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Top 20 Francophone African Startups Enter World Bank Group Tech Acceleration Program

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L’Afrique Excelle’s start-ups specialize in tech solutions for the African market designed to expand reach and access to services

BAMAKO, Mali, March 12, 2019/ — Twenty of the most promising Francophone African tech start-ups will participate in the L’Afrique Excelle (Afrique-Excelle.com) residency in Mali, a full-week bootcamp set to kick off the Francophone edition of the World Bank Group’sXL Africa (www.XL-Africa.com), tech start-up accelerator. From March 24 to 30, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to network and learn from leading industry experts, increase their regional visibility and network with potential corporate partners and investors.

L’Afrique Excelle is the francophone adaptation of the popular XL Africa program which seeks to foster a stronger connection between entrepreneurs in Anglophone and Francophone Africa while providing support to those from less developed digital ecosystems, particularly in fragile countries such as the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Togo and Mali. The launch of L’Afrique Excelle coincides with several new ecosystem initiatives from the public and private sectors, including the French Development Agency’s Digital Africa (http://bit.ly/2NYh4oH) initiative, the recently established Africa-focused investment funds extending their reach beyond Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa in addition to the upcoming Francophone Africa Investor Summit (FAIS) (www.FrancophoneAfricaInvestorSummit.com), a regional West Africa event designed to convene early-stage investors, large companies, and business-supporting organizations.

L’Afrique Excelle’s start-ups specialize in tech solutions for the African market designed to expand reach and access to services. These include fintech, transportation, healthcare, cleantech, data analytics and enterprise software. Companies in the program have their products or services currently available in one or more Francophone African markets, have strong revenues, and are well-positioned for growth and cross-border expansion. During the Mali Residency, this cohort will benefit from training, individual consultations and peer-to-peer learning, The Residency will conclude with a venture showcase at the Francophone Africa Investor Summit. A select 10 companies will advance to the France Residency in May 2019, where they will receive intensive training and mentoring at thecamp (TheCamp.fr) withSophia Business Angels (SophiaBusinessAngels.com), coaching by experts at Deloitte‘s (http://bit.ly/2TyEZ43) and Google‘s (http://bit.ly/2T0p2yJ) offices, and get exposure to investors at the upcoming AfroBytes (www.AfroBytes.com) and VivaTech(VivaTechnology.com) conferences to be held in Paris on May 15-18, 2019. With participation from Africa’s leading investment groups,L’Afrique Excelle will help these start-ups attract early stage capital between US$250,000 and US$5 million.

“Similar to the XL Africa program, L’Afrique Excelle has attracted a number of growth-oriented digital start-ups from Francophone Africa. Many of them have already raised seed funding, totaling over $11 million, and are active in several African markets. This is a strong signal regarding the competitiveness of Francophone African start-ups and their contribution to Africa’s digital economies,” said Sebastian Molineus, Director of the Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation Global Practice at the World Bank Group (www.WorldBank.org).

The selection process for L’Afrique Excelle is led by an external investor committee. Over 30 VC funds and investment groups have come on board as official program partners, with the fund managers vetting the companies, reviewing their applications and conducting interviews. The selection was completed by a panel of industry experts from prominent Africa-focused funds including Proparco(www.Proparco.fr/fr), Orange Digital Ventures (DigitalVentures.orange.com), GSMA (http://bit.ly/2ES39MK), Brightmore Capital(BrightmoreCapital.com), BlackPearl (www.BlackPearlCap.com/BPC/), Partech (PartechPartners.com), AHL Venture Partners(www.AHLVenturePartners.com), GreenTec Capital (GreenTec-Capital.com), Outlierz Ventures (www.Outlierz.co), Accion(www.Accion.org), First Growth Fund, Compass VC (http://bit.ly/2HdMSVY) and Oikocredit (www.Oikocredit.coop).

L’Afrique Excelle is an opportunity to highlight the work of companies from the francophone world and give them a well-deserved and much needed exposure,” lauded Sofien V. Sidhoum, Partner at GreenTec Capital. “I enjoyed discussing with the founders I have been introduced to and found their respective models to be of great interest and responding to clear and present needs. I look forward to the next steps and especially the VivaTech part where start-ups will have a powerful stage to showcase their endeavors. I am already convinced that this kind of program should be run on a yearly basis.”

