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The Story Behind Airsave Africa StartUp Cup 2nd Place Winner

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Henry Damulira faced many challenges, like many entrepreneurs from around the world. He came from a poor family, and as he grew up, he realized that he had a solution to a problem that many in his situation were facing. As a young child, he would fetch water by hand with the goal of saving enough money to buy a bicycle, which would allow him to fetch more water and make more money. Like many people, Henry had trouble saving money, and when he was walking around one day, he bought a baseball cap with the money he was saving for a bicycle.

In Africa roughly 90% of the population are unbanked, many of which lose their money, not from the ability to save, but because of having to keep all their money in their houses, leaving it vulnerable to theft, fire, or even worse, a husband keeping money from his wife not allowing her to create her own life.

Seeing all of the issues the unbanked faced, Henry decided to create Airsave, a company that allows members to create a digital account, and save a set amount of money for a given period of time. He started offline at his local church, allowing members to drop off money or valuables for a set amount of time. After seeing the success, Henry took the company digital with over 20,000 members across Uganda in 20 districts in less than six months without advertisement or promotion. Airsave is in the process of signing up 40,000 churches with a reach of over 4,000,000 people.AirSave logo

After competing in the Uganda StartUp Cup and taking 2nd place Africa StartUp Cup, Henry has received an unprecedented amount of recognition from his country including being interviewed on the National Uganda Television Station. He hopes to continue the success and grow Airsave beyond Uganda in the next few years. Airsave will compete in World StartUp Cup taking place in Washington, DC

 

 

 

Africa StartUp Cup Winner | Connecting the Unconnectable

 

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Othmane Bekkair with fellow entrepreneurs during Africa StartUp Cup 2016 in Accra, Ghana.

A small rural Moroccan farmer lost his entire harvest one year. After spending months trying to figure out what went wrong, he ultimately learned he had planted too many crops, not allowing any of them to get the nutrients needed to grow. The farmer spent more time and more money to ultimately fail. It was an honest mistake, but one that cost his family’s well-being and financial security.

Othmane Bekkair, CEO of Gomobile, Morocco and Africa StartUp Cup winner, knew if the farmer had access to Ziggi, the first service from Gomobile, he would have been able to avoid this mistake. Ziggi collects vetted content on specific topics with users through phones. Users are able to select the information important to them and become better informed on specific topics. Currently the product is focused on agriculture and health, but there are plans to branch out with additional content in the future.

It is because of Othmane’s over 20 plus year background in the creating change for low-income communities in Africa that he was able to see the importance of providing verbal information to people. He has lived and worked in these communities and knows first hand what is needed to help them grow.

Gomobile’s is primed to play a major role in reducing the digital divide in Africa and connecting them to the wider world, or as Othmane puts it “connecting the unconnectable.”

The impact Gomobile is making has not gone unnoticed. This summer Othmane will be competing in World StartUp Cup and the 1776 Challenge Cup. Gomobile was also announced as top winner of the first regional Africa StartUp Cup, held in Ghana last month.

 

 

Announcing World StartUp Cup 2016 in Washington, DC

WSCupStartUp Cup, a global network of entrepreneurial mobilization projects empowering communities, governments, and entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, is proud to announce the World StartUp Cup 2016 Finals will be held in Washington, DC August 3-5.

Over 1,000 startups and SME’s participated in 65 national competitions for the prestige of presenting at the world finals. Now the top finalist from each national competition is eligible for World StartUp Cup 2016. These startups will present their business model to a global panel of select StartUp Cup judges for a chance to be named the World StartUp Cup 2016 Winner. In addition, outstanding startups, organizers, and mentors will be recognized for their achievements.

The World StartUp Cup 2016 is three days of highly interactive events including the first WECREATE Summit, Executive Directors and Organizers will be sharing personal stories and lessons on the challenges of growing women empowerment communities and how they are changing mindsets and overcoming cultural barriers. There will also be receptions and cultural events planned throughout the city.

