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AlphaCode awards R2-million and support to fintech startups

The 10 startups, which have just completed a three-month programme, competed for one of four places in an extended 6-month programme.

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SA’s best up and coming fintech startups sweated it out at a virtual demo day yesterday where they had just five minutes each to convince a panel of judges that they should be part of the second phase of the AlphaCode Incubate programme.

AlphaCode awards R2-million and further support to fintech startups at latest demo day

The 10 startups, which have just completed a three-month programme, competed for one of four places in an extended 6-month programme valued at almost R1.5-million each. Their success, which was validated by their ability to get traction in a short time, unlocks further funding of R500 000 each and tailored business support.

Andile Maseko, head of ecosystem development at AlphaCode provides insight into the programme.

“Despite a tumultuous year, a number of entrepreneurs saw how they could fill a gap in the market for financial services and related industries. Those selected in the top four earned the opportunity for further funding and mentorship. The first part of the intensive programme focused on entrepreneurship and refining business models. The second phase will focus on revenue generation.”

In addition, these startups will be able to apply for seed capital from AlphaCode’s fund that invests in early-stage startups.

The four promising businesses selected

AgriCool is an e-marketplace that links smallholding farmers and buyers to a fair and reliable market. It offers farmers access to finance, reliable information on improving their production, and it works with both formal and informal markets.

Street vendors, retailers, the hospitality industry can get fresh produce delivered, saving them transportation costs. Founder: Zamokuhle Thwala.

Bento is an out-of-the-box employee perks and benefits platform. It gives employers a simple and cost-effective solution to offer employee benefits without the cost and administrative burden. Employees are empowered to self-manage their benefits and perks which gives them freedom of choice over their remuneration structure and take-home pay. Co-founders: Claudia Snyman, Dennis Williams, Bryn Divey, and Ross Horak.

Imfuyo Technologies is developing a smart farming solution that will give livestock farmers better oversight of their operations at viable cost points. The initial offering will consist of a smart tracker that will collect critical data about cattle location and behaviour.

The data is analysed to enable farmers to optimise farming activities. The platform will also serve as a de facto cattle deeds office, providing better traceability across the beef production value chain. Through Imfuyo Technologies, livestock farmers also have better access to financial markets. Founder: Allasandro Da Gama.

MatchKit.co helps athletes better commercialise their careers. The platform helps athletes make money, regardless of the status of sporting events. It integrates into existing social media channels and stats to showcase the value of an athlete’s digital audience to potential sponsors.

It also offers a plug-and-play e-commerce store where fans can purchase everything from bespoke, branded merchandise to personalised video and audio shout-outs. MatchKit.co plans to add insurtech and transactional / virtual card capabilities to their offering. Founders: Mike Sharman, Shaka Sisulu, Bryan Habana, and Ben Karpinski.

Dominique Collett, head of AlphaCode and a Rand Merchant Investments Holdings (RMI) executive commented, “We have been very impressed with the level of the drive of these ten startups who applied what they have learned on the AlphaCode Incubate programme as they focused on increased traction. The standard of these ideas gets better every year. It’s been a very intense time for the participants and we look forward to growing the four businesses.”

Almost 200 fintech businesses initially applied for AlphaCode’s Incubate programme which aims to grow innovative financial services entrepreneurs and find the next OUTsurance or Discovery. Only ten were then selected to complete in the initial three-month programme that provided funding, guidance from performance coaches and a panel of advisory experts, access to AlphaCode’s co-working space, and opportunities to apply for further early-stage investment.

The panel of judges included Willem Roos, former CEO of Rain and former founder of OUTsurance; Raymond Ndlovu, CEO of Community Investment Ventures with a stake in Vumatel; Dominique Collett, a fintech specialist and senior investment executive at RMI; Danie Matthee, the CEO of OUTsurance; and Mcebo Ntombela, investment manager at Royal Bafokeng Holdings.

“The panel had a good mix of entrepreneurs and corporate execs who understand the digital landscape,” explained Maseko.

