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The Cortex Group Launch Cortex Ventures – Africa’s First Artificial Intelligence (AI) Only Focused Venture Capital Company.

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa, 2nd May 2019 –The Cortex Group is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) focused holding company building value in the IR4.0 Economy on a local, regional and global scale. Already home to the successful Cortex Logic, an African Artificial Intelligence (AI) Software and Solutions company that helps businesses thrive in the Smart Technology Era, Cortex Ventures will be Africa’s one-stop-shop for AI focused start-ups and scale-ups looking for early or growth stage funding coupled to the opportunity to uniquely tap into the Cortex Group’s technical advisory, AI application development capabilities and co-working space.

Dr Jacques Ludik, recipient of the AI Leader of the Year 2019 award and Cortex Group CEO & Founder said, “The AI play is so large that we decided to create a Venture Capital company that would only focus on companies, innovators and entrepreneurs working with AI based technologies that leverage data science, machine learning or deep learning in their stack.  The world of artificial intelligence is seeing an explosion of new companies requiring investment and we intend to fill that gap, especially those seeking early stage funding, which is traditionally seen as higher risk by more traditional VCs and investment entities such as Banks, Angel or Private Investors.

Fellow entrepreneur and 20-year tech veteran, Dr Nick Bradshaw,who will be heading up Cortex Ventures stated, “There has never been a better time to be a tech entrepreneur in the AI space.  Many of the things you could only dream of doing in this space two to three years ago are now possible and access to free or cost-effective resources via open source, APIs and Cloud providers such as Microsoft, AWS, Google and IBM is making this happen.  As a VC focusing on both early and growth stage businesses we are supplementing the traditional support a VC can offer with unique access to AI developers and data scientists, product advisory services and a FREE co-working space so that we can be close to the companies and partners we are working with, ultimately making them succeed”.

“Embracing AI in South Africa is critical as it brings immense opportunity and we anticipate it to be one of the most disruptive technologies in human history. Microsoft’s latest research into the adoption of AI in business shows that 37.8% of high-growth companies are actively implementing AI. It’s great to see new players like the Cortex Group and Cortex Ventures helping clients shift towards digital transformation and creating new opportunities for companies of tomorrow.  As companies are relying more on AI, it is freeing up business leaders to focus on other activities. Realising the true benefit of AI is not simply about being fast adopters of innovative technology. Every company needs to think of itself as a digital company”, said Lillian Barnard, Managing Director at Microsoft South Africa.

James Milne, Head of Investment Promotion Wesgro and Zimkhita Buwa, Chief Operating Officer at Britehouse, who both sit on the Board of The Silicon Cape, South Africa stated, “Cortex Ventures will add significantly to the tech landscape in South Africa and more broadly Africa and we applaud what the team at the Cortex Group are doing to create inclusive, earlier stage funding opportunities in the Artificial Intelligence sector both locally and nationally”.

Ludik concluded, “Africa can really benefit from leveraging cutting-edge 4th Industrial Revolution technologies and we as a community need to identify the gaps to create an AI pipeline for growth.  Investment funding plays a big role in making this happen and we see collaboration with other VCs, incubators, accelerators, academia, industry and government as key to job creation and economic growth.  Cortex Ventures will play an important role in this helping shape a better future for all”.

Bradshaw concluded, “As a call to action, we invite AI focused start-ups and scale-ups to take part in our Click-2-Pitch Challenge”.  It’s a very simply application process that we use to invite candidate companies to submit and join our program for investment and advice.  Its free to apply and all applications are reviewed by our investment team for the opportunity to pitch for investment. It does not matter if you are at pre-MVP, MVP, pre-revenue or post-revenue stage – we look at all proposals and advise accordingly.  We are already screening deals and welcome all submissions from anywhere on the African continent”.

Also Read Interview With Street Global Venture Capital Partners, Alysia Silberg And Christian Meyers

 

ABOUT CORTEX GROUP

The Cortex Group works across multiple business and industry domains to develop cutting edge intelligent systems and AI driven companies / platforms that leverage our unique mix of IP, access to funding, technology, people, partners and extensive community.The Cortex Group is made up of six brands each focusing on a different part of the AI Ecosystem namely; Asset Management, FinTech, Health, AI Products, AI focused VC Investments and a Portfolio of AI powered platform businesses that we have partnered with or invested in. The Cortex Ventures  Click-2-Pitch Challenge is now open to any African based start-up or scale-up focusing on AI who is seeking seed or growth stage funding. Learn more at www.cortexgroup.ai

Investment

Fatura secures a $3 Million pre-series A investment round

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Fatura co-Founders (Source: Hossam Ali)

Fatura round was co-led by Sawari Ventures and Arzan VC, with the participation of Egypt Ventures, EFG-EV, The Cairo Angels as well as Khwarizmi Ventures. The B2B marketplace was launched late 2019 and already crossed the 1 Billion EGP yearly GMV milestone, and that’s just in the FMCG sector. Fatura is a mobile application that connects wholesalers & manufacturers with retailers in different industries. The start-up has been operating in the FMCG industry and it is currently piloting in other industries.

