5 areas under the spotlight this year in Africa

It is becoming more and more evident that Africa is a fast growing continent and a land of opportunity for not only the economic sector, but also as a cultural influence worldwide. Based on the events in recent years, here is what is happening this year in several key areas.  

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Image courtesy of Tilemahos Efthimiadis at Flickr.com
  1. Women:
    More than half of Africa’s total population are women, most of them under the age of 25. These women have endured economic exclusion, discriminatory financial systems, limited or no participation in political and public life, lack of education, gender based violence and cultural practices that go against their human rights and life quality. However, at the 8th African Union Gender Pre-Summit held in January, the union confirmed their agenda to make sure African women have rights to own and inherit property, sign contracts in their own right, own businesses, hold at least half of the managerial positions in the public and private sectors and eradicate harmful cultural practices. There have been considerable advances in Zimbabwe on the matter, where there was a ban to marry anyone under the age of 18. And in Gambia last December, there was a bill passed to criminalize female genitalia mutilation with a penalty of up to life in prison.

  2. Education:
    The fastest growing industries in the world are healthcare, engineering, management consulting, semiconductors and circuits all tied to the development of technological gadgets and software. This means that education will definitely have to focus more on subjects such as math, science, economics, accounting and business science to keep up with these developments. Also research efforts must be made in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to make sure these advances are well implemented to fit the African context. The African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg South Africa has already made this change. This secondary school has a two year academic pre-university program for young leaders of ages 16 to 19 from all across the continent. Its syllabus is multidisciplinary and includes English, Mathematics, Entrepreneurial Leadership, African Studies and Writing and Rhetoric; students can also choose a combination of Cambridge-administered IGCSE, AS or A2 electives that can include courses from the Natural Sciences, the Humanities & Languages and Commerce. Outstanding students have the opportunity to join research groups in the Sciences, the Humanities or Creative Arts.

  3. Energy:
    Africa’s great amounts of natural resources make it a potential for earth-friendly alternative energy generation. Currently, about 600 million people on the continent have no access to electricity and only 7 continents have access rate to electricity of over 50% of the population (Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Namibia, Senegal and South Africa). Thanks to renewable sources such as gas, hydro, solar, wind and geothermal sources soon 70 to 80% of Africa will have access to electricity with about 1.2 terawatts of capacity that will cost $800 billion in capital per region to generate, transmit and distribute.
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Image courtesy of International Rivers at Flickr.com

Advances in this area include the Grand Inga Dam hydroelectric project that could potentially save $32 billion in capital spending and 60 megatons of carbon emissions each year. Morocco has built a solar mega-plant in Ouarzazate city. This plant will help provide almost half of the country’s electricity from renewables by 2020. In Kenya, 300,000 households have been connected to solar energy by M-KOPA and the plan is to reach one million homes by 2017. The advantage of this system is that customers can buy a solar power home system at only $35 and then pay installments of 45 cents a month for a year.

And then we have gas which will account for over 40% of the electricity from renewable resources. The plan is to use biogenic methane which is extracted from cow manure and methanogens that eat the organic garbage in landfills that produce methane. Since agriculture and livestock are 32% of Africa’s GDP, animal manure will definitely not be hard to find.

  1. Business:
    Economists are already saying that this year is going to be one of the most challenging of all with all the startups shaping the African economy. According to a report from VC4Africa, a startup funding initiative, more than 40% of startup firms are successful in securing external capital. Among the most successful new businesses are computer software, internet and e-commerce set in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. In 2015, South Africa was the top investment destination, having raised approximately $54 million, followed by Nigeria with approximately $49 million and Kenya with approximately $47 million.

Thanks to Africa’s young population (70 percent of Sub Saharan Africa’s population is aged below 30), the continent will continue to house a great number of startups under the initiative of entrepreneurs attempting to provide services where they are needed.

