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  • Are these six, SA’s most important venture capitalists?

    Who would you turn to if you were a SA tech startup looking for venture capital (VC)?

    South Africa’s VC sector has grown substantially in recent years, with over R1-billion invested in startups and early-stage companies in 2017, according to report last year by the Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association’s (Savca) (see this story).

    The growing amount of VC funding in SA has closely tracked the growth in technology startups that often attract funding for their ability to scale quickly.

    Like this Cape Town in the early 2000s quickly became SA’s startup capital. It’s still home to some of the better names in tech startups in SA, but Joburg is catching up fast — on the back of a growth in fintech and more black entrepreneurs trying their hand at tech, according to Ventureburn’s 2017 and 2018 surveys.

    Here are six SA venture capitalists tech startup founders should keep an eye on

    Amendments in recent years to a 2009 VC tax incentive, Section 12J of the Income Tax Act, have led to a number of new tech funds being set up (see this list) and contributed to the growth in the VC sector (although most of the capital invested has gone to property, private equity or renewable energy — see this story).

    In addition, an exciting new development is the SA SME Fund — a R1.4-billion fund which draws its contributions from a number of listed companies and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which oversees government pensions. The fund has a mandate to invest in black-owned companies — in many cases tech startups.

    In more or less the order of how long they have been around in the VC sector, here are five SA venture capitalists you should keep an eye on:

    Justin Stanford, 4Di Capital

    Justin Stanford is probably what you could call a veteran in the VC sector in South Africa, having invested in tech startups since the early 2000s before formalising this into 4Di Capital with a group of fellow venture capitalists.

    These include SA startups Snapt, Aerobotics, Lumkani, and LifeQ, as well as exits that include Skyrove and Motribe (which was acquired by MXit at the time). The VC has also invested in a number of East African startups.

    In 2009 Stanford, together with Silicon Valley based SA entrepreneur Vinny Lingham set up Silicon Cape, Cape Town’s startup initiative.

    Stanford’s story began in the late nineties, when he started out as a tech entrepreneur, which he quit high-school to pursue.

    After many struggles he eventually built an online pan-African cybersecurity software company in the early 2000s, and became a reseller for Slovakian security specialist firm ESET. He has since partially exited the reseller business.

    “We became early angel investors in young tech startups in the very nascent local SA ecosystem starting around 2004, and I’ve angel invested in dozens of companies since, but at the time that led us to begin visiting Silicon Valley in the mid-2000s.

    “This ultimately spurred us into creating and launching the Silicon Cape Initiative in 2009, aimed at catalysing the ecosystem in SA and spreading the idea of the possibility of a ‘Silicon Valley in Africa’.

    “Off the back of that we started the initial experiments that would later become 4Di Capital, aimed at formalising our investing activities and creating a true Silicon Valley inspired early-stage VC firm, which formally launched its first fund in 2011. Since then 4Di launched its second fund in 2016, and now most recently its third fund this year (with capital from the SA SME Fund — see this story).

    Outside of investing in tech firms, Stanford likes keeping active. He enjoys boating and watersports, mountain biking, playing guitar, film and audio, braai’s in the bush — and says he’s interested in anything with engines or a mechanical or design element, like cars, aircraft, architecture and interiors.

    It hasn’t been easy being a venture capitalist, he admits.

    “Looking back 15 years, I believed that because I was a successful entrepreneur that I probably had the knowledge and experience needed to become a successful tech investor. But in truth, it’s not so — it’s an entirely new and different discipline, and it takes a long time and many mistakes to truly and deeply learn, like any specialist trade,” he admits.


    Keet van Zyl, Knife Capital

    Another “veteran” venture capitalist in South Africa, is Keet van Zyl. Together with Anthea Bohmert, he serves as a managing partner of Knife Capital.

    Knife Capital invests via a consortium of funding partnerships, including a Sars section 12J Venture Capital Company, KNF Ventures and select family offices. The VC in 2017 set up a UK office, managed by former Springbok rugby player Bob Skinstad (see this story).

    Its current investment include among others DataProphet, PharmaScount, Quicket and Swedish tech firm MOST (he and Bohmert were in Stockholm this week for a board meeting — Ed).

    The VC also builds high-growth technology enabled SMEs through its Grindstone Accelerator (a fifth cohort was launched recently — see this story) and aims to fill critical gaps in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem through education and enterprise development initiatives.

    Van Zyl trained as an accountant with an MBA and qualified in intellectual property (IP) law.