“Supporting a new generation of African entrepreneurs in building innovative business models to solve the continent’s challenges is at the core of our mission” said Babacar Seck, investment officer at Proparco. “Our participation in L’Afrique Excelle enables us to meet with exceptional entrepreneurs who dedicate their efforts to solving significant challenges on the continent.”

The selected start-ups participating in the event are:

StarNews Mobile (StarnewsMobile.com) (Media / Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast) Lifi Led (www.Lifi-Led.ci) (Cleantech / Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, CAR, Liberia, Madagascar)
GiftedMom (GiftedMom.co) (Healthtech / Cameroon, Ivory Coast) AmA (Fintech / Senegal)
Paps (Paps.sn) (Logistics/ Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast) LONO (www.LONOci.com) (Cleantech / Ivory Coast)
Tripafrique (www.TripAfrique.com) (Transport / Ivory Coast) Sudpay (Sudpay.com) (Fintech / Senegal, Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Guinea)
Firefly Media (FireflyMedia.tv) (Adtech, Transport / Senegal) Exportunity GBC2 (www.Exportunity.company) (Fintech, Import/Export / Mauritius, Benin, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Togo)
Solaris Offgrid (www.SolarisOffgrid.com) (Fintech, SaaS, Solar / Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cameroon, Rwanda) SmartOne (www.SmartOne-Group.com) (Big Data / Madagascar, Mauritius)
Optimetriks (Optimetriks.com) (Retail Technology / Mali, Senegal, Niger, Ghana, Kenya) CityTaps (www.CityTaps.org) (Water & Sanitation / Niger, Senegal)
MaTontine (Matontine.com/en/) (Fintech / Senegal, Ivory Coast) Diool (www.Diool.com) (Fintech / Cameroon)
LAfricaMobile (LAfricaMobile.com) (Connectivity, SaaS, API / Senegal, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Burkina Faso) OniriQ (OniriQ.com) (Cleantech, Offgrid Energy / Senegal)
Ouicarry (www.Ouicarry.com) (Logistics/ Senegal, Benin, Mali, Togo Eyone (www.Eyone.net) (Healthtech / Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger)

L’Afrique Excelle is powered by the World Bank Group and the Tubaniso Agribusiness and Innovation Center (TAIC) (http://bit.ly/2u0Jx41) with financial assistance from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) (www.AICS.gov.it/language/en/) and implemented by VC4A (https://vc4a.com), Suguba (https://www.Suguba.org) and Sahel’Innov(https://www.SahelInnov.org).

For more information on the program and the selected start-ups, visit www.Afrique-Excelle.com.

To attend the Francophone Africa Investor Summit, visit www.FrancophoneAfricaInvestorSummit.com.

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African fintech aYo looks to data to drive growth

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African fintech aYo Holdings Group CEO, Marius Botha (Image: Supplied)

African fintech aYo Holdings is transforming its technology back end and data management approach as it gears up to drive greater scale, better customer experience and faster access to markets across the African continent in the coming years.

The company already has more than 15 million customers using its microinsurance products across Uganda, Ghana, Zambia and Côte d’Ivoire, and Group CEO Marius Botha says its vision is to grow into the largest financial services technology platform in Africa by enabling the distribution of a range of affordable and accessible micro financial services products.

aYo and its shareholder, MTN, are currently working on the final details of a partnership with a new insurance group for access to more underwriter licenses, in order to expand its product range and penetrate more markets.

“We see ourselves as a technology company first and foremost, that happens to sell microinsurance now. As our customers transition to a world where financial services are easily accessible via mobile phone and transacted via apps and other channels. We need to respond with a platform business model that will allow us to scale rapidly and cost-effectively manage material volumes of nano transactions,” said Botha.

Part of this technology evolution has seen aYo transition to a cloud data warehousing approach. Using Snowflake as a solution as it looks to deal with growing volumes of customer data.

“Data is a key asset that we want to grow and leverage, as it will allow us to drive better outcomes and value for our customers. Moving into a new generation data warehousing capability gives us the ability to analyse usable data faster, and build automated models for particular use cases. Like more granular target market segmentation, retention strategies and targeted customer propositions,” said Botha.

Choice of technology plays a critical role in ensuring the affordability of micro financial services by driving ‘frictional costs’ out of the system. Like the costings involved in using legacy tools and processes, or online physical hosting solutions. A solution like Snowflake helps the company to scale up and down according to demand. And makes it easier to build real-time reporting capabilities which are key strategic aims.

