24 MARCH, 2022

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Happy pre-Friday โ˜€๏ธ

Instagram is giving you more control over your feed.

On the platform, you’ll now be able to choose between two modes that decide how your feed works: Favourites and Following. 

Favourites is an algorithm-based mode that shows you posts based on who and what Instagram thinks you like, regardless of when they were posted. The Favourites mode has been on since 2016.

Following is the recently-released mode. Unlike Favourites which prioritise user behaviour, the Following mode shows users “latest posts from the accounts they follow in the exact order they were posted”.

It basically means that you’ll now be able to choose between seeing photos of things you’ve liked on Instagram, and seeing actual posts from people you follow. 

While in Favourites mode, users can select up to 50 accounts that Instagram will prioritise on the feed. 

Does this still matter though? Quite a number of Instagram users have reported abandoning their feed page because they hardly ever saw photos from most of the people they followed. With the launch of Reels, more people have abandoned the feed page for Reel’s endless scroll allure.

Image source: TimiTheTechCabalian

In today’s edition

  • An update from Bento Africa
  • Africa’s first growth accelerator
  • Kenya inches closer to its first unicorn
  • Opportunities

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AN UPDATE FROM BENTO AFRICA

On Monday, TechCabal published a report that revealed the harrowing experiences of ex-employees of payroll startup Bento Africa at the hands of CEO Ebun Okubanjo. 

Yesterday, Bento’s Board of Directors (BoD), in response to the article, sent a response to employees of the startup, past and present. 

What will Bento do?

After an intro criticising Okubanjo’s initial reaction to TechCabal’s request for comment on the allegations, the BoD (no relation to the fragrance) confirmed that an internal investigation into Bento’s workplace culture has begun. It also announced that it would be reviewing the company’s HR practices. 

The Board, while urging employees to speak freely, also mentioned that all non-disclosure agreements signed by current employees would be voided.

In addressing the CEO, Bento’s Board announced that Okubanjo would be taking “some time off” and would also hands off all people-related decisions at the startup while co-founder and COO, Chidozie Okonkwo—along with other leads at Bento—would become more hands-on with talent. 

A white flag

CEO Okubanjo also published a personal apology via his Medium page. In the post titled From ebun. With Love, Okubanjo admits to encouraging a work culture of “long workdays and weeks” and apologises for his abusive outbursts.

“I am sorry,” Okubanjo writes. “I have some work to do here and there is a lot of room for growth. It will [sic] be a lie if I say this is a switch I can make overnight, I would [sic] need to learn how to balance passion with empathy.” 

In a bid to repair broken bridges, the CEO is also encouraging employees who have “felt that fire that burn [sic] so hot when we are in the thick of it” to reach out to him.

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AFRICA’S FIRST GROWTH TALENT ACCELERATOR

In the evolution of Africa’s tech ecosystem, a number of important gaps have been filled. First, there was the investment gap barring the animation of innovative products and services. Now that investment is taking off in the ecosystem, there’s the talent gap which is barring development. 

When we hear of talent scarcity in the ecosystem, we mostly hear about software engineers and developers. But the search for able talent touches all departments from software engineering to product management, and growth roles. 

While most digital schools and programmes like Andela, Decagon, and AltSchool are focusing on solving the engineering and product talent gaps, growth is largely unattended to. 

The growth gap is why alGROWithm, a Nigeria-based growth agency is starting the Growth Talent Accelerator Programme (GTAP), a two-way training programme in partnership with Digital Africa’s Talent 4 Startups Initiative. 

Backstory: You’ve heard of Business-as-a-Service (Baas), Software-as-a-Service (Saas), even Fintech-as-a-Service (FaaS), but have you heard of Growth-as-a-service (GaaS)?

It’s what alGROWithm offers.

Founded by Bili Sule in 2018, the agency uses growth engineering to design and implement sustainable growth models and strategies for African startups and SMEs. alGROWithm’s services span across marketing to growth modelling, digital advertising and even branding. 