    Before founding Knife Capital with Bohmert in 2010, he helped structure various private equity funds in Southern Africa for a US fund-of-funds investor and worked at industry-leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, Investec and Mark Shuttleworth’s “Here Be Dragons” (HBD) Venture Capital. He is also on Savca’s board.

    Things are going pretty well at Knife Capital. Says Van Zyl: “We currently have amazing deal flow and one of our key challenges at the moment is which opportunities to pass on. Next investment is in the edtech space and should be announced soon, with likely one more closing later this year.”

    In addition, Knife Capital has since exited from all seven companies that made up part of the R150-million HBD Fund that Knife took over and managed (see this story). The seven were: CSense, Fundamo, Clicks2Customers, Moyo restaurant group, SA Cab, FlightScope and orderTalk.

    It could be another cracker of a year for the VC. With summer approaching Van Zyl will likely be celebrating — by either cruising around the Cape Winelands and coastline on his Harley Davidson or surfing with his wife and two young daughters.

    via YouTube:

    Paul Cook, Silvertree Holdings

    Silvertree Holding‘s managing director Paul Cook is another veteran investor in South Africa’s tech scene.

    Cook — a former management consultant — founded Silvertree Holdings in 2013 with Manuel Koser, who formerly headed Rocket Internet online fashion retailer Zando, and Peter Allerstorfer (both of whom share the position of managing director with Cook).

    Other than a role as a management consultant, focusing on pan-Africa strategy, public and private sector — Cook has co-founded and headed tech for a small startup. Before that he did his PhD in theoretical physics at Caltech in Los Angeles.

    Silvertree is more a holding company of tech investment than a VC per say.

    Its portfolio includes 12 firms in which it has invested in since 2013. They include among others Pricecheck, CompareGuru, Ucook and CarZar.

    In November last year Ventureburn reported that Silvertree was busy buying up companies left, right and centre — ahead of a planned listing in 2023 — relegating many of the founders to mere operators of the businesses they once founded. Not all are happy about it (see this story).

    And in August Koser last year told Ventureburn that Silvertree looks to take a stake of 30% to 90% in those companies it invests in, with the view of eventually increasing this to 100% (shareholders he adds, will still enjoy “minority rights”). He calls his investment company’s approach one of fostering “co-entrepreneurs” (see this story).

    Cook says Silvertree is very busy at the moment, having signed three terms sheets in the last few weeks, details of which he expects will be announced as soon as legals done.

    When not investing, Cook enjoys hiking, as well as reading history and economics. Currently his young children dominate a lot of his off-time, he says.

    Clive Butkow

    Clive Butkow, Kalon Venture Partners

    Clive Butkow is the new kid on the block in Gauteng for VC investments in tech startups.

    His Kalon Venture Partners is a registered Section 12J VC company, through which investors that invest can get a tax deduction.

    Since it was launched in 2016, Kalon has invested in a number of tech startups, including amon others Ozow (formely i-Pay, which netted funding in June from the investor — see here), SnapnSave and FinChatBot.

    Butkow has a computer science and applied maths degree from Wits University and describes himself as being an entrepreneur from as early as eight years old.

    But after graduating from university instead of starting a tech business he joined Accenture (formerly Arthur Sanderson) where he stayed for 28 years. During that time he held numerous leadership positions. He was the company’s COO before he retired at the end of 2012.

    During his Accenture career he had the opportunity to work around the globe building tech businesses including Silicon Valley and other entrepreneurial ecosystems. It’s this that got him excited about starting his own VC.

    A self-confessed “fitness freak”, Butkow likes to spend an hour a day boxing. He also loves watching sports and says he’s a huge Manchester United fan.

    When not working out, he’s boxing clever in the VC sector. “We are closing one deal with another Cape Town based VC and have a very solid pipeline which we should have decided on investing within a month or two from now,” he says.


    Gavin Reardon, Kingson Capital

    Gavin Reardon is the general partner of Durban based venture capital (VC) fund Kingson Capital, which he founded in 2015. The fund is a registered Section 12J VC company, which allows investors that invest in the fund to tap tax deductions.

    In February the VC announced the launch of a R400-million VC fund aimed at investing in 30 to 50 tech startups and black-owned small businesses (see this story).

    In Kingson Capital’s first fund (Fund One — see the portfolio here) the VC invested in 10 companies including Finfind – a matching platform for lenders and businesses seeking funding, Spazapp – an online ordering system for the informal marketplace (see this story) and Healthcloud – a data aggregator in the healthtech space.

