Young techies hunched over laptops in small offices across Africa want to create their own versions of California’s Silicon Valley and some are beginning to attract investors prepared tech to take a risk in the hope of high returns.
One such start-up, a South African social photography app called Over, last month beat 19 others from around the world to win funding from U-start, an advisor that matches mainly European investors with fledging businesses.
Italy-based U-start has 3.8 billion euros ($5.2 billion) under management and aims to allocate as much as 15 percent of that to technology firms in Africa over the next couple of years.
“We are convinced that there are great business ideas that have the chance to become global players, not just local ones,” said U-start Chief Executive Stefano Guidotti.
Still in their infancy, Africa’s technology start-ups matter for the continent because they have the potential to help solve problems in basic services such as education and health.
In Ghana, for example, a mobile app by social enterprise m-Pedigree verifies whether medicines are genuine. Fake medicine is a scourge in Africa and people often have no way of telling whether they are buying the real thing or not.
Africa has nearly 90 technology hubs, gaming research bases often funded by international firms such as Microsoft, Google and Intel, to incubate early-stage firms in cities such as Abidjan, Accra and Addis Ababa.
But while developers have plenty of ideas, many lack the technical or business skills needed to make money from them.
“We are really short on great start-ups that are actually ready to take off,” said Amrotte Abdella, director for start-up engagements for Microsoft in Africa.
“What most angel investors and venture capitalists are looking for is to find start-ups that are tech ready and business savvy,” Amrotte said.
Microsoft and its network of partners listens to an average 20 pitches a month from start-ups looking for initial funding or mentoring to get them to the point where international investors start to get interested.
Venture capital firms are typically looking for returns of two to three times their investment in less than five years, according to U-start’s Guidotti.
Microsoft plans a second round of innovation grants for Africa in June after giving a total $100,000 to five ventures in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria.
The recipients include a school textbook subscription service that saves users up to 60 percent of costs and a mobile gaming (www.Techngames.com) company.
Nicknames like “Silicon Savannah” are starting to crop up in reference to the tech scene, although there is still hardly any manufacturing of hardware on the continent.
A handful of companies are assembling low-cost mobile handsets as more Africans swap basic phones for Internet-ready smartphones and tablets, but most hardware is still imported.
Internet usage is still patchy with only about one in five Africans having access as many are constrained by lack of electricity, broadband or devices.
One Kenyan start-up is attempting to bridge that gap with a hardy portable Internet router made for hot and dusty African conditions.
Known as the BRCK, the router will cost just under $200 and charge off car batteries, solar panels or mains electricity. Its battery can run for at least eight hours, essential in a region with frequent power outages.
But the rugged brick-shaped equipment will be produced in the United States, not Africa.
“Can we truly add that silicon name into Silicon Savannah. We don’t have hi-tech manufacturing here yet. But we are starting to,” said Juliana Rotich, one of the creators of BRCK. ($1 = 0.7291 Euros) (Editing by Erica Billingham)
Republicans And Democrats Are Wedded To Capitalism. Americans Deserve Better.
When college student Trevor Hill stood up at a CNN town hall in 2017 and asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) if her party might move further left to mark a starker break with right-wing economics, her answer was clear: “I thank you for your question but I have to say we’re capitalist. And that’s just the way it is.”
No major Republican has felt a similar need to affirm loyalty to capitalism; everyone quite rightly assumes it. Yet the two major U.S. political parties’ shared celebration of capitalism raises basic questions about U.S. society that deserve more attention than they get.
Capitalism’s fundamental political problem is its class division between a small number of people who are employers and the majority who are employees.
Capitalism’s cycles between good and bad times, as well as the inequality it produces through vast gaps in income and wealth, cause conflict and division. And these tensions threaten the whole system, as the recent “yellow jackets” mass movement in France demonstrates. There, a fuel tax rise sparked weeks of protest across the country as those who live beyond France’s wealthy urban centers rejected ― occasionally violently ― yet another rise in their cost of living and demanded growing concessions from French capitalism.
In response, employers have built political alliances with some parts of the employee class. For example, inside the Republican Party, they worked long-standing deals with evangelicals to, for example, oppose abortion and coalesce around Supreme Court nominees, while inside the Democratic Party, they made alliances with large groups of religious and ethnic minorities.
