The 2016 World Economic Forum on Africa has come and gone, but the lessons learnt at the fruitful summit held in Rwanda remains relevant.
Among other topics discussed at the three-day event was the digital economy and how it can fuel growth in Africa. Inspired by this theme, we take a look at some of the startups making an impact on the continent.
SafeMotos – Rwanda
Billed as Africa’s answer to Uber, SafeMotos does more than just connect passengers with rides. The app is targeted at Rwanda’s famous motorcycle taxis and is designed to prevent the rising number of road accidents, encouraging safer driving and rewarding responsible drivers. Eighty percent of traffic accidents in Rwanda involve motorbike taxis, and SafeMotos is addressing this clear need of making roads a safer place for Rwandans.
Interested drivers with at least three years of experience have smartphones and the SafeMotos app installed on their motorbike taxis. The app records the drivers’ speed, acceleration, GPS and gyroscope data – and the information is analysed remotely and combined with feedback to give an overall safety rating.
The company boasts more than 5,000 registered users, has done more than 20,000 trips, tracked more than 500,000 km, and has raised more than $130,000 in funding.
DabaDoc – Morocco
After realising how difficult it was to book a medical appointment in her native country Morocco, Zineb Yacoubi sought to solve the problem. She teamed up with her brother to create DabaDoc, an app that allows users to find doctors online and book appointments.
Launched in 2014, the startup expanded to neighbouring Algeria and Tunisia in 2015, with over 2,000 doctors joining the platform. DabaDoc also recently launched in South Africa and Nigeria as part of its plan to expand across the pan-African market.
The startup has brought real change to communities, giving more people access to medical help. This has earned DabaDoc well-deserved recognition, having been selected as one of the 10 startups in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region to take part in the Aspen-Blackstone Entrepreneurship programme in Silicon Valley.
Mozambikes – Mozambique
Mozambikes is improving the lives of rural Mozambicans one bike at a time. The Maputo-based social venture makes affordable bicycles for rural communities, where no other form of transport is available.
The startup generates income by selling advertising space, letting companies pay to brand the bikes with their logo. Mozambikes then sells the bicycles at considerably low prices, making them affordable to low income earners.
The company also allows organisations to buy, brand, and distribute the bikes to their employees, customers, or communities as a form of corporate social responsibility. Additionally, Mozambikes runs a charity and allows visitors to its web site to donate a bike to those in need.
Giraffe – South Africa
Giraffe is a mobile recruitment platform that aims to streamline the process of finding employment for job seekers in South Africa by linking them with relevant opportunities. The startup also helps employers recruit the most suitable candidate, quickly and at a low cost.
Employers wishing to recruit staff submit a request on the website. The platform then identifies suitable candidates, contacts them by SMS and schedules interviews at a suitable time and place.
With over 70,000 registered users, Giraffe is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing tech companies in South Africa. The startup was crowned the 2016 global winner at the Seedstars World Summit, walking away with the grand prize of $500,000.
DIYlaw – Nigeria
The tech-legal sector seems to be gaining momentum in Africa, and Nigeria’s DIYlaw is one of the players at the forefront. The venture is on a mission to create easy access to legal services on the continent, starting with Nigeria.
DIYlaw will soon offer a new service that will allow users to hire a lawyer or ask a lawyer a specific legal question by choosing from their extensive database of lawyers. One will be able to read reviews by other DIYlaw users before deciding on a lawyer.
RecycloBekia – Egypt
The latest IMF World Economic Outlook (WEO) shows that Egypt has surpassed South Africa as the second-largest economy in Africa. With technology and the startup culture booming in the north African country, it’s no wonder Egypt’s economy has seen steady growth in recent years.
Among the country’s impressive startups is RecycloBekia, one of the first companies in the region offering green recycling of electronic waste. The company – whose name comes from the Egyptian Arabic words “roba bekya”, which means “old stuff” – collects unwanted electrical parts and dismantles, filters, and recycles them.
Started with only $1,000 capital in 2011 by a team of students from Tanta University, the business has grown to include four warehouses and sells about $2,4 million worth of electronic waste per year.
MeQasa – Ghana
Finding suitable accommodation in Ghana used to be a daunting process, until real estate platform meQasa burst onto the scene in 2013. meQasa has improved the real estate sector in Ghana by providing a free service that helps property seekers, brokers and landlords conduct business efficiently online.
The startup made headlines in 2015 when it secured an investment of $500,000 from Frontier Digital Ventures, a Malaysian-based global venture capital firm. MeQasa promised to use the funding to elevate its mobile and web services and eventually expand to other African countries.
In under three years, the company has seen remarkable growth, featuring nearly 18,000 property listings. In 2016, meQasa has been nominated for several of awards for the strides it has made in making finding property in Ghana a breeze.
Safari Yetu – Tanzania
Safari Yetu makes booking travels across East Africa by bus a pleasant experience. The company provides a mobile and online solution to booking and purchasing bus tickets, saving passengers time and money. The startup takes away the frustration of having to go to the bus station to buy tickets, allowing travelers to buy them online instead.
After booking seats and making a payment, passengers receive their tickets on their phone or email. Safari Yetu has recently won a few awards for its efforts in simplifying travelling by bus in Tanzania.
Mawingu – Kenya
Technology is boosting economies and changing lives all around the globe. But the other side of the coin is that there are close to 4 billion people in the world who still have no access to the internet, and thus miss out on the opportunities that come with connectivity.
In Kenya, Mawingu is hell-bent on changing this reality faced by the rural population. The company, whose name means “cloud” in Swahili, is bringing connectivity to rural communities in the East African country. Its solar-powered WiFi routers connect villages to a readily accessible, yet mostly underutilised, wireless internet signal known as “TV white space”.
Schools, libraries, clinics, and young entrepreneurs are all benefiting from Mawingu’s innovative idea.
NerveFlo – Nigeria
Accessing African content like movies or music online has always been a challenge compared to how you can easily buy an Adele song or the latest Hollywood movie. That’s all changing quickly, though, thanks to a host of proudly African outfits like NerveFlo, a digital content marketplace. The company is similar to online giants iTunes and Amazon, but with a range of digital content.
NerveFlo allows digital content creators to rapidly distribute their work to the ever-growing African market. Here you can find anything from short films to music to comics, lectures and e-books. The platform also gives Africans the opportunity to showcase their products to the global market.