As the country’s entrepreneurship ecosystem has grown from strength to strength so has the number of startup hubs, incubators and accelerators – each offering a wide range of acceleration, incubation and support services.
It’s safe to say that some of the most exciting startup talent and early-stage businesses lie within the incubator/accelerator ecosystem – think startups local success stories like WhereIsMyTransport and Payfast who were part of Cape Town-based Grindstone accelerator; Custos Tech which was part of Stellenbosch’s Launch Lab and Humble Till, an alumni of Johannesburg-based Ignitor.
To highlight the talent that lies in the country’s hubs, accelerators and incubators SME South Africa will be showcasing some of the best startups that are members of these programmes. First off is Johannesburg-based, AlphaCode.
AlphaCode is a collaborative club for financial services entrepreneurs. The hub was launched earlier this year by the founders of Rand Merchant Investment Holdings (RMIH) who are, through the club, hoping to support and identify an investment pipeline of disruptive, scalable fintech businesses.
AlphaCode differs from a traditional incubator or accelerator in that they they don’t offer incubation or acceleration services, their services do, however, range from offering access to their working space and networking events to mentorship from RMIH executives, exposure to their investment team and portfolio companies and business support services.
The concept is modelled on the leading fintech development hub, Level 39 in London’s Canary Wharf – which is Europe’s largest technology accelerator space for finance, cyber-security, retail companies.
At its launch the hub had already signed up over 50 diverse, rapidly-growing financial services entrepreneurs. Today the hub houses over 700 members across all membership tiers.
We take a look at the cream of the crop – these are startups that are generating excitement with their offerings and are worth keeping an eye on.
SnapScan is a mobile payment application that simplifies the payment process for both customers and merchants. It allows users to pay for goods and services with their phones, and helps merchants accept fast, efficient and affordable card payments on the go.
With a merchant base of over 27 000 businesses across South Africa, the app is used by a wide variety of merchant use cases, from on- and off-street parking to food delivery, bill payments for medical service providers, donations for churches and charitable organisations and even online retailers, for a simpler desktop and more secure mobile shopping experience.
RainFin is South Africa’s first and leading credit marketplace, which connects borrowers and lenders. RainFin’s efficient digital platform is pioneering a solution which leverages cash-flow principals as the primary lending driver, as opposed to traditional collateral or security based lending.
After Barclays’ initial investment in RainFin in 2014, the two companies worked closely together to refine the original RainFin credit marketplace, its supporting operations, credit scoring methodology, collections capability and to align to the regulatory framework. This has enabled RainFin to scale its offering significantly. As at end of April, RainFin had funded R157 million worth of loans.
Zoona develops a fintech platform which enables emerging entrepreneurs to provide mobile money services to unbanked or underbanked consumers across Africa. The company has been described as bringing the Uber model to mobile finance and remittances industry.
Agents use Zoona’s mobi site and USSD application to process money transfers and provide other mobile money and financial services.
Zoona’s entrepreneur agents serve more than one million customers every 60 days, across close to 1,500 locations in cities, towns and villages across its markets. Zoona started in Zambia and has since expanded to Malawi. Expansions into Mozambique and other African markets are on the cards.
Since launching, Zoona has processed over $1 billion in mobile money transactions, created 2,500 jobs and paid out close to $10 million in agent commissions. In 2012, Zoona closed a $4 million Series A investment round – led by the Omidyar Network and the Accion Fronteir Investment Fund.
Entersekt authentication solutions make the online world a safer place to bank and shop. Simple, intuitive, 100% safe consumer authentications systems built to restore the bond of trust banks and other enterprises share with their customers.
TaxTim is a digital tax assistant who helps you complete and submit your tax return quickly and easily by asking you simple questions in a conversational manner. The questions are designed in such a way as to uncover any and all tax deductions due to you, maximising your potential refund. TaxTim combines the ease of online filing and the expertise of a tax professional at a fraction of the cost.
Started by two friends in 2011, the company received its seed funding from Google and has gone on to help more than two million South Africans with their taxes to date. TaxTim is also used by various universities such as UCT, WITS, UJ, UKZN and UWC to teach and evaluate their tax students.
In October 2014, TaxTim became the only consumer-facing platform to be directly integrated with the South African Revenue Service, allowing them to offer one-click electronic submissions of completed tax returns on their system. Last year PwC launched PwC’s TaxTim in Namibia.
wiGroup is a platform provider specialising in point-of-sale integrated mobile transacting. The business builds and enables mobile transaction solutions that allow consumers and businesses to transact and interact in a swift, secure and convenient manager, using their mobile phones. wiPlatform, is currently used by retailers, brands, agencies, banks, mobile communities and a host of other businesses looking to deliver value through mobile.
Yoco is an easy way for SMEs in South Africa to securely accept card payments at the store or on the go. The company has partnered with Miura Systems, the world’s leading mobile card reader hardware vendor, to offer its merchants the best solution. The card readers connect to a phone or tablet (Android/iOS) and transform it into a card acceptance terminal that can be used just about anywhere.
Yoco was designed for entrepreneurial businesses that want to accept card payments simply and quickly. The card readers can be purchased once-off and from there, merchants only pay per transaction, bringing significant savings to small businesses that cannot afford to be locked in to a monthly rental model and contract typically found in the traditional model.
Founded in 2012 by three of South Africa’s top fintech experts, Electrum builds software that represents the next generation of payments technology.
Retailers, banks, and money transfer firms trust our software to accept payments, send remittances, and provide value added Services to their customers. Electrum currently processes billions of transactions per annum, facilitating billions of Rands of payments.
The software is secure, rock-solid, and has extremely high performance, which means we can process high volumes of transactions in milliseconds. Built in-house at our development centre in Cape Town, our solutions are engineered to the latest best practises, using modern, proven technologies. Our products are designed to be supremely reliable and easy to use in real-world, day-to-day operations.
iKhokha is a cheap payment device that transforms mobile phones into a secure mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) to help SMEs process debit and credit cards, cash and mobile payments cheaply, easily and safely.
Transactions charged at 2.75% (excluding VAT) instead of the standard 3,5% that banks typically charge. It also provides the merchant with powerful information on their sales over time and empowers them to track and properly manage the finances of their growing enterprise.
While cash payments can also be accepted, iKhokha eliminates the need for actual cash, which is expensive to handle, is a security risk and harder to track because it quickly gets ‘lost’ with day-to-day purchases not directly related to the business.
10. Isazi Consulting
Isazi Consulting plans to solve South Africa’s toughest problems using data science which uses machine learning (artificial intelligence) and optimisation. It provides some of the brightest minds on the continent to compete globally with analytics giants in places like Silicon Valley and Israel to add value to its customers.
Isazi approaches data in a scientific way searching for patterns, trends and possible explanatory hypotheses, and then builds models and algorithms to leverage the knowledge to further understand the data. This knowledge can lead to enormous savings for clients, and Isazi Consulting has learned how to build tools and products around data in a way that can transform businesses using data driven decisions.
It also advises organisations on data best practice. It is technologically and platform agnostic, and is proficient in a wide variety of programming languages and data science toolkits.
If you are a fintech entrepreneur, apply to join the AlphaCode club.