    Before starting the VC, Reardon served as a CFO for a local financial services business, after qualifying as a chartered accountant.

    He decided to start Kingson Capital after struggling to find funding for his own tech startup at the time. “I then saw the opportunity for something far bigger and set out to create a fund that could invest in multiple startups,” he says.

    “I have always loved creating business value and developing new things. Getting into the world of startups is the best of both combinations and something I enjoy very much,” he says.


    Ketso Gordhan, SA SME Fund

    Meet South Africa’s new heavyweight shaking up the VC scene.

    In August last year former PPC Cement head Ketso Gordhan took the helm as CEO of the SA SME Fund (see this story) and he’s already creating waves in the VC sector.

    The R1.4-billion SA SME Fund is capitalised presently by 54 JSE-listed firms (having grown from 48 who’d committed earlier). The Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages government employees’ pension funds, has also approved a R500-million equity funding commitment to the fund.

    The fund lends and invests via other investment funds, including VC funds (see this story on the list of funds).

    In November last year Ventureburn confirmed that a VC deal concluded by Knife Capital’s KNF Ventures earlier that same month in SA healthtech firm 5nines Technologies had effectively become the first investment that the SA SME Fund was involved in.

    In a report in March SA business daily Business Day, the fund said R725-million of the R1.4-million pledged has already been committed with the balance expected by August (this month).

    The newspaper quoted Gordhan as saying that by August the fund is expected to be the “largest” institutional investor in venture capital in SA.

    It said the total amount will support 10 significant black businesses, 200 SMEs, and five black entrepreneurs over the next five years.

    Gordhan — a former anti-apartheid activist — has previously served as the head of private equity at FirstRand for almost a decade. He has also managed a personal impact investment portfolio with a focus on education in SA and Rwanda and has served as Africa advisor to the Omidyar Network.

    He has also served as head of Africa for the Commonwealth Development Corporation where he led the Africa investment strategy for the UK government’s development finance arm.

    Among his other roles, Gordhan was also first post-apartheid director general in the Ministry of Transport and served as the city manager for the City of Johannesburg in 1999 and 2000.

    At the time of his appointment Gordhan told Ventureburn that he hopes to match his experience as a senior government official and private equity and impact investor to the mandate of the SA SME Fund. “This is to create and grow mainly black entrepreneurs and businesses,” he said.

    Many are hoping that he will stand and deliver.

    The post Are these six, SA’s most important venture capitalists? appeared first on Ventureburn.


  • Healthtech platform Hospitalia wins Seedstars Cairo

    Integrated healthcare platform Hospitalia has been crowned the winner of this year’s Seedstars Cairo pitching competition.

    The Seedstars Cairo pitch took place yesterday (22 August) at Seedspace Cairo.

    The Cairo-based startup, which was founded earlier this year, provides on-demand access to primary care medical home services through certified healthcare practitioners.

    A virtual assistant Android app RafiQ was placed second, while Hovo, an on-demand app for ordering trucks took third place.

    Seedstars Cairo 2019 winner Hospitalia was founded this year

    Hospitalia will now represent Egypt at the Seedstars MENA where they will get a chance to win a spot at the Seedstars Global Summit in Switzerland.

    At the summit, the winner will take home a $500 000 investment prize, as well as receive access to a three month investment readiness programme.

    The other startups that pitched at the event were:

    3yadtty.comThis startup offers an online video platform that enables patients to search by symptoms, medical topic, or treatment method to understand their medical condition.

    ACT Microschools: This network of connected micro schools provides progressive, international and accredited education and is respectful.

    Bokdoc: This startup claims to offer the first integrated healthcare platform, that specialises in surgeries, medical tourism and telemedicine

    Curiotrip: A medical tourism platform

    DarHub: DarHub is a Giza base online marketplace connecting homeowners and SME’s for contracting and finishing projects.

    DXwand: This startup’s sales bot, which is registered in the US, connects users to their Facebook page and turns chats into leads and orders to help their business to grow faster.

    Esorus: This B2B platform helps users source interior decoration by connecting interior designers, architects and real-estate developers with qualified suppliers. This e-commerce portal specialises in women’s homewear and lingerie.

    Furnwish: Furnwish is hassle free furnishing solution based on augmented reality for both furniture stores and design professionals and homeowners.

    Insight Academy: This Giza-based startup has an app and website that helps students and school learners.

