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FlexClub secures $5m funding to scale its unique car subscription marketplace

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FlexClub Founders; Tinashe Ruzane, Marlon Gallardo and Rudolf Vavruch (Source: JNPR)

As consumer behaviour has been reshaped by the Covid-19 pandemic, e-commerce has fast become the new ‘high street’, with customers now buying everything from groceries and medicine to electronics and even houses all online.  While vehicle purchases are not excluded from these quickly shifting consumer preferences for online retail, the traditional process of buying, insuring and financing a car still remains a major challenge to building a simple digital car shopping experience, given the multiple parties required for the transaction – until FlexClub arrived that is.

Established in 2019, by co-founders Marlon Gallardo, Rudolf Vavruch and Tinashe Ruzane, FlexClub is an online marketplace that connects customers looking for flexible access to long-term cars with its partners offering car subscriptions. FlexClub’s innovative rewards technology enhances the experience for its members, while reducing risk for its partners.

Through this technology, FlexClub is able to assess the risk profile of its members using several alternative data sources and rewards its members for responsible vehicle usage.

Since it collaborated with Uber in Mexico and South Africa in 2019, helping their community of drivers subscribe for cars that become cheaper to purchase every month through rewards, the FlexClub model of all inclusive car subscriptions has gained significant traction. Their unique car subscription marketplace is now also being extended to retail consumers, who are also rewarded for safer driving while subscribing for the vehicle thanks to their ‘Club Rewards Program’.

And it’s not just prospective vehicle buyers who love the FlexClub approach; several leading global tech investors are recognising the value and scalability of the model, which resulted in FlexClub attracting a further US$5 million in equity and debt funding in 2020, significantly bolstering the $US1.2 million it had already raised in 2019.

According to FlexClub co-founder and CEO, Tinashe Ruzane, their latest fundraising round, led by Kindred Ventures, early backers of global technology businesses such as Uber, Postmates, Virgin Hyperloop and Coinbase, demonstrates the recognition by some of the world’s foremost venture investors of the potential for the FlexClub model and the confidence in the strength of its leadership team deeply experienced in mobility.

“With seasoned and highly respected VC investors like Kindred Ventures, CRE Venture Capital and Endeavor getting behind our mission, we’re well placed to usher in the future of how people get cars in markets like Mexico and South Africa” Ruzane says, “and the support from prominent angel investors, like Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress), Federico Ranero (COO of KAVAK), Tariq Zaid (formerly of Shopify and Getaround) and Ron Pragides (formerly of Twitter and Salesforce), further validates the incredible global opportunity for our technology to reimagine commerce in the automotive industry.”

Accordingto Ruzane, the expected transformation of how people acquire their vehicles is not unlike the evolution that happened over the past decade in other consumer sectors such as music retail.

“10 years ago, most people would struggle to imagine a world in which CDs were not the dominant driver of music industry revenues,” he explains, “but today, thanks to the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, streaming accounts for more than 80% of all music revenues generated in the U.S. The industry successfully transitioned from product-led distribution to service-led distribution.” Ruzane is adamant that car subscriptions will drive the same radical transformation of the automotive industry distribution model and he believes that the early traction found by FlexClub with its unique car subscription marketplace points to a much larger opportunity to catalyze this transformation for its partners and members.

“Our partners recognise the opportunity to work with FlexClub to look beyond just driving unit sales of vehicles and transition towards building deeper relationships with customers through this service-driven approach. All while diversifying away from the reliance the auto industry now has on consumer vehicle financing to drive revenue,” he explains, “and the buy-in we have seen from partners like Avis and other major automotive distributors, demonstrates that car subscriptions are finally emerging into the automotive zeitgeist.”

Ruzanesays that FlexClub’s partners are quite diverse, ranging from small fleet owners to multinational fleet operators looking to easily launch car subscription offers on the FlexClub marketplace without requiring significant investment in new technology, infrastructure or operations. Just two years ago, FlexClub’s partners were predominantly individuals looking to earn passive income from owning one or two cars offered on subscription to members. A year ago, private debt funds entered the scene with an interest in the yield opportunity from funding car subscription fleets. Today, partners on FlexClub also include major brands like Avis with tens of thousands of vehicles in their fleet and the operational wherewithal to scale across multiple cities on the FlexClub marketplace.

