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Liquidations rise by 49% year-on-year SMMEs hit the hardest –

Released on 26 April 2021, the report shows that 216 companies liquidated in March this year, compared to 178 the month before – a 21% jump.

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Despite being over its second wave, the South African economy continues to struggle, brand-new data by Statistics South Africa indicates. Released on 26 April 2021, the report shows that 216 companies liquidated in March this year, compared to 178 the month before – a 21% jump.

This is almost 50% higher than March last year. Business consultants are concerned about smaller businesses, which bear the brunt of the hardship, and have developed some lifelines to help them through

Despite economic improvements, the situation in South Africa remains precarious, StatsSA’s latest Statistics of Liquidations and insolvencies report confirms. The figures have revealed the number of liquidations between March last year and the same month this year jumped by 49%. Compared to the second month of this year, this figure is 21% higher.

All in all, the total number of liquidations increased by 18.9% in the first quarter of 2021 compared with the first quarter of 2020, StatsSA says. Of all sectors, financing, insurance, real estate, business services (77 liquidations), trade, catering, and accommodation (47), and manufacturing (10) are the hardest hit.

Business consultants say the hardship is a direct result of the past year and affects smaller companies the most. “It is not that more companies suddenly found themselves in trouble. Many of the businesses that have folded in March this year, in all likelihood mostly smaller and medium-sized businesses, have struggled for many months before having to close, if not longer,” says Lings Naidoo, co-founder of BeyondCOVID.

Launched last year during the hard lockdown, the BeyondCOVID Business Survey, conducted by specialist management consultancy Redflank, aims to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on SMMEs in particular. “Our research has shown that smaller, micro, and medium-sized businesses, in general, are 26 times more likely to close their doors in times of economic upheaval than their corporate counterparts.”

As such, 26% of SMMEs that participated in the survey had to close during the lockdown, temporarily or permanently, the BeyondCOVID Business Survey shows. In addition, 54% of respondents said they were working below their usual capacity, and a third expressed they needed funding to continue to trade.

BeyondCOVID, as a registered non-profit company, is determined to help businesses cope with whatever is coming their way this year and beyond, over and above, providing them with trends, forecasts, and information they can use to develop survival strategies. The initiative is, for instance, creating an enabling and supportive framework to help SMMEs scale, grow and mitigate obstacles. “We want to be part of the solution by making SMMEs more resilient and less vulnerable to economic shocks, whether it is a pandemic or a global financial crisis,” says Naidoo.

“We plan to do this by using our networks within the private and public sector to leverage funding and investments whilst providing access to resources, services, and technology to make them more robust, sustainable, and bankable.”

Naidoo explains that, so far, BeyondCOVID has engaged with Chambers of Commerce and various other players whilst organising smaller ventures into risk-sharing structures. “These are known as SMME Collectives and are supported by BeyondCOVID’s networks, services, and technological innovations.”

“It is true what they say: safety in numbers, also for businesses,” he adds. “Being part of a bigger organisation that has the means individual smaller companies lack, creates more stability. This is exactly what businesses and South Africa need in uncertain times. Covid-19 will be here to stay for a while. We need to work with, not fight, this reality.”

This article was written by Lings Naidoo, co-founder of BeyondCOVID.

Featured image: Lings Naidoo (Supplied)

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/04/liquidations-rise-by-49-year-on-year-smmes-hit-the-hardest/

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Startup partners with Telkom to launch translation platform for SA languages

Telkom has partnered with SA startup Enlabeler to launch an AI platform that translates speech into text and provides transcription services for local languages.

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Telkom has partnered with South African startup Enlabeler to launch an AI platform that translates speech into text and provides transcription services for local languages.

The platform, called izwe.ai, was unveiled at the AI Expo Africa 2021. It is described as “a multi-lingual technology platform that transforms your audio and video data to text, captions or subtitles in your local languages”.

Telkom and Enlabeler collaborated to create the platform, with the aim of providing a way to bridge the language gap in a variety of industries.

“With Enlabeler, we have built a solution that can offer a seamless transcription experience with highly localised and reliable outputs, which help us deliver as a strategic partner for our clients,” Telkom Executive of Data Science Stefan Steffen said in a statement.

“Working with an agile startup like Enlabeler has helped us accelerate our long-term plans to unlock this market segment. ”

Enlabeler

Enlabeler is a data labelling and annotation solutions provider.

Founded in 2019, the company describes itself as Africa’s first remote data labelling community. It employs people around the country to augment and train the AI solutions and services provided by the company.

The company provides video and image annotation services, computer vision and object detection models, entity extraction from text datasets, as well as translation and transcription services.

The izwe.ai translation platform

According to Telkom, the izwe.ai platform has a unique ability to interpret South African accents. It also uses machine learning to constantly improve its translations.

The aim of the platform is to provide transcription and translation across a range of industries. These include education, academia, legal services, and media production.

“This technology can be a game-changer in business, as well as education, government, and healthcare delivery,” Telkom head of Innovation Dr Mmaki Jantjies said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Telkom Foundation CEO Sarah Mthintso highlighted the education benefits of the service.

“STEM subjects are the foundation for the careers of the future, but to truly drive digital transformation in South Africa, we need learners to be able to learn in their home language,” Mthintso said in a statement.

“That’s where AI-driven speech services are so important.”

Translation and transcription service launch

The service will be launched in a phased approach. The first phase includes the launch of izwe.ai and the collection of information from potential clients via survey.

The service is offering five hours of free machine transcription in exchange for the completion of the survey.

The second phase will include the release of the machine transcription model.

“In release 2 you will have access to a market-leading machine transcription model to transcribe your files with a click of a button,” the service says on its website.

