Are These Southern Africa’s Best Startups

"The purpose of the Southern Africa Startup Awards is regional connectivity and global visibility. It’s about celebrating Africa and putting African startups, the people behind them, and the organisations that work alongside these visionaries on the map.”

Startup. Gajus /

For nearly two decades, Africa has largely maintained real gross domestic product (GDP) growth at higher rates than the world average, which helped the region stay on a convergence path.

GDP growth was mainly supported by buoyant domestic demand and investment. However, given the high population growth in most of parts of the continent, GDP per capita growth rates were modest.

Unleashing the potential of the private sector is needed to create new and better jobs—the most promising pathway to poverty reduction, according to International Finance Corporation (IFC).

“Transformational entrepreneurship could be at the heart of the emergence of a new private sector that delivers on this promise. Transformational entrepreneurs aim to create large, vibrant businesses that grow beyond the scope of individual subsistence needs and provide jobs and income for others in Africa,” IFC says in its report titled ‘Towards the Emergence of the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs‘.

“That contrasts with subsistence (often informal) entrepreneurs who conduct the business activity as a means of providing subsistence income, remaining very small, with limited productivity.”

Last week, Southern Africa Startup Awards (SASAWARDS) announced this year’s 19 winners.  They will go through to the Global Startup Awards and solidify Africa’s standing as the hub of tech talent.

Mckevin Ayaba, CEO of Setup A Startup – the umbrella company of the SASAWARDS, said: “The purpose of the Southern Africa Startup Awards is regional connectivity and global visibility. It’s about celebrating Africa and putting African startups, the people behind them, and the organisations that work alongside these visionaries on the map.”

Are these startups the best in Southern Africa? They were selected out of 346 regional finalists from 12 countries around the continent:

Best Startup Ecosystem Initiative: GrowthWheel (South Africa), a visual toolbox and online platform used by business advisors, incubators, and entrepreneurship educators to help businesses make decisions and take action.

Best Co-working Space: Workshop 17 (South Africa), which creates environments for working, meeting and innovating.

Best FinTech Startup: Mama Money (South Africa), a safe, low-cost and convenient international money transfer operator.

Best FashionTech Startup: Zabantu (South Africa), an online fashion store built for local fashion creatives and street vendors.

Best EduTech Startup: Why Toyz (South Africa), providers of high quality curated educational content for kids aged three to seven that can be 3D printed at home.

Best HealthTech Startup: Appy Saúde (Angola), a mobile app and web portal that strives to provide useful health information to users in Angola and is the largest health database in the country.

Best Food/AgriTech Startup: YouFarm (Zimbabwe), which provides farmers with access to collateral-free finance by getting people to invest in crops and livestock and share the profits when the produce goes to market.

Best Water Crisis Management Solution: Lige Pty Ltd (South Africa), which produces pure, clean water from air.

Best Student Startup: Roomscout Ltd (Mauritius), the first student-centred hospitality company based on the island.

Best Social Impact Startup: Toolboksi (Tanzania), an online platform that partners with Tanzanian artisans/fundis to showcase and promote their products, services and talents.

Startup of the Year: LULA (South Africa), a mobility startup that connects corporate commuters to private shuttles on their way to work – saving them money and freeing up their time.

Female Role Model of the Year in Tech: Lynette Hundermark (South Africa), an established industry expert in the digital and mobile space and one of the country’s top 30 most influential women in digital marketing.

Brave Founder of the Year: Joseph Rutakangwa (Mauritius), the Founder of Rwazi which provides retail companies with real-time data on the availability, visibility and pricing of their products compared to those of their competitors.

Founder of the Year: Chiinga Musonda & Lynn Musonda Phiri (Zambia), the Co-founders of Savanna Premium Chocolate which they created with the aim of changing the narrative that premium chocolates are made in western countries.

Investor of the Year: Kalon Venture Partners (South Africa), a highly respected Johannesburg based Venture Capital company investing in digital disruptive technologies.

Best Newcomer: Momsays (South Africa), a platform created for moms to voice their opinions and review products.

Best Media Partner: The Loudhailer (South Africa), an agile agency specialising in supporting businesses with social, economic and environmental impact goals.

Best Accelerator/Incubator: Dololo (Namibia), which enables organisations and leaders to connect with the next generation of change-makers to better cater for the millennial market, both internally for their employees and externally for customers.

People’s Choice: Muva (Mozambique), a social incubator focused on expanding innovative approaches to female economic empowerment.

The SASAWARDS is a circuit of the Global Startup Awards which shines an annual spotlight on tech startups in regions around the world.

The Global Startup Awards is the world’s largest independent startup-ecosystem covering more than 63 countries in seven regions. Since the competition began in the Nordics in 2012, the Awards have grown to include South East Asia, Central Europe, SAARC Region (South Asia), Euro Asia, South Europe and Southern Africa.

The Global Winners will be announced on Friday, 13 December 2019 at the Global Grand Finale in China.


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