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TOPIC: startups


Foreign Cash, Women Founders: How African Tech Is Bouncing Back, Post-COVID

The African tech ecosystem is bouncing back after a slowdown during the pandemic, with local innovation fueled by increasing investment from foreign tech giants.

DAKAR — Despite a tense macroeconomic context, the growth of the African tech ecosystem shows no sign of slowing down.

In 2022, African startups recorded an 8% increase in investor funding compared to the previous year, according to a 2022 report from PartechAfrica Tech Venture Capital. The context remains favorable to the continent, which is attracting many foreign investment funds.

"The current period is one of a flight to quality," says Melvyn Lubega, an investor at French fund Breega, which has recently boosted its investments in Africa.

This resilience has surprised many observers. After the COVID-19 health crisis, the strength of African economies and continued high growth rates surprised some economists, who had expected a catastrophe.

But digital technology is not immune to good news. Despite an international context of investor withdrawal, liquidity scarcity and never-ending inflation, African tech remains in the green and has managed to attract 1,149 unique investors in 2022, an increase of 29% compared to 2021.

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This Happened - February 8: Nasdaq Opens

On this day in 1971, NASDAQ, the world's first electronic stock market was created in New York City.

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The Pandemic Changed How Latin Americans Work — And Where

Once dismissed as being for millennials and hard-up freelancers, coworking firms now occupy Latin America's prestigious corporate towers that have more and more spaces to fill.

LIMA — When workers left their offices in March 2020, with a global pandemic in full swing, nobody knew when they would be back. As firms and workers began warming to working from home weeks into lockdowns and confinement regimes, the real estate sector trembled at the prospect of a massive downturn in demand for office space.

In Latin America, use of corporate office space had already been changing before the pandemic, with the demand for shared offices taking off in 2015-2018. The U.S.-based firm WeWork was one of the beneficiaries. "We had 70% occupation levels before the pandemic," says Claudio Hidalgo, head of WeWork in Latin America.

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No-Vaccine Incentive: CEO Offers Bonus To Unvaccinated Employees

In recent months, governments and companies around the world have used a variety of incentives to boost vaccination rates — from cash to free beer to a live cow. But in Switzerland, a startup CEO chose to do the exact opposite, encouraging his staff not to get vaccinated — and rewarding them with a big fat Swiss francs bonus.

As Swiss online media Heidi.News reports, Daniel Héritier, CEO of Opeo — a company near Lausanne specializing in the sale of containers and waste collection —, sent an internal memo offering 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,077) bonus to any employee who chooses not to get vaccinated by March 31, 2022. This, as the note reads, to thank them for "not having yielded to this [vaccination] dictatorship which is genocide".

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Sol Park

Latin America's Copycat Startups: Thieving Or Innovation?

Across the region, entrepreneurs have been hailed for taking innovative ideas inspired elsewhere and applying them nationally or regionally. But the business and ethical dynamics involved are not so simple.

SANTIAGO — When Chazki, a Peruvian courier startup, entered the market in 2015, its founders described it as "the Uber of logistics." It made sense. The firm initially recruited freelance collaborators, not to carry passengers, but deliver purchased items in their "last mile."

The Uber tag stuck though, as tags have done with other regional startups: Mercado Libre was "Argentina's eBay," Nubank the "Revolut of Brazil," and Rappi was the WeChat of Colombia. Indeed, many Latin American firms are termed copycat startups for replicating successful business models conceived in developed hubs like the Silicon Valley.

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Migrant Lives
Marion Douet

In Kenya, A Refugee Camp With 2,100 Small Businesses

From individual artisans to prosperous wholesalers, this isolated place has developed a vibrant economy despite numerous obstacles.

KAKUMA — When she was a millinery student at the University of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Esperance Tabisha didn't think for a second that she would be practicing her trade in a refugee camp. Eight years later, the young Congolese woman works at Kakuma, a refugee camp near where the border of Kenya meets Uganda and South Sudan.

Fleeing the conflict that ravaged her region of North Kivu, she arrived alone at the refugee camp in 2010. A "Congolese mom" quickly took her under her wing.

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Igor Galo

Is Latin America Ripe For A Startup Revolution?

By allying themselves commercially, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru have created a massive consumer base — just what new, home-grown tech firms need to grow and prosper.


MADRID — The leaders of Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru weren't the only ones who traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico last month for the latest presidential summit of the Pacific Alliance (AP in Spanish) trade bloc. Some 250 business leaders, members of the AP's Business Council, also made the trip — to share ideas on how to boost trade and investment among the bloc's member countries.

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Rumbi Chakamba

A Bank In Zimbabwe Aims To Tap Into Female Entrepreneurship

Catering specifically to women – particularly in rural areas – is not only good for gender equality, it is good for business.

HARARE – When Divine Ndhlukula first launched her security business in 1998, she found it difficult to get funding and a struggle to gain access to the markets that would allow her enterprise to thrive. "I was a woman entering the male-dominated security sector with no experience or expertise," she says. "So already, being taken seriously was a challenge. No one believes you can do it, and no one is willing to listen to you."

Twenty years later, Ndhlukula, 57, has proved her critics wrong. Harare-based SECURICO has grown into one of the biggest security companies in Zimbabwe. But Ndhlukula says things haven't changed much for women entrepreneurs in the two decades since she started her company. "The problems still exist. Role models such as myself are trying to change mind-sets, but the prejudice still exists," she says.

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Signs Of A Serious Startup Boom In Indonesia

JAKARTA — A deal between Indonesia's leading lender and an Uber-like moto-taxi application is the latest in a string of partnerhips that are making Indonesia a veritable hotspot for startup ventures in Asia.

The initiative, between Bank Mandiri and the Jakarta-based company Go-Jek, will allow customers to store credit on the app by handling payments through the motorcycle drivers, the English-language daily Jakarta Post reports. Mandiri will also expand access to financial services for drivers and customers.

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Chloé Hecketsweiler

African Startup Hub, Rwanda Attracts Ubers And Universities

KIGALI — About a 20-minute drive from the Rwandan capital of Kigali, there's a barren road that leads to a construction site amid cornfields and banana trees. A single blue sign from the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation indicates the entrance to the location, which stands at the top of a hill. There, across a stretch of red earth, a hundred workers finish constructing the first building of the "Kigali Innovation City".

By mid-2017, the site is slated be home to a offshoot of Carnegie Mellon University, the first African campus for the American higher education institution.

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Indonesian Taxi Company Wants To Beat Uber At Its Own Game

JAKARTA — Amid violent anti-Uber protests by taxi drivers in the Indonesian capital, the country's largest taxi company is trying to defeat its app-based American competitor with an innovative approach: uberize itself. Leading Indonesian magazine Tempo reports that the Blue Bird taxi company is seeking to shift its business model to a car-sharing service, competing directly on the terrain of Uber and other local digital upstarts.

Founded in 1965, Blue Bird has more than 32,500 vehicles in its nationwide fleet. Thousands of taxi drivers from Blue Bird and rival taxi services took to the streets last week to protest against Uber, shutting down the Jakarta's main thoroughfares, adding to the capital's infamous traffic jams.

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