Events in May offered support to the thesis that Africa can breed tech with worldwide application.
Two startups that developed their company designs on the continent– MallforAfrica and Zipline– were tapped by global interests. DHL obtained a minority stake in Link Commerce, a turn-key e-commerce company that grew out of MallforAfrica.com– a Nigerian digital-retail startup. Link Commerce offers a white-label service for doing online-sales in emerging markets. Retailers can plug into the company’s platform to create a web-based storefront that manages payments and logistics.
Nigerian Chris Folayan established MallforAfrica in 2011 to bridge a gap in supply and need for the continent’s customer markets. While residing in the U.S., Folayan kept in mind a common practice among Africans– that of offering lists of goods to relative abroad to bring and purchase home.
With MallforAfrica, Folayan aimed to allow people on the continent to buy items from international retailers straight online.
The e-commerce website went on to onboard more than 250 international sellers, and now utilizes 30 people at order processing centers in Oregon and the U.K.
Folayan has elevated Link Commerce now as the lead company above MallforAfrica.com. He and DHL strategy to extend the platform to emerging markets worldwide and offer it to companies who wish to cover online shops, payments and logistics service around their core service.
“Today the focus is on Africa … but we’re taking this international,” Folayan said.
Another start-up established in Africa, Zipline, was tapped by U.S. doctor Novant for drone shipment of crucial medical products in the battle against COVID-19.
The two revealed a collaboration where Zipline’s drones will make 32-mile flights on 2 routes between Novant Health’s North Carolina emergency situation drone fulfillment center and the not-for-profit’s medical center in Huntersville– where front-line health care employees are dealing with coronavirus patients. Zipline and Novant are touting the arrangement as the very first authorized long-range drone logistics shipment flight program in the U.S. The activity has actually gained approval by the U.S. Federal Air Travel Administration and North Carolina’s Department of Transportation.
The story behind the Novant, Zipline UAV collaboration has a twist: The abilities for the U.S. operation were established mostly in Africa. Zipline has a test center in the San Francisco area, however spent several years configuring its drone delivery design in Rwanda and Ghana.
Image Credits: Novant Health Co-founded in 2014 by Americans Keller Rinaudo, Keenan Wyrobek and Will Hetzler, Zipline develops its own UAVs, launch systems and logistics software application for distribution of critical medical supplies. The business turned to East Africa in 2016, getting in a partnership with the government of Rwanda to evaluate and deploy its drone service in that country. Zipline went live with UAV circulation of life-saving medical materials in Rwanda in late 2016, claiming the very first national drone-delivery program at scale on the planet. The company expanded to Ghana in 2016, where in addition to providing blood and vaccines by drone, it now distributes COVID-19-related medication and lab samples. In addition to partner Novant Health, Zipline has captured the attention of big logistics service providers, such as UPS– which supported (and studied) the start-up’s African operations back to 2016.
The presidents of Rwanda and Ghana — Paul Kagame and Nana Akufo-Addo, respectively– were instrumental in supporting Zipline’s collaborations in their countries. Other countries on the continent, such as Kenya, South Africa and Zambia, continue to advance business drone testing and novel techniques to managing the sector. African start-ups have another $100 million in VC to pitch for after Novastar Ventures’most current raise. The Nairobi and Lagos-based investment group announced it has closed$108million in new dedications to introduce its Africa
Fund II, which brings Novastar’s overall capital to$200 million. With the extra resources, the firm plans to make 12 to 14 investments throughout the continent, according to Managing Director Steve Beck.
On-demand movement powered by electrical and solar is coming to Africa.
Vaya Africa, a ride-hail mobility venture established by Zimbabwean mogul Strive Masiyiwa, released an electric taxi service and charging network in Zimbabwe this week with strategies to expand throughout the continent.
The South Africa-headquartered company is using Nissan Leaf EVs and has actually established its own solar-powered charging stations. Vaya is completing collaborations to take its electrical taxi services on the roadway to nations that might consist of Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia, Vaya Movement CEO Dorothy Zimuto told TechCrunch.
The effort comes as Africa’s on-demand movement market has remained in full speed for a number of years, with startups, financiers and the larger ride-hail players aiming to bring motion of individuals and products to digital platforms.
Uber and Bolt have been running in Africa’s major economies since 2015, where there are likewise a number of regional app-based taxi startups. Over the last year, there’s been some movement on the continent toward developing EVs for ride-hail and delivery usage, primarily around motorcycles. Beyond environmental advantages, Vaya highlights
financial gains for passengers and motorists of shifting to electric in Africa’s taxi markets, where fuel costs compared to individual earnings is generally high for drivers. Using solar panels to power the charging station network likewise helps Vaya’s
new EV program conquer a few of obstacles in Africa’s electricity grid. Vaya is exploring EV alternatives for other on-demand transit applications– from mini-buses to Tuk cabs. In more downbeat news in Might, Africa-focused tech skill accelerator Andela had layoffs and wage reductions as an outcome of the financial effect of the COVID-19 crisis, CEO Jeremy Johnson confirmed to TechCrunch.
The compensation and personnel reductions of 135 bring Andela’s headcount down to 1,199 workers. None of Andela’s engineers were included in the layoffs. Backed by $ 181 million in VC from investors that consist of the Chan Zuckerberg Effort, the startup’s client-base is comprised of more than 200 global business that spend for the African developers Andela picks to deal with projects.
There’s been a drop in the need for Andela’s services, according to Johnson.
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Article curated by RJ Shara from Source. RJ Shara is a Bay Area Radio Host (Radio Jockey) who talks about the startup ecosystem – entrepreneurs, investments, policies and more on her show The Silicon Dreams. The show streams on Radio Zindagi 1170AM on Mondays from 3.30 PM to 4 PM.