One of the judges, Raymond Ndlovu, added, “The mix of businesses presenting this year was fascinating – a bit of everything from crypto to sports to stokvels and car repairs. The presentations were of a high standard taking into account the fact that we were all online. Look forward to the growth of all these promising businesses – whether they were selected for further incubation or not.”

The AlphaCode Incubate programme has disbursed R32 million in funding to 31 black-owned financial services businesses over the past five years and is viewed as South Africa’s most prestigious fintech startup initiative.

Read more: Hack the Normal winning innovators announced
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Featured image: Winners of Alphacode Incubate (Supplied)

In addition, these startups will be able to apply for seed capital from AlphaCode’s fund that invests in early-stage startups.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/05/alphacode-awards-r2-million-and-support-to-fintech-startups/

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Spot Money app launches stokvel feature

Spot Money has released a shared wallet feature on their fintech app, Spot to create transparency for shared financial investments like stokvels.

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South Africa’s newest digital banking platform, Spot Money has launched a shared wallet feature on their fintech app, Spot. The feature is a digital solution that seeks to create transparency for shared financial investments, like stokvels.

New Shared Account feature

The Spot app offers customers transactional banking; a free monthly account and a marketplace for everyday needs. With the new Shared Account feature, up to 10 people can manage their finances easily through a shared wallet. There is no monthly account fee, which allows for accessibility at every income level.

The Spot Shared Account feature allows up to 10 people to transact transparently

“Fintech is pioneering the way that the financial management needs of stokvels are serviced. The adoption of such technology is being driven by young, urban populations, with many members using modern financial technologies to better manage their investments,” says Josephine Mbire, Head of Customer Support at Spot Money.

The stokvel savings concept has seen increased legitimacy in recent years, operating just outside the financial sector and financing households throughout Africa for decades.

Nearly 12 million South Africans belong to these informal savings clubs where members take turns to receive a fixed amount of money. Stokvels finance groceries, school supplies, household appliances and attract about R50-billion a year in investments, making them a legitimate vehicle driving our country’s economy.

“There has long been a need amongst stokvel members for greater transparency of where their money is going, and assurance that it’s being handled prudently. Traditionally, one person would collect all the money, and they would effectively hold all the power over how and when payments would be made, with other members having little insight into the movement of their investments,” explained Mbire.

The app’s scan-to-pay feature means that stokvel members won’t risk carrying big cash amounts when making group purchases. Users can also earn instant cashback rewards into their Spot Rewards wallet when shopping at partner stores such as Checkers, Shoprite & USave.

“Until now, shared accounts meant a primary account holder would provide limited access to chosen beneficiaries. Our approach makes all account holders equal partners and gives everyone full sight of what’s going on in the account: they can see who paid and received money and are able to top up and make payments out of that account through a range of channels,” said Mbire. ‘Stokvels have been around forever, and it’s high time the formal financial sector started catering to them. We believe Spot offers stokvels a great way to manage their money more effectively.”

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Featured image: John Schnobrich via Unsplash

“Fintech is pioneering the way that the financial management needs of stokvels are serviced. The adoption of such technology is being driven by young, urban populations, with many members using modern financial technologies to better manage their investments,” says Josephine Mbire, Head of Customer Support at Spot Money.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/spot-money-app-launches-stokvel-feature/

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The secret to levelling up your business

Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth provides key insights into finding, forming and implementing win/win partnerships for startups and SMMEs.

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When Uber and Spotify partnered up a few years ago to give users custom music for their rides, it was a massive win/win for both companies, with each able to increase their reach to various audiences, offer extra value to users, and grow brand recognition and awareness.

Taking your business to the next level is a challenge many business owners face

But we can learn a lot from the Uber-Spotify collaboration. By forming strategic partnerships, you can often leapfrog on progress. Done right, a good partnership can have a tremendous impact on company growth, from increasing sales and reaching new markets to driving efficiency in your operations.

In fact, says Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth, in today’s age of collaboration, finding like-minded businesses to create alliances with can be a valuable tool in taking your company to greater heights.

Since their launch in 2014, SweepSouth have formed many partnerships with companies such as Unilever, FlySafair, FNB, @home, Superbalist, and NetFlorist, and it’s one of the smart strategies that’s propelled them from being a small tech start-up to taking their leaderboard place as SA’s largest on-demand home services platform, with recent expansion into Kenya.

