Orange Digital Ventures targets African startups
in partnership with FLUTTERWAVE, RENSOURCE ENERGY & VVM MEDIA 09.06.2020
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PARTNER CONTENT

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TELECOMS MARKET POWER
Ghana's telecoms authority is saying enough to MTN's dominance of their telecommunications market. The National Communications Authority (NCA) says it will "begin the implementation of specific policies to ensure a level-playing field for all network operators within the telecommunications industry." The need for such a sensational move particular to MTN stems from the telco's reported 70% market share in the country, revealed in recent data between January and March. By that metric, the NCA implies that MTN has become a "significant market power" necessitating corrective action to allow more market competition. Part of NCA's supposed corrective measures to break up MTN's control will include effecting a favourable connection rate for disadvantaged operators and establishing floor and ceiling pricing on all minutes, data, text messages and mobile money. MTN Ghana grew service revenue 23% year on year, thanks to strong growth in voice, data and Mobile Money. Voice revenue increased 19% year on year. Some users have expressed grievances about rising data costs by the telco, leading to a social media campaign towards the end of 2019 that eventually got lawmakers' attention.
INVESTOR-FOUNDER MARKETPLACE

Nigerian-based VC Platform Capital announced that it has invested an undisclosed amount in Merge, a South African startup that allows investors find entrepreneurs whose work and values align. Investing through Unicorn Group, its technology arm, Platform says it has helped Merge partner with California-based firms like Aspenify, a software company, and WhiteSpace X, an accelerator, for the purpose of entrepreneurship support and expansion. "We are certain that Merge will become the 'Tinder of investments," says Ponmile Osibo, a partner at Platform Capital. The firm also backs biotech startup Koniku, which plans to revolutionise disease detection in the world through a computer chip powered by a composite of silicon and living material. One of a number of emerging African startups hoping to mediate investor-founder relations, Merge aims "to open up the start-up landscape to a wider sector of society and stimulate the growth of SMEs to propel South Africa’s economy," according to Fast Company. The startup was founded by two twenty-one year olds Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate.

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FUNDING
Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance, an African startup support group, has invested $100,000 each in two Nigerian companies - the logistics company MAX and Releaf Group, an agritech. The investment in the first is in form of equity financing while the latter is a debt raise. Founded in 2008, the Alliance aims at supporting innovators developing solutions to problems on the African continent, Abubakar Idris writes. The group has raised $1 million through the Harambeans Prosperity Fund to support its African portfolio companies affected by the economic challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Fund will invest between $25,000 and $100,000 in startups founded by the Alliance’s members based on a rules-based co-investment model.
SEED CHALLENGE
Orange Digital Ventures, a venture capital initiative by telecoms company Orange, is looking to provide up to seven startups with investments of between EUR50,000 (US$56,000) and EUR150,000 (US$168,000). Tagged 'Africa and Middle East Seed Challenge' the funding is available to one startup in each of Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia and Jordan. Interested startups are to apply before June 26th and investees will be announced by September 2020. They will join a portfolio that includes companies like South African fintech Yoco, in which Orange Digital Ventures invested at Series B stage in 2018.
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FOR SAFE WORK PLACES
Following an accusation of sexual harassment against Kendall Ananyi, CEO of broadband service company Tizeti, the company's board has asked him to step down. 4DX Ventures, an investor in the company, has resigned from the board citing "a lack of sensitivity" by Ananyi's statement denying his accuser's claims. The overwhelming majority of reactions from within Nigerian tech has been to offer support to everyone who has faced workplace scenarios described in Kelechi Udoagwu's accusation of Ananyi. But she is not alone. "More women have since come out to accuse the CEO of harassment (as well as share their experiences at other tech firms) but are terrified to go on record for fear of retaliation or causing harm to their careers," Kay Ugwuede reports. What should CEOs and tech leaders be doing to build environments where sexual harassment is absolutely unwelcome? Ventures Platform, the early-stage VC, has outlined the steps they take. We hope more companies are forthright and clear in stating their internal procedures for handling harassment, providing confidence in the ecosystem's ability to put an end to the menace.
That's all for today,

See you tomorrow.
- Alexander

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