Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Nigeria

Event description: This event is a combination of presentation, panel discussions, workshops, private business meetings and networking opportunities for attendees who are most likely the potential main actors of the African digital future. The IAD has been organized to support Africa´s digital growth and development that will contribute to the continent’s general growth and development.

Africa.com 2016

cape town at night
Image courtesy of Jim Sher at Flickr.com

When: From November 15 to November 17, 2016
Where: Cape Town International Convention Center, South Africa

Event description: The Africa.com event is one of the most important tech events in Africa. It gathers important stakeholders and decision makers from the digital ecosystem in the country and worldwide.

Digital Media Summit 2016

When: February 27, 2016
Where: Excalibor Hotel, Benin City, Nigeria

Event description: The Digital Media Summit is an all-day event where innovation leads the latest trends of the digital world in the continent and attendees will witness the great potential here is among all of those who are interested in participating.

StechFest 2016 Conference. Digitizing Africa

When: From March 17 to March 18, 2016
Where: Lagos, Nigeria

Event description: It is known as the most disruptive startup and tech festival and conference in Africa. The event will offer talks, workshops, exhibitions and the possibility for young startups to get funded by important VCs and angel investors.

 

The 7 most popular startups incubators in Africa

coworking
Image courtesy of Manuel Schmalstieg on Flickr.com

Being a business incubator has a lot of meanings and descriptions, but in short, the most accurate one would be that it is and organization, facility or company that helps nurture, accelerate and develop new, startup companies, by providing business support services and resources such as shared and affordable office spaces with common benefits, management training, coaching, marketing support, networking connections and sometimes even access to a possibility of financing. Most business incubators are frequently sponsored by private companies or government entities that become the biggest support for smaller companies. It is very common that startups spend around two years or even more in a business incubator, while they have enough tools to operate on their own. Business incubators are different from technology parks due to the amazing dedication they have for young companies in their early stages. When it comes to business incubators in Africa, the idea and conception of an entity like this is no different than the ones that exist in the rest of the world. In the past couple of years, the growth of the startup ecosystem in Africa has been very significant and positive. Every year more and more startups are receiving benefits, training and business support by new or existing incubators that are also working hard to improve the entrepreneurial possibilities for African startups and its founders.  According to information given by the World Bank, and contrary to what any person from other continents would imagine, Africa has over 90 tech hubs which are currently responsible for the growth and development of new startups in this continent. Incubators are considered to be the right ingredient to increase the number not only entrepreneurial projects but also the growth of employment possibilities in Africa. Among these 90 incubators there are 3 types of hubs that can be classified as Technology Labs, For-profit incubator and Non-profit incubators.

The first category are the Technology Labs. These are commonly known as co-working or shared open spaces for companies that are looking for business assistance and proper technology infrastructure for early stage development.

The second ones are For-profit incubators which are focused on high potential entrepreneurs that are willing to be accelerated in a three month program. Instead of working on their own terms, startups will have to do their very best if they want to receive the seed funding, the advisory and the access to a very promising network for additional funding. There is only space for about 12 startups per year in these type of incubators

And last but not least, Non-profit incubators are those who offer something like a two year training program while offering jobs at their offices somewhere else, in order to give these non-tech people a chance to be closer and learn from a more advanced tech world. They are also called non-profit-corporate incubators.  The training they offer will take place before startups can even be incubated. It is a long program but it is worth it.

coworking 2
Image courtesy of Nicola Holtkamp on Flickr.com

Here is a list of the most attractive startups incubators in Africa.

ActivSpaces

Previously named Limbe Labs Ventures, ActivSpaces was founded in 2010. It offers open collaboration spaces and technological facilities for techies in Africa. It attracts business coaches and mentors through a fellowship program built especially for startups to take advantage of what is has to offer them.

AfriLabs

Also founded in 2010. Afrilabs works based on a network that helps increase the visibility of other fellow techlabs. It promotes the development and growth for emerging tech labs.

Botswana Innovation Hub

It was founded in 2006 in Gaborone, Botswana. It offers interesting facilities for companies that are tech oriented and knowledge based programs for startups to be able to be part of the Global market.

CTIC Dakar

CTIC Dakar is one of the most important incubators in Senegal due to the fact that it is one of the first financially sustainable incubator. One of its priorities is to increase the presence of the IT and mobile companies that it supports all around West Africa.

Wennovation Hub

Founded in Cameroon in 2010, this incubator has a pre-business creation training to be offered to new startups, plus a center where collaborative business innovation is offered along with venture idea formation.

iHub Kenya

It is an open space located in the industrial area of Nairobi, where investors and startups can get together in a collaborative environment, supporting each other by sharing innovative journeys and connecting the opportunities that can be identified between them, while they are working together.

Ice Ethiopia

It is a facility where startups and entrepreneurs can get professional advice and consultancy in order to improve their business. They share amenities such as kitchen supplies, coffee, lockers, internet connection and social spaces like a lounge and a patio where creative projects are being developed and shared among the community.