What: World StartUp Cup 2016

When: August 3-5, 2016

Where: Washington, DC

For more information visit, world.startupcup.com or contact Naledi Sekgapane: naledi@startupcup.com +1 240 899 3124.

GoMobile Announced Top Prize at First Africa StartUp Cup

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Accra, Ghana— Global entrepreneurship development agency StartUp Cup announced the top three winning teams of Africa StartUp Cup Challenge, a regional business model competition for startups from over thirteen StartUp Cup Challenges that took place in Africa in 2015 and 2016. The winning teams competed for in-kind donations, totaling to $229,000 of IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, and Rackspace services, amongst other sponsorships.

The Africa StartUp Cup Challenge was held in Accra, Ghana in partnership with the U.S. Embassy of Accra and iSpace. Five teams were selected to compete in the regional finals through the local StartUp Cups held across the continent—in Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

Each of the startups had three minutes to pitch their business model and present on the progress they have made since winning their local StartUp Cup, followed by fifteen minutes of questions from an international panel of judges.

The winning teams come from Morocco, Uganda and Ghana and represent the communication, restaurant, and financial service sectors. 

Gomobile – Fist Place (Morocco) uses existing technologies to create innovative products, allowing unconnected communities to enjoy the benefits of new technologies. Gomobile applies full adaptation by using mobile phone and voice to bring the benefits of internet, through IVR-like systems, as well as create platforms and digitalization paths. Their mission is to reduce and eliminate the digital divide, and help the unconnected population to reach full digitalization, or connect the unconnected.

Airsave – Second Place (Uganda) is a financial technology company that provides a secure digital mobile saving platform to the 90% unbanked communities across Uganda in partnership with banks and telecoms, using a mobile phone with no access to the internet. Their mission is to empower men, women and youth on how to save, using a mobile phone as a digital saving wallet towards their saving and investment goals, and also bridge the trust between the unbanked people to their local banks and communities using a mobile phone.

KawaMoka – Third Place (Ghana) is a retailer of premium coffee and tea from across Africa. The company, which has positioned coffee stands in most part of Ghana’s capital, Accra, provides quality and personalized products made from Ghana’s own cocoa and coffee.

“From what we have seen over the last five years of operating StartUp Cups in Africa, the entrepreneurs of Africa are having a significant impact on the African economy and inspiring a whole new generation of aspiring African entrepreneurs to following their dreams. You are the new heroes of Africa!” said Sean Griffin, CEO and Founder of StartUp Cup.

Emmanuel Nyame, Regional Organizer for Africa StartUp Cup, reiterated that, “Our winners represent the solution providers of tomorrow. Their unique businesses are poised to trigger new set of innovations on the African market.” He further extended his gratitude to sponsors of the program for the kind support, and all judges for the time commitment. Special mention goes to our other two competitors who pitched their businesses and participated in our regional Africa StartUp Cup competition: Dzinee from Sudan and El Hamra, from Algeria.

The Africa StartUp Cup was supported by the US Department of State, Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, IBM Global Entrepreneur Program, Amazon Web Services, USAID EDMC, .CO, Scotch and Palm Law Group, Alisa hotels, iya ventures, RiseUp Summit (Egypt) , Rackspace, BellaNaija, Women in Tech Africa, Voltic, Accra Breweries Limited, iPay, Ethiopian Airways, Gadget,Ameyaw Debrah, Hello Food, Pulse Ghana, CNBC Africa, LIONS@FRICA, KwakuDavid Photography, Shade Systems EA, Zooba Shop, Africa.com, Disrupt Africa, and VentureBurn.

ABOUT STARTUP CUP

StartUp Cup® manages an international portfolio of entrepreneurial programs proven to grow entrepreneurs, jobs and enhance entrepreneurial ecosystems. StartUp Cup represents a global network of hyper-local StartUp Cup accelerators featuring business model competitions and WECREATE women entrepreneurship centers in more than 60 countries. Our focus is on applying innovative technical skills by serving as global leaders in entrepreneurial job creation and the generation of investment-ready businesses.

