Startups In Africa That Are Making a Difference
Entrepreneurs and innovators in cities like Cape Town and Lagos in Africa are trying to harness digital technology to manage the economic and social challenges facing the continent. Investors have begun to take notice of the startup scene which is burgeoning in Africa.
In 2016 tech startups from Africa managed to raise funding of more than $129 million which was approximately 17% higher than the figure compared with 2015. The data was compiled by Disrupt Africa which is a blog based in Nairobi and is tracking the investment ecosystem along with the tech startups in the continent. Many startups have already received funding from top executives within the tech industry while others are looking to partner with organizations and local governments. Here are some of the startups which need to be mentioned to watch continuously because they are making a difference in the continent.
Entrepreneurs from North America and Africa founded Andela in 2014 to train software developers within the continent and provide them full-time positions in organizations throughout the world. This was an initiative which received the backing of Chan Zuckerberg, GV and Spark capital. Andela has achieved the distinction of becoming a startup which is best known on the continent.
Andela received over 70,000 applications from 19 African nations over the past couple of years and accepted the top-rated 0.7% candidates. The software developers thereafter relocated to the offices of Andela based in Lagos, Kenya, Nairobi or Nigeria giving about six months of their time and specializing in specific technology stacks to complete open source projects to become exposed to the community of developers located worldwide. Every developer is thereafter partnered with one of the company partners that are vetted by Andela to work as a full-time team member who is also distributed.
The aim of Andela is to achieve a balanced ratio of men and women within the community of developers. Compared to the global average of 5.8% for women in the community, the percentage increases to 23% for women in Andela. This startup also has multiple recruitment cycles and boot camps in Nairobi and Lagos which are aiming to recruit just women. Andela was also successful in launching the “She Loves Code” initiative which encourages women developers to mentor young women from the community and also to host local events.
The funding raised by Andela until this date is $40 million. $24 million of the funding came from an initiative led by the Mark Zuckerberg foundation in 2016. Zuckerberg is also the CEO of Facebook and is renowned for his philanthropic activities and believes that the job being done by Andela is amazing.
The concept behind Flare is similar to that of Uber and the emergency app was introduced in Kenya at the end of December 2016. Flare allows hospitals and patients to request emergency help by using their smartphone and the idea is similar to the method used by ridesharing companies to link prospective customers with drivers.
The startup was founded by Caitlin Dolkart and Maria Rabinovich who were working in East Africa for five years in the industry of healthcare and tech services. They realized that Nairobi lacks an ambulance dispatch system which was centralized and getting an ambulance in an emergency was nearly impossible. The passing away of an eight-year-old boy in February 2016 after waiting five hours for an ambulance perhaps provided the impetus needed by the founders to establish Flare.
In December 2016 Dolkart questioned quartz why Uber or food could be delivered to the door but an ambulance wasn’t available even when it was a matter of life and death. The objective of flare is to eliminate the gap which exists and uses of the app have the ability to request for an ambulance along with the abilities to communicate with the emergency response team that was dispatched during the time they are required to wait. Drivers from the ambulance are equipped with smartphones which give them the precise location of the pickup along with any directions about holdups and traffic. Similar to Uber a percentage of the fare is taken by the founders for every ride booked by using the app. Flare is presently trying to develop the app further and make it cloud-based and smartphone-driven according to information given to the economist by Dolkart in November.
These are just two of the startups which we have described that are managing to grab the attention of investors from around the world. African startups are changing the way the world is doing business with Africa and one can only hope they will continue in a similar vein in the days to come.
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