Which songs did you discover this year, and what’s your music personality?
Music service providers are ramping up their recap features. This week, both Apple and YouTube announced that they would be improving user experience on their annual recap services.
YouTube Music will introduce a “Top Trends” feature that highlights artists users discovered, and an Identity feature that provides personalised music personalities.
Apple, which has already started rolling out its Replay feature, will now feature short clips that display users’ listening behaviours throughout the year. Users will also now be able to see if they’re in the top 100 listeners of a genre or an artist.
India is the latest country to delve into the world of central bank digital currencies (CBDC).
Yesterday, the Reserve Bank of India announced that it would kick off testing the digital rupee on December 1 across four Indian cities: Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar.
The RBI is reportedly working with eight banks to roll out testing with the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank and IDFC First Bank as partners for the first phase. Four more banks—Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank—will join the pilot in subsequent phases.
The apex bank also plans to expand the testing to eight more cities including Hyderabad, Patna and Shimlow.
Electric mobility startup NopeaRide is turning off its lights in Kenya.
The company said it was due to its slow recovery from the impact of the pandemic restrictions, and its failure to secure more funding due to the insolvency of its major shareholder—a Finnish cleantech company, EkoRent OY.
Nopea Ride launched in Nairobi in 2018 with only three electric vehicles and two chargers. Since then, it has imported 70 Nopea electric vehicles to Kenya that have driven over 4,000,000 kilometres saving Kenya over 650 tons of CO2 emissions. It also operated the largest electric vehicle charging network in East Africa.
The ride so far
NopeaRide grew considerably and received new funding to scale its operations in 2019. However, its plans collided with the COVID-19 curfew rules, and its vehicles’ daily kilometres rapidly dropped by 60% in 2021. The traffic didn’t rise as quickly when the restrictions were lifted, despite NopeaRide’s improvements to its technology.
It eventually bounced back in the first half of 2021. At that time, however, the company was failing to break even on the investments it made to add electric motorcycles to its fleet and develop a solar charging carport with an option for electric motorcycle (eBoda) battery swap stations.
NopeaRide said it had a chance to succeed in the long run as it had secured contracts with some big companies, but one of its major shareholders, EkoRent OY went into insolvency in Finland, failing to raise additional funding to keep it afloat.
It is not just Nopea Ride that has been forced to close shop due to a harsh operational climate. Several startups, like Kune Foods and Notify, have shut down this year because they were not able to secure the funding they needed to continue operating in the economic downturn.
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Twiga Foods is set to receive Ksh300 million ($2.45 million) from Kenya’s Hustler Fund. The over Ksh50 billion ($408 million) fund is Kenya’s first single-digit credit facility. It offers loans at 8% annual interest to small businesses that struggle to access financing from mainstream banks.
Is Twiga Foods a hustler?
The fund is mostly targeted at financially excluded individuals, but any business whose turnover does not exceed Ksh100 million ($816,000) is eligible to borrow from the fund. Banks, micro-finance institutions, cooperative societies, and other associations can borrow from the fund to lend it again to others.
President Ruto is giving Twiga Foods the money so that the agrotech startup will extend it to its 140,000 suppliers and customers across Kenya. Currently, Twiga Foods provides a credit line for vendors on its platform through Soko Loan, an embedded buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) programme. Through partnerships with financial institutions, it microfinances its vendors, empowering them to make more purchases on its platform.
A win-win-win situation
The Hustler’s Fund will allow Twiga’s vendors to borrow at a very low-interest rate—8% per annum— to invest in their businesses. This will increase both their profitability and Twiga Foods’, whose customers now have higher purchasing power.
This arrangement also benefits the government’s Hustler Fund, about which many have been concerned about a high default rate as, by itself, it has no way of determining the creditworthiness of loan applications yet. Twiga’s automated credit system will appropriately disburse the concessional loans to its network of 140,000 credit-worthy entrepreneurs.
Before joining MAX, Hoyme worked four years at Goldman Sachs and three years at Eventide Asset Management. Through this experience, Hoyme has held senior client development roles, made investments in the mobility sector, and in a separate role as director of a non-profit organisation, started development projects across sub-Saharan Africa.
What’s coming to the MAX table?
Holmes’ appointment will put him at the fore of MAX’s expansion plans, which, according to TechCrunch, are directed towards Egypt and Ghana.
Holmes will also lead MAX’s growing electric vehicles (EV) business, a venture the company announced when it raised $31 million in its Series B round in December 2021.
Max plans to service 100,000 independent commercial drivers by the end of 2023. To achieve this, the company has doubled down on its auto-financing product, enabling mobility entrepreneurs to own their vehicles through a ride-to-own scheme in partnership with the ridesharing platform, Bolt.
But as fuel prices continue to fluctuate, the founders theorised that removing fuel from the operating costs—by introducing EVs—should be the next way to increase driver earnings and “make mobility safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable”.
Now, Holmes will leverage his experience at Goldman Sachs to bring MAX closer to achieving these milestones, with a focus on the pan-African expansion.
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Applications are open for the UK Research and Innovation African Research Leaders’ Programme. Talented researchers in sub-Saharan Africa leading quality health research in the region can apply to get up to £750,000 in funding. Apply by December 1.
The Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme and the Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique of Nairobi are offering a three-month-long fellowship in France for postdoc researchers from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and Eastern Congo (Kivu) who have presented their thesis from 2017. Laureates will receive a monthly stipend of €1,600 at the start of each month. Apply by December 9.
If your startup or innovation is focused on climate-smart agriculture practices, apply to the THRIVE|Shell Climate-Smart Agriculture Challenge for a chance to win $100,000, a spot in a prestigious accelerator, publicity and more. Apply by December 11.
Applications are now open for Apple’s Entrepreneur Camp. The immersive virtual camp will give founders and developers from underrepresented communities mentorship, technical support and access to the alumni network. Apply by December 5.
Applications are open for the TechBridge accelerator programme to innovative African startups. It provides $200,000 in funding, learning opportunities, and access to the TechBridge hub, community, and support tools and resources. Apply by December 15.
Applications are now open for CyberGirls Fellowship, a free 1-year program that equips girls and women aged 18-28 years old with cybersecurity skills. Apply by December 5.