The AI Media Group has launched The Deal Room, Africa’s first artificial intelligence (AI) focused, free investment matchmaking service which aims to connect African AI focused startups to interested investors and venture capitalists (VCs).
AI Media Group is the publisher of AI and Data Science quarterly magazine Synapse, the AI TV YouTube channel, as well as the curator and organiser of AI Expo Africa — Africa’s largest B2B / B2G trade-focused AI, Robotic Process Automation and Data Science conference — which has been a great success over the last three years.
The annual expo has seen AI Media Group amass a database of over 1000 companies, most of which are Africa-based tech startups, scale-ups or small and medium sized businesses. The company has regularly been asked by some of these firms to make introductions to investors and also observed the challenges faced by startups, such as access, transparency, intermediaries and fees.
Although AI Media Group has been able to connect some of these companies with investors in the past, the number of requests have been on the rise and the firm now wants to improve on this service in terms of scale, process formalisation and automation through the launch of The Deal Room.
The Deal Room will be hosted on the AI Expo Africa domain — www.aiexpoafrica.com — which is a popular platform for Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) community with over 3 million hits a year allied to a vibrant LinkedIn Group with more than 4 000 members. The Deal Room’s primary aim will be to direct 4IR, AI and smart tech companies seeking funding to investors, VCs and organisations who are interested in backing firms in this rapidly growing sector.
The Deal Room has attracted six launch investment partners, namely; Cirrus AI, Cape AI Ventures, Knife Capital, E4E Africa, Britegaze & Intelligent Impact, with more set to join in the coming months.
Nick Bradshaw, CEO AI Media Group and co-founder of AI Expo Africa explained, “The main idea behind The Deal Room platform is to facilitate rapid matchmaking between an investor and 4IR / AI focused startups and scale-ups that align with the firm’s stage of growth. It’s often a minefield to find the right investor so we curated a group of like minded investors that are interested in this space or who have a track record of similar investments to date. This is a long awaited value add service for our community with no strings attached, no “middleman” and total transparency.”
The Deal Room’s launch investors cover a broad spectrum of the investment lifecycle and include; Cirrus AI CEO Gregg Barrett; Cape AI Ventures co-founder Pieter Boon; Knife Capital co-managing partner Andrea Bohmert; E4E Africa Ventures principal Bakang Komanyane; Britegaze CEO Reshaad Sha, and Intelligent Impact founder Aunnie Patton Power.
Sha stated, “BriteGaze Fund One’s primary purpose is to assist AI businesses to accelerate their growth in South Africa and across the African continent through the provision of growth funding and advisory services to expand into new verticals as well as new geographies.”
Boon stated, “We expect that the Deal Room could be a catalyst for startups in Africa!”
Power stated, “There is such a need for greater transparency for startups that are raising capital. We are excited to have this tool available to the market!”
Bohmert stated, “Investing in companies who solve real world problems applying deep AI capabilities is what we are looking for. We are very excited about The Deal Room and its ability to match startups with investors, embracing a partnership journey that is equally more about substance and less about the hype”.
Komanyane stated, “The Deal Room will help us identify new 4IR-focused companies that align with our investment goals in this sector, its a great innovation for the Africa tech scene and one we are proud to be associated with”
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Barrett stated, “The Deal Room by AI Media Group will assist in the development of Africa’s AI ecosystem and is therefore an initiative that we are enthused to support and participate in.”
Bradshaw concluded, “The Deal Room’s biggest selling point is there is no complicated paperwork, costs or loss of equity for companies looking to use the platform. They simply answer a set of confidential questions on the nature of their investment needs, details about their company, products or services and the AI Media Group then passes them on to the most appropriate investor(s). Just like internet dating, our goal is to make a perfect match and speed up the process of investment capital flowing into the African 4IR tech sector. We can’t wait to see the results!”
Startups and scale-ups looking to submit their requests for funding can do so via The Deal Room online submission process HERE
Lami, Kenya-based Insurtech secures $1.8 million to accelerate digital insurance in Africa
Lami team and press release (Source: Eva Barasa/Lami Tech/medium)
Lami Technologies, a Kenyan insurance technology (insurtech) company that aims to democratize insurance products and services for low-income Kenyans, announced today it had raised $1.8 million in seed funding.
