Eleven startups from across Africa, identified as “entrepreneurs for humanity”, were awarded the opportunity to partner with the AfricArena challenge. Supplied

CAPE TOWN - Eleven startups from across the African continent, identified as “entrepreneurs for humanity”, were awarded the opportunity to partner with the AfricArena challenge corporate sponsors at the end of the second AfricArena technology conference in Cape Town.

Amongst others, Air France KLM selected DiscoverIkasi and Sea Monster, both from South Africa, to assist with improving the travel experience and sustainability of its subsidiary Joon. Vinci Energie, will work with Senegal’s Oniriq and South Africa’s DataProphet on innovative energy solutions in Africa.

See the full list of winners, sponsors and challenges below.

During 2018, in the run up to AfricArena2018, 60 startups pitched their businesses in regional events in eight cities across Africa. Many of which were invited to take part in a series of challenges set by the AfricArena sponsors, all looking to solve uniquely African business problems.

SOLUTIONS FOR THE AFRICAN MARKET

The AfricArena 2018 conference was anchored and endorsed by major international sponsors La French Tech, Silicon Cape, Vinci Energies, AirFrance KLM, Engie, Saint-Gobain, Methys, Rogerwilco, City of Cape Town, Proparco, RCS, and Leroy Merlin. 

The following sponsors specifically came to South Africa and AfricArena to explore innovation opportunities within Africa and abroad: RCS, Saint-Gobain, AirFrance KLM, Vinci Energies, VivaTech, Leroy Merlin, Engie, Sanofi and FSAT Labs.

“We expect to have a different approach from these startups, a bright idea that could be easily implemented, and also to benefit from what is very high potential in terms of innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives. And to find solutions that are very well adapted to the African market,” said Jean-Michel Mathieu, chief executive of Joon, a subsidiary of Air France.

“African entrepreneurs are very willing to find solutions, to take risks, they address vital expectations and needs, and they are looking at the challenges with a very frugal mindset. I think this is a lesson for us as well, we learn a lot working with them and collaborating with them to find the right solutions and we take this inspiration back to Europe with us,” said Lydia Babaci-Victor, Chief Innovation and Development Officer at Vinci Energies.

Vincent Viollain, co-Founder and Head of Partnerships and Startups at VivaTech, the biggest tech conference in Europe said: “The leapfrog ability of African technology has become a bit of a cliché. But when you get a chance to see it, you’ll see that it’s actually true. African technology is frugal, its smart and it can have an impact locally as well as globally. In our winner, Aerobotics’ case we believe the solution can move beyond physical borders, and also have application in different industry sectors.”

AFRICARENA WINNERS:

The startups who won the challenges, were grateful of the experience and excited to be moving forward with some of the largest corporations across the globe.

“Oniriq provides access to African rural populations through energy and the internet. It’s great to be here at AfricArena, it has been a journey. For two months we’ve been participating in this challenge since the selection two months ago in Dakar with Vinci Energies team and we’ve been in discussions since. For us the win is a great achievement and we’re looking forward to starting our collaboration in Senegal,” said Rodolphe Rosier, Founder of Oniriq.

 “We’d like to thank AfricArena and VivaTech for the opportunity to present and we’re really happy to have won and we cannot wait to be in Paris in May. We’re already expanding around the world and this presence at VivaTech 2019 will give us a great opportunity to meet the European market,” said Nasreen Patel, Head of Product at Aerobotics.

 “This is not just a win for DiscoverIkasi, it’s a win for the communities we work with across South Africa. It’s going to give them a lot more exposure. This is what we’ve been working towards since starting the business, to get to a platform where I can market DiscoverIkasi, our market, our experiences and the townships on an international stage. Now we need to go back home and form a strategy to scale the business across South Africa,” said Ntsebenziswano (Benzi) November, Founder of DiscoverIkasi.

The startups attending the conference will also each be receiving credit from AWS as part of their prizes. Each startup in attendance, winner or not, will receive $2000 in AWS credit.

Kerry Petrie, General Manager of Silicon Cape, host ecosystem of AfricArena, stated: “It’s such an amazing opportunity for entrepreneurs from all across the continent to connect and share, building bridges that may hold future partnership, export and market opportunities. It builds the visibility of the pan-African community for a local, regional and global stakeholder audience. We have to work together to increase investment in African ventures from 1 percent. And AfricArena is playing a pivotal role in making that a reality.”

Reflecting on the event, Christophe Viarnaud, chief executive of AfricArena, expanded on the philosophy behind the conference.

“AfricArena’s open collaborative Pan-African model, highly inclusive and embarking all categories of investors, ecosystem contributors, and corporates focused on innovation in Africa, has demonstrated very high impact throughout 2018 with 16 events on 3 continents. 

The grand finale at AfricArena2018 has shown the energy and excitement from 15 corporates, over 150 investors and 70 startups, with over $2m deals being done, startup-corporate partnerships being struck and a wave of energy and innovation from African entrepreneurs. We could not be more excited about the future, comments Viarnaud.

THE WINNERS:

Air France KLM Challenge 1                     DiscoverIkasi

Air France KLM Challenge 2                    Sea Monster

Engie Challenge                                           Arnegy

Leroy Merlin Challenge                             BizAR Reality

Saint-Gobain Challenge 1                         Swift GeoSpatial

Saint-Gobain Challenge 2                         The Student Hub

Sanofi South Africa Challenge                Iyeza Health

The RCS Group Challenge                        ThisIsMe

Vinci Energies Challenge 1                       Oniriq

Vinci Energies Challenge 2                       DataProphet

Vivatech 2019 Challenge                          Aerobotics

SPONSORS AND THEIR CHALLENGES:

Air France KLM Challenge 1 – optimising the airline’s travel experience while reducing its environmental footprint

Air France KLM Challenge 2 – using technology to enrich subsidiary Joon’s travel experience for its passengers

Engie Challenge – ensuing a reliable energy supply in urban areas

Leroy Merlin Challenge – immersive showroom experience that shows off a large variety of products

Saint-Gobain Challenge 1 – using satellite trend analysis to predict urban and climate challenges

Saint-Gobain Challenge 2 -- a solution to upgrade professionals’ skills across Africa, especially in remote areas.

Sanofi South Africa Challenge – optimising patient treatment adherence and completion rates

The RCS Group Challenge – storing and securing customer identity and authentication credentials

Vinci Energies Challenge 1 – using digitalisation to optimise industry and energy performance

Vinci Energies Challenge 2 – How to make energy more accessible in Africa using technology such as energy efficiency flow solutions, energy flow optimisation, blockchain and artificial intelligence

Vivatech 2019 Challenge – using artificial intelligence (AI) to generate growth and sustainability in the agriculture sector

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE