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Interview with Donors for Africa Founder, Chidi Ezeigbo Koldsweat

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Chidi Ezeigbo Koldsweat,  Founder, Donors for Africa and a Development Expert. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, she speaks on how her social enterprise, Donor for Africa is passionately empowering individuals and non-profits working hard to achieve the SDGs with the right tools to access funds and the right skills to implement their programs. Excerpts.

 

 

Tell us about yourself and your business.

Chidi Ezeigbo Koldsweat, has over ten years’ experience in the non-profit sector, and earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration and International Affairs from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She is the founder Donors for Africa where she works to strengthen the capacity of non-profits and social enterprises to access funds and achieve their vision towards the Sustainable Development Goals. We achieve our goal through grant writing, training and capacity building programs that utilizes technology. With online training platforms and resource tools; we empower individuals and non-profits working hard to achieve the SDGs with the right skills to implement their programs. Many of the social innovators we have trained have accessed funding through grants writing and we hope to partner and continue to replicate our solutions across Africa.

My experience in development spans across different sectors some of which includes HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Women in Leadership and Public Service, Empowerment for the Girl Child, Breast Cancer, Autism and  Depression.

Over the years, she has received several awards and recognition some of which includes;

Finalist – Africa’s Most Influential Woman in Business & Government for Civil Society Organization (2014), Selected as a 2013 Vital Voices Inaugural Lead Fellow, Awarded a Moremi Fellowship for Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Development in Africa (Ghana.) as an emerging African leader; Nominated in the One World Blog Action among the “100 Unseen Women changing her World”(2011); led a social initiative “Impact for Change” where we provide leadership and financial assistance to young teenage girls from very impoverished backgrounds who desire to further their education.

 

 

What was your startup capital and how were you able to raise it ?

Money is most times not the first thing you need to start a business. What you need is an idea strong enough for you to believe in. You have to believe in it enough to sell. My business started with an idea and that idea kept growing and created opportunities for me to provide a solution. Then I used the rewards received from the solutions created to generate income to run the business.

I strongly believe that your ability to communicate your idea, business or vision in a very convincing way can significantly increase your chances of raising funding either through sales or investment.

For businesses, it is also very important to ask what kind of funding are you looking for. Equity, debt or free capital (like grants, prize awards or informal funding)? For this kind of debt free funding which is the easiest  to secure; businesses must begin to ask themselves HOW do they secure these funds?  What do they need  to do to become grant worthy? This is where we come in- at Donors For Africa, we help social innovators ,non-profits and social enterprises with the tools they need to secure debt free capital.  We also advice and strengthen their capacity to achieve the SDG’s through grant writing trainings and capacity building programs.

Businesses must be deliberate about where they source for funds and who is funding the kind of work they do. Rather than randomly sending out proposals and business plans to anyone and everyone, they need to clarify what options are available for the kind of capital they are looking for? Do you know their requirements, criteria for investing in or financing a business like yours? Get to work by asking the right questions.

 

 

What are some of the challenges you face in your business and how do you overcome those challenges?

Running a one man show: When you start, this may be absolutely necessary as you are the sales rep, strategist, program manager etc. however, if you intend to grow, you must delegate, hire virtual assistants, volunteers or interns that are willing to take up the role.  Delegating or re-assigning some part of your work will give you an opportunity to focus on the important strategies you must implement to get to the next level of your business. It would create an opportunity to network, grow and evolve.

Prioritizing: The role of time management is very important when starting out. Focusing on what is important can play a pivotal role in the success of your business. For a while I struggled with this however I learnt the act of planning my activities and my weeks ahead of time. I also practiced a time saving technique called batching, where you segment similar activities together within a specified time frame avoiding all kinds of distractions during this time. Also looking at your business plan consistently will provide clarity as to what you need to focus on per time and this can make a lot of difference as you can easily identify if you  are focusing on your long or short term goals per time.

 

 

Where do you see your business in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?

In 5 years Donors for Africa will  be your go to organization when looking for social innovators or non profits to fund in Africa and around the world. We will have  a pool of trained social innovators and non-profits who have the expertise to access funding through grant writing, developing fundraising strategies and engaging with donor organizations and building a sustainability plan.

We continue to extensively engage our donors, build relationships with funding organizations, philanthropy organizations and government agencies to make these funding available to trusted institutions and individuals who are accountable.

 

 

 

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa?

I would say it is a fantastic idea.

According to The World Bank Group; business growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to have rebounded to 2.4 percent in 2017 so some key factors to consider before starting a business or investing in Africa are;

Provide tailor made solutions. The African continent is home to 54 countries. Each country has its unique business and market trends. The typical African in these different countries havedifferent needs and wants.  If you want to run a sustainable business, identify their unique needs and provide the solutions. Don’t assume that the different countries are plagued with the same issues.

