The rise of Africa is much contested: Afropessimists—as they are called in literature—consider it short-lived, while optimists at the other end of the spectrum speak of an African Renaissance. The truth lies somewhere in the middle and is best described by Malawian historian/professor Paul Tiyambe Zeleza: complex and contradictory.
Nonetheless, the rise and meteoric growth of tech startups from the region is undebatable. The following are 13 such promising startups from the continent of Africa and its vast diaspora.
As the name in Swahili suggests, Ubongo’s aim is to activate and stimulate the most critical organ in the body: the brain. Taking cues from the renowned Khan Academy, the platform allows children to learn in a fun way—edutainment, as they call it.
In the United States, Africans represent one of the most educated groups when compared to the national average—indeed, the importance of education for Africans is unparalleled. Since most African immigrants migrate with the sole intention of furthering their education, platforms such as Youngsoul creates learning opportunities for those who choose to remain on the continent.
Over a quarter century of civil war in Angola halted the most common and sacred of community practices: marriage. But taking cues from Nigeria, where the bridal industry has been booming for many years, Angola is quickly catching up. Noivangola’s owner, Judith Da Silva, offers a directory of venues, make up artists, hair dressers, catering businesses, videographers/photographers, and traditional dancers to make the wedding day one to be remembered for a lifetime.
United States/Brooklyn/South Africa
Tastemakers Africa is a directory app for all things Africa: the best tours, events, and experiences vetted by curators across the continent. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.
Founders Yasmin Belo-Osagie and Afua Osei make their intentions clear: they are committed to helping smart and ambitious young African women live their best lives. Their company promises to deliver the best career and business content focused on the community, in 25 different countries and throughout the diaspora.
Certain parts of Africa have waste scattered all over the streets—Recyclepoints is a waste recycling and social benefit venture that aims to change this. Consumers simply register, send a text message for waste to be collected from their home, and earn points for redeeming household goods.
Matibabu means “treatment” in Swahili—this is exactly what the company is trying to achieve: treatment for malaria, a disease that still kills many people in Africa today. The solution uses a light sensor and a smartphone to detect the disease.
This SMS-based service connects buyers and sellers regardless of where they are located—in remote areas or the city. When a transaction is agreed upon, a transporter is sent out to facilitate the delivery.
Remittances sent from abroad by African immigrants to their families exceeds the foreign aid that African countries receive. Mergrim’s offering facilitates remittances as well as other forms of payments.
Another example of a startup in the African diaspora, Afrobytes is located in France, but its founders Ammin Youssouf and Haweya Mohamed organize conferences about technology in Africa.
Charlie Wandji had one goal in mind when he founded 1task1job: to create jobs for freelancers in Cameroon. So far he has achieved his goal, as well as expanded to three other African countries: Gabon, Mali and Namibia.
African textured hair is unique, subsequently opening up the door to a particular niche of women who like to experiment with the versatility of their hair. Couple this with the recent increase in women opting to wear their hair in its natural state, and you have a recipe for success with Tressapp.
This startup’s goal is to close the big data gap in Africa—that is, it aims to reach consumers in the most remote areas, providinf private, non-profit and government agencies with real-time insights for enhancing the overall understanding of people and communities in Africa.
As the saying goes, the next big thing will indeed be a lot of small things. This is certainly true of Africa’s tech startup scene—from treating malaria to creating incentives for recycling, the preceding thirteen startups are poised to address some of Africa’s most pressing issues, responding to the problems faced by their immediate communities in innovative ways.