Written by Lidia Vijga, co-founder at DeckLinks
Tech innovation in Africa is booming, with startups raising over $6.5 billion in venture capital in 2022 alone. Yet, there’s a lot more the global startup community can do to support African entrepreneurship.
This week, I was delighted to attend the “African Tech Founders Night” as a tech journalist. The event was hosted by Techstars Toronto and provided a platform for Africa’s most innovative tech founders to present their disruptive solutions to a room full of eager investors, mentors, and industry influencers. The energy in the room was electrifying as the African entrepreneurs took center stage, unveiling innovative solutions that are set to uplift and disrupt industries across Africa and beyond.
In this article, I’ll share highlights from the pitches I witnessed and key insights from my one-on-one discussions with the founders.
CutStruct: Digital Marketplace that Streamlines Construction in Africa
CutStruct is a Nigerian proptech startup aiming to transform the construction industry across Africa through technology. I had the opportunity to meet with John Oamen, Co-founder and CEO at CutStruct.
During the showcase, John explained how CutStruct streamlines the procurement of construction materials through the online marketplace.
What is CutStruct?
CutStruct essentially serves as a one-stop shop for handling all supply chain needs, from issuing RFQs to tracking budgets and payments. Their robust vendor management tools help construction firms improve efficiency and cost savings. On this digital platform, customers can easily source and purchase supplies from verified vendors who can deliver orders directly to project sites.
How CutStruct Works
For buyers, the platform reduces the time and effort spent on sourcing affordable materials from reliable suppliers. They get access to real-time price comparisons, bulk order discounts, and seamless delivery coordination. CutStruct’s dashboard also enables project owners to closely track budgets and material costs.
On the vendor side, CutStruct generates targeted leads by promoting suppliers to ideal buyers in the industry. Instead of going door-to-door, vendors can grow their business more efficiently on the platform. Useful sales metrics and streamlined order fulfillment make resource management easier.
CutStruct’s escrow system facilitates secure transactions between both parties and establishes trust. Payments are only released to vendors upon the customer receiving their order.
The Benefits of CutStruct
CutStruct delivers tangible improvements in the construction process to all stakeholders involved:
- Buyers get lower costs through competitive bidding, along with reduced headaches and delays during procurement. Projects stay on time and budget.
- Vendors gain increased visibility to high-intent customers in the industry. They see a notable uptick in sales volume and revenue growth.
- For Nigeria’s construction sector, optimizing operations unlocks economic potential. Easing the housing deficit will spur infrastructure development.
I have been thoroughly impressed by their remarkable traction and sustainable business model. And I am confident that CutStruct will thrive as part of Techstars Toronto’s accelerator program. Their innovative solution has enormous potential to transform the construction industry across the entire African continent.
Chimoney: A Trailblazer in Global Payout Solutions
After meeting with CEO and Founder Uchi Nick Uchibeke, it became apparent that Chimoney is trailblazing the global payout solutions space. As someone who regularly struggles with cumbersome international wire transfers, I was fascinated by Chimoney’s value proposition.
What is Chimoney?
Chimoney aims to make cross-border bulk payments easier for businesses paying out to large, distributed groups – think affiliates, contractors, and community members.
How Chimoney Works
At its core, Chimoney aims to simplify cross-border bulk payments. As Uchi explained, many businesses struggle with the complexities of paying contributors, affiliates, and collaborators across geographical borders. Legacy options like wire transfers or checks are slow, expensive, and require collecting sensitive account details.
Chimoney alleviates these pain points through its seamless global payout platform. Users can instantly pay out sums both big and small to over 100 countries. The recipient just needs an email or phone number – no lengthy bank forms are required.
Chimoney provides a faster, lower-cost alternative that also enhances payee privacy.
Chimoney is Empowering Users with Multi-Currency Wallets
Another cool aspect is Chimoney’s multi-currency digital wallets. The startup enables businesses to create branded wallets for users that support funds in different currencies. Wallets can be funded easily via cards, bank transfers, mobile money, and even crypto.
Once loaded, users have flexibility in storing value, sending payments, or spending balances. One nifty feature lets wallet holders directly shop on sites like Amazon using their funds, thanks to a Unispend integration.
The Benefits of Chimoney
Simpler and Faster Payments: Chimoney allows near instant payouts to global recipients without lengthy forms or manual bank details. This makes payroll, affiliate payouts, and collaboration rewards much smoother.
Lower Fees: Sending funds through Chimoney costs significantly less than traditional wire transfers or forex fees. This helps users save money.
Enhanced Security: Recipients don’t need to provide sensitive bank account information to receive payments. This improves privacy and security.
Multi-Currency Utility: The ability to hold funds in different currencies and spend globally provides unique financial flexibility.
As someone who regularly faces the headache of cross-border payments, I can see a huge value in Chimoney as it provides a frictionless experience both for sending and receiving money globally.
The multi-currency wallet also adds some unique benefits I haven’t seen elsewhere. Overall, I was very impressed with Chimoney’s product and can see it providing major value for businesses paying out to large, distributed groups.
For any business looking to optimize global payouts, streamline financial workflows, or explore embedded finance – Chimoney seems like a top-notch solution worth exploring.
