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How a tech startup can thrive during a crisis [Opinion]

Arlene Mulder, co-founder of the first audio library app for African content shares tips on how to survive and thrive in a crisis.

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Arlene Mulder is the co-founder of BiB, the first audio library app exclusively for African content available on both the App store and Google Play store.

Arlene Mulder, co-founder of the first audio library app for African content shares tips on how to survive and thrive in a crisis

In the BiB app, you can directly purchase and listen to a curated selection of African books, series, and theatre pieces narrated by acclaimed local voice artists.

Africa’s rich tradition of storytelling is acknowledged and preserved for future generations on this contemporary platform which effortlessly shares this continent’s original narratives with a worldwide audience.

Earlier this year BiB was still an idea. Arlene was working on various projects as a strategic business consultant, however, lockdown amplified her desire to find new ways to make BiB a reality. Arlene founded her first business WeThinkCode in 2015, and has served as a board member of EO (Entrepreneur’s Organisation) for the last two years.

Through her experience as an entrepreneur, she has learnt that in crises there is always opportunity to learn and grow.

During lockdown, Arlene and her co-founder Juanita Kotzé set out to bring BiB to life. In just a few short months they launched their app, recorded 45 titles with acclaimed artists, and partnered with leading publishers, including NB Publishers, Protea, LAPA, and the Black Book Club.

Arlene shares her experience on how to thrive in a crisis.

Create more space

Freeing up space in my life is the best thing I’ve learnt in lockdown. I used to fill up every minute of every day. Both my work and social calendars were filled to the brim. Lockdown presented an opportunity to completely reset these habits. Not only do you free up one of our most valuable resources; time.

You also free up your headspace and create more space to focus on what is truly important. I have learnt that productivity and a full calendar are often inversely correlated. Before accepting anything in my calendar, I now first assess whether it is something I really need or want to do.

See challenge as opportunity

We saw the opportunity to set up our business during the lockdown as a luxury. The world has adapted during the pandemic; remote- and gig-working have become the norm.

We set up BiB to operate completely remotely and work with all our suppliers and contractors in a flexible manner. Before lockdown, we planned to do all our artist recordings in state of the art studios. Instead of panicking and putting everything on hold, we started experimenting with creating mobile studios and recording at our artists’ homes, which then changed our model completely and for the better.

Not having any high fixed overheads takes a lot of pressure off the business and offers us the flexibility to adapt quickly, which is extremely valuable in these uncertain times. Being in the midst of a global crisis increased our focus to streamline our business and cut out any unnecessary noise.

The importance of community

This year has truly highlighted the importance of community and the support of people around you. As lockdown was announced, my EO Forum set up weekly calls where we checked in with each other and shared our experiences of how we are navigating our businesses during this difficult time.

Often, just knowing that you are not the only one dealing with these challenges, make everything feel easier. It has been incredible to see how local businesses are all supporting each other. I am truly inspired by how some entrepreneurs have completely pivoted their businesses or opened new and different companies and how people are coming together and supporting each other.

It has been a tough year indeed, but as Winston Churchill famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. This is also a time to learn, grow, and come through this stronger than ever.

This article was written by Arlene Mudler, co-founder of BiB.

Featured image: Arlene Mudler, co-founder of BiB (Supplied)

Earlier this year BiB was still an idea. Arlene was working on various projects as a strategic business consultant, however, lockdown amplified her desire to find new ways to make BiB a reality. Arlene founded her first business WeThinkCode in 2015, and has served as a board member of EO (Entrepreneur’s Organisation) for the last two years.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2020/12/how-a-tech-startup-can-thrive-during-a-crisis-opinion/

how-a-tech-startup-can-thrive-during-a-crisis-[opinion]

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ZwartTech launches Talent Foundation to equip Africans with digital skills

Lagos-based ZwartTech has announced the launch of its new edtech, Zwart Talent Foundation (ZTF) in a statement on 30 July 2021.

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Lagos-based ZwartTech has announced the launch of its new edtech, Zwart Talent Foundation (ZTF) in a statement today.

The foundation aims to equip young Africans with ICT skills necessary to close the growing African skills gap. The project has also set aside 70% of recruitment positions for African women.

87% of African CEOs are concerned about the digital skills gap

According to a report by PwC, featured in 2020’s Digital Skills Insights publication, 79% of global CEOs are worried about the availability of digital skills in their workforces, with 87% of African CEOs sharing the same concern.

“We launched the Zwart Talent Foundation to help Africans quickly combat poverty by giving them the chance to acquire tech skills as well as connecting them to international job opportunities. This will enable them to earn more and boost their economic status,” commented Nelson Tosin Ajulo, Chairman of ZTF in a statement.

ZTF’s three-pronged approach to tackling this skills gap means participants are led through the process from initial skills training to launching successful, sustainable careers.

The foundation aims to equip 2 000 Africans with critical ICT skills and recruit them into global companies over the next five years.

The Zwart Academy

Participants are first trained through the Zwart Academy in cybersecurity and Javascript for six months at no cost, giving them the necessary foundation to complete a one-year internship with Zwart Tech on completion.

“We have also realised that the quality of ICT education in Africa is inadequate. Considering this, students who join the Foundation will become Junior Developers in less than three years compared to attending a university and spending four or five years on the same course,” stated Ajulo.

Zwart Recruit

Zwart Recruit aims to support African ICT developers by connecting them with international companies looking for employees specialising in digital skills.

The Zwart Hub

The Hub is an accelerator programme that takes startups from concept to scaling their business on a global scale through mentorship and support from successful, experienced startup owners and investors.