“Our members are drawn to the fact that, in just a few clicks, they can get flexible access to a car that suits their needs in under a week. Members can choose vehicles from an array of reputable partners, without the need for large upfront deposits, high balloon payment obligations, or rigid long-term vehicle finance contracts; and they always have the freedom to buy the car, return it, or swap it at any time, without incurring any penalties or unexpected costs.”

“By enhancing and simplifying the car shopping experience for our members, and better managing the risk for our partners, FlexClub is supporting the redesign of the auto commerce landscape,” Ruzane concludes, “and we firmly believe that car subscriptions will be one of the fastest-growing segments of automotive retail over the next decade, especially as a growing number of car rental groups, car manufacturers, car dealer groups, leasing companies and even vehicle financiers start to invest more meaningfully in launching their own car subscription offers across the globe. FlexClub is a powerful bridge between the fleets our partners control and the digital car shopping experienceo our members desire.”

 

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Africa’s CEOs to empower youth for the digital age at the All4Youth Regional Alliance flagship event

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All4Youth Regional Alliance Senior leaders (Image: All4Youth SSA)

We aim to support 1 million young people to find work and plan their transition to the digital economy between now and 2022 through a flagship event of All4Youth Regional Alliance, “CEO & Youth Connect”. A collaborative intervention led by various multinational companies dedicated to reduce youth unemployment across Sub-Saharan Africa. Senior leaders from the alliance will meet on November 8, 2021, to discuss skills of the future required in their organizations as well as share programs, training, and initiatives designed to prepare youth for the digital era. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic crisis, forcing tens of millions of people out of work. As economies continue with the reopening journey, some jobs may not come back, yet we continue to see a rise in the number of youth joining the job market. “We have therefore put the best of our resources to support this recovery, including using data to understand the most in-demand roles, supporting with skilling and reskilling needs for job seekers and job creators. Partnerships such as this will play a critical role and will support us to scale us to more youth and increase the impact across the African continent” noted Ghada Khalifa, Director for Microsoft Philanthropies for Middle East and Africa.

Bruno Olierhoek, Chairman and Managing Director at Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region emphasized the importance of senior leaders taking keen interests in the development and ultimate successes of the youth.  “We are driven by our inspiring purpose that is so relevant in our East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR) and we want to do good by addressing societal challenges such as climate change, sustainability and youth unemployment. To help contribute to these major challenges, we realize the need to work in an ecosystem which is entrenched around long-term thinking, with immediate actions. Through our involvement in different programmes supporting the youth in Employment & Employability, Entrepreneurship and Agri-preneurship we are committed to continuously define projects that are fully integrated in our value chain for them to be viable over the long term and be able to make a real meaningful impact for the community and us.”

“The youth of today are the builders and leaders of tomorrow. As Adcorp we know that enabling agility, focus and skill in the youth of today is the key to unlocking their potential for tomorrow ‘’ highlighted Dr John Wentzel, Chief Executive Officer, Adcorp Group. 

In the last two years, alliance partners have reached over 150,000 young people, empowered over 3000 young people through employability and mentorship programmes.  Giving high potential young talent access to a network of high performing industry professionals that accelerate opportunities, career and personal development goals.

We encourage young people to register for the upcoming event to click here and learn more about in-demand skills, insights to future of work and opportunities alliance partners have available for youth. 

 

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AVEVA to Showcase World-leading Smart City Solutions at GITEX Technology Week 2021

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AVEVA Head of MEA, Dr. Tariq Aslam (Image: Supplied)

AVEVA, a global leader in industrial software, driving digital transformation and sustainability, today announced that it is participating in GITEX Technology Week 2021 to be held from 17–21 October. Together with its strategic partner, Schneider Electric, AVEVA will demonstrate its AVEVA™ Unified Operations Center for Smart Cities, which seamlessly integrates systems, sites, people and assets for cities of the future, at the Middle East’s largest technology exhibition.

With increasing urbanization, mounting cost pressures, and demand for improved quality of life, there is now a global move towards infrastructure consolidation, upgrade, and continuous improvement of cities. AVEVA’s Unified Operations Center for Smart Cities drives streamlined operational efficiency and reduced energy costs, while promoting adherence to cybersecurity, safety, and regulatory compliance.

