Youth-owned startups are becoming increasingly important in South Africa as more young people face unemployment and poverty.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, young people have the energy and drive to come up with innovative solutions to many of the country’s challenges, including limited access to quality education and the growing demand for delivery services and customised products.
Keep an eye on the following 5 youth-owned startups in South Africa.
Botlhale AI is a youth-owned startup looking to make language barriers a thing of the past. The research and innovation startup specialises in making conversational AI available in African languages. As a result more more Africans can access digital solutions.
Thapelo Nthite and his co-founders believe that language should not be a barrier to accessing digital services, but rather an enabler, and have designed a suite of Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools for African languages.
Their chatbot technology is especially useful for companies in a customer service setting. The technology assists them to provide a higher-quality service, reduce response time offered 24/7, and improve support agents’ productivity.
The team is currently expanding their Natural Language Processing (NLP) suite to support more African languages.
Botlhale AI envisions plans to expand their services to more African countries and to support 75 languages spoken by 300 million people.
Delivery Ka Speed
While demand for delivery services has increased, there are still areas in the country that delivery providers do not service. To address the lack of fast-food delivery service in his grandmother’s home in Hammanskraal, Godiragetse Mogajane, launched Delivery Ka Speed in 2021 to meet this need.
After doing some research, he discovered that most food delivery services don’t operate in townships or rural areas because of the lack of mapping.
He saw a gap in the market and started Delivery Ka Speed with a small team taking orders via WhatsApp and delivery drivers from Hammanskraal.
Godi not only hopes to make ordering food in rural and township areas more convenient for customers. He also hopes Delivery Ka Speed will inspire more township youth-owned startups to launch and provide employment for youth in the area.
WeSit offers on-demand babysitting services across South Africa. On the platform users are able book vetted and trusted sitters, at any time, on short notice, and with no minimum booking time.
WeSit founder Nqobile Msibi was a babysitter herself when she realised the safety risks involved with babysitting for both the parents and the sitters. Most parents and sitters are not thoroughly screened, and a thorough vetting beforehand would make both parties feel safe.
In addition, Nqobile also hopes to play a role in shaping legislation regulating industries such as babysitting so that sitters, parents and children are better protected.
Nqobile hopes to expand their services to the rest of Africa and Asia in the next three years.
You and Yours
Personalised skincare is considered a niche in South Africa. The founder of You and Yours, Cathay Mahloana, hopes to change this by making this service more readily available to the average South African.
You and Your is one of Africa’s first customised skincare line and meets the growing demand for personalised, customisable beauty products.
Users can take a skin quiz to find out their skin type on their website. Following that, they are able to choose from 36 different body butter formulas, depending on their skin type.
Mahloana hopes to expand the product line by personalising more everyday products.
Foonda Africa was started by Vuyo Pakade to connect young African talent to global job opportunities.
What started out as a scholarship platform, today places graduates with companies looking for entry-level talent. Going forward, their mission is to provide a solution that helps more youth gain job-readiness skills and transition from tertiary education to employment.
The founder’s vision is to help 100 000 youth find employment by 2026 and 1 million by 2030.