    Instatute: This platform from Bahrain, democratises education, so that students can find their best teacher for all their qualification based courses.

    Jody Shop: An online fashion shop.

    Knzinity: This app helps users to post gamified social challenges and in so doing help marketing professionals to achieve growth and user-generated content.

    Mowafer Care: This startup offers an online booking platform with a huge discounts through a huge medical network covering all over Egypt.

    Netsahem: This startup’s mission is to provide an online presence as well as innovative payment methods for the majority of NGOs in Egypt.

    Ordera: A mobile app people can use to place their orders before arriving to the venue and find it ready upon arrival.

    Orient Museum: This Alexandria-based startup helps tourists to rediscover the wealth of cultural heritage, thanks to spectacular and interactive technology, while presenting in-depth scientific.

    PaşHakeem: This startup has an on-demand home healthcare app which offers home visits, online consultations, clinic booking and AI symptom checker triage chatbot.

    Rabbit: Rabbit is a clean-tech transportation company offering electric scooters, vespas and bikes for rent by the minute via iOS and android apps.

    Ship’nbag: This startup offers an automated matching marketplace fulfilled by travelers who buy or ship orders on their way back, providing a secured low-cost.

    Sweven: This Qalubia startup offers IT and software service solutions.

    A jury panel comprised of Seedstars venture capital analyst Francesca T Bombassei, Endeavor Egypt’s Amr Mostafa, BECO Capital’s Omar Barakat, Flat6Labs’s Dina el-Shenoufy and Algebra Ventures managing partner Ziad Mokhtar selected the winners.

    Another on-demand healthcare platform, 7kemma, won last year’s edition of the Cairo pitching event (see this story).

    Read moreHere are the 12 startups that will pitch at today’s Seedstars Dar es Salaam
    Read moreHere are the eight Senegalese startups pitching today at Seedstars Dakar
    Read more: Four startups from Zanzibar event win chance to pitch at Seedstars Dar es Salaam
    Read moreHere are the 10 Tanzanian startups pitching right now at Seedstars Zanzibar
    Read more: Fintech startup Growth Factor wins Seedstars Accra
    Read more: 
    Seedstars announces Joburg as host city for its Africa summit
    Read more
    P2P micro lending marketplace Pezesha wins Seedstars Nairobi

    Featured image: Hospitalia via Facebook

    The post Healthtech platform Hospitalia wins Seedstars Cairo appeared first on Ventureburn.


  • Here are the 11 startups that MEST invested a total of $1.1m in

    MEST Africa has invested $100 000 seed rounds in each of the 11 startups formed by the graduates that participated in its 2019 cohort.

    The Meltwater Foundation backed pan African incubator runs a year-long entrepreneurial training programme which is centred around business, communication and software development.

    Participants of the programme are provided with in-depth training and mentorship, access to a global network and the opportunity to build the next generation of global software companies alongside other successful graduates.

    MEST is celebrating its 11th anniversary this year

    The programme was first run in 2018 and MEST is celebrating its 11th anniversary this year. MEST held its Class of 2019 graduation in Accra, Ghana on Wednesday (21 August).

    The cohort’s 51 graduates hail from The Gambia, Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania, Cameroon, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ivory Coast, and Zimbabwe.

    US tech publication TechCrunch said in an article on Wednesday that the cohort’s graduates will launch their startups in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa.

    The 11 startups and their founders are:

    Launching in Ghana:

    • Adi+Bolga: This platform leverages the power of technology and community to gather data and create conversations around black skin and black skincare. The founders are Abimbola-Kofoworola Oladeji (Nigeria), Oluwaferanmi Ogundipe (Nigeria), Millicent Koranteng-Yorke (Ghana) and Amanda Williams (Nigeria).
    • BezoMoney: This digital savings platform for traditional savings groups was founded by CEO Mubarak Sumaila (Ghana), CMO Diana Osei (Ghana) and CTO Kenneth Simpson (origin unconfirmed).
    • Massira: The startup runs a women’s social support network and healthcare service aggregator. The startup’s founders are team lead Samirah Maison (Ghana), team lead Micael Die (Ivory Coast), operations lead Ada Tapily (Mali) and marketing lead Favour Barde (Ghana).
    • Niqao: This financing platform connects merchants and lenders to enable them to offer customers the option of paying in instalments. Its founders are product lead Osborne Saka (Ghana), tech lead Kwadwo Agyapon-Ntra (Ghana), business lead Oreoluwa Akanni (Nigeria) and team lead Jacques Amatcha (Ivory Coast).