“When we first partnered with other companies, we sought them out, but we’ve had such tangible results that it’s become a more organic process for us, with companies now seeking us out for strategic alliances,” says Pandor.

“Going into business partnerships is an age-old practice that remains relevant today. In our ever-more connected world, successful partnerships can go beyond signing paper contracts to building valuable relationships that form the stepping stones for exciting new ventures.”

For instance, a successful partnership with Airbnb last year gave them an additional avenue to reach Airbnb hosts who may have not have heard of SweepSouth before. It also provided Airbnb hosts, faced with stringent Covid-19 regulations, the chance to hire SweepSouth cleaners trained and certified in Airbnb’s enhanced cleaning protocols.

Alliances that complement your activities can be crucial to business growth. To help you find the right partnership fit and get the most out of it, here are some guidelines from Pandor.

Do some pre-work

“Before you set out to find a business to partner with, take stock of your company’s strengths and weaknesses and identify what gaps or functional requirements are needed to achieve your vision,” advises Pandor.

Establish exactly what you’d like to get out of an alliance with another company. Is it to find a different route to market, provide new services or products, expand into other territories, fill a skills gap, or gain exposure to a new client demographic? Partnerships manifest themselves in different ways. SweepSouth, for example, regularly does promotional partnerships with companies like McCain and UCook (for Father’s Day this June), which helps them reach new audiences.

“Exposure is imperative for your business, but it can be expensive to always promote your product or service on your own,” says Pandor. “Promotional partnerships are fairly simple, giving you access to a wider client pool and leveraging the trust and brand reputation associated with each company to deliver a higher level of perceived value for customers. The best of these partnerships are profitable to both sides, and also enhance business credibility and image.”

Once you’ve decided what kind of partnership you’re looking for, spend some time defining how you’d like the partnership to function, what you’d expect from it, and the metrics by which you’d measure its success. By outlining your expectations before you start searching for a partner, your efforts will be more productive than simply trying to decide if you just ‘like’ a potential company or not.

Things to look for in a partnership

To find a strategic partner that’s perfect for your business – and vice versa – do your due diligence and make sure the following boxes are ticked:

  • This might sound obvious, but choose a partner that makes sense to your business and to your clients. Think about your customers and the kinds of partnerships that would benefit them most.
  • The partnership must be a win-win-win relationship, and hold value for both companies, for it to be worthwhile.
  • Make sure that your brands align. “Being compatible in terms of vision, purpose, and goals forms a good basis for a successful partnership,” advises Aisha. “Having similar corporate priorities will help to ensure compatibility. If you choose a partner whose objectives and values clash with yours, it could drive a wedge between you over time.”

Benefits of a strategic partnership

Provides a competitive advantage. A good partnership boosts your expertise and resources to create better services or products, offer stronger value to clients, or help you reach a different audience, thereby taking your business to a new level.

It inspires you. It’s easy to get stuck into a day-to-day routine in your business. Seeing how other companies do something can provide a fresh perspective and help you think in creative new ways.

Gives access to knowledge. A big benefit of a strategic partnership agreement is the opportunity to learn from other professionals who bring different skills and strengths to the table. You can then use that knowledge and information to better your business.

Broaden your network. Networking and making professional connections are key to business success. By forming an alliance with a company, you’re exposed to new colleagues, contacts, and customers.

Strengthens your company. Operating in isolation and trying to do everything yourself, especially if you don’t have the know-how in a specific area, can cost time and money. The right partnership can help you better your weaknesses and enhance your strengths, making your business more stable and strong. Some collaborative relationships can even help to reduce costs, such as if you share development and marketing expenses.

Going forward

Once you’ve found a company to partner with, draw up clear agreements, taking the time to iron out every detail. Set clear expectations and goals, defining what the partnership should accomplish for each company.

Next, set your partnership up for success by forging a strong way of working together. “Make an effort to build and cultivate the relationship, and communicate frequently to minimise misunderstandings,” advises Pandor. “Check-in regularly to see what is doing well and what can be improved, and give each other honest feedback. Trust, transparency, and respect are key for a partnership agreement to work. Both parties need to view each other as necessary equals to keep things going forward.”

