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Covid-19: Breaking the curve

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Nzube Ufodike

It seems the economic argument has overtaken public health concerns, as many nations begin to roll-out plans for relaxing stay-at-home or shelter-in-place policies. Last week, we observed opposing points of view from two tech leaders; all this while medical advances are yet to discover a cure for the disease, and a publicly available vaccine is no less than 9-12 months away. Arguably, without livelihoods and jobs, we reduce the quality of life for many citizens we are fighting to preserve. This article highlights some ideas that are more middle ground.

Working from home has been more productive and liberating for some, but near impossible and absolute torture for others. Whether you cobernate or cocoon, one’s sector, job function, and living situation play a significant part in determining where one is placed on the WFH spectrum. I expect a rise in demand for a third space outside of the office or home that folks can be productive and work from.

It is also worth noting the increase in domestic violence that has been observed globally as families stay at ‘home’. Students have also been struggling to maintain their academic routine. A recently published article on a student’s road to Standford via the SARS epidemic provides several useful tips. I suspect platforms like Perlego, an online library of academic, professional and non-fiction eBooks, have also enjoyed a spike in user adoption.

A recent survey suggests 55% of workers in the UK are anxious about their safety if they were to return to work right now. It is comforting to hear UK ministers state there will be no ‘cliff-edge as we wind down schemes and ease citizens into work in a measured way’. Businesses that make sure they provide a safe environment for their employees and stakeholders to return to work, are more likely to be embraced by their colleagues and customers.

In addition, we also expect public health professionals to survey and develop protocol, procedures and policies that reduce the potential of a second wave. An excellent remote work playbook by ThoughtWorks is also worth poring over as the new normal involves more agile remote teams. China also provides a glimpse into what post-Corona work conditions may look like.

Some questions CEOs and business leaders continue to ask themselves include: What are we missing? What should we be doing? What other crises should we be prepared for instance climate change? How do we continue to execute our pivot? Is our digital transformation strategy fit-for-purpose? How can we prioritise the mental health of our workforce? Can we further localise our supply chain?

Also Read: Chynna Morgan – helping brands create memorable experiences using sound + music with GIF Out Loud

Given the overt deficits in political leadership during this crisis, I believe it has become necessary for business leaders to re-emerge. This can be done by talking more and using their respective platforms to address facts, while contributing their tuppence towards framing a future, that people can believe in. Purpose, working side-by-side with profit.

When I observe WhatsApp group messages, I am reminded that in a hyper-personalised digital world, the quality and usability of information each of us receive from our social circles, public media, government officials, and businesses, varies by geography and indeed by individual. On a personal note, I am also working towards a ‘personal lockdown’ until July. For those more eager to run out, here are some useful health and wellness tips in public.

Whichever way we slice it, we are in a new normal. How each of us communicate, shop, consume media, pay for things and work have been changed forever. As we navigate the chaos, let us remember it is also an opportunity to get all citizens up the ladder and build back better.

Article By: Nzube Ufodike (@nzube) is an entrepreneur with over 20 years experience. He is an advisor to early and growth stage businesses, in the UK and emerging markets.

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Access Bank Partners ScaleUp Africa To Boost Women’s Empowerment with the Pan-African Women’s Conference

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On Wednesday, 21st April, Access Bank and ScaleUp Africa will present the Pan-African Women’s Conference under the theme, Choose to Challenge. The virtual conference is part of a strategic partnership to boost the economic contribution and resources available to women in business and professional careers. The program will also mark 6 years of Access Bank’s “W”, the multiple award-winning initiative for women that has seen many beneficiaries inspired and connected.

‘We kick off our partnership with Access Bank with the Pan-African Women’s Conference to celebrate women in business across Africa and to open up new products and services to a broader audience beyond Ghana. We are truly committed to further support Access Bank to drive its W Initiative, Gender, Innovation and Entrepreneurship strategy, bringing our core capabilities of digital engagement, holistic programme design and implementation,” shares Amma Gyampo, CEO of ScaleUp Africa and a Strategic Advisor to corporations, foundations and governments.

The Pan-African Women’s Conference will feature leaders in finance, business growth strategy and organizational development opportunities from across the continent including Elsie Addo-Awadzie, 2nd Deputy Governor, BoG, Matilda Asante-Asiedu, Group Head, Retail Banking, Access Bank, Yofi Grant, Chief Executive Officer, GIPC and Franklin Owusu-Karikari, Director, Business Support & Policy, NEI.

Conference Discussion Topics will cover:

  1. Pushing the boundaries and thriving in the entrepreneurship journey.
  2.  Strengthening the capacity of women owned businesses to boost growth
  3.  Maximizing opportunities using the free trade agreement in Ghana and across the continent.
  4.  Business Growth: Surviving Covid-19 and beyond

Other featured speakers include:

Irene Ochem – (Nigeria) – Founder and chief executive officer of Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum

Fatima Alimohamed – (Ghana) – CEO of African Brand Warrior

Chilufya Mutale – (Zambia)- Founder and CEO of Premier Credit

Justina Mutale – (Zambia) – Founder & President of the Justina Mutale Foundation and its Scholarship 

Thelma Ekiyor (Nigeria) – Managing Partner, SME.NG

Women play a critical role in the entrepreneurship world, providing essential human care and food-related services and as such we must be intentional about mainstreaming impact, gender equality, upskilling and decent work for women as we embark upon development in this post-Covid world. The Pan African Women’s Conference is an ideal opportunity for women aspiring to get to the apex of their careers, grow their businesses and gain nuggets for personal development,” adds Gymapo.

