At the recently held Startup Circles.ai Demo Day, 13 of the top emerging startups from around Africa, showcased their solutions to a panel of judges, comprising investors, experienced entrepreneurs, and mentors, with three being offered deals totalling $75,000 (R1,25-million). Those who pitched were graduates of Startup Circles' Startup Launch and Investor Readiness programmes.
$25,000 (R420,000) was offered by Lelemba Phiri, Principal at the Africa Trust Group and Operating Partner for Enygma Ventures for a 10% stake in Mangwee, a payment platform that helps learning institutions automate payment and data management processes. Mangwee Chief Executive Officer, Inonge Kampamba, explained that her team plans to roll out the solution to 50 higher learning institutions in Zambia and Tanzania and 15 in Namibia. The funding will be put towards platform improvement, logistics and finance, marketing and sales, as well as strategic operational partnerships.
Sarah Dusek, Managing Partner at Enygma Ventures offered out-of-season shoe reselling trading platform, Candor Life $25,000 for a 10% stake in the business. The South African startup is providing earning opportunities for rural and township populations across nine provinces and two countries via its reseller model (with 90% of repeat resellers being female). According to Candor Life Founder and Director, Lelethu Shayi, with the investment, the company hopes to increase its resellers tenfold, expand its reach across five Southern African Development Community markets and up its revenue.
Dusek also offered $25,000 for a 10% piece of AIA. Dubbed the Etsy of Africa, AIA is an online store for handmade African artisanal goods offering creatives who lack budget and digital skills the opportunity to sell their products online. Founder, Caley Africa, shared that the funding will be used to improve the platform's technology, grow the team behind the scenes and to ramp up content and digital advertising, all with the aim of increasing customers and, in turn, revenue.
Another company that caught the investors' eye was Mtwanamba Solutions which provides mobile toilets and handwashing units for funerals. The judges were impressed by the company's community-based crowdfunding initiative designed to help raise the start-up capital. Through the stokvel, Mtwanamba aims to raise $30,000 (R500,000) which will enable them to purchase six VIP toilets and pay its team of janitors. Mtwanamba CEO and Founder, Thapelo Matseba revealed that members can expect an investment return of 15% per annum. With the stokvel limited to 100 members, HYBR Group's Operating Partner for Africa, Vuyisa Qabaka made the commitment to seed the initial $300 (R5,000) minimum investment required by each member. Lelemba Phiri committed to seed the second minimum investment with a promise to seed more if the entrepreneurs committed to drive better gender diversity in their team.
Over and above the investment offers made, the Demo Day provided not only the pitching startups, but all attendees with insights into what investors look for together with invaluable advice from the rest of the judges who included Eric Osiakwan, Managing Partner of Chanzo Capital; Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Founder and General Partner at Future Africa and Jacob Dusek, General Partner at Enygma Ventures.
Bringing the event to a close, Startup Circles CEO Sandras Phiri said: "Events like these take the mystery out of how investors think and what they are looking for. Essentially, it is like giving you the exam questions and the answers. At Startup Circles we, as Africa's number one startup school and online accelerator, want to give everybody regardless of geography access to world class mentorship and capital."
On the event, one of the presenters, Inonge Kampamba said: "Startup Circles has helped us to grow as a business and become investor ready. The whole programme has helped us shape and refine our business model and set strategic goals"
An attendee added: "I have attended pitch events in London, but these may be some of the best pitches I have seen, and to think that some of these companies have only been in this process for a few weeks... amazing!"
To find out about the next Demo Day or for more information, go to https://www.startupcircles.ai/