Seso Global: Simplifying Real Estate Transactions in Africa
During African Tech Founders Night, I witnessed an engaging presentation by Seso Global. Kweku Essein, who is Seso’s CCO, provided everyone with an overview of the company. Seso Global has a mission to become “Africa’s trusted property marketplace.” The platform’s primary objective is to instill confidence in buyers by ensuring proper due diligence and title verification.
To revolutionize real estate transactions in Nigeria and beyond, Seso Global aims to bring property listings, service providers, and land registries together in one unified blockchain-based marketplace. By doing so, Seso Global makes the process more efficient and trustworthy for all involved.
How Seso Global Works
Here’s a quick rundown of how Seso Global works:
Search for Properties: Seso partners with verified developers to list properties on their platform. As a buyer, you can search for homes and even take virtual 3D tours.
Book Viewings: See a home you like. Seso’s agents can schedule in-person viewings and accompany you on visits.
Access Service Providers: Once you’ve found your dream home, Seso connects you with lawyers, insurers, etc. to finalize the purchase.
Seso’s innovative approach has left a lasting impression on me. The seamless integration of digital listings, in-person support, and blockchain technology culminates in a streamlined real estate transaction experience – a solution that is much needed in the African market.
The Benefits of Seso Global
Verified Properties: By partnering with developers directly, Seso ensures all listings are legitimate. No more worrying about scams or fake titles!
Convenience: The ability to search, view, and buy homes completely online makes the process far more convenient.
Trust and Security: Seso’s blockchain ledger provides immutable records of land titles, so buyers can trust properties are owned by sellers.
Guidance: Throughout the buying journey, Seso’s agents are there to provide support and expertise.
Cost Savings: By streamlining transactions, Seso reduces fees paid to middlemen and lawyers.
By integrating digital convenience with physical support, Seso Global aspires to make real estate transactions simple and secure across Africa. The company’s rapid growth since 2017 highlights the immense opportunities in proptech and blockchain-based innovations.
Oval: Bringing Breezy Simplicity to Business Finances
Running a business these days means juggling countless financial admin tasks. Between accounting, payroll, global clients, and vendors, it’s easy for things to become complicated fast. Many entrepreneurs find themselves wasting precious time managing finances when they could be building their companies.
But what if there was a way to simplify all that complexity?
What is Oval?
Oval offers an all-in-one finance operating system designed specifically for businesses. No matter the size or stage, Oval can adapt to meet a company’s needs.
The platform allows businesses to easily manage global payments, issue multi-currency accounts, provide virtual cards, and conduct secure global payouts to over 80 countries.
What sets Oval apart is its robust fraud detection and prevention system. This ensures complete security for all financial transactions and operations.
How Oval Works
While Oval’s technology sounds advanced, the company stresses that simplicity and ease of use are key. The platform is designed to be accessible to non-finance experts. For businesses focused on growth, Oval handles the financial heavy lifting in the background.
Getting started with the platform is straightforward:
- Create a free account
- Complete Oval’s Know Your Business (KYB) onboarding
- Access the Oval dashboard to manage finances
Users can connect bank accounts to begin sending/receiving USD payments. Behind the scenes, Oval leverages monitoring and encryption to detect potential fraud and secure accounts.
For larger businesses, Oval provides an API for custom integrations with existing accounting, ERP, and CRM systems.
The Benefits of Oval
Oval aims to provide the following key benefits:
- Consolidation of financial tasks into one platform boosts efficiency.
- Enhanced security and fraud prevention for peace of mind.
- Global payments capabilities to support international business.
- Financial insights/tracking for better cash flow control.
- Scalability to grow along with a business’s needs.
- Custom integration via API for unique requirements.
MPost: Turning Phone Numbers Into Postal Addresses
MPost, which is part of the current Techstars Toronto Accelerator cohort, has an elegantly simple concept: turning your phone number into your postal address. For many people across Africa, formal postal addresses are complicated or nonexistent.
What is MPost?
MPost is an innovative startup that operates in Kenya and offers a unique solution to a significant challenge faced by Africans. The company converts mobile phone numbers into postal addresses, effectively making it easier for people to receive mail and packages. The lack of formal mailing addresses has long been a challenge for many Africans, and MPost’s solution is a game-changer. By using their mobile phone numbers as postal addresses, people can receive mail and packages without having to worry about the traditional addressing system, which can be unreliable and inconsistent. MPost’s goal is to make mail delivery more accessible to everyone in Kenya and beyond, helping to bridge the gap between the digital and physical world.
How MPost Works
Here’s an overview of how MPost works:
Grab Your Mail Your Way – MPost lets you choose how you access your mail. You can either pick it up yourself from your nearest post office location or have it delivered directly to your location.
Get Notified of New Mail – Whenever you have new mail or a package waiting for you at your designated post office, MPost sends you an SMS alert. No more making unnecessary trips or waiting in long lines!
Affordable and Convenient – For just 400 Kenyan Shillings (about US$3) per year, you get a complete postal address service linked to your phone number and choice of post office location. Considering the expense and complication of renting a P.O. box in many areas, MPost provides valuable accessibility.