Sometimes, even though seemingly promising at the start, a business partnership doesn’t work out. “It’s okay to end it if it’s failing,” says Pandor. “A poor partnership can cause massive problems, so rather walk away and focus on finding something new.”

A good partnership, on the other hand, can be of value to even the most successful of businesses, freeing you up to focus on other activities and areas that drive growth. Moreover, if done right, a strategic alliance can be built into something that can benefit both companies for years to come.

This article was written by Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth.

Featured image: Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth.

Aisha Pandor

Aisha Pandor is the co-founder and CEO of SweepSouth.SweepSouth is Africa’s first online platform for booking, managing and paying for home cleaning services. Pandor has led SweepSouth to become one of the fastest-growing startups in the country. Venture-backed, SweepSouth became the first South African startup to be accepted into the prestigious 500 Startups accelerator in Silicon Valley.Pandor completed her PhD in Human Genetics at the University of Cape Town. Following her studies, she went on to work as a management consultant before launching SweepSouth, which connects unemployed and underemployed domestic workers with homeowners, providing work opportunities for thousands of women. Aisha was recognised by the World Economic Forum in 2017 as one six African female breakthrough innovators.

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In fact, says Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth, in today’s age of collaboration, finding like-minded businesses to create alliances with can be a valuable tool in taking your company to greater heights.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/the-secret-to-levelling-up-your-business/

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Absa opens procurement portal to streamline supplier diversity –

New portal opens opportunities for SMMEs to apply for tenders, become corporate suppliers and receive training and mentorship from Absa Group.

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African financial services provider Absa Group has opened their user-friendly procurement portal, allowing Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) to apply and be verified as suppliers.

Absa Group opens procurement portal for SMMEs to be verified as suppliers

This opportunity means that SMMEs, currently the drivers of our post-pandemic economy, will be able to search for and network with corporate suppliers and win tenders which previously would not be accessible. The portal aims to be available across the continent but will be launched first in South Africa.

Responsible and inclusive procurement

Tender management solutions and secure technology requests are just two portal tools that will make collaboration between future suppliers and corporations possible. Absa’s end-goal sees a dialogue created to close gaps in communication around products, services, tenders and RFPs so that all relevant businesses have equal opportunity to apply.

Suppliers can enter their details into Absa’s database and quickly identify necessary procurement categories and services, including construction, ICT, marketing and cash management. SMMEs have access to corporate supply and Absa will continue to further their ongoing entrepreneurship development programmes.

Vusi Fele, Chief Procurement Officer at Absa Group Ltd, says “Absa’s Procurement Market portal not only demonstrates Absa’s strategy of promoting responsible and inclusive procurement practices but also ensures that all suppliers are aware of the bank’s service requirements – information that was not previously widely available. What’s more, it will help us build mutually beneficial, thriving, inclusive and healthy supplier relationships.”

Fele believes that a supplier diversity approach will drive sustainability and invigorate the bank’s supply chain. “Not only will we be able to identify suppliers that comply with B-BBEE requirements, but we will also be able to award and extend contracts to currently Exempted Micro Enterprises (EME) and Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSEs). We are also excited to welcome new suppliers to our business.”

Qualifying SMMEs participating in the programme are also eligible for Absa’s Supplier Development Programme, which provides business support and training, and funding at good interest rates with minimal to no collateral required.

Fele motivates small businesses across Africa to join.

“We look forward to leveraging this portal to drive meaningful entrepreneurship development and deliver material benefits to local economic and social reform.”

Visit the portal to sign up or for more information.

Read more: Google launches programmes to support African SMEs
Read more: Hackathon aims to grow the township economy through digital solutions

Featured image: Vusi Fele, Chief Procurement Officer at Absa Group Ltd (Supplied)

Suppliers can enter their details into Absa’s database and quickly identify necessary procurement categories and services, including construction, ICT, marketing and cash management. SMMEs have access to corporate supply and Absa will continue to further their ongoing entrepreneurship development programmes.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/absa-opens-procurement-portal-to-streamline-supplier-diversity/

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