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#20: August’s African Tech Product Roundup.
Interesting product finds, launches and country specific startup news.
👋 Hi folks!
I hope you’re having a great month! Welcome to the August edition of the African product and startup roundup.
Buckle up because I have a rollercoaster of conversations, launches, and gist from the ecosystem coming your way.
Honestly, did you think I would let this month slide without a newsletter? That’s not my style. We’ve got a treasure trove of updates for you. So, let’s jump right in!
Interesting Product Finds:
Stumbled upon this gem recently—it’s a Nigerian dating app for those looking for serious relationships.
As of June 2023, Trueflutter boasted over 308,000 users, recorded over 2.1 million matches, and witnessed 44 marriages. Remarkable, right? It’s a testament to the evolving Nigerian dating culture.
If you’re in Nigeria, especially Lagos, you’ve probably used Jumia Food, FoodCourt, Chowdeck, or HeyFood (for Ibadan folks). With Chowdeck being the most popular of the bunch.
So, it was quite a surprise when ChowCentral was announced as a YCombinator Summer 2023 batch participant, especially since Chowdeck, HeyFood, and Foodcourt are all YC companies.
Chow Central is branding itself as the “Asset Light Chipotle for Africa.” A bit unclear, but intriguing. They seem to operate a ghost restaurant business model similar to CloudKitchens and Eden Life. Time will tell how this trend develops.
Recent Product Launches:
Vizible is a platform aimed at showcasing African products and their creators. Think of it as the African product hunt.
You can go on there to discover new African focused products and learn more about who is building what and why.
Check out some of the newly listed products on vizible:
If you're a company looking to spoil your team (in the best way), Credley just unveiled their “Perks” feature. This feature allows companies to reward their employees with deals, discounts and gift cards.
Credley is a comprehensive benefits and rewards platform that helps companies support, engage, and celebrate their employees, regardless of location or preferences.
No bank account, no problem! GovaPay lets you send and receive money effortlessly using just your phone number.
Customers can also withdraw money and fund their GovaPay account with or without an active bank account.
Some *interesting* ecosystem gist
UK-based Afro-Caribbean grocery delivery platform, Oja, has officially announced its cessation of operations. This was a shocker as the startup had recently raised $3.4 million in funding in Fall 2021, and a pre-seed extension just 6 months ago, with footballer Raheem Sterling as one of their investors and promoters.
The surprise didn’t end there. Along with the announcement came allegations dating back to 2019, accusing the founder, Mariam, of plagiarizing the business model and name from another existing business called Oja.
Additionally, there were allegations of unpaid suppliers and employees since 2021, with several legal claims made by owed suppliers. Customers complained about missing deliveries and unprocessed refund requests. Ex-employees shared receipts of internal communications where Mariam allegedly told them she couldn’t pay them.
Even more shocking were claims that Mariam had a $400K yearly salary and squandered the business funds on her extravagant lifestyle.
These are still allegations, and none have been verified. Everyone is awaiting Mariam’s official statement. However, her last tweet hints that she might be cooking up something.
Many were rooting for Oja, and its shutdown is a disappointment. There seems to be a market for the product, so hopefully, someone will capitalize on it soon.
Around Africa in one glance:
Keep an eye on these African Product & Startup News. More details in the related readings doc.
Tunisia: Following the recent acquisition of InstaDeep and Expensya, Tunisian startups are strategically focusing on serving and acquiring customers in North American and European markets. Risky or smart? Time will tell.
Gabon: The country is investing heavily in its tech sector and has launched a startup incubator, aiming to build its tech ecosystem and export solutions, much like Tunisia
Kenya: The government has abolished visa restrictions for Africans traveling to Kenya for business, aiming to promote cross-border trade.
Rwanda: The country continues to invest in innovation and tech entrepreneurship, making it easier to set up and grow businesses. Since 2018, they have been deploying their Innovation Fund to support Rwandan and African tech-enabled businesses.
South Africa: The startup ecosystem is surviving the Tech Winter thanks to venture studios, and AWS recently launched its first international skills centre in Cape Town.
Tanzania: Silicon Zanzibar initiative, launched in 2017, is still running, aiming to attract tech companies and workers to the island. However, updates have been few and far. Interestingly, Tanzania’s economy seems to be immune to the current world economic climate.
The Currency Devaluation Debate:
We can't ignore the elephant in the room—currency devaluation is hitting some African countries hard. Take Nigeria for example, where the Naira has lost around 40% of its value in just six months. Trust me, that's not just pocket change; it's affecting how startups are strategizing their financials.
The question now buzzing across the tech community is whether it's smarter for African startups to look inward for investments. Local investors bring the allure of shock resistance, especially when foreign currency fluctuations could suddenly render your startup's revenue a house of cards.
Founders Factory Africa's Funding Fete:
In more uplifting news, Founders Factory Africa, the venture studio-meets-capital fund, recently secured an additional $114 million in funding to scale its model and better serve founders across the African tech ecosystem. This move could be a game-changer for many up-and-coming tech businesses on the continent. Interested in joining the Gen F venture studio? You can apply on their website.
Harvard-AWS Accelerator Backs Student Innovators:
The Harvard-AWS Accelerator recently funded 12 early-stage African student founders across Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and South Africa. This is a major boost for these young innovators and a testament to the growing recognition of Africa’s potential in the global tech scene.
Funding Opportunities You Shouldn't Sleep On:
Nigeria Youth Futures Fund (NYFF) is currently accepting grant applications for the 2023/24 youth leaders' development funds. The fund aims to strengthen, support, and promote the youth ecosystem in Nigeria. This is a golden opportunity for young leaders to get the support they need to make a difference.
Google for Startups Accelerator [AI first] is on the lookout for Seed to Series A startups based in Africa or developing Africa-centered solutions. If you’re working on something groundbreaking, this is your chance to get the support you need to take it to the next level.
On an unrelated note:
Normally, this is where I'd drop some cool reads or binge-worthy shows I've been into lately. But this week, let's dig into something a bit heavier but crucially important, especially for our people in Nigeria and Ghana. The talk around internet fraudsters, or as we lovingly dub them, 'Yahoo Boys' or '419', has resurfaced—yes, again!
Now, there's this a common narrative that individuals involved in internet fraud could potentially excel in legitimate tech jobs, as both fields require a high level of technological savviness. On the surface, it sounds like a no-brainer, right? But it's not that straightforward.
I stumbled on a couple of tweets that go beyond the surface. One breaks down the root causes of why young folks go down this path in the first place. The other is a firsthand account from someone who clawed his way out of that life.
These perspectives tell us this: The 'Yahoo Yahoo' saga isn’t just about choosing between right and wrong; it's far more layered and complex. It's something worth pondering on, not just judging and sweeping under the carpet.
Just food for thought, you know? 🤔
Alright, folks! We’ve come to the end of another newsletter issue. I must say I had a blast putting this issue together for you! From the roller-coaster of tech happenings to the deep societal issues we touched on, it's all part of the vibrant tapestry we are weaving together as a community. I hope you found it as insightful and interesting as I did.
Your thoughts light up my day, so I'd love to hear them! Please drop them in the chat and let me know what you think of this issue or the topics covered.
Also, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, or if you just want to connect — I'm always here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you [in advance] a happy new month filled with promise and possibility 🥂
Yours in Product Discovery,
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