 

Africa StartUps Head to Ghana for Maiden Africa StartUp Cup

Originally appeared in Disrupt AfricaAfrica StartUp Cup logo 02.29.16

The maiden edition of the Africa StartUp Cup will take place in Ghana on April 28-30, bringing together winners of local competitions to pitch for the chance to compete at the World StartUp Cup.

Winners from the 18 local StartUp Cups around Africa are eligible to travel to Ghana to present their business models to an international panel of judges comprised of local StartUp Cups throughout Africa.

Three overall winners will go on to compete in the World StartUp Cup in Silicon Valley for investment, mentoring and coaching packages.

“The Africa StartUp Cup is an extraordinary event designed to showcase and celebrate entrepreneurs from every conceivable industry, and in the process shine a global light on the power of Africa entrepreneurs and startups to improve lives,” said Sean Griffin, chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of StartUp Cup.

“Ghana was one of the first StartUp Cups ever to be held outside the United States, and it is especially fitting that they are now hosting the first annual Africa StartUp Cup.”

Read full story here.

WECREATE | KENYA Officially Launches!

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StartUp Cup Executive Vice President, Dalia AlSaid, CEO & Founder of StartUp Cup & Co-Founder WECREATE, Sean Griffin, Program Manager | Entrepreneurship & Gender Adviser | U.S. Diplomat U.S. Department of State, Africa Bureau, Economic Regional Affairs, Fonta Gilliam, WECREATE | KENYA Grants Officer, Dr. Onsomu Onchonga during the launch celebration.

Back in July 2015 during the GES Summit, United States President, Mr. Barrack Obama promised the establishment of entrepreneurial centres to empower women in the society. This was a topic that he was really keen on during the summit and is quoted saying;

 “Women are powerhouse entrepreneurs. The research shows that when women entrepreneurs succeed, they drive economic growth and invest more back into their families and communities”

The WECREATE Kenya Centre is the second one to be opened in Africa. The other centre is at Zambia and another to be opened in Mali in the next coming months. A couple of others have been set up in Pakistan and Cambodia. Over the course of time, more centres will be opened up throughout the African continent.

The event was graced by the American Ambassador to Kenya, Mr. Robert F Godec who was pleased to see the rapid actualization of the centres from the President’s promise last year. He said that this shows the level of commitment that the President and the US government has on the support to empower women entrepreneurs. He thanked the government for creating an environment for a place like the WECREATE Centre to exist.

“The Centre provides women with networking opportunities, where startups can begin to explore new ideas, where women with no business experience can find resources to help them develop and expand and in doing so create new possibilities for themselves and their families”, described the Ambassador, Mr. Godec

Originally published in Techweez 02.17.16 | Read the full article here.

Extended: Request for Applications: WECREATE Challenge in Papua New Guinea.

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StartUp Cup in partnership with the U.S. State Department, will implement the WECREATE Challenge | PNG in Port Moresby and Goroka, Papua New Guinea in 2016-2017. The Challenge aims to develop women’s entrepreneurship through a nation-wide Acceleration program that utilizes a business model competition and mentor training program. Each step of the competitive process is tailored to the specific needs of women entrepreneurs increasing their opportunities to successfully build and scale sustainable women-owned businesses.

The WECREATE Challenge | PNG is designed with a powerful business model and rapid revenue generation mentoring approach at its heart. This approach supports entrepreneurs to accelerate designing and testing their business models with customers. The resulting interactions improve the likelihood of generating revenue and building a viable business in weeks, not months. WECREATE Challenge benefits the entire ecosystem by increasing the quality and quantity of local mentors resulting in increasing the quality entrepreneurs and startups as a direct result of the WECREATE Challenge business model competition.