    Launching in Kenya:

    • Farmula: The startup offers a web and USSD platform that uses an automated process to increase order efficiency between farmers and businesses. The founders are CPO Jacky Kimani (Kenya), COO Ibrahm AbdulMalik (Nigeria), CTO Ahmed Kamal Madani (Sudan) and CEO Vivian Opondoh (Kenya).
    • Nadia: This startup has a personalised automated health companion that provides quick medical attention and prescriptions. The startup’s founders are CTO Victor Okech (Kenya), COO Olamide Akomolafe (Nigeria), CPO Funsho Olaniyi (Nigeria) and CEO Ahmed Elmi (Somalia)
    • Saada: Offering a messaging and mobile money ticketing service for increasing digital sales and data collection, this startup was founded by tech lead Eugene Musebe (Kenya), business lead Gerishon Mwaniki (Kenya), product lead Joel Ulrich Mabou Fene (Cameroon), and team lead Faderr Johm (Gambia).

    Launching in Nigeria:

    • CoFundie: CoFundie is a platform for crowd-sourcing funds for the development of buildings using cost efficient and time-saving techniques. Its founders are CEO Chukwuemeka Ndukwe (Nigeria), CTO Kwadwo Amo-addai (Ghana), COO Zahra Faye (Gambia).
    • CoVibes: This startup pairs verified studios and producers, allowing them to list their profiles and manage bookings while enabling artists to find and collaborate with them and each other. The startup’s founders are CEO Kayode Daniel (Nigeria), CTO Victor Yunusa (Nigeria) and CMO Stephen Nderitu (SA).
    • Zuri: This platform helps beauty professionals manage their customers and provides an easy way for people to find and book beauty services. The startup’s founders are team and product lead Onyinye Nnedolisa (Nigeria) and growth lead Aaron Ejeme (Nigeria).

    Launching in South Africa:

    • Kweza: The startup enables informal retailers to order products at the best price and receive deliveries directly to their stores. The founders are tech lead Ngunyi Macharia (Kenya), marketing lead Gloria Kaguo (SA), team lead Ropafadzo Musvaire (Zimbabwe) and finance lead Bekithemba Ngulube (SA).

    MEST last month appointed of Ashwin Ravinchandran as its new managing director, he takes over from former head Aaron Fu (see this story).

    Ravinchandran told Ventureburn today that the startups plan to use the investments to set the companies up in their respective markets and launch their minimum viable products (MVPs).

    They’ll also spend the grants on making customer acquisitions, as well as on growing their respective brands, while setting up a base for raising further rounds of funding.

    Read moreMEST Africa appoints Ashwin Ravinchandran as new head

    Featured image: MEST Class of 2019 (MEST Africa)

    The post Here are the 11 startups that MEST invested a total of $1.1m in appeared first on Ventureburn.


  • Nigerian real estate firm Landwey acquires 25% stake in proptech platform Vistafront

    Nigerian real estate investment firm Landwey has acquired a 25% stake in Lagos-based proptech platform Vistafront.

    Vistafront’s LinkedIn profile states that it was founded earlier this year.

    While it’s not clear who the founders are, but an article by Nigerian newspaper This Day on Tuesday (20 August) has it that the company’s managing director is Segun Ajuwon.

    The startup’s platform helps users co-fund real-estate projects from 25 000 nairas per unit on a six month cycle for 12% returns. The platform, also lets users monitor projects through its dashboard feature.

    Vistafront announced the deal in a post on its Twitter account Saturday (17 August) last week. It is not clear how much Landwey acquired the 25% stake for.

    Vistafront was founded earlier this year

    Both Landwey and Vistafront had not responded to Ventureburn’s request to comment on how much the deal is worth at the time of publication.

    Nigerian tech publication Techpoint reported in an article on Tuesday (20 August) that one percent of every unit funded on Vistafront’s platform goes toward social infrastructure impact projects.

    These said the tech publication include schools, community homes, hospitals and other social amenities aimed at the less privileged.

    Vistafront says on its website that it takes between two and six months to complete the vetting process for any infrastructure project featured on its platform.

    Featured image, left to right: Lendaway founder Olawale Ayilara and Vistafront managing director Segun Ajuwon (Twitter)

    The post Nigerian real estate firm Landwey acquires 25% stake in proptech platform Vistafront appeared first on Ventureburn.


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