They have had to make these and many more such political alliances because they are simply too vulnerable to go it alone. Their alliances’ goals always included making sure that the capitalist system itself survived, partly by preventing the majority from voting for tax and regulation policies that would undo the inequalities and instabilities of capitalism.
Whichever party wins, it’s capitalism that prevails.
Despite its socially destabilizing business cycles and income inequality, U.S. capitalism has been able to reproduce itself. This was achieved through the employer alliances constructed within both major political parties.
The aim of the Republicans is to identify and appeal directly to segments of the majority that feel aggrieved or threatened by certain social trends. In the U.S., this has meant appealing to, for example, white people facing the decline of white supremacist and racist practices; men seeing their dominance lessen over women at work and at home; and religious people facing the rise of secularism or disinterest in religion.
It’s a gathering together of conservatives fearing the changes that are undermining old social positions and privileges. Its appeal is simple and clear. Vote for the GOP to have the government slow, stop or reverse those trends. The party always links that appeal to a rigid commitment to preserving and strengthening “the economy.” By this they mean private property, markets and businesses where a dominant class of employers rules over employees.
The Democrats’ mode of alliance is to appeal to the entire class of employees by endorsing state programs of mass economic, social and cultural support. For example through subsidized higher education, unemployment insurance, Social Security increases and so on. The Democrats’ plan is to pay such programs’ costs by means of taxes imposed partly on employers and partly on employees.
These state programs are pitched to employers as relatively inexpensive ways of preserving and strengthening a social solidarity that includes and so supports capitalism. The programs are pitched to employees as benefits flowing from the capitalist economy if and when they have voted to put the government in Democratic Party hands.
The Democrats have generally built alliances with those segments of the employee class who most need government support (those paid below median wage and salary levels) and with those who welcome those social trends such as secularism, urbanism, diverse sexuality and immigration that upset the people who the Republicans target for alliances. The so-called culture wars in the U.S. both reflect and reinforce the class alliances constructed inside the two parties.
Both parties push “partnership” between employers and employees as an essential goal, while accusing the other party of threatening or undermining that partnership. Both also get the bulk of their funding for pursuing these political goals from capitalist employers. Donations from employees make up a much smaller proportion of their funding.
Whichever party wins, it’s capitalism that prevails. The statements and activities of the party in opposition serve to funnel disaffection with the party in power into votes for regime change. Capitalism is kept out of the debates, gets a critical pass and remains secure.
It also blocks possibilities for more than two parties. The GOP and Democratic Party have together produced and sustained the rules that make third parties difficult to start or maintain.
In many other capitalist countries, it was not possible to limit political parties to two. In France, Germany and beyond, while there are center-left and center-right parties similar to the Democratic and Republican parties in the U.S., there are also politically significant parties further to the right and left. In France, for example, the National Front is a powerful rightist party led by Marine Le Pen, while the La France Insoumise (“France unsubdued”) is a powerful leftist formation led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
In several European countries, green parties are also important. In Portugal and Luxembourg, green and anti-capitalist socialist parties are components of government coalitions. Democracy in all such countries reflects people’s demands for freedom to choose among parties with divergent attitudes toward capitalism. In contrast, the U.S. ― the nation that most loudly and routinely proclaims its commitment to democracy ― rigidly restricts its political parties to two that both celebrate capitalism.
Modern party politics has its contradictions. By its growing dependence on major donations from corporations, it risks exposing its class nature. Failures of major parties to solve key social problems increasingly provoke people to turn against the party system. Contemporary movements for social change are increasingly skeptical of allying with any existing political parties.
France’s “yellow jackets” movement ― successful in defeating President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to introduce taxes that disproportionately hit those least able to afford them ― illustrates that skepticism perfectly.
Similarly, the entry of Elizabeth Warren into the 2020 presidential primaries ― like Bernie Sanders’ effort in 2016 ― moves in the direction of politically mobilizing the increasingly broad social disaffection with capitalism. Time will tell whether U.S. conditions make that direction sustainable within a changed Democratic Party or only outside it.
What does Digital Marketing in South Africa look like today?
Digital Marketing around the world is at different stages of advancement, from the highly competitive online world in the UK and the US to the less established but rapidly growing scene in countries like South Africa.
In this article, we’re going to pick the brains of James Williams, the Head of Digital Marketing at online loan provider Wonga South Africa, to see what the world of Digital Marketing looks like today, and how it compares to some of the world’s most developed online markets.