The round was led by Accion Venture Lab’s seed-stage investment initiative that provides capital and extensive support to innovative fintech startups that improve the reach, quality, and affordability of financial services for the underserved.
Founded by Jihan Abass in 2018, Lami is a digital insurance platform that enables partner businesses — including banks, tech companies, and other entities to easily and seamlessly offer digital insurance products to their users via its API. Lami can also be used by partner businesses to manage their own insurance needs. Lami connects partner organizations, such as the e-commerce platform Jumia, with underwriters and allows them to offer a superior customer journey. Through its API, users can get a quotation for motor, medical, or other tailored insurance products in seconds, then customize the benefits and adjust the premium to suit their needs, get their policy documents instantly, and claims are paid in record time.
Lami’s services are enabled by its flexible insurance rating engine and direct integration with several parties and insurance companies. Lami co-designs innovative products with its underwriting partners to enable businesses to offer unique insurance products to their underlying customer base, with flexible options that meet their needs and cash flows, such as monthly medical policies for startup employees.
Jihan Abass, CEO & Founder of Lami (Source: Eva Barasa/Lami Tech/medium)
Jihan Abass, CEO, Lami, said: “This funding will allow us to invest in hiring more people, improving our technology, and growing our presence across Africa as we can continue to address the persistent insurance gap. At Lami, our vision is to help improve the financial resilience of millions by making insurance products more accessible and affordable for underserved populations. By enabling our business partners to offer customized insurance solutions, we are helping them provide more value to their customers while enabling large volumes of users to access insurance, often for the first time.”
Africa’s insurance market currently stands at a 3 percent penetration rate, except for South Africa, and is facing modernization and innovation challenges. Most insurance providers on the continent fail to offer flexible, affordable and tailored insurance coverage to provide a safety net for the African consumer. Low insurance uptake is partly due to the traditional distribution and administration of policies, mainly relying on brick-and-mortar channels where policies are sold and processed manually. This results in a longer processing cycle, poor customer satisfaction, and higher distribution costs.
Lami’s digital insurance platform leverages cloud computing, automation, and third-party service providers such as emergency and valuation, or identity and asset verification databases, to offer a comprehensive ecosystem for the businesses they partner with to develop, distribute and manage highly streamlined and competitive insurance products that are designed to meet their customers’ needs.
Since its inception, the insurtech startup has sold more than 5,000 policies and has partnered with more than 25 active underwriters, including Britam, Pioneer, and Madison Insurance, distributing more than 30 products available including medical, motor, employee benefits, and device insurance. As an innovator in the digital insurance space, Lami aims to continue diversifying its business by looking for new partners and building on its core technology.
Michael Schlein, President and CEO, Accion Venture Lab, said: “Ninety-seven percent of Africans lack access to insurance — a financial safety net that can help them build resilience against economic shocks. Lami helps address this need for consumers across Africa through its innovative approach that leverages technology and partnerships to help any business develop and sell insurance.”
“At Accion Venture Lab, we’re excited by how Lami is using technology to create a pathway for customers to purchase insurance that is specific to their needs. By embedding customized insurance within businesses that customers know and trust, Lami is making insurance accessible for underserved populations in Africa and enabling them to build financial resilience. “said Ashley Lewis, Africa Director, Accion Venture Lab
This investment highlights the strong commitment of all organizations to ensuring that financial services are made accessible and affordable for the underserved.
InnoPower Partners with Business Africa Online to Host Going Global Summit 2021
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – InnoPower LLC (InnoPower) and Business Africa Online (BAO) will host the Going Global Summit during the 2021 Minority Business Week presented by Eleven Fifty Academy and JPMorgan Chase, to be held June 14 – 18, 2021.
Africa is a fascinating continent. The old narrative of Africa disconnected from the global economy is fading. A wave of transformation driven by business and modernization is thrusting the continent from the world’s margins to the worldwide mainstream. There is tremendous promise in the dynamism and ingenuity of Africa’s entrepreneurs. The region’s abundant world-class innovation and talent are increasingly being harnessed to improve lives and generate wealth.
InnoPower is working to develop a stronger pipeline of awareness and access to Africa’s talent and solutions, especially in Nigeria and the West Africa region.
InnoPower’s partnership with BAO aims to develop a more robust pipeline of awareness and access to Africa’s talent and solutions, focused in three areas:
- ENTREPRENEURSHIP: providing African entrepreneurs with access to resources, training, and finance.
