Connect with us

Business

AFRICA INVESTMENT-African tech start-ups dream of Silicon Savannah

Avatar

Published

on

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.

“SILICON SAVANNAH”
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)

Continue Reading

Business

Matthew McConaughey explains why he’s inspired by Marc Benioff’s ‘new capitalism’

greenbay

Published

on

Salesforce (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff has burnished his reputation amid the COVID-19 pandemic as an outspoken advocate for a “new capitalism” that improves social welfare, and he has used his resources to develop contact-tracing technology and donate 1 million masks.

That commitment to “stakeholder capitalism” caught the attention of actor and investor Matthew McConaughey, who told Yahoo Finance that Benioff “inspired” him to embrace the notion that business ventures can both generate profit and promote the common good.

“I’m all for making money — I have good money. I’m all for fame — I’m happy to be famous,” says McConaughey, author of a new memoir called “Greenlights.” “But I’m inspired by looking at people like a [CEO] John Mackey with Whole Foods or Marc Benioff at Salesforce that go, ‘Hey, I have an idea that’s really good to do, even if it was for nonprofit, but let’s make profit off of it.”

McConaughey elaborated on the mentality embodied by Benioff: “I want to make money off this. I want to get rich off this. And how can we parlay that to being something like, ‘Oh, and it’s good for the most amount of people.”

Continue Reading

Business

Government, religion, the economy and capitalism

greenbay

Published

on

Mr. Selby, Mr. Bloom, and Pastor Biller have brought an interesting conversation on governing, religion and the economy to this page.

Governing. The U.S. Constitution establishes a representative Republican form of governing the USA and in each state. The power to democratically elect their representatives for governing resides in the people and the right of one person, one vote for all citizens, regardless of religious or spiritual affiliation, ethnic origin, orientation or gender. The Declaration of Independence plays no role in our governing design.

Religion. The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free expression thereof.” After the war over secession, there have been efforts to amend the Constitution to declare the USA a Christian nation. All of those efforts have failed, reinforcing the USA as a nation of religious and spiritual diversity.

The economy. Nothing in the Constitution specifies that the USA must have a certain type of economic system and certainly not that it must be capitalism, however defined. We have a wide range of choices available to us for our economy. At one extreme would be an economy where there is a totally free market system where all ownership of all property is held privately by individuals. There is no government, consequently there are no regulations and no taxes. Individuals and corporations are free to do whatever they wish as there are no constraints on their actions. It is essentially anarchy. At the other extreme is an economy where the national government owns everything and dictates all production and prices. This other extreme is equally odious as there is no individual freedom, only the government as the absolute dictator of activities.

In between these two extremes, however, we have a wide range of possibilities for our economy, politically and socially. Capitalism encompasses a fairly wide segment of that range. “Capital” can be property, plant, equipment, patents, trademarks, inventories, stocks, bonds and cash. Fundamentally, capitalism is a means of wealth accumulation for those who have sufficient capital to put it to work earning more capital. Those who have little or no free capital are employees in that wealth accumulation process.

There are, however, opportunities for imaginative entrepreneurs to break into the capitalist elite. Unfortunately, over the past 50 years in the USA, the wealth gap between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of us has risen dramatically.

Continue Reading

Business

Where is Capitalism’s Superiority Now?

greenbay

Published

on

HAVANA TIMES – I have been hearing capitalist propaganda’s clamoring about how this system is here forever, because it’s the best option out there. It supposedly offers the most opportunities and freedom, upholds democracy and defends human rights, while, socialism is a failure, and has no future.

However, it is becoming clearer and clearer for us to see how capitalism is marching towards a general crisis, which will inevitably lead to its demise.

From an economic standpoint, there is no way that a government can survive if the rich only get richer and the poor only get poorer. A government where thousands of workers end up unemployed every time there is a crisis. Also losing their homes because they can’t afford rent and ending up on the street like the homeless.

Others have to pay for health care, which is very expensive. If they get really sick, they end up losing everything or being stuck in debt for the rest of their life.

The same goes for education, because the only quality education systems in much of the world are private and expensive. Public universities in the US aren’t free, you have to pay, and students end up in debt for many years.

In terms of democracy, it’s just a big fat lie. A democracy is a people’s government for the people. However, in capitalism, a country is governed for capital, for the rich. The only thing ordinary people can do is vote in elections, for a candidate they often don’t know, and they have no idea what they will do once in office.

Leaders in capitalist countries fill their pockets, because pretty much all of them are corrupt. When elections favor more progressive candidates who are genuinely concerned about the general population, the Right refuses to recognize the results and turns to violence or a coup d’etat. Is this a democracy?

There are plenty of examples, but I’ll only mention the more renowned. For example, Evo Morales won the elections in Bolivia a year ago, in the first round, but was accused of fraud. This happened with the OAS getting involved, and the armed forces were incited to carry out a coup d’etat.

Continue Reading

Trending