The third phase will include the implementation of human input into automatic transcription outputs. Finally, phase four will include the launch of additional services.

You can find out more about the platform on the izwe.ai website.

Feature image: Ventureburn

Read more: Fairwork Project puts out call for Pledge supporters

Read more: African global business services sector to grow to $19.8 billion by 2023 – research

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/09/startup-partners-with-telkom-to-launch-translation-platform-for-sa-languages/

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South African startups helping to solve the global challenges

A new generation of entrepreneurs are not only incubating solid startups but are contributing to help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges

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South African entrepreneurs are known for many things: optimism in the face of adversity, thrifty creativity, the ability to pivot when circumstances change, and above all, their tremendous resilience.

Across the startup landscape, one finds these nimble thinkers who defy the odds. Now, a new generation of entrepreneurs are not only incubating solid startups but are contributing to help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

Hypernova Space Technologies

If you thought South Africa was not contributing to space exploration, think again. Cape Town-based Hypernova Space Technologies builds cutting-edge electric propulsion for small satellites. Their plasma thrusters are based on over a decade of research and development in vacuum arc thruster technology.

Founded by Jonathan Lun, who won a SingularityU research grant a few years ago, the company pioneered the world’s only commercial electric propulsion designed for in-situ resource utilization, that will see its first flight to space in 2022.

Hypernova’s breakthrough technology uses resources that are found in abundance throughout our solar system as fuel with the result that the company is now recognized by some of the space industry’s most forward-thinking players.

Resolute Robotics

The world is moving forward, and now more than ever we need to give future generations every opportunity to leverage the power of modern technology and thrive in the digital age.

Startup company Resolute Robotics has made it their mission to do exactly that. Students in schools (grades 1-12) and tertiary institutions can now complete their courses as part of their school curriculum, or as an extra mural, via their online academy.

They’ll get taught critical thinking, creative thinking, complex problem-solving skills and coordination with peers, as well as the three essential pillars of technology—engineering, data sciences, and computer sciences.

In this way, youth can get the foundation they need to pursue a career in coding and robotics.

DataProphet

While the world is becoming familiar with artificial intelligence in business, one South African startup is embracing the opportunity that this has for business.

DataProphet specializes in optimizing the complex manufacturing processes of key industrial verticals with state-of-the-art machine learning. Their AI-driven solutions leverage the existing data streams from your plant’s production line equipment to identify process efficiencies.

The startup identified the opportunity that high-impact adjustments can make and guarantee ROI in the first year of deployment. Their AI-driven prescriptions aim to help clients improve quality targets, reduce scrap and defects, and achieve manufacturing process optimization – ahead of real-time.

Longiveme

Addressing a more health-related challenge, aging is a phenomenon that humans grapple with every day on physical, aesthetic, mental, and emotional levels.

One South African doctor, Johannesburg-based Tamara Pheiffer, has realized that the solutions lie in unconventional thinking. She built her practice Longiveme to offer patients treatment based on precision medicine and biohacking.

Furthermore, this business is unlocking the potential of genetic testing to offer patients custom wellness solutions.

2021 SingularityU South Africa Summit

Leaders and founders from these companies will be speaking at the prestigious upcoming SingularityU South Africa Summit taking place online from 12 – 15 October 2021, where you can learn from their insights and expertise via various keynote talks, workshops, and discussion panels alongside global thought leaders.

Click here for more information or to book.

Read more: Innovation Edge calls for pitches for SA ventures focused on positive parenting by fathers

Read more: Kenyan tech startup secures $475 000

Featured image: Lagos Techie via Unsplash

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/08/south-african-startups-helping-to-solve-the-global-challenges/

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Naspers invests R120 million in Joburg-based insurtech startup Naked

Naspers has announced it has invested R120 million in Johannesburg-based insurtech startup Naked in a Series A funding round.

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Naspers has announced it has invested R120 million in Johannesburg-based insurtech startup Naked in a Series A funding round.

Announced on 4 August, the multinational company made the investment through its early-stage tech investment vehicle, Naspers Foundry.

The investment is the foundry’s second insurtech investment in the last month.

Launched in 2018, Naked is an AI-drive insurance app that provides users with coverage for their homes and cars.

It is also the foundry’s biggest investment to date.

The funding round raised R160 million in total with the balance contributed by other investors such as Yellowwoods and Hollard.

“We’re excited to support Naked in their journey of pioneering a new generation of insurance, giving consumers access to convenience, control, and savings with its end-to-end digital processes,” Naspers Foundry CEO, Fabian White, said in a statement.

“This fits in with our focus of backing purpose-driven technology businesses.”

In April, the foundry announced it had invested R34 million in local insurance advice app, Ctrl. It said it is committed to investing a total of R1.4 billion in South Africa’s early-stage tech ecosystem.

Naspers investment to help Naked reinvent insurance

Launched in 2018, Naked is an AI-drive insurance app that provides users with easy-access coverage.

Through the mobile and web apps, users can immediately receive a quote for their place of residence, its contents, and standalone items such as cars in a short amount of time.

The app also lets them switch and pause their coverage without having to engage with call agents.

“Our ambition is to build insurance that people love by offering an experience that is affordable, convenient, and transparent,” Naked Co-Founder, Alex Thomson said.

“We are excited to have an investor of Naspers Foundry’s calibre onboard to work with us as we expand our team, continue to invest in the technology that puts customers in control, meet the insurance needs of a growing portion of the SA market and enter into international markets.”

Read more: Catalyst Fund names Inclusive Fintech startups, three from Africa

Read more: SA agritech Khula! launches app after closing R20m funding round

Featured image: Luis Villasmil via Unsplash

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/08/naspers-invests-r120-million-in-joburg-based-insurtech-startup-naked/

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