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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

ReelFruit Secures $3 Million Series A Funding To Expand Production with New Factory

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ReelFruit CEO/Founder; Affiong Williams (Image: Supplied)

ReelFruit, a premium dried fruit company known for its high quality nutritious snacks, today announced a Series A investment of $3M. Alitheia IDF led the round and invested $2M while other investors included Samata Capital and Flying Doctor Healthcare Investment Company. The New Practice advised ReelFruit on the transaction. With the capital, ReelFruit will scale its dried fruit production, develop new products, and increase exports by 10 x to 15 MT in the first year.

Key to its expansion plans, ReelFruit will acquire a new factory in Ogun State to increase its monthly dried fruit production from 6 MT to 30 MT. The factory will hire over 200 people in its first year. With its greater supply of dried fruit, ReelFruit will continue to innovate new products for the local and international markets.

As part of its efforts to secure high quality raw materials, it plans to deepen its existing work with Nigerian fruit farmers. The company will form an agro-extension services program for 250 registered mango and pineapple producers. The program will boost fruit yields and help support a steady supply of high quality raw material for the factory.

To meet strong demand for its dried fruit snacks, ReelFruit will diversify its local and international sales channels. The company will launch an e-commerce channel for direct US sales by 4Q21. ReelFruit will also unlock more B2B opportunities including white-labelling and co-packing to support the national drive toward import substitution. Local buyers will be able to buy dried fruit locally thereby reducing dependence on imports. Reelfruit is already on track to double last year’s revenues by November 2021.

“This investment takes ReelFruit to the next level. We can meet increased demand for our products and tackle one of our biggest challenges – raw material supply. We’re thrilled that this will unleash a greater impact on our value chain by increasing farmer incomes and creating up to 300 decent jobs for Nigerians,” Affiong Williams, ReelFruit CEO/Founder.

“Alitheia IDF is proud to support ReelFruit’s ongoing efforts to boost food production in Nigeria and positively impact communities through deliberate partnerships with local farmers, distributors, and retailers. The investment will strengthen the company to unlock further growth, upskill farmers and improve economic outcomes for thousands of women who play a significant role in the production of ReelFruit’s products,” said Tokunboh Ishmael, Alitheia IDF co-founder.

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Wärtsilä signs Concession Agreement to develop, operate and maintain major 120 MW power plant project in Gabon

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From left: Nicolas Mathon, Director, Project Development, Africa and Europe, Wärtsilä Energy and Managing Director, Orinko S.A and Akim Daouda, CEO of Sovereign Fund of the Gabonese Republic ©FGIS

Wärtsilä, the technology group and Gabon Power Company (GPC), the subsidiary of the Sovereign Fund of the Gabonese Republic (FGIS) dedicated to energy and water, have on 22 September 2021 signed a Concession Agreement with the Government of Gabon for the development, supply, construction, operation and maintenance of a 120 MW gas power plant. Wärtsilä, jointly leading the project development with GPC, will build the plant under a full Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract and will then operate and maintain the plant under a long-term 15-year Operation and Maintenance (O&M) agreement. The EPC contract and the O&M agreement will be signed in 2022 with Orinko S.A., the joint venture between Wärtsilä and GPC.

The plant will be located at the industrial site of Owendo, close to Libreville, the country’s capital. When commissioned, the plant will supply electricity to Société d’Energie et d’Eau du Gabon (SEEG), the Gabonese utility, under a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement. The project represents one of the largest of its kind in Sub-Sahara Africa and a sizeable energy infrastructure project for Gabon.

“There is currently a structural deficit between the supply capability and the demand for electricity, which is increasing year by year. This project will play an important role in bridging this deficit, and some 600,000 people will ultimately benefit from a more sustainable and economical electricity supply delivered to SEEG. The plant will replace rented generation assets by SEEG and bring significant benefits, in line with Gabon sustainability ambitions,” said Marcelin Massila Akendengue, General Director, Gabon Power Company.