Millions of entrepreneurs have solved diverse problems simply by providing solutions in technology, health, education etc. The easiest way to build a sustainable brand is to find a problem on the continent, solve them,achieve impressive profit margins and hopefully receive lots of grants. However, as you are excited about the problem, also think about the challenges you may face such as electricity, manpower, in-depth knowledge of the law and applicable policies; that way, it would be easier to understand the reality of the challenges awaiting you and hopefully come up with a solution.

Do your research , don’t believe that some of the solutions outside the continent are applicable to  Africans  for example while we love to own new technology, most Africans are not really driven by them; we would still find ways to extend the live span of our technology products so rather than purchase  new laptops with every new release, we are thinking how do we repair and continue using the existing material so we can extend its use?.  Find out all you need to about the intended business.  Do not be excited about an idea and start implementing, identify what problem you are solving, who your beneficiaries are , what solutions you need and how you intend to solve the problem. Identify trusted local partners; you need a strong eye  who understand the market terrain.

 

 

How is your business participating to the development of Africa?

Donors for Africa works to strengthen the capacity of social innovators, non-profits and social enterprises to access funds and achieve their vision towards the Sustainable Development Goals. We work closely with every development partner in every sector. We operate under 3 pillars; Strategic Planning, Institutional Strengthening and Grant Writing Training and Fundraising Strategy  where we conduct  grant writing , fundraising strategies and sometimes highly discounted online and in person trainings for  non-profits, social enterprises and businesses who are working towards the achievement of the SDGs

Our support to development in Africa is technical as our vision is to build a strong network of non-profits and social enterprises that donor organizations can TRUST to fund and be assured of their capacity to deliver.

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Defendis, a Moroccan startup launches its cyber threat intelligence platform at GITEX Africa

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Defendis Co-Founders (Image: Supplied).

Defendis, a Moroccan cybersecurity startup with an innovative approach to Threat Intelligence, emerges from stealth with the launch of its AI-powered platform, enabling organisations to proactively contain data leaks and neutralise cyberattacks.

Defendis’s approach goes beyond traditional IOCs by providing Banks, Government Agencies, and Businesses the capability to understand what cybercriminals are doing before an attack. The platform taps into AI to identify credentials and payment Cards leaks, asset vulnerabilities, phishing attacks, fraudulent domains, and online brand impersonation attempts.

“Our mission is to provide organisations, especially those with limited resources and capabilities, with advanced cybersecurity solutions to adapt to the ever-changing threat landscape and regulatory requirements,” says Amine Bajeddi, co-founder and CEO of Defendis.

Defendis is founded and led by a team of talented young Moroccan entrepreneurs passionate about cybersecurity:

Amine Bajeddi, Co-founder and CEO: A graduate of Al Akhawayn University in Morocco and the University of Sussex in the UK, Amine Bajeddi has extensive experience in product development and business strategy. He is now dedicated to Defendis to develop cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions.

Charafeddine Nassiri, Co-founder and CTO: Passionate about cybersecurity since the age of 15, Charafeddine Nassiri is a brilliant self-taught individual. Having identified and fixed over 1,114 vulnerabilities through bug bounty programs, he was able to launch his career as a cybersecurity consultant in 2019. Today, as CTO of Defendis, he leads the development of new solutions capable of transforming the cybersecurity landscape.

Marouane Sabri, Co-founder and CMO: A graduate in communication from Al Akhawayn University in Morocco and a master’s degree in digital marketing from the University of Southampton, Marouane Sabri has extensive experience in marketing and business development. He has held key positions at Avito and Garena before joining Defendis to lead marketing and communication efforts.

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RevUp Women Initiative Awards $100,000 In Grants to 10 Female Entrepreneurs

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The RevUp Women Initiative hosted its highly anticipated Business Showcase, themed “Investing in Women, Inspiring Futures.” The event, organized by AfriLabs and Visa Foundation, brought together a diverse array of stakeholders committed to fostering inclusive economic growth through the empowerment of women entrepreneurs.

The Opening Ceremony, guided by Nanko Madu, Director of Programmes at AfriLabs, commenced with a warm welcome address, setting the tone for the day’s proceedings. Attendees were treated to a visual journey through the accomplishments of RevUp Women’s First Cohort, showcased in captivating highlights.

A highlight of the event was the Keynote Address delivered by Mrs. Ifeyinwa Ighodalo, Co-founder at WIMBIZ, who passionately spoke about the importance of investing in women and the transformative impact it can have on communities and economies.