- CONNECTIONS: by introducing US-based businesses and service providers to Africa innovators.
- ADVOCACY: increasing the viability of Africa as a region for economic development partnership.
InnoPower is an Indianapolis-based company deliberately designed to highlight the innovations in and for Black communities, create opportunities for capacity building, and provide a platform for creative thought and innovative entrepreneurialism. BAO supports and aligns with the movement. The two organizations have come together to be the change they want to see globally, especially in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the development and growth of Africa.
“It has only been about 60 years since Blacks across the United States and Africa were provided with true independence. The U.S. with the Civil Rights Movement and Africa with the end of rule by British, French, and other European colonizers. Across the globe, Africans are now competing in the global innovation economy while still embracing the uniqueness of our culture, environment, and resources. But there is still a lot of work to be done to close the gaps created by centuries of oppression. We are excited that we can be a part of sparking and nurturing this movement. Our partnership with BAO gives a bigger voice to the work that still must be done,” said Emil Ekiyor, Founder and CEO of InnoPower.
“Our team is thrilled to be working with InnoPower on the Going Global Summit 2021. BAO is at the forefront of powering the entrepreneurial mindset and enabling businesses in Africa. We are inspired and motivated every day by the incredible African innovators within our community and their desire to impact the world positively. By partnering with InnoPower, we are now focused on connecting Africa’s entrepreneurs and businesses with US-based investors and businesses,” added Alaba Ayinuola, Founder & CEO of Business Africa Online (BAO).
InnoPower’s 2021 Minority Business Week presented by Eleven Fifty Academy and JPMorgan Chase will be held Monday, June 14 through Friday, June 18, 2021. The Going Global Summit will be held on Friday, June 18, 2021. Both events will be held virtually, and registration is free. For more information, please visit bit.ly/InnoPowerGoingGlobal2021
Mastercard and Kasha Reinforce Commitment to Empower Women and Support Micro-Entrepreneurs in Africa
Mastercard today expanded its relationship with Kasha Global Incorporated through an investment in the purpose driven ecommerce platform. The companies will continue their shared efforts to ensure women across emerging markets have essential access to health and personal care products along with the information required to support everyday hygiene needs.
Combining online and offline capabilities, Kasha’s platform allows women across rural and urban locations to make confidential personal care orders. By utilizing the full product catalogue available online, or by placing orders using basic mobile handsets, women can search, order and pay for hygiene products that are discretely delivered to them by local micro-entrepreneurs, thus also helping local store owners grow their business.
Mastercard’s investment is the next step on a journey the organizations have been on since Kasha joined Mastercard StartPath in 2019. Since joining the award winning start-up engagement program, Mastercard has worked with Kasha to integrate digital payment acceptance across its ecommerce platform, and most recently the partners joined forces to deliver virus, hygiene and protection products to families across Kenya in efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Kasha’s goal is to ensure women in emerging markets get the products, information and services they need for their health, self-care and well-being” said, Joanna Bichsel, Kasha’s Founder and CEO “I am thrilled that we are continuing our collaboration with Mastercard and that we not only have a committed investor with shared values, but also an innovative partner as we continue to take Kasha’s development and growth to the next level.”
Mastercard’s activities with Kasha directly support the company’s pledge to bring 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025, with a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions to help them grow their business.
“Mastercard works with governments, businesses and entrepreneurs to help them achieve their ambitions and is committed to applying its resources to drive sustainable and inclusive growth.” said, Raghav Prasad, Division President, Sub Saharan Africa, Mastercard. “Through our activities with Kasha we are leveraging Mastercard’s innovations, expertise and partnerships to help drive the empowerment of women and small businesses. This partnership is a major step in our journey to support the fundamental needs of women and drive growth across African communities.”
Mastercard’s investment will help Kasha expand its current platform offering, reaching more women, communities and small businesses than before and build’s on Mastercard’s efforts to bolster support for micro-entrepreneur and women owned small business in Africa through the Mastercard Track Micro Credit Program, known in Kenya as “Jaza Duka” (fill up your store in Swahili). By leveraging Mastercard and Kasha’s combined capabilities, in collaboration with global consumer goods and banking partners, the partners aim to positively impact historically underserved communities across Africa and beyond.