The program will be implemented in two phases over the two years. The first phase will focus on training at least 50 local mentors and judges, who will then mentor and evaluate entrepreneurs on their progress advancing their business into the marketplace during the Extreme Build-A-Business workshops, mentorship program and business model competition. After the six to seven month competitive process the WECREATE Challenge concludes with a nation-wide Women Entrepreneurship Festival, where the most promising three startups receive awards and recognition from experts, peers and the community.

Download the full RFA here: RFA WECREATE Challenge- Papua New Guinea Extended deadline for submissions is now February 26, 2016.

StartUp Academy Graduate | How One Women Leads Pakistan’s Future Game Developers

Originally published 01.22.2016 by ShareAmerica

Do you remember the first time you played Super Mario Bros.? Sadia Bashir does. It’s what sparked her love of video games and eventually led her to open Pakistan’s first video game design institute.

As a young child, Bashir didn’t have a TV or any other entertainment. It wasn’t until she visited a family friend later in her youth that she got to see a computer — and play a video game — for the first time. “After that, it became my routine and my passion,” she says of gaming.

Sadia Bashir, founder of PixelArt Games Academy (Courtesy photo)

Sadia Bashir, founder of PixelArt Games Academy (Courtesy photo)

Computer programming was the closest to a gaming degree Bashir could get. “There is a huge gap in our education,” she explains. “Even though it’s the second-largest industry in the world, we don’t have any institute that would provide proper education and training for beginners … because of the lack of resources in Pakistan.”

 Frustrated by the lagging development of the Pakistani gaming industry, Bashir had a solution: open her own institute. And so she did in fall 2015. PixelArt Games Academy (PGA) aims to give young game makers in the country the chance to learn from experienced professionals.

In addition to offering hands-on workshops, PGA hosts a research and development center. It also connects its students with gaming companies looking to hire.

“It’s still a very new concept, and our industry is not that mature yet, but I am sure if we provide a proper foundation to our new generation [of game makers], we can increase our progress in no time,” Bashir says. She is confident that through the academy, students “will be able to get jobs or create their own games or studios.”

Advancing to the next level

Starting a business can be stressful, as Bashir discovered. She says she used to be worried about finances all the time. But as part of a training program at the WECREATE | PAKISTAN Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council, she learned that you don’t need funding to start a business, just a good business model.

“I started my business with zero [financial] investment,” she explains. “I invested my own skills and help from friends and family.” In fact, Bashir advises, startups shouldn’t focus on funding “until they are mature enough to understand their business and effectively able to spend the funding money.”

Bashir also credits her mentors, whom she met at the WECREATE | PAKISTAN Center, for providing valuable guidance. “Whenever I felt like I was stuck in a situation … I shared my thoughts and ideas with them and took their advice. I also took their criticism as well, and it helped me to correct my mistakes and be prepared.”

As a result of that preparation, Bashir has been able to get PGA off the ground. She already has hired eight people as part of the managerial team and another six as trainers.

But that’s not her biggest achievement: “I am the first woman in my family to [earn a degree], and the idea of starting my own business wasn’t that acceptable for them. … But on the graduation day of WECREATE, I brought my parents, and they were very proud of me and very supportive for my venture.”

Read the full article here: ShareAmerica

KawaMoka Wins Ghana Startup Cup 2015

 

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For Immediate Release: Ghana, November 10, 2015

StartUp Cup hit Ghana’s capital for the 3rd time this past weekend for its conclusion, as the three winners of this year’s competition were revealed following a morning of rapid pitches from 12 finalists.