Having worked in Digital Marketing in London for a number of years before returning to his native South Africa to take the reigns at Wonga, James is perfectly positioned to compare the two. These are his thoughts…
The importance of culture
One of the key lessons James learned when moving from the UK to the South African market was the importance of culture, and how this affects just about everything you do online. Businesses often talk about ‘localising’ their online assets when expanding into foreign markets and this same process needs to be used to adapt their digital marketing efforts.
When talking about localising assets, it means adapting a product, service or piece of content to meet the needs of a particular language, culture or desired population’s ‘look-and-feel’. The same needs to be done to a business’s Digital Marketing strategy.
In South Africa, there are 11 different languages, each tied to a very different culture. That makes the outreach process much more challenging than in a single language market like the UK. James found that the strategies that were working well in London were producing mediocre engagement rates in South Africa. Instead, James had to almost forget the techniques that had worked before and try new strategies, explore new territory and collect fresh data to help him decide the best approaches to take.
Choosing the right language
Another important consideration for businesses operating online in South Africa is what language to use to attract the greatest level of engagement. The vast majority of South Africans can speak English, but the use of Afrikaans online is currently growing rapidly. That means companies with the resources to do so would be wise to produce all their online assets in both English and Afrikaans.
The primary language used online can also change significantly from location to location. For example, the Western Cape area is largely Afrikaans speaking, while the province of KwaZulu Natal is predominantly Zulu. Digital Marketing campaigns need to reflect this if they are to be successful.
The burgeoning digital scene
One of the biggest benefits of the South African digital scene is the fact that it’s still very much in its infancy when compared to the US and UK. That’s actually a good thing because it means the consumer hasn’t yet been exposed to the huge amount of low-quality content marketing that is all over the internet in the UK. So, when you do create a quality campaign in South Africa, you tend to get the rewards it deserves. In the UK or the US, it is much easier for the quality campaigns to be lost among the bad digital practices that can be found all over the web.
Easy Instagram Marketing Tips For Gaining Real-Time Results
With time, Instagram is turning out to be an engaging and quite popular social media application. With more than 8 billion registered accounts, it is one of the best social media platforms, proven for brand building and marketing. Around 80 million photos are uploaded in this platform on a daily basis making it a huge active user base. So, if you are planning to run your business with Instagram by your side, you have make way for the right decision. But first, you need to know about easy Instagram marketing tips for gaining real results.
Switch to Instagram business profile:
Before embarking in Instagram marketing journey, you have to be in business account. There are some obvious benefits to switch into business profile.
- Apart from visiting your website, followers can click on contact button to get in direct touch with your business team.
- You will get an easy access to the analytics tool straight from Instagram called Insights. Here, you get to see some stats like content reach, impressions and more.
- You can also create and even publish some Instagram ads without quite depending on advertising tools.
Leveraging some sponsored ads:
Those companies using Instagram advertisement are always on rise. Even the numbers of advertisers is surpassing some of the popular social media platforms like that of Twitter previous year. These points give you reason to actually head for ways to gain more instagram followers these days.Apart from the fact that Instagram has strong 700 million base users, there are some other reasons to head towards this plan.
- As Facebook and Instagram are connected, you can easily use FB advertising experience for targeting Instagram audience better.
- Straight from budgeting to creating ads, you get the chance to manage everything about Instagram ads in FB ad manager.
- These advertisements are non-intrusive and engaging, which will help gaining better conversion rate at lower cost.
- You will have the creative freedom to use videos and images both for promoting service or product. These ads are quite hard to miss as they occupy the entire mobile device screen.
Partnering with targeted influencers:
If you are planning to reach out to potential customers on Instagram, you can try leveraging influencers already worked on ways to build an audience. With so many people and their being depended on Instagram based feed, it will always vital to get into a partnership with right influencers. It will definitely help your brand to be at the front of the list.
Instagram influencers are known to be power users, with loyal and large follower base that trusts recommendations. If you are planning on ways to make your influencer marketing campaign a successful notion on Instagram, you have to partner with influencers with great and highly relevant audience to product.
Once you know the best ways to use Instagram for marketing strategies, there is no need to look for other names in the market. You can easily use the Instagram skills to improve marketing strategies, resulting in a proper business growth. Just follow the marketing tips with utmost concentration.
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