South African Tech Startups that Disrupted 2020

Startup tech founders from left to right: Gift Lubele, co-founder of Kudoti, Nneile Nkholise, founder of 3DIMO, and Tshepo Moloi, founder of Stokfella.

In 2020 we saw South African tech startups continue to innovate and launch solutions in response to a myriad of challenges, including COVID-19.

An example of this is tech startup Sweep South which expanded its services beyond domestic cleaning. They now provide outdoor cleaning, caregiving, heavy lifting and maintenance services.

In response to COVID-19, Sweep South also partnered with Airbnb, the global home rental platform, to ensure that Airbnb hosts meet COVID-19 requirements and standards of cleaning protocol for hosts in South Africa.

We look at Sweep South and other African tech startups that successfully secured investment, received international recognition or expanded globally in 2020:

1. Kudoti

Gift Lubele, an innovator, co-founder and COO of Kudoti, recently won this year’s BRICS Young Innovator Prize competition. He walked away with $25 000 (R 378 203,75) in prize money.

The BRICS Young Innovator Prize forms part of the BRICS Young Scientists Forum. The forum recognises and rewards quality research and innovation, including the use of artificial intelligence, in environmental protection and materials science, according to IT Web.

Lubele’s Kudoti – which is Zulu for ‘in the trash’ – helps waste management and recycling companies optimise their operations through the use of data collection tools.

Fast Company South Africa named Kudoti one of the 25 Most Innovative Companies in the country.

2. Stokfella

Stokfella was named Best Financial Solution at the 2020 MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

The fintech enables stokvels to manage, consolidate, communicate, visualise and analyse their stokvel activity financials and any other related stokvel matters.

This year StokFella launched an initiative to help ensure the survival of small businesses through bulk buying opportunities. Dark City Meat & Chicken, a small butchery in Alexandra township, was one of the small businesses that received assistance.

“The butchery has opened a stokvel for the people of Alex. Groups, like families, can pool money together and stretch the value of their rands further through bulk buying,” CEO and founder Tshepo Moloi told Destiny Connect.

3. 3DIMO

This local tech startup partnered with the University of Cape Town to create new technological ways to detect disease in livestock as early as possible.

3DIMO developed the Thola infrared imaging tool which helps small and medium scale farmers, who are at the most risk of losing their income, according to an article by Ventureburn.

According to their website, 3DIMO’s vision is to empower farmers globally with data insights that will help to monitor livestock health and welfare.

3DIMO does this through the provision of globally traceable animal biometric identity and the use of infra-red precision livestock imagery to provide actionable insights and convenient livestock management tools.

4. Dataprophet

Machine learning specialists, Dataprophet, won the 2020 European Prescriptive for Autonomous Manufacturing Technology Innovation Leadership Award by Frost & Sullivan, an international research firm.

According to Ventureburn, the award recognises companies that are leaders in the development and successful introduction of high-tech solutions for customers. They received additional international recognition from CBInsights which announced them as one of the 100 Most Innovative Artificial Intelligence Startups in 2020.

Dataprophet also raised a $6-million Series-A funding round. The investment comes from investors Knife Capital, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) and Norican Group, a leading foundry engineering and equipment company.

SEE ALSO: 10 Innovative COVID-19 Business Solutions We Loved

5. Skynamo

Early this year the South African tech startup secured R431 million in funding from a US-based venture capital firm.

According to Business Insider, positive online reviews on third-party software websites attracted interest from Five Elms, which invests in B2B software companies.

Skynamo is a field sales platform used by manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers. Core services include tracking sales activity. Through the platform sales reps can also gain remote access to product and pricing information via their mobile phones.

6. Examsta

Examsta won the Best Women in STEM award at the 2020 MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

The online learning platform enables learners to master all content for the SA National and IEB exams. They currently offer Life Sciences for Grade 10 to 12.

The app founder is former science and mathematics educator, Marie de Wet. Today she is now a freelance instructional designer and ed-tech consultant.

According to Heavy Chef, De Wet ran an online trial with over 500 learners between April and May this year. She collected feedback on its utility, user experience and content quality. De Wet self-funded the entire project.

7. Elenjical Solutions

The National Fintech Award Winner of the South African Small Business Awards for this year is Elenjical Solutions

The tech startup, founded by Tinu Elenjical, delivers technology and software to the African investment banking, asset management and insurance markets.

According to IT-Online, the company has seen revenue double year-on-year for the past four years and are forecasting a record turnover. This is despite the impact of COVID-19 and the strict lockdowns.

8. FinChatBot

FinChatBot, creator of conversational AI solutions for the financial services industry, has attracted a $1.6 million investment. The investors include Saviu Ventures, a French investment holding company which focuses on African startups and Mauritius-based, Compass Venture Capital. South African venture capital firm, Kalon Venture Partners, are also investors.

Both Compass Venture Capital and Kalon Venture Partners are solidifying their positions, having previously invested in 2018.

The investment will be used to grow the team and expand into West Africa and Europe, they state in a press release.

The AI fintech company services over 20 top-tier financial service providers including banks and insurers. Clients include MTN Financial Services, Sanlam, Santam, Hollard, MiWay and Bidvest Insurance.

9. swiftVEE

swiftVEE, the South African agri-tech startup, successfully raised a US$1.5 million in funding. Their plans are to expand into Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe and to expand its platform. The startup hopes to expand its use of AI.

The investment comes from Subtropico, an unlisted private company in the food industry.

According to Disrupt Africa, swiftVEE uses artificial intelligence (AI) to match buyers and sellers of livestock globally. They help buyers acquire livestock at the most optimal times. The startup has 125,000 farmers in its network.

On its website visitors can view live online auctions and buy and sell livestock.

10. Lulalend and Paycode

Paycode and Lulalend were announced winners in the 2020 Inclusive Fintech Awards.

Lulalend is an online provider of business funding to SMEs and Paycode provides biometric digital identity and low-cost access to basic financial services in rural areas,

According to Ventureburn, the awards recognises the top 50 inclusive fintech startups across the globe that are making a concerted effort to provide financial services to underserved communities across the world.

SEE ALSO: South African Tech Startups that Disrupted 2019

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Melissa Javan
Melissa Javan
Melissa Javan is a writer with nine years' experience in the media industry. She enjoys blogging and taking part in Twitter chats. You can find her on Twitter @melissa_nel.