“This is a major and very comprehensive project that will deliver sustainable energy at a competitive price. It highlights many of Wärtsilä’s strengths, including the efficiency and flexibility of our generating sets, our EPC capabilities, our project development skills with insight into the financing arrangements, and our lifecycle support through long-term O&M agreements,” said Nicolas Mathon, Director, Project Development, Africa and Europe, Wärtsilä Energy and Managing Director, Orinko S.A. “The project also emphasises the leadership role that Wärtsilä plays in moving the industry towards a decarbonised future by delivering solutions that enable a transition to renewable energy.”

The project is being developed under a Public Private Partnership framework, with the asset to transfer to the Gabonese authorities at the end of the concession agreement. It has the full support of the government of Gabon, with the Council of Ministers approval received in May 2021, and the Concession Agreement having received approvals by the country’s President, Prime Minister, and the relevant Ministries. When completed, the project will have a major impact on the Gabonese economy.

Wärtsilä’s installed base in West Africa comprises 440 plants with 946 engines producing 4928 MW in 34 countries. In Gabon, Wärtsilä has a long-term presence from projects delivered and contracted with SEEG and private energy intensive companies.

 

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Chipper Cash launches with free P2P money transfers in South Africa

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Chipper Cash Executives: Wiza Jalakasi, Vice President: Global Developer Relations & Pardon Mujakachi, Vice President: Strategy & Partnerships, Africa (Image: Supplied)

Chipper, the fastest growing African fintech start-up that facilitates free peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfers and instant cross-border payments in Africa, officially launched Chipper Cash to offer domestic P2P money transfers in South Africa. Chipper Cash will enable South Africans to enjoy free unlimited instant domestic money transfers, invest in cryptocurrencies, and buy and send airtime and data to loved ones.

Chipper was founded in 2018 by Ham Serunjogi (CEO) and Maijid Moujaled (President) and it is headquartered in San Francisco, USA. As Chipper Cash is experiencing rapid user adoption, Chipper has opened offices in multiple countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, United Kingdom and South Africa. The Chipper Cash app was created to make money transfers easy and efficient for Africans at scale, to increase access to financial services for the underbanked and digitising daily payments to ease the reliance on cash. The app’s money transfer services are easy, secure and fast, which allows people to safely and freely move money domestically and across the continent. People can instantly purchase airtime and data from leading South African network providers to send to friends and family. In addition, Chipper Cash allows people to buy, sell and transfer Bitcoin, Ethereum and USD Coin all in one app.

Having raised $100 million in a Series C funding round in June 2021, and with over 4 million users globally, up to 80,000 transactions processed per day, Chipper Cash has experienced exponential growth since its first launch. The South African launch brings its African network to a total of seven African countries, which include Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria.

“Domestic remittances are a lifeline for many families in South Africa. Over R157 billion moves between provinces every year, with people sending money to their families and friends. This is not only the result of the 7.7 million people who moved to other provinces for work, but it is the overall 24 million South Africans who send money to each other daily. Chipper Cash’s free, fast and easy domestic P2P service is now available to them all. We believe it gives South Africans the freedom to instantly send money anywhere in the country from their mobile phones,” said Pardon Mujakachi, Vice President: Strategy & Partnerships, Africa.

Chipper Cash’s speed, very low cost and user-friendliness, challenges the high fees, complicated processes, and slow transfer times of traditional money transfer. Its interface is intuitive, simple and makes sending money to friends and family as simple and instant as sending a text.

Upon downloading the app, new users will register a profile to get into the Chipper Cash ecosystem. The app’s services, however, are not accessible unless users are verified. This verification process is done through a simple and easy to follow, compliance process commonly referred to as the know-you-customer process, where users submit an identity document, such as an ID or a valid passport. After verification is complete, users can then connect their existing online bank account to their Chipper Cash profile and start transacting. All personal information and transaction data are stored under secure encryption to protect against any unauthorised access.

“We are very excited for South Africa to experience Chipper Cash and take advantage of the app’s features such as fast and safe P2P money transfers, buying discounted airtime and data, and investing in selected cryptocurrencies. Soon, we will be introducing additional features such as cross-border transfers across countries within our network. People living in South Africa will be able to send money easily and safely to their families and friends in other African countries. We believe that Chipper Cash will help formalise local and regional remittances that tend to be sent through informal channels, which can be expensive, unsafe and unreliable. Such a meaningful difference is true to the goals and vision of Chipper Cash’s founders,” concluded Mujakachi.

 

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