Our Unified Operations Center is the command-and-control solution for infrastructure and smart city operators based on an integrative ‘System of Systems’ approach. It can be used to collate information from various data sources to anticipate and resolve problems even before they are presented, coordinate various resources and processes for seamless operation, and generally make more strategic decisions. It converges OT and IT technology into a single pane-of-glass solution, where the operator can effectively monitor and control entire city operations through a ‘City in a Box’ approach as we like to call it,” says Dr Tariq Aslam, Head of MEA, AVEVA.

AVEVA’s Unified Operations Center for Smart Cities and Schneider Electric’s IoT-enabled sustainability platform – EcoStruxure Resource Advisor offer smart city operators a powerful solution. The EcoStruxure Resource Advisor is a best-in-class, AI-assisted, cloud-based solution for managing cross-enterprise energy and sustainability data, which shows how operators can track data across more than 400 categories to have near real-time access to their resource performance.

EcoStruxure is powered by Microsoft Azure enabling integration and interoperability to turn data into meaningful insights. The data is paired with Schneider’s unique approach to energy and sustainability consulting, bringing together technology and expertise, resulting in a “mind-plus-machine” approach to climate action.

“AVEVA, Schneider Electric and Microsoft are accelerating the delivery of smart city innovation across regions. Our unique combination of capabilities helps municipalities capitalize on the power of technology to become more agile, resilient, and sustainable. We plan to demonstrate smart cities in action on our Unified Operations Center with our strategic partners, Schneider Electric and Microsoft on their stands,” Dr Aslam adds.

“We will be showcasing the AVEVA Unified Operations Center for Smart Cities, to demonstrate how technologies such as AI and big data can transform how an urban environment is run to make it more efficient, greener, and better for the public and businesses,” says Ayman Ismail, Industry and Business Development VP, Schneider Electric Gulf Countries. “Digitization and digital technologies will make our cities more efficient and more sustainable, and we must prioritize technology developments as we look to create places to live that improve the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.”

It is estimated that by 2030, the world will have 43 megacities, each with more than 10 million inhabitants. Converting existing infrastructure to smart infrastructure is the key to improving cities. With unified data and analytics, smart city operators are empowered with better information, which means they can make more informed decision to optimize operations for the new environment in which they are operating.

AVEVA’s vast portfolio of smart city software solutions span facilities management, utilities, transportation, and data centers. Taking an integrated approach, AVEVA’s solutions enable disparate functions to collect, analyze, and then act on unified and holistic intelligence – supported by the help of real-time data – to enable civic leaders to make better decisions and improve living standards.

Due to the scalability of the solution, Unified Operations Center is ideally suited for not just megacities but also smaller municipalities looking to take an integrated system of systems approach to monitoring and controlling their city operations. AVEVA works with megacities such as London, as well as smaller municipalities with populations of 50,000 or fewer, that are looking to leverage technology to improve sustainability and resilience.

AVEVA will be holding demos of its Unified Operations Center solution on Schneider Electric’s stand H5-B40. Senior representatives from the company will be at GITEX Technology Week 2021 to meet with customers and partners and share their global success stories with them.

 

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Klasha raises $2.4 Million to build technology for cross-border commerce in Africa

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Klasha team (Image: Klasha)

Klasha, a San Francisco based cross-border technology company, today announced that it has raised $2.4 million in seed funding to build technology infrastructure for cross-border commerce in Africa. The investment round was led by Greycroft with participation from Seedcamp, Berrywood Capital, AVG Basecamp Fund, Practical VC, Plug and Play, First Round VC, Expert Dojo, 2.12 Angels, MiLA Capital and angels, including Joe Cross, Ex-Marketing Head at Wise (formerly TransferWise), Santosh Ankola, Ex-Head of Product at TechCrunch and Michael Pennington, Co-founder of Gumtree.

With this investment, Klasha will expand its technology to help international B2B and B2C businesses such as ASOS, Zara, Amazon or Zoom to receive payments seamlessly online in African currencies from consumers across Africa. Klasha’s core technology allows African consumers to pay international online and offline retailers in African currencies while the retailers receive payouts in their dominant currencies, including USD, GBP, EUR. Klasha is currently available in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya and will invest in driving more revenue, growing its current 10,000 customer base, and expanding into new markets with three more African countries set to go live by Q4 this year.

In the past few months, Klasha has continued to power international businesses with the tools they need to grow and expand into Africa. Within five short months of launching, Klasha has already processed more than 20,000 transactions across Africa with an average 366% MoM growth rate.