While the global skills gap is worrying, considering automation may render many digital jobs obsolete in the near future, ZTF’s approach is different, according to Ajulo.

“Our approach is not only innovative, but it also saves time and will help tackle inequality faster, bridging gaps between social classes. The Academy training program involves a lot of practicals and it is free,” she concluded.

Read more: Edtech Go1 is SA’s first unicorn after closing $200m round

Read more: Transforming B2B payments could grow Africa’s local businesses [Opinion]

Featured image: Zwart Talent Foundation Chairman, Nelson Tosin Ajulo (Supplied)

“We launched the Zwart Talent Foundation to help Africans quickly combat poverty by giving them the chance to acquire tech skills as well as connecting them to international job opportunities. This will enable them to earn more and boost their economic status,” commented Nelson Tosin Ajulo, Chairman of ZTF in a statement.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/07/zwarttech-launches-talent-foundation-to-equip-africans-with-digital-skills/

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OneDayOnly’s daily deals reaffirms SA liquor industry support

SA’s leading flash sale site OneDayOnly has announced its continued assistance to the local liquor industry through the recent move to Level 4 lockdown.

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SA’s leading flash sale site OneDayOnly has announced its continued assistance to the local liquor industry through the recent move to Level 4 lockdown.

The e-commerce site has displayed resilience and innovation through previous alcohol bans by allowing vendors to keep taking orders, thereby supporting many local businesses to continue seeing a profit. “During the previous lockdowns we continued to support the local liquor industry by running weekly promotions that made wine and other locally produced products available for purchase on the site which was then delivered directly from the supplier as soon as trading resumed,” says Laurian Venter, Director for OneDayOnly.

Continued support for local SA liquor industry

In a report published in February 2021, the South African Liquor Brand owners Association (SALBA) published the cumulative economic losses incurred over the last three bans. Commenting on the report, SALBA CEO Kurt Moore said that not only is the industry and its people suffering, but the Government itself was experiencing considerable losses to the fiscus.

The site will continue to run daily liquor deals through Level 4

The report shows that the tax revenue loss (excluding excise) to the fiscus from the value chain arising from the bans amounted to R29.3- billion (equivalent to 2.3% of tax revenue) and direct excise tax revenue lost across the nation was R8.7-billion (equivalent to 21.2% of excise revenue).

Moore clarified that SA’s GDP loss was approximately R51.9-billion. “If you factored in the loss of potential total capital formation – some R21.7-billion (equivalent to 0.3% of national capital formation, or fixed capital investment in 2019) – then the prohibition measures could only be viewed as a national socio-economic disaster,” he said.

The e-commerce site will be running daily liquor deals, Wine Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday and Festive Friday promotions and will deliver once the lockdown lifts to assist local farms and businesses with expenses and staff costs.

Clarifying the decision, Venter concludes: “From a professional and personal standpoint, we have friends across both these industries that have been devastated by the last two lockdowns.”

Read more: Imperial donates R1-million for healthtech to Unjani Clinics
Read more: SA tech startup aims to create the fastest insights on the planet [Sponsored]

Featured image: Maja Petric via Unsplash

The site will continue to run daily liquor deals through Level 4

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/onedayonly-daily-liquor-deals-reaffirms-support-sa-industry/

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She Loves Tech calls for African female-focused startups

Applications are open for She Loves Tech, the world’s biggest startup competition for women in tech. Prizes of up to $50 000 available!

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Applications are open for She Loves Tech, the world’s biggest startup competition for women in tech. The competition is hosting its seventh edition with prizes up to $50 000. This year’s focus hones in on African tech startups.

Fundraising will be front and centre this year

Since its inception, the global non-profit organisation has committed to closing the funding gap for women entrepreneurs and building an ecosystem for technology, entrepreneurship and innovation that creates opportunities for women. Fundraising will be front and centre this year and this pitch round will be held across over 40 countries. Partners of the event include ATAST, Beijing Women’s International Center, Circle, Girls in Tech Macau, Gobi Partners, Hatch and the Kerala Startup Mission.

More than just a tech competition

“Last year, we announced our new mission to catalyse $1-billion funding for startups coming through She Loves Tech by 2030,” says co-founder Rhea See.

Startups can expect increased funding and one-on-one opportunities with leading VCs, mentoring hours, and direct cash and investment prizes throughout the series. Alumni startups from previous years have received over $250-million in aggregate funding from some of the world’s top investors, including Sequoia Capital, Vertex Ventures, Wavemaker, Microsoft and Amazon

“She Loves Tech 2021 is more than a competition, it is an acceleration platform designed to take women-led and women impact startups to the next level,” remarks co-founder Leanne Robers. Previous participants include Arianna Huffington (Co-Founder & CEO, Thrive Global), Ann Cairns (Executive Vice Chair, Mastercard) and Mahmoud Mohieldin (UN Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda).

“Without women, we are unable to solve the world’s greatest challenges. Women represent a new generation of innovation and disruptive thinking,” comments co-founder Virginia Tan.

If you are a tech startup with at least one female founder or a majority of female consumers or end-users, apply here before registrations close.

Read more: Harambee Youth Accelerator acquires SA hiring app Giraffe
Read more: Women in tech at risk of being left behind

Featured image: @canweallgo via Unsplash

“She Loves Tech 2021 is more than a competition, it is an acceleration platform designed to take women-led and women impact startups to the next level,” remarks co-founder Leanne Robers. Previous participants include Arianna Huffington (Co-Founder & CEO, Thrive Global), Ann Cairns (Executive Vice Chair, Mastercard) and Mahmoud Mohieldin (UN Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda).

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/she-loves-tech-calls-for-african-female-focused-startups/

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