African tech startups this year tapped millions of dollars by taking part in and winning startup competitions – at least over $6million collectively, by Ventureburn’s calculations.
The biggest cash prize went to South African insurtech startup Pineapple, which in October won first prize and $1.5-million (R22-million) in VentureClash, a $5-million global venture challenge for early-stage companies, run by US-based Connecticut Innovations.
In addition, 11 startups were chosen by Seedstars to compete for up to $500 000 in equity investment at its annual Seedstars Summit in April next year (see more below).
Other startups that this year won big cash prizes (which we ranked according to the winning prize with the biggest monetary value) were:
- Kenyan fintech Asilimia won a R5-million ($340 000) investment offer from the Unicorn Group at the SA Innovation Summit in October. Other African winners include Cape Town based Origin Dynamic Systems which won a R1-million investment offer, Cape Town based Intelligent Safe Technologies which won technology incentives valued at R300 000, LiquidGold Africa with R250 000, Cape Town based biotech firm Nemabio with R50 000.
- LifeBank, a Nigerian healthtech startup that delivers blood and other essential medical supplies to hospitals, was awarded $250 000 in November, after it was named the winner of the inaugural Africa Netpreneur Prize. Egypt’s Nawah-Scientific and Water Access Rwanda were placed second and third, taking home $150 000 and $100 000, respectively. The other seven finalists were each awarded $65 000. They are Mumm, Thrive Agric, J-Palm, Uzuri K&Y, Black Swan, DrugStoc, and Afrikrea.
- Cape Town based on-demand sales force and market research startup the iSpani Group in November won R2.5-million ($170 000) in seed funding at the Diageo Empowerment Trust SA Social Tech Start-Up Challenge. Foonda was named first runner-up and was awarded R2.1-million, this while Jonga received R200 000. BallTalent and SkillShift were each awarded R100 000.
- Three African startups — Ghana’s Oze, Kenya’s WayaWaya and SA’s Snode Technologies — in June each won $50 000 in equity investments at the MEST Africa Challenge finals.
- The SAB Foundation in October awarded a total of R13.7-million ($940 000) to 20 finalists at this year’s SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards. Cape Town recycling service Regenize was named the overall winner, This, while OptiShunt and Specialised Seating for Disabled Children, were jointly awarded first place in the Disability Empowerment Awards.
- In September, healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson announced the six winners of the Champions of Science Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0 at the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town. The winning teams got a share of the $300 000 prize pool.
- Nigeria’s Hello Tractor and Kenya’s BuuPass each won $15 000 and three month’s acceleration in Bosch Africa’s Smart Mobility competition held in November.
- Two Cape Town based startups, DeepData and Cloudline, were crowned the winners of Season 3 of the Santam Safety Ideas Challenge in September. DeepData was awarded a R200 000 ($13 000) prize, while Cloudline received R100 000.
- In April, Nigerian startup Medsaf and SA startup Iyeza Health each received $10 000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation after winning the foundation’s Malaria and Vaccine Delivery challenges, respectively.
- In September seven startups came out tops at the Pitch AgriHack 2019 competition and were awarded a total of €60 000 in prizes. This year’s winners hail from Ghana, Kenya Uganda, and Nigeria.
- Ghanaian startup Truckrtech in June has emerged as the winner of one-million naira ($2700) in equity-free funding at the 2019 edition of TechCircle’s Pitch2Win competition.
In addition, a number startups were honoured at competitions and prizes this year, without taking home prize money. Nonetheless, winning these prizes is sure to help put these startups on the map.
Earlier this month Swiss emerging market startup competition Seedstars World selected 11 African startups — from a pool of 30 