Sakneen Team (Source: Sakneen)
The property portal is on a mission to transform home-buying and selling in the region
Sakneen, the online portal that helps homebuyers search for properties, has raised $1.1 million in a seed funding round from global and local investors, key financial service providers and prominent angel investors spanning Egypt, MENA, the US, and Europe.
The oversubscribed seed round was led by Egypt’s Algebra Ventures with major participation from Sarwa Capital and Foundation Ventures. Among the investors was Hem+Spire a US based real estate private equity firm, Nakhla VC a Saudi based fund, and a number of angel investors from Google, BlackRock, and McKinsey among others. This comes on the heels of the start-up’s graduation from the Y Combinator program in August 2020, bringing their total funding to $1.25M.
In November 2020, Sakneen and Coldwell Banker Egypt, the largest real estate brokerage firm in the country, announced a strategic partnership to develop unique digital capabilities and offerings for both sellers and buyers.
“With the latest strategic investment from Sarwa Capital, the publicly listed financing group behind Contact Credit & ContactCars, we have firm backing by industry leaders and are well positioned to launch products across different verticals and delight our customers with new and unique experiences”, added Ramy Khorshed, CEO & co-founder of Sakneen.
The company was founded in late 2019 by Ramy Khorshed and Hussein El Kheshen with the vision of making the struggle of buying a home an easier and more enjoyable experience. As the real estate industry continues to develop, home buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to make one of the most important investment decisions of their lives due to the ever-increasing choices and possibilities. Sakneen.com is their guide to the right decision.
“It’s a multi-billion dollar opportunity in a region with strong demographics and growth. Also the very low technology penetration and lack of publicly accessible data creates a huge information asymmetry. Early adopters of data-driven tools have a tremendous opportunity and I think that’s what our backers are excited to help us deliver on”, said Ramy Khorshed CEO & co-founder of Sakneen.
Ramy Khorshed and Hussein El Kheshen
“Our incredible tech team are actively working on several new features that will be launched over the next few weeks, in addition to a couple of completely new products we’re excited to release shortly afterwards”, said Hussein El Kheshen CTO & co-founder of Sakneen.
“Sakneen brings unique efficiencies to the real estate market, which despite heavy VC funding, hasn’t seen enough disruption. Trying to find a home online today is often a frustrating experience, plagued by inaccurate listings and overzealous brokers. We believe Sakneen can meaningfully differentiate itself by re-inventing the search experience and managing the supply side in novel ways. Ramy and Hussein are both world-class founders with the right skill sets and domain expertise. We’re very excited to be part of their journey”, said Omar Khashaba, Principal at Algebra
AI for Good Global Summit founder Stephen Ibaraki confirmed as AI Expo Africa 2021 keynote speaker
AI for Good Global Summit founder, Stephen Ibaraki (Source: AI Expo Africa)
AI for Good Global Summit founder, Chairman of the AI for Good Outreach Committee, industry analyst, venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur Stephen Ibaraki has been confirmed as a keynote speaker for AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE which takes place 7th to 9th September.
Ibaraki is the first VIP keynote speaker to be confirmed for AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE. In his keynote address, entitled, “5th Machine Age Driving Digital Reshaping” he intends to explore the “Society 5.0” and “Smart Humanity”.
Ibaraki who is a 16 time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award, most recently in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) category, is also the chairman and managing general partner of REDDS Capital. In addition to more than 300 awards and recognitions as well as over 300 global engagements impacting over $100-trillion in sustainable investments, Ibaraki is also a contributor for IT World Canada and Forbes on issues around AI.
Ibaraki’s keynote abstract states, “In popular stories about Chaos Theory, the wing beats of a butterfly in Geneva, are connected to the violent storms in your hometown in Africa. Global ecosystems, all interconnected thus force multiplied and amplified, are at an historical inflection point. These are founded on technology acceleration, with more disruption in 5 years, than the last 10,000 years. This Digital Reshaping will forever change governments, industry, academia, education, investments, startups, media, society, culture, our lives and our children’s future. What will the world look like, advanced by Smart Humanity, Society 5.0, 5th Machine Age, AI and innovation trends addressing global challenges and opportunities? What are the exponential change making innovations you must track, implement, and resources you must use to ensure success and not failure during these chaotic next five years?
Now entering it’s fourth successful year, AI Expo Africa is Africa’s largest B2B / B2G AI, RPA and 4IR smart tech trade event and conference, with the 2021 edition building to be the biggest yet with over 5000 delegates registering interest and expected to join the three-day online event.
Dr Nick Bradshaw, founder of AI Expo Africa and CEO of AI Media Group commented, “It’s a real honour to welcome Stephen as one of our VIP keynote speakers. We have been working with the ITU, Geneva since 2019 around partnering with the global AI4Good movement and the Africa region and this is another great commitment towards growing collaborations around AI4Good in our region. This announcement follows the recent conclusion of the first African focused ITU AI4Good Innovation Factory Challenge that received 44 applications from 12 African countries & 5 finalists using AI-powered innovation for diverse sectors in Africa covering Fintech, Agritech, Cleantech, and Insurtech.”