‘It is my distinct honor and privilege to stand before you today as we gather to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women entrepreneurs and to rally behind the RevUp Women Initiative. This initiative not only celebrates the indomitable spirit, resilience, and determination of women in general but also highlights the importance of investing in women and women-owned businesses as a means of building and inspiring a future that is inclusive, diverse, and prosperous for all,’ stated Mrs. Ifeyinwa Ighodalo, Co-founder at WIMBIZ.

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Following the keynote, a thought-provoking Panel Discussion ensued, moderated by Nanko Madu, focusing on “Fostering Inclusive Growth Through Women’s Economic Participation.” The panel featured esteemed personalities including Ms. Lilian Olubi, Judge at The Next Titan Nigeria; Ms. Hajara Pitan, Wealth Coach & Business Strategist at Audacity to Soar; Sherifah Balogun, Director of Strategy, Funding, and Stakeholder Management at LSETF; and Annabel Angwenyi, Founder at Ziada. Their insights illuminated pathways for enhancing women’s economic empowerment across the continent.

Engagement continued with a lively Question & Answer session, allowing attendees to interact directly with the panelists and delve deeper into key issues surrounding women’s economic participation. The pinnacle of the event was the much-anticipated Award Ceremony, where the top ten finalists of a comprehensive selection process were announced as winners each receiving a grant of 10,000 USD:

  • Baby Grubz (Lagos, Nigeria).
  • Queen Amina Medical Integration (Abuja, Nigeria).
  • Ecokud Limited (Kisumu, Kenya).
  • Ziada, Kele Makgale (Pty) Ltd (Nairobi Kenya).
  • Ndiqala (PTY) Ltd (Johannesburg, South Africa).
  • WaziEats (Douala, Cameroon).
  • V’s VitaLife (Yaounde, Cameroon).
  • Mali Food (Lubumbashi, DRC).
  • P.aktion (Kinshasa, DRC).

The awards celebrated the resilience, innovation, and dedication of these trailblazing entrepreneurs.

“Investing in women isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic decision with far-reaching economic benefits.  As we strive for inclusive growth, it’s imperative that we recognize and harness the potential of women as drivers of economic development,” emphasized Nanko Madu, Director of Programmes at AfriLabs.

“Despite the challenges women entrepreneurs face, they demonstrate an unparalleled tenacity and determination to succeed,” said Najada Kumbuli, Head of Investments, Visa Foundation. “Supporting the growth of women-owned businesses is crucial for fostering an economy that works for everyone, everywhere.”

The RevUp Women Initiative Business Showcase not only celebrated the achievements of women entrepreneurs but also served as a catalyst for driving meaningful change and fostering a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.

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Link Me: Revolutionising Ride-Sharing for Gen Z In South Africa

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Link Me Founder, Sean Murefu.

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is key, but consumers are also seeking more value from the services they use. Enter Link Me, a ride-sharing app tailored specifically for Gen Z in South Africa. Founded by 21-year-old entrepreneur Sean Murefu, Link Me is not just another ride-sharing app but a lifestyle brand on a mission to redefine urban mobility and offer an unparalleled experience to its users.

Link Me recognises that we are in an era where people expect more in return for the services they use. With a focus on providing value-added services and fostering a sense of community, Link Me aims to go beyond simply getting users from point A to point B but it’s about delivering an experience.

“At Link Me, we understand that consumers want more than just a ride,” explains Sean Murefu, the driving force behind the app. “They want value, they want convenience, and they want to feel connected. That’s why we’ve designed Link Me to offer more than just transportation. We’re offering an experience.”

One of the key features that sets Link Me apart is its user-friendly interface, making booking a ride quick and easy. With just a few taps on their smartphones, users will soon be able to access a network of reliable drivers and track their journey in real-time. Safety is also a top priority, with thorough background checks for all drivers and in-app safety features ensuring peace of mind for both riders and drivers.

But Link Me doesn’t stop at transportation. As part of its mission to become a lifestyle brand, the app will host public and private events for its users, fostering a sense of community and belonging. Additionally, Link Me will provide its drivers with a bimonthly lottery as a bonus on top of the money they earned, offering them the chance to win exciting prizes and incentives.

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“We want to give our users more than just a ride—we want to give them an unforgettable experience,” says Murefu. As Link Me prepares for its official launch, anticipation is building among prospective users eager to experience its unique blend of convenience, community, and value. With a commitment to providing exceptional service and fostering a sense of belonging, The app is poised to revolutionise urban mobility for Gen Z in South Africa and beyond.

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