During the past year the start-up also extended its reach to more than 25,000 retailers and more than  500 wholesalers and manufacturers across 20 governorates, exchanging more than 10,000 SKUs. Fatura also cracked the surface of financial services by introducing digital lending with focus on retailers financing, aiming to add more services in that area in the near future.

“Fatura’s existing infrastructure has enabled them to expand their offerings to new customers,” commented Hany Al-Sonbaty, Managing Partners at Sawari Ventures, adding that, “the team has demonstrated that they have the vision to identify new opportunities and the prowess and agility to implement and deliver. We are excited to become part of their journey.”

Hossam Ali, Fatura’s CEO, commented on the news saying: “There is a great opportunity in the B2B space in Egypt, that is growing as the players are becoming digitally mature and ready. Collectively, the digital B2B players in the FMCG space capture less than 5% of the market and there is a long way to go. Our conviction is to stay asset-light, be inclusive to all the industry stakeholders and to attract the best on-ground acquisition force across the country”

Fatura has built a strong foundation and infrastructure that enables it to monetize its data and services. The company’s future plans include new services that support the different players in its ecosystem including manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, multiple digitization initiatives with focus on digital payments and regional expansion into new markets.

“Being part of Fatura’s success story is exciting for us. The FMCG industry is in need of Fatura’s product, which will solve many challenges faced by small retailers. Also, its fintech angle complements the core product and enables retailers to scale their business further with less working capital constraints.” – Hasan J. Zainal, Managing Partner of Arzan Venture Capital

This investment will gear Fatura to extend its services beyond e-commerce and digital lending to optimize the exchange of goods, money and information in the B2B context while focusing on convenience and the different users’ experience.

 

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Business Africa Online, InnoPower and Afrigrants to Host some of the best African, USA Innovators and Investors

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Business Africa Online, InnoPower, LLC (USA) and Afrigrants Foundation are set to Host some of the best Innovators, Investors, Business Consultants and Industry Experts in the world at the Going Global Summit with the theme, “Africa: The Next Global Frontier”. The summit is a part of InnoPower Minority Business Week (IMBW) hosted by Innopower, LLC (USA) scheduled to hold from Monday, June 14 to Friday, June 18, 2021 and currently ongoing.

The Going Global Initiative intends to boost a stronger pipeline of awareness, access to Africa’s talent and solutions with these focus areas; Entrepreneurship, Connection and Advocacy. The InnoPower Going Global Summit 2021 is a digital summit and intends to connect Africa to the global economy, starting with the USA. It will attract global business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, decision and policy makers around the world, especially from Africa and the United States of America (U.S.A). The Summit will feature panel sessions, virtual pitch, awards and networking.

Panel Discussion Topics will cover:

  1. Positioning African entrepreneurs for global exposure and impact.
  2. Raising Global Capital: Understanding the Why, When and How.
  3. Post COVID-19: Exploring US-Africa Investment Opportunities.

Esteemed Guests include:

  • Dr. Akintoye Akindele (Nigeria) – Executive Chairman, Platform Capital
  • Lawrence Walter (USA) – Vice President, Entrepreneurship at IEDC
  • Ayodeji Balogun (Nigeria)– Founder and CEO of Premier Credit
  • Lydia Idem (USA) – Founder & Managing Director of FM Capital Group
  • Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes (Nigeria) – Founding Partner & CEO, Aruwa Capital Management
  • Nike Anani (Nigeria) – Founder, Nike Anani Practice Ltd
  • Ali Hussein Kassim (Kenya) – Tech Executive and Advisor
  • Mohamed Aboulnaga  (Egypt) – Tech Entrepreneur
  • Shila Nieves Burney (USA) – Founder, Zane Venture Fund & Zane Access
  • Segun Abiona (Nigeria) – Founder & Innovation Director, Nicole & Giovanni
  • Manisha Dookhony (Mauritius) – Economist & Senior Advisor
  • Sherif Nessim (Egypt) – Founder & Managing Director, Jedar Capital
  • Linda Wayoe (Ghana) – Director, AM Group & Board Member UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce
  • Mariam Kamel (Egypt) – Manager, AUC Angels
  • Horesia Nyawade (South Africa) – CIO & Co-Founder, Vuuqa
  • Muhammida El Muhajir (Ghana) – Global Brand Strategist

Conceptualised by Afrigrants Foundation, Pitch School Africa is an annual youth entrepreneurship event  that trains young entrepreneurs on how to pitch their business ideas to potential investors. Over 200 students across Africa participated in the Pitch School Africa 2021 stream, which has now been narrowed down to just 4 BIG ideas that will be featured at the Grand Finale. The 4 Finalists that will pitch their business ideas at the 2021 InnoPower Going Global are; Gualo Confidence (Nigeria) – Gualocian fish processing, Budani Bulayani (Botswana) – Budzi Products, Favour Adeleke (Nigeria) – Qiqi Farms and Oluwatomilola Mustapha (Nigeria) – Raytreat.