Reliable Nationwide Network – With 42,000 active users and 230,000 registered users across Kenya and Uganda, MPost has built an extensive network of post office partnerships to receive and hold your mail.
The Benefits of MPost
I can certainly see the appeal of having a consistent postal address that works across regions and that I can access digitally from anywhere and get live delivery tracking.
MPost also provides end-to-end delivery services for e-commerce companies through its Tap a Delivery arm. By leveraging its network of motorcycle drivers and logistics partnerships, MPost can offer reliable same-day delivery.
After learning more about MPost’s unique approach from Twahir Mohammed (Founder, and CEO at MPost) to the persistent challenges of postal addresses in Africa, I’m excited to see it continue to scale and expand the possible. By blending mobile technology with real-world infrastructure, MPost unlocks simple but powerful mail access for millions of Africans.
Reeple: Financial Services for African Immigrants
Reeple caught my attention because of my own experiences as an immigrant to Canada over two decades ago. I remember how difficult it was for my mom to access even basic financial services without having an established Canadian credit history. Everything from getting a credit card to renting an apartment was a struggle until she slowly built up her credit score from scratch.
So Reeple’s mission to help African immigrants leverage their financial histories and records from back home really resonated with me. I wish a service like this had been around when my family was going through the challenging process of settling in Canada!
What is Reeple?
Reeple is a startup fintech company founded by Oluwatomisin Kolawole, Ayokunle Adesanya, and Olarinde Olokuntoye that aims to help African immigrants access financial services in their new countries. The company is focused on immigrants moving to Canada, the US, and the UK.
How Reeple Works
Reeple is using alternative data to evaluate creditworthiness in a fuller way. The idea is to provide immigrants access to loans, credit cards, and other services based on their previous financial records, not just their blank Canadian profiles.
As an immigrant entrepreneur myself, I’m also a big believer in the positive social and economic impacts that can come from empowering newcomers and refugees with financial access. The cycle of poverty is hard to break when you’re excluded from the financial system in your new home country.
The Benefits of Reeple
Reeple offers several key benefits:
- Credit building – Reeple helps immigrants carry their credit history from their homeland to their host country. This allows immigrants to demonstrate creditworthiness rather than starting from zero.
- Loan access – From student loans to cover tuition to rental loans for housing, Reeple expands immigrants’ access to affordable financial products.
- Money transfers – Reeple facilitates cross-border payments and remittances back home. This maintains connections.
- Financial education – Reeple provides guidance on managing finances and credit unique to the immigrant experience.
- Financial inclusion – By offering customized products, Reeple aims to provide financial access and participation for underserved immigrant groups.
The immigrant community faces many unique financial challenges that most Canadians take for granted. Hopefully, Reeple’s solutions can drive greater financial inclusion, because skilled, diverse newcomers are such an asset to our country when given the chance.
Payfi: A Buy Now Pay Later Platform for Africa
During the African Tech Founders Night, I got to meet Seun Sanni, a Co-Founder, COO/CPO of Payfi. Seun’s enthusiasm towards Payfi’s mission of providing Africans with an opportunity to obtain financing for purchases, whether online or in physical stores, was very evident.
What is Payfi?
Payfi allows customers to “buy now, pay later” when shopping from affiliated merchants online or in-store. Think of it like Afterpay or Affirm in the US, but tailored specifically for African consumers and businesses.
How Payfi Works
For consumers – Payfi offers installment plans from 2-6 months at low interest rates. Customers can easily sign up via the app, verify their identity, and then start shopping at supported merchants. At checkout, whether online or in-store, they select Payfi and spread payments over time.
For merchants – Businesses can partner with Payfi to offer flexible financing options. This gives them a competitive edge and boosts sales. Payfi handles the installment plans and settlements so merchants get paid upfront.
Payfi supports payments online via plugins, in-store through POS integration, and even offline via payment links.
The Benefits of Payfi
As both a consumer platform and a B2B solution, Payfi offers compelling benefits:
For consumers – Payfi makes it easy to finance bigger purchases over time. Customers can get approved quickly and repay on flexible schedules. Given the high upfront costs of items like electronics in Africa, Payfi opens up purchasing power.
For merchants – Payfi helps businesses attract more customers, convert more sales, and build loyalty. Offering payment plans brings in buyers who otherwise couldn’t afford big-ticket items. Merchants also get valuable insights into purchase behavior.
For the economy – By expanding consumer credit, Payfi stimulates local economies and enables growth. More sales help businesses thrive, while consumers get access to life-changing products, from solar panels to smartphones.
Currently, Payfi has 60,000+ active shoppers and has enabled a 50% sales boost for partners. But they have ambitious plans to scale much further across Africa.
The team wants to develop into the continent’s top buy now, pay later platform. They plan to sign up millions more users and integrate with many leading e-commerce sites.
Judging by their traction and the massive opportunity for installment financing in Africa, I think Payfi has huge potential. The team is leveraging technology to solve a real payment pain point and unlock economic prosperity.
Alternative credit options can empower a large underserved population. And Payfi’s seamless customer experience and merchant tools set them up for success.