  1. Technology:
    the sub-sector to focus on this year will be the gaming industry. According to a report by PwC, the gaming industry generated profits of around $181 million in 2013 in South Africa, $71 million in Nigeria and $44 million in Kenya.

 

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.

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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.

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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 7 most popular startups incubators in Africa

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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.

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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.

5 African Education startups you need to know about

The idea of online learning is definitely changing people’s way of accessing education worldwide, and Africa is certainly not the exception. The new generations are more open every day to knowledge from whatever perspective technology allows them to receive it, and if the possibility is online education, African countries are not staying behind in this trend that has been changing the world for the past years. Quality education has no limits now, with startups created to promote this innovative way of spreading knowledge and education throughout children and adults that are eager to learn. The idea of a future built with education, development, values, pride and hope, with key factors that strengthen countries’ economies can only be conceived with solid tools and sources that are able to supply essential learning and education elements for the children and the young people of today. The contribution the education and learning startups in Africa will generate in the near and not so near future is not only represented in income for companies or for the country, but it will also hopefully be reflected in society patterns and the respect for human rights. These startups and companies created throughout the past decade have a huge responsibility opportunity in the education of African countries and most of them already know it and are working hard to make sure they don’t let their countries down.

The following list describes 5 of the most promising and inspiring educational and e-learning startups in Africa that are creating an impact in today’s African digital learning environment. All of them have the same mission which is to give people the possibility to access quality education, without attending an educational institution. The possibilities digital learning platforms are giving people is something you cannot put a price to, because its value is so big, it could never be calculated. You are invited to take a deeper look into each one of them.

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Image courtesy of IICD on Flickr.com

DoviLearn

DoviLearn is a Nigerian online learning platform that has a simple mission: To make learning digital. It is one of the services offered by a startup called Dovichi Services which specializes in skill acquisitions for people who are interested in a career upgrade. The courses offered online by DoviLearn are human resources, digital marketing, project management, and android and IOS development, among other courses that will make any professional gain more knowledge to share with the people and companies they work with. Online certifications and professional training are also offered online and the best part of it is that courses are dictated by excellent trainers and instructors.

Prepeclass

This startup was initially born as an online learning platform but after some time of growing and adapting itself, it turned into a tutor marketplace that offers personal home tutors the possibility to meet customers with academic needs. The services of Prepeclass are focused on delivering quality and in order to prove it, they have a money-back guarantee policy that states that if a customer scores under 75% in the exam they asked to be tutored for, they will be refunded. Prepeclass is web and mobile friendly and that is one of the ways it makes it possible for people to take quick tests based on targeted examination practices. Prepeclass won the TechCabal Battlefield contest in 2014.

Rethink Education

Created and launched in 2012 in Cape Town, Rethink Education is an e-learning startup that allows educational content to be pushed and delivered through the mobile version to various instant messaging platforms and to the web platform mainly for school use. Rethink Education allows students the access to quality education while parents and teachers can monitor the student’s progress and adjust the lesson based on the progress the student is making day by day. The main goal for this startup is to operate not only in South Africa but also in Nigeria and Ghana.

Obami

Launched in 2009, Obami, a South African Startup specialized in education, provides web and mobile learning solutions to students, big and small companies, NGO’s and also teachers. Obami brings all of them together on a social learning platform, while allowing them to share educational content with each other. Obami is simple, scalable, and is it built in a secure, social framework. It is very intuitive so anyone can use it.

Qurio

Qurio is a perfect digital platform for those who have the need to create quizzes, surveys and tests online. Qurio is accessible both on web and mobile. It is easy to use and doesn’t need to be downloaded. It is a useful e-learning platform for companies that want to get feedback from their employees or measure their customers’ satisfaction, and also for teachers that want to evaluate a class or a lecture. With Qurio there is no need for paperwork and it can be used in real time.

it takes perseverance to reach the mountain top

11 (Surprising) Qualities That Successful Entrepreneurs Embody

Being an entrepreneur takes grit. While roughly 543,000 new businesses get started each month, more small businesses shut down than get started in the same time frame. Only about a quarter of these companies are still active after 15 years, and it isn’t hard to see why. The National Federation of Independent Business estimates that only 39 percent of small businesses turn a profit, while 30 percent come out even, and another 30 percent operate in the red.