“We’re excited to be experimenting with world-class technologies that help accelerate our vision to enable first-time access to financial services for many African consumers, and bring them into the economic mainstream. That’s where insurtechs are truly contributing to financial inclusion across the continent, and making a positive difference to people’s lives,” said Botha.

 

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Social media main enabler for growth among women-owned businesses

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95% of women SMEs in the region identify social media channels as the top tool to drive their business ventures

Mastercard, the Official Payment Technology Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai, and Female Fusion Network unveiled new research at the first in a series of workshops for the region’s female entrepreneurs at the world’s largest cultural gathering.

Held at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Women’s Pavilion, in collaboration with Cartier, the session focused on the power of the digital economy in enabling women-owned businesses to go online. In a study conducted among Female Fusion’s network of 20,000+ members across the region, it was revealed that 95% of women SMEs in the region identify social media channels as the top tool for their business ventures. Other channels include their own e-commerce websites (72%) as well as messaging services such as Facebook and Whatsapp (50%).

In addition, three out of four (72%) women-owned businesses said they rely on word of mouth to market their products and services. The workshop identified how SMEs can make the most of their online footprint, and better connect to their consumers in a digital economy.

Speakers included Ngozi Megwa, Senior Vice President, Digital Partnerships MEA, Mastercard, Sarah Beydoun, Founder and Creative Director of social impact fashion business Sarah’s Bag in Lebanon, Ioanna Angelidaki, co-founder of Instashop, and Maureen Hall, Founder and CEO of COÉGA Sunwear.

“The findings from the study indicate a clear need for further education and empowerment. Mastercard has long pushed for the success and growth of women as we break gender barriers around the world. Digital tools and technologies are the greatest equalizer for businesses and as the shift towards e-commerce becomes increasingly permanent, we are committed to helping women businesses go digital and grow digital as they pursue their entrepreneurial passions,” said Ngozi Megwa, Senior Vice President, Digital Partnerships MEA, Mastercard.

The recent unveiling of the inaugural Mastercard MEA SME Confidence Index also revealed that in terms of a digital footprint of the region’s women entrepreneurs, social media (71%) leads the way followed by a company website (57%).

“We are proud of the successful launch of our workshop series in partnership with Mastercard. As a growing community of ambitious women leaders, Female Fusion Network looks to support our members with access to platforms that offer simple yet effective takeaways for them to grow their business. We look forward to having more of these impactful sessions during Expo 2020 Dubai,” said Jennifer Blandos, Managing Partner, Female Fusion Network.

Mastercard has made a global commitment to connect 25 million women entrepreneurs to the digital economy by 2025 as part of its goal to build a more sustainable and inclusive world. As part of its efforts, the technology leader recently launched  ‘The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey’ a first-of-its kind digital education platform that brings together a range of world-class academic and business resources to help small businesses learn and thrive.

 

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AOC dazzles visitors with a special game room at GITEX Technology 2021

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AOC Sales Director Middle East & Africa, Carol Ann Dias (Image: Hazem Abed)

AOC, the world’s leading manufacturer of computer monitors, highlights its presence at GITEX Technology Week 2021 through their authorized distributor, Hiperdist. At GITEX, AOC is showcasing a special game room where visitors can get try out the latest lineup of gaming monitors, some of which are made for professional e-gamers.

“Being one of the largest information technology exhibitions not just in the region but the whole world, AOC would not want to miss the opportunity to participate at GITEX 2021,” said Carol Ann Dias, Sales Director Middle East & Africa at AOC. “More than making our presence felt at the show, we are now focusing on emerging markets which is why we have partnered with Hiperdist due to their strong presence in the MEA region,” she added.

Some of AOC’s well-known monitors that include the Agon and the G2 line up are all on display at GITEX. Where visitors are encouraged to try out the new displays that offer some of the best technologies that make it fit for the gaming crowd.

Already a top choice by gaming professionals, the AGON AG352UCG6 features a 35-inch display with a 120HZ refresh rate. The curved design supports a WQHD (3440 x 1440) resolution that has 2.4x more pixels than a standard widescreen monitor. It also features a lighting panel at its rear which can be customized in colours of red, green or blue.

Also on display is the AOC C27G2 gaming monitor that comes in a 27-inch size with a 165Hz refresh rate. There’s also a 1ms response time for more accurate play. And Freesync support so high-intensity games are razor-sharp without ghosting.

Visitors can join and experience AOC monitors at the Hiperdist stand in Hall 3 E1 at GITEX Technology Week in the Dubai World Trade Centre.

 

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