Over 30 organisations have so far signed up to exhibit at the expo. These include headline event partner Intel, Darktrace, Future Tech, Automation Anywhere partner 1ai, The Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa, InstaDeep, Aizatron, IBA Group, Zindi, Versus, Comparisure, Robotiq AI Africa, ecosystem Ai, Cognizance, Inspired Testing, Atura, Amathuba AI, COGO People Analytics, Elzware, WizzPass, Fliptin, Kosa AI, Learning Machines, Social Lab, Ashanti AI, and Curacel. In all about 80 speakers will make up the speaker list at AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE, with more keynotes set to be announced in the coming weeks.
Radisson Hotel Group renews partnership with SGS and continues global application of the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol
Radisson Hotel Group is proud to announce the extension of its partnership with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity, and the continued global roll out of the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol to further strengthen Radisson Hotel Group’s existing rigorous sanitation, cleanliness and disinfection program across its portfolio around the world.
In 2020, Radisson Hotel Group worked closely with SGS to conduct a thorough review of all existing health and safety processes and worked with a team of experts to develop and validate the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, a comprehensive series of 20-Step and 10-step protocols for hotels and for Meetings & Events. These enhanced protocols which include comprehensive health and safety procedures such as increased cleaning and disinfection especially in high touch point areas, sanitizing stations, team member personal protective equipment (PPE), physical distancing measures and hybrid solutions for meetings, improved air circulation, and strict food safety procedures, have all been validated by SGS, building on local requirements and recommendations to ensure guests’ safety and peace of mind from check-in to check-out. In addition, Radisson Hotel Group has adapted the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol specifically for Resorts, with attention to services like sports, spa facilities and kids’ clubs.
The Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol is an official cleanliness and disinfection label which can be used by hotels only after an in-depth centralized validation process has been conducted by SGS. In addition, selected hotels receive the additional SGS Disinfection monitored & Cleaning Checked label upon completion of a comprehensive local audit including on-site testing using the latest technology.
“At Radisson Hotel Group, the health and safety of our guests, team members and partners continue to be a top priority. The world has been fundamentally changed by COVID-19, so it is key that we continue innovating and striving to deliver a clean and safe environment to all who walk through our doors, stay in our hotels and conduct meetings in our properties. SGS has been a key partner to ensure our hotels are providing the best and latest health and safety measures, and we are proud to renew our partnership for a second year,” says Federico J. González, CEO, Radisson Hotel Group.
Frankie Ng, CEO of SGS, adds that: “Expert and documented validation by SGS of health, safety and prevention protocols related to COVID-19 has allowed the Tourism industry and Radisson Hotel Group to inspire trust and confidence to travelers around the world. The goal of our continued partnership is to ensure that the highest hygiene standards are met, and to protect guests as well as Radisson Hotel Group team members and partners.
As part of the Group’s ongoing commitment to the safe return of travel and to allow for a swift return to business, Radisson Hotel Group recently launched its new comprehensive testing program as the first hotel group to roll out a rapid testing service for meeting and event attendees at properties across their EMEA portfolio. In addition, hotels will be able to direct guests to an easily accessible and affordable PCR testing location. The comprehensive testing program for guests is groundbreaking in its coordinated approach across EMEA to reinstall confidence and peace of mind to travelers as the world returns to business by providing a safe environment and seamless testing facilitation.
Radisson Hotel Group continues play a key role in the development of the World Travel and Tourism (WTTC)’s “Safe Travels” and “Seamless Travel” health and safety protocols, a global framework and stamp for a safe return to business and to create consistency across the Travel and Tourism industry. The WTTC’s Safe Travels stamp is currently endorsed by over 200 destinations around the world.
NMG takes reins at Botswana’s biggest pension fund
NMG Benefits CEO, Jacky Mathekga
NMG Administrators Botswana, a subsidiary of the Johannesburg-based advisory and intermediary firm NMG Benefits, has been appointed the Fund Administrator for Botswana’s biggest pension fund, the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), and officially takes over the administration of the BPOPF on 1 June.
The move is a result of a 2017 decision by Botswana’s Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) that all pension funds in Botswana be administered by an independent fund administrator. NMG will be handling all claims processing, member education, enquiries, statements, pensioner payroll management and many other day-to-day tasks on behalf of BPOPF.
The appointment is a major win for NMG. The fund considered a range of proposals before making this selecting due to its specialist skills in fund administration and NMG’s ability to work effectively as a strategic partner, said Jacky Mathekga, CEO of NMG Benefits.
“We are delighted to have been entrusted by BPOPF with this important appointment. As a leading specialist provider of employee benefit services, we focus on high quality strategic advice in relation to retirement, investments, and healthcare, with excellent service to back it up,” said Mathekga.
NMG Administrators Botswana is a 100% Botswana-based company which is 51% owned by the BPOPF’s Lecha investment arm, with 49% shareholding by the Group. The Group’s South African operation, focuses on employee benefits such as Healthcare Consulting, Retirement Fund Consulting, Retirement Fund Administration, Investment Consulting and Actuarial Consulting.
The effect of the move on the BPOPF’s ~156 000 members will be ‘minimal’, said NMG Botswana’s acting chief executive officer, Gaolatlhe Otsetswe. NMG has taken leases on BPOPF’s existing offices in Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Maun, and all services and pay points will remain exactly the same as before.
“BPOPF as a pension fund remains accountable for its members as per the provisions of the Retirement Funds Act. It is simply the administration of the Fund that has been outsourced,” said Ms. Otsetswe.
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