What factors make the difference between success and failure among these companies? Usually it’s the person at the helm. As author Idowu Koyenikan once said, “The type of person you are is usually reflected in your business. To improve your business, first improve yourself.”

So how does a person improve? Recognize these traits that are common among successful entrepreneurs and try to make them your own.

Define Success For Yourself

Everybody has a different vision for what success means. Work out what your definition is, and then stick to it with single-minded determination. It’s tempting to let others — especially the well-intentioned — define your goals for you, but successful entrepreneurs take control and set their own targets.

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Image courtesy user Jennifer on Flickr

Reconsider Networking

Build a variety of different professional networks. Some networks are just for business purposes, filled with people who you can share career advice with and people who hold you accountable to your career goals. Others form a more emotional network, offering support to help you manage your personal and familial responsibilities.

Pursue an Education

Earning an MBA not only ensures that you will gain relevant skills, it also helps build confidence and a network of like-minded professionals. Many programs are designed to fit into the busy schedule of a business owner. Working with an intake counselor can streamline the process and get you started down the road to an advanced degree.

Develop Vision and Embrace Dissatisfaction

Leading change relies on a dissatisfaction with how things currently are, a vision of how they should be, a clear picture of how to get there, and a determination to make it happen. Whatever you want to have happen, pursue it. Don’t be afraid to admit when things aren’t the way you want them to be, and make the necessary changes.

Help Others Grow and Thrive

help others to succeed

Keep in mind the old adage that it takes a village, and put that wisdom into practice as you build your business. Ask colleagues for their opinions before giving your own. Encourage employees to take appropriate risks and support them when they do, even when the results aren’t ideal. When things don’t go perfectly, evaluate what went wrong and encourage taking other, more appropriate risks.

Invest in Yourself

Invest time and money in your physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional health. Enjoy regular massages, pedicures, meditation, and exercise to maintain your physical well-being. Attend personal retreats, read books for pleasure, or take peaceful walks to maximize your spiritual wellbeing. Boost your intellectual capacity by attending workshops and learning new skills, or try your hand at puzzles and games. Don’t underestimate the power of emotional health. Visit with friends who nourish your mental health, give yourself pep talks, or do things that positively impact other people. Successful entrepreneurs prioritize themselves so that they can more fully give to others.

Find the Niche That’s Right for You

Growing a thriving business depends on finding a niche where you can do the most good. If a type of work or a new organizational structure feels right, it probably is. If red flags fly when you consider a change to the way you do business, there likely is a solid reason why. Successful entrepreneurs tend to listen to that small voice in their head to keep themselves out of trouble.

Ignite Your Passion

It is easy to get lost in the minutiae of daily life, from answering emails to attending meetings. Yet successful entrepreneurs don’t lose sight of what motivates them. Recognize what makes you happy and find ways to incorporate that into your professional life.

Demonstrate Kindness

Contrary to the notion that nice people don’t get the corner office, kindness earns respect and makes others want to contribute to your success. Being friendly and generous shouldn’t be mistaken for weakness. While you should remain firm and direct about your goals and the terms on which you’re prepared to work with someone, reaching out to employees and colleagues on a congenial level encourages them to share in your dreams.

It’s also important to appreciate what you have accomplished and think about how you can give back. Whether you encourage other new businesses to grow, or offer your organization’s products and services to a nonprofit, helping others reminds you how fortunate you are as an entrepreneur and encourages you to go further than you otherwise would.

Starting a successful business takes more than attention to dollars and cents. Cultivate a success-friendly persona, accumulate the skills of an entrepreneur, and treat the people you meet on the way up with respect, and your odds of being in that top 25 percent are dramatically better.