If you’re asking when this will come to some African countries, it’s going to take a while. This kind of feature requires robust digital databases on [public] criminal and civil records of individuals.
Quite a number of judicial systems on the continent are not yet digital; that’s a sector where growth is stunted.
In today’s edition
Quick Fire 🔥
Orange is offering smartphone financing in Côte d’Ivoire
Carolyne has over 16 years of experience as an HR professional, originally working in the USA for 10 years before returning home to Kenya. Prior to joining Sokowatch, Carolyne was the Group Head of HR for sub-Saharan Africa at Ringier One Africa Media, overseeing hundreds of team members across eight African countries. Prior to that, she was the East Africa Talent Manager at ALN/ Anjarwalla & Khanna. Carolyne is a certified Counselor by the Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM) and a certified Coach by the Strathmore Business school. She holds a Higher Diploma in Human Resource Management from IHRM, a Law degree from Western State College of Law (California, USA) as well as a Psychology degree from California State University Long Beach (California, USA).
Explain your job to a five-year-old
I work with people and I make sure that they enjoy coming to work, they have everything they need to do their jobs well and they feel challenged and passionate about working at Sokowatch
What’s something you wish you knew earlier in your career/life?
In both life and career, give yourself grace, I think sometimes we tend to be our own harshest critics. The failure is not in making mistakes, the failure is in not learning from them.
What’s the most promising thing about tech in Africa?
Technology can have a huge impact on so many areas of our daily lives. For example, what we do at Sokowatch makes a difference in terms of accessibility of essential goods and services across the countries in which we operate. We work with informal retailers who do not have the negotiating power or ability to get goods to their shops at reasonable prices. We bridge the gap between the retailers and manufacturers through technology, we help the retailers get goods at affordable prices with free delivery. This is just one story of the impact tech is already having in Africa and we are just scratching the surface
How can tech startups in Africa build and retain more talent?
In Africa, we have a very young workforce, to attract them, you must have a compelling vision, something they can connect to. Once you have hired the right talent, invest in them, in terms of training, clear career growth options, have the right culture and a work environment that gives them ownership.
What’s one misconception businesses/startups make about hiring and retainment?
Underestimating how challenging it can be to hire the right talent. Keywords here are the right talent; people who can come on board and have an immediate impact. Closely tied to this is the misconception that once you hire someone your job ends there…to me this is actually just the beginning, you want to make sure that the right talent stays with you for the long haul, this takes intentionality.
What [singular] achievement are you most proud of?
In recent history, I would say what we have built at Sokowatch, I was employee number 1 in the People department. We didn’t have a lot of things in place as would be expected of a startup and we had about 50 FTEs. Fast forward 2.5 years later and we have grown across Africa, with employees representing 16 different nationalities and about 1000 FTEs. It has been a labour of love and continues to be.
What’s something you love doing that you’re terrible at. And what’s something you really do not like doing that you’re great at.
Completing puzzles, I really enjoy putting things together and I have been trying to finish a 1000 piece puzzle for the last 3 months… I don’t think it should take that long!
I’m naturally an introvert so standing up in front of a lot of people is something I don’t particularly enjoy, however, with my job it’s something I’ve really become good at over the years, connecting with people.
What do you think about Web3?
Some of the positives for Web3 would be the decentralised model which gives people more control over their data, especially in an age where data is king, it would also prevent single points of failure when servers go down. On the other hand, because of decentralisation, accessibility to information may not be as instantaneous as it currently is. As with all new innovations, we may not completely understand the impact until Web3 is fully here.
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While there are 36 million active mobile phones amongst Côte d’Ivoire’s 26 million population, only about half of Ivorian mobile users access the internet with their phones. A 2018 GSMA study found some of the main reasons people living in internet-covered areas do not use mobile internet include the inability to afford smartphones and low digital literacy rates.
So many Ivorians can’t afford smartphones, and amidst the ones who do, very few have phones that they access the internet with.
This is why Orange is entering into a three-way partnership with Yabx and Cofina to help address this problem.
The partnership is expected to “make a significant difference in promoting digital lifestyle and expanding financial inclusion,” in the country, the network operator said in a recent statement.
Under the partnership with Orange Yabx will provide the technology and manage the complete customer journey that will enable Cofina launch plans for Orange subscribers to pay for smartphones in instalments.
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With software updates, merchants or sellers can download an app that allows them to get payments when sellers swipe their cards across their screens. You basically pay for stuff by putting your debit cards near the device. It’s made possible through NFC or near field communication, hardware that allows devices to share small amounts of data within short distances.
Not all phones have NFCs though and it’s a requirement if you want to turn your phone into a POS terminal.
For Absa, the bank has announced that all Android phones with Android 7.0 OS upwards and NFC will be able to use the Absa Mobile Pay app which it developed with WIZZIT Digital, a London-based software company.
With the new app, merchants and MSMEs will be able to receive payments less than R500 ($30) without requiring pins from customers. Transactions more than R500, however, will require a pin.
Zoom out: South Africa has about 2.5 million MSMEs and Absa’s move provides most with the opportunity to branch into digital payment without the additional cost of getting a POS device.
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This week, Ghana-based fintech raised $32.8 million in an oversubscribed seed round led by New York-based private equity and venture capital fund Insight Partners. It’s one of the largest seed rounds out of the continent.
Here are the other deals for the week:
Naqla, an Egyptian trucking logistics startup raised a $10.5 m pre-Series A round to allow it further its expansion goals for the year. The round was led by El Sewedy Capital Holding (SCH), Hassan Allam Holding (HAH), and the Sallam family.
Uganda’s Rocket Health, a telemedicine and last-mile healthcare provider, closed a $5 m Series A funding round to accelerate its technology roadmap and expansion to the different regions of Uganda and Kenya. The round was led by Creadev, with Grenfell Holdings and LoftyInc Capital Management also participating in the round.
Smart addressing startup OkHi secured a $1.5 m seed extension, bringing the total of its seed funding to $3 million, to support the rollout of its address verification technology in Nigeria. Investors include Chapel Hill Denham, Flutterwave’s founder and executives, EXFI (a syndicate of ex-Googlers) Founders Factory Africa, Betatron, and Interswitch Group.
Yep!, a “financial super app” with payments, remittance, and banking features raised $1.5 m in a pre-seed round led by pan-African VC Greenhouse Capital.
Egyptian legal ed-tech startup Kouncel received $1.2 m in pre-seed funding from Zaldi Capital, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Academy for Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT), and Egyptian entrepreneurship development project Tanmia wa Tatweer. to help it scale.
Egyptian e-health startup Chefaa raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Newtown Partners and Global Brain, as well as GMS Capital Partners to help it expand its network, release a new product, and launch in new markets.
What did it take to build one of the UK’s top event-tech platforms, and what lessons can you draw from it into running your startup?
Join us this morning at 11 AM (WAT) on #BuildingFromGroundUp with Chi-chi Ekweozor, Founder and CEO of Assenty.
Chi-chi has been working in the tech industry for the past 15 years. Apart from being a successful entrepreneur, Chi-chi also organizes Manchester’s acclaimed #FemaleTechFounder, one of the region’s foremost communities for supporting and nurturing female founders starting out in technology and business.
This morning, she’ll be sharing some of the most important and interesting things she’s learned so far in her journey as a founder and working with other founders.