The Pan African Women’s Conference will begin at 11:00am GMT on 21st April, 2021.

To register visit: Pan-African Women’s Conference 

Virtual conference details will be provided upon registration.

 

 

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Cairo-Based Grocery Delivery Startup, Appetito Raises $450k Seed Investment

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Appetito truck and press release (Source: Shehab Mohamed) 

Appetito, a Cairo-based grocery startup, has announced a raise of $450k seed round of financing. The Startup operates through dark stores model, where products are sourced from manufacturers, stored in mini fulfilment centres then delivered to household customers. Established in March 2020, the company started with a wide range of private label products serving all areas of Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria with next day & pre-scheduled deliveries.

Recently, the company expanded its product portfolio to include more than 1000 SKUs from well-known consumer brands and entered the hyper convenience race by offering its customers less than 60-minute delivery in selected areas.

The round was raised by a group of Saudi Angel investors led by Ahmed Al Alola, an early-stage investor who was one of the early backers of Nana and Sary, alongside with Afropreneurs Fund, an African early-stage technology fund that has previously backed top startups such as Andela, Flutterwave and Trella, in addition to the participation of Jedar Capital an emerging VC focusing on early stage start-ups in the Middle East, Africa & Emerging Asia.

Speaking on the raise, Appetito Founder and CEO Shehab Mokhtar says: “We’re proud of what we have achieved in just a few months from our launch. We’re privileged to have such prominent investors backing us. With their support and the team, we’re building, I’m confident we will be in a leading position in the global race of grocery delivery.”.

Ahmed Al Alola commented on the round “Observing the radical change in consumer’s behaviour post-COVID-19, the grocery delivery market is expanding rapidly in the region. I believe Appetito – with its stellar team – is well positioned to lead that segment and capture the market by delivering superior experience compared to what is currently available in most of the African space.

On his part, Idris Bello, Managing Partner, Afropreneurs Fund said ” Our investment into Appetito’s seed round follows on our proven thesis of investing in strong founders with unique local insights and a bias towards execution. We are excited by what Shehab and his team have achieved so far, and we are very bullish on the Egyptian early-stage ecosystem.”

Sherif Nessim, Founder and Managing Director of Jedar Capital said “We are excited to be part of Appetito’s journey in Egypt and MENA region. We have been watching Appetito’s execution and the team’s growth focused approach with very limited resources early on, this was a clear message to us on how resilient and focused they are. Appetito is best suited for growth with the digital transformation happening in Egypt where online commerce growth is skyrocketing and saw a huge leap with covid, more and more customers now are adopting online grocery shopping as their standard now. We believe that Appetito’s model focusing on dark stores rather than aggregating from grocery retail stores will add value and differentiation in the market and play a pivotal role in terms of operational efficiency and gross margin contribution. We look forward to supporting them with their expansion and growth plans in Egypt and beyond.”.

 

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Flux Panda Brings Live Stream Shopping to MENA Region

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Flux Panda Founder, Alexander Rauser

In response to the restrictions caused by the pandemic, Flux Panda was created to encourage businesses in the Middle East and North African region to utilize live streaming platforms to sell their products. The App combines the functionalities of an eCommerce website and live streaming app. Merchants upload the products they want to sell during the live stream, connect Flux Panda to multiple social media platforms with live streaming like Facebook Live or Instagram Live, and their customers can buy the products by clicking the buy button and entering their payment details.

“Our goal is to make the selling and buying process on live streams much easier and enable any business to own the experience. While many small and large businesses are already selling live on social networks, our solution fixes some key problems such as order management, real-time inventory, and customization capabilities. You could say we are similar to a platform like Shopify, but focused on live commerce.” says Alexander Rauser, Founder and CEO of Flux Panda.

The App offers a flexible pricing model to cater to small businesses, eCommerce companies, and even large retail brands. Currently, the Flux Panda partner network covers South East Asia, Central America, Africa and the Middle East with further expansion plans in 2021.

According to research by Coresight, live selling generated $60 billion in global sales in 2019 and expectedly doubled in 2020 to $129 billion. Live selling has been popular in Asia for many years, even before the pandemic hit. The largest western fashion brands like Burberry and Louis Vuitton have already tried live stream eCommerce through China’s biggest marketplaces like Tmall and Little Red Book.

About Flux Panda

Flux Panda is a live selling solution established in 2020. It combines the functionalities of a multi-platform live streaming tool and an eCommerce website so viewers can view the details, add to cart, and pay for the items being demonstrated. It is the only solution where merchants can sign up and go live without any assistance or setup fees. It can be used by merchants with or without their own eCommerce site.

 

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