Seven innovative start-ups with a mission to create impact in Africa
At the Wharton African Business Forum which held on November 3, 2017, seven start-ups competed for a $10,000 grant. OZÉ emerged winner. OZÉ targets the informal sector in Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. OZÉ is an app which enables small scale businesses collate financial data which is transformed into financial statements and business insights. Through data provided by the app, the financial health of businesses can be accessed and subsequently used to access finance for growth. OZÉ was founded by Meghan McCormick who received the $10,000 grant as winner of the WABF venture competition.
The other start-ups were commended by Michele Rivard of Village Capital (a judge at the venture competition) for their excellent analytics and great detail on segmented diagnostics. From education, healthcare, and energy to fashion, these startups have set out to impact lives in the jurisdictions they operate.
Access to quality education often comes with a price, especially for students from low-income backgrounds. The founders of ScholarX believe that education shouldn’t be a privilege, but a right to be enjoyed by young Africans regardless of economic background. Thus it has developed a platform to facilitate access to finance through scholarships, tuition crowdfunding and low interest intervention loans.
In the healthcare industry, MDaaS in Nigeria and Redbird Health Tech in Ghana are bridging the gap in the availability of high-quality medical equipment, and combating non-communicable and chronic diseases respectively. Access to quality medical equipment in Nigeria is a challenge because of the expenses that go into acquiring and maintaining these equipment. MDaaS seeks to solve this problem by providing hospitals with high-quality refurbished equipment from notable brands such as GE, Philips, Siemens and Fuji. On the otherhand, Redbird Health Tech provides pharmacies and licensed chemical shops with tools for monitoring chronic and acute conditions in patients. This gives patients a convenient way to monitor their health.
In the energy sector, SolarLuv is looking to provide stable, clean, and affordable power. With more than two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa without electricity, productivity can hardly be achieved. SolarLuv is looking to change this narrative in a sustainable way. Whilst the problem of lack of electricity persists, students living in parts of sub-Sahara Africa find it difficult studying without light at night. Bright Futures intends lightening their burden through a technology which reinvents the conventional pen by adapting LED light to facilitate studying at night.
In the fashion industry, Mwayi contributes positively to the Malawian economy as an ethical fashion brand and ecommerce retailer. Its garments are handmade by female artisans trained in-house through a vocational training program called the Mwayi Apprenticeship Program. The unique model employed by Mwayi achieves two things. Firstly, whilst giving customers the opportunity to feel confident in their clothing, Mwayi enables its female artisans jumpstart a financially viable career.
Indeed these startups have developed unique ways of addressing problems by providing innovative solutions to Africa’s pressing problems. For aspiring entrepreneurs, success in the African entrepreneurial ecosystem would largely be defined by these factors: thorough market research, receipt of feedbacks from the target market, clarity of the product offered to the market, knowledge of the cost of production per unit followed by financial forecast in tune with reality. These are factors Michele Rivard considers important especially for businesses seeking financing. The Wharton Annual Venture Competition gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their start-up and obtain a grant. More information on the competition can be found here.