The agency has served over 50 startups in the ecosystem including Spleet, Chaka, OkHi, and Binance where it led a market entry campaign into Nigeria. 

alGROWithm also offers short 6-hour growth courses called Growth Engineering Training (GET) which have been completed by over 300 people. According to Sule, who is also the agency’s Chief Growth Officer (CGO), “While GET challenges the mindset, we wanted to design something that helps trainees think of growth in a consistent and sustainable way for businesses. And that’s how we came up with GTAP.”

Tapping into GTAP

Last year, Digital Africa—in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)—launched the Talent 4 Startups Initiative to provide 250 scholarships aimed at supporting digital talent growth across 12 African countries. 

Forty of these scholarships will go towards alGROWithm’s Growth Talent Accelerator Programme which will be held in Nigeria and Ghana over the course of the year. 

The programme will be divided into 2 cohorts. While the first, via a 6-month course, will focus on upskilling employees of tech startups with growth experience into growth engineers, the second cohort will see freelancers and unemployed youth becoming growth experts over a 4-month period. 

“From the results of our research so far, it is clear that the ecosystem needs a steady supply of growth talent to make it easier for founders to find and hire the people they need,” CGO Bili Sule said to TechCabal. “It is also clear that there’s a need for training and upskilling existing talent to levels of expertise where they can deliver in line with employers’ expectations. This is why the Talent 4 Startups opportunity with Digital Africa, was particularly exciting for us. It presented an opportunity for alGROWithm to start closing these gaps.”

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KENYA IS INCHING CLOSER TO ITS FIRST UNICORN

There are 8 unicorns—companies valued at over $1 billion—in Africa. Five are companies with origins in Nigeria, while Senegal, Egypt and Uganda hold 1 each. Although Kenya stands amongst the Big 4, it’s still yet to produce a unicorn but that might be changing soon. 

The country is closing in on its first unicorn after retail tech startup, Wasoko, formerly Sokowatch, raised $125 million from international investors, pushing up the company’s valuation to $625 million.

Wasoko’s current valuation coupled with its high growth prospects and backing by high profile investors puts it in a pole position to join Africa’s growing billion-dollar tech startup league that is currently dominated by West African firms.

Last month, another Kenyan-based retail tech start-up, MarketForce, also closed a $40 million Series A round to affirm growing attractiveness in the segment.

The Kenyan ecosystem has begun to crack up its fundraising, with the latest figures showing very high prospects of the East-African country overtaking its slow growth last year.

Kenya is currently ranked second in terms of value and volume of fundraising after 20 start-ups raised 223.5 million dollars (19.9% of the total) as of March 1, 2022, rising from the fourth position in 2021.

Africa: The Big Deal ranked Kenya fourth for deals worth $100,000 or more after securing $375 million in 2021.

What do you think? When will Kenya be getting its own unicorn?

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OPPORTUNITIES

  • The Ethiopian Women in Energy (EWiEn) has launched a start-up incubator programme designed to support women developing renewable energy solutions and ideas. Selected applicants will get training on branding, team building, market research and many others. Check it out.
  • The Acumen Accelerator 2022 for Ventures Serving Displaced People is now open to applications from East African businesses and startups that create sustainable living solutions for displaced people in East Africa. Selected startups will share up to $75,000 in grants. Find out more
  • The Women in Africa (WIA) Young Leaders Programme is now open to applications. Eight African women who are involved in building a dynamic, innovative, and inclusive Africa will get benefits like media visibility, networking and training. See if you fit
  • The King Hamad Award for Youth Empowerment to Achieve the SDGs 2022 is now open to applications. Young leaders and youth-led entities from UN-member states who are contributing to the welfare of their communities are invited to apply for the chance to get up to $45,000. Check it out

What else we’re reading

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Written by – Timi Odueso & Damilare Dosunmu

Edited by – Kelechi Njoku

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