After whittling down hundreds of entrants, via an online registration, twelve entrepreneurs where invited to compete. Emi-Beth Quatson of KawaMoka, a local coffee company, received the backing of the judges in the competiion and finished victorious. Placing second and third were eCampus App, an innovative e-learning platform and Coliba, a waste management startup.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Chief Economic Officer of the U.S. Embassy, Jimmy Mauldin, admonished the youth to take up challenges and provide sustainable and identifiable solutions to the problems around us through their businesses, adding that: “You are the future of Ghana” He further reiterated the U.S Government’s support for StartUp Cup Ghana, through the Global Entrepreneurship Program, in spurring growth in entrepreneurship in Ghana, as well as other exchange programmes such as the Young African Leaders’ Initiative (YALI).

“Not all business plan competitions are meant for your business”, commented Technoserve Ghana Deputy Country Director, Samuel Baba Adongo who was also a keynote speaker at the awards ceremony. He continued by admonishing startups to focus on growth as a first step in developing their business while desisting from the habit of moving from one competition to the other.

The finals, which took place during the National Startup Festival at the British Council, saw twelve businesses pitch their ideas to an expert panel of entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts.On hosting duties was Kweku Temeng of TV3, while joining Nancy Glaser of Stanford SEED on the judging panel were Klenam Fiadzo (Yougora Ltd, Cofounder), and Kwaku David (KD Group Global).

Ethel Cofie (Women in Tech, Founder), Yaganoma Baatuolkuu (Wanjo Foods, CEO), Wayne Miranda (Growth Mosaic, CEO), Joyce Okyerewaa Danso (UN Youth Ambassador, Ghana), Mac-Jordan Degadjor (Africa New Media, Cofounder) also formed part of panelists for a Social Good Meetup on Entrepreneurship and the Global Goals which took place earlier at the same venue to discuss and address the funding and investment gap for startups in Ghana. Alumi of the StartUp Cup program, Lily Kudzro(Devio Arts, CEO) Francis Obirikorang(Swappaholics, Cofounder) and Nana Opoku Agyeman-Prempeh(Asoriba, Cofounder), also took chances to lead a breakout session on growing and expanding your business.

“We took a long time to come to a decision after witnessing the pitches,” confessed the Ghana StartUp Cup Ghana Director, Emmanuel Nyame. “There was a lot of delibrations as all twelve of these businesses are so strong. In the end it came down to deciding whether we wanted to give the backing to the best ideas or the businesses that we thought could really succeed.”

So what do all of the finalists walk away with?

Finalists with Agricultural background received a prize package by kind sponsorship of TechnoServe Ghana, while ultimate winner, KawaMoka would continue the journey to compete with other African countries for the next phase of the competition.

As well as this, all of finalists will get astute mentorship prize packages for all twelve finalists starting December this year sponsored by MEL Consulting.

The National StartUp Festival was put together by Stillwater Equity Partners and StartUp Cup Ghana. To find out more about this year’s competition, head across to the Ghana StartUp Cup website www.ghana.startupcup.com

WECREATE Center’s StartUp Academy Program Bolsters Female Entrepreneurship In Pakistan

WECREATE | PAKISTAN's StartUp Academy Graduation Celebration of Flight I.

WECREATE | PAKISTAN’s StartUp Academy Graduation Celebration of Flight I.

The Women’s Entrepreneurial Center of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) Center held its ‘Graduation Celebration of StartUp Academy Flight I’ in Islamabad September 21 to mark the completion of a 15-week program that takes aspiring female entrepreneurs from idea to business implementation.

The graduates pitched their new businesses to community leaders, potential investors, and the press during the event.

Graduates of the program lauded the efforts of the WECREATE | PAKISTAN Center and said this program helped them develop the necessary skills to start and grow their own businesses.  U.S. Embassy Economic Counselor Robert Garverick commented he was very impressed by the graduates’ business plans and by the efforts of the WECREATE | PAKISTAN Center to promote female entrepreneurship in Pakistan.  “I look forward to seeing these women’s businesses grow and prosper. I expect these StartUp Academy graduates soon will be mentoring the next generation of female entrepreneurs in Pakistan.” Read full article here.