The Pitch Jury are;

  1. Ronda Taylor, PhD Department Chair Entrepreneur Program, Ivy Tech Community College-Central Indiana.
  2. Dr. Kristin Burton Asst. Professor, Entrepreneurship, College of Business, Purdue University.
  3. Joe Albano, Principal Logika International LLC.

The winner will be awarded the grand prize of $5000 with a one year mentorship from the finest business developers across the world.

Awards

Over the past 12 months, businesses have faced remarkable challenges due to global economic meltdown and the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Many ventures were forced to shut their doors through legislation and other circumstances. Some managed to survive by thinking out of the box and adapting to the changing and dire times. Business Africa Online (BAO) with the support of InnoPower, LLC (USA) will be recognising and awarding three (3) African resilient startups that have pulled out all the steps to grow back better through the pandemic in Africa. The awardees will get a support grant of $500 each with an acceleration program led by global business developers.

“Our strategic partnership with InnoPower, LLC (USA) is to support and further drive its Going Global Initiatives here in Africa. Also to reaffirm our commitment to connect African entrepreneurs and businesses with US-based investors. We are inspired and motivated everyday by the incredible African (Social) entrepreneurs and investors within our community and their desire to impact the world positively.” says Alaba Ayinuola, Founder & CEO of Business Africa Online

To register for this virtual summit, please visit bit.ly/InnoPowerGoingGlobal2021

 

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AI for Good Global Summit founder Stephen Ibaraki confirmed as AI Expo Africa 2021 keynote speaker

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AI for Good Global Summit founder, Stephen Ibaraki (Source: AI Expo Africa)

AI for Good Global Summit founder, Chairman of the AI for Good Outreach Committee, industry analyst, venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur Stephen Ibaraki has been confirmed as a keynote speaker for AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE which takes place 7th to 9th September.

Ibaraki is the first VIP keynote speaker to be confirmed for AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE. In his keynote address, entitled, “5th Machine Age Driving Digital Reshaping” he intends to explore the “Society 5.0” and “Smart Humanity”.

Ibaraki who is a 16 time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award, most recently in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) category, is also the chairman and managing general partner of REDDS Capital. In addition to more than 300 awards and recognitions as well as over 300 global engagements impacting over $100-trillion in sustainable investments, Ibaraki is also a contributor for IT World Canada and Forbes on issues around AI.

Ibaraki’s keynote abstract states, “In popular stories about Chaos Theory, the wing beats of a butterfly in Geneva, are connected to the violent storms in your hometown in Africa. Global ecosystems, all interconnected thus force multiplied and amplified, are at an historical inflection point. These are founded on technology acceleration, with more disruption in 5 years, than the last 10,000 years. This Digital Reshaping will forever change governments, industry, academia, education, investments, startups, media, society, culture, our lives and our children’s future. What will the world look like, advanced by Smart Humanity, Society 5.0, 5th Machine Age, AI and innovation trends addressing global challenges and opportunities? What are the exponential change making innovations you must track, implement, and resources you must use to ensure success and not failure during these chaotic next five years?

Now entering it’s fourth successful year, AI Expo Africa is Africa’s largest B2B / B2G AI, RPA and 4IR smart tech trade event and conference, with the 2021 edition building to be the biggest yet with over 5000 delegates registering interest and expected to join the three-day online event.

Dr Nick Bradshaw, founder of AI Expo Africa and CEO of AI Media Group commented, “It’s a real honour to welcome Stephen as one of our VIP keynote speakers.  We have been working with the ITU, Geneva since 2019 around partnering with the global AI4Good movement and the Africa region and this is another great commitment towards growing collaborations around AI4Good in our region. This announcement follows the recent conclusion of the first African focused ITU AI4Good Innovation Factory Challenge that received 44 applications from 12 African countries & 5 finalists using AI-powered innovation for diverse sectors in Africa covering Fintech, Agritech, Cleantech, and Insurtech.”

Over 30 organisations have so far signed up to exhibit at the expo. These include headline event partner Intel, Darktrace, Future Tech, Automation Anywhere partner 1ai, The Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa, InstaDeep, Aizatron, IBA Group, Zindi, Versus, Comparisure, Robotiq AI Africa, ecosystem Ai, Cognizance, Inspired Testing, Atura, Amathuba AI, COGO People Analytics, Elzware, WizzPass, Fliptin, Kosa AI, Learning Machines, Social Lab, Ashanti AI, and Curacel.  In all about 80 speakers will make up the speaker list at AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE, with more keynotes set to be announced in the coming weeks.

 

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