Klasha has built plugin integrations for WooCommerceOpenCart and BigCommerce. Its integration library is rapidly growing to accommodate even more platforms, including Wix, Ecwid, Magneto and Commerce Cloud. And with an official partnership with BigCommerce, the Klasha Checkout will reach thousands of e-commerce stores globally, enabling them to receive payments online from Africa.

Africa presents vast opportunities for scaling quickly in commerce. There are more than 400 million internet users in Africa, and the total value of e-commerce is expected to reach $29 billion by 2022. Still, the ability to pay online with African money methods including cards, M-Pesa, bank transfer and mobile money is challenging for consumers on the ground. Klasha believes that consumers in Africa should have built technology to facilitate the same frictionless access to the goods they want regardless of their geographic location.

  1. Klasha Checkout: A technology solution that allows international merchants to collect payments from Africa in local currencies. The checkout can be integrated into any e-commerce platform, website or app. Through this checkout, customers in Africa can make payments online using their preferred African payment method (card, bank account, USSD, M-Pesa, Mobile Money) in their local African currency, and the merchant receives the equivalent in their chosen currency. Customers can also enjoy cheap and fast delivery of their goods.
  1. Klasha Payment Links: A no-code option to accept payments for B2B and B2C merchants or independent sellers that do not have an e-commerce storefront. The Klasha Payment Link provides a flexible and easy way for international businesses to collect payments from customers in Africa without needing a website, app, or any coding skills. With just a few clicks, businesses can create a simple custom checkout page directly from their KlashaDash dashboard and share it with their customers via email, WhatsApp or other social media platforms to receive payments.
  1. Klasha mobile app: A secure app that allows you to make local and international payments online in your local African currencies without any restrictions. With the Klasha mobile app, you can send and receive money from family and friends in Nigeria, Ghana or Kenya who use the app. No monthly charges. You can also create a virtual card, fund it with NGN, KES or GHC, see all your transactions, including the amount paid, merchant details, card information and much more.
  1. KlashaWire – A fast and easy way for businesses to pay their suppliers overseas in their preferred African currency, whether Naira, Cedis or other currencies. The suppliers, on the other end, receive the money in the dominant currency of their choice. With this feature, small business owners can make large payments to suppliers overseas with ease while lowering the cost of the transaction directly on the Klasha dashboard. When payments are made, the supplier generally receives it in their dominant currency in two business days.

29-year-old Jess Anuna, Founder and CEO of Klasha, ex-Amazon, Net-a-Porter and Shopify, said: “By 2025, half of the world’s population will live in Africa. At Klasha, we’re building the technology to facilitate frictionless cross-border payments and allow international businesses to scale seamlessly into Africa through our API. Equally, we’re giving consumers in Africa the same access to the global e-commerce economy experienced on other continents. It is imperative that African consumers are able to remain globally competitive, which includes having access to the goods they want without payment or delivery restrictions.”

Alison Lange Engel, Partner at Greycroft, said”Klasha’s technology allows for seamless cross-border transactions at a time when Africa is rapidly growing and needs both payment and logistics solutions for online commerce. We’re excited to support Klasha and their mission in simplifying borderless payments for commerce in Africa.”

Oloyede Oladimeji, CTO of Klasha, said: “We have built a secure and reliable commerce solution from scratch using modern technologies. As a business, it is important that we not only build but move fast. Every day, we are scaling our solution to solving a unique problem, connecting Africa to global merchants. Africa is a growing economy with huge potential but low card payment penetration, and we are enabling consumers in Africa to access products irrespective of their payment methods. Our multi-currency technology saves merchants the stress of dealing with all the different currencies available in Africa, allowing them to receive payouts in their dominant currency. What is amazing is not what we have built already but what we are going to build.”

Reshma Sohoni, Founding Partner at Seedcamp, said: ‘’As Africa continues to undergo digitisation, there’s an increasing opportunity for online businesses in Europe and US to garner market share quickly by accepting payments online in African currencies due to the nascent stage of commerce on the continent. Klasha is our first investment in Africa which will allow frictionless scalability for merchants into the continent through their cross-border payment technology, enabling billions of underserved consumers to access their services.’’

Klasha remains committed to simplifying cross-border payments for commerce in Africa and empowering businesses with the tools they need to grow and expand into a market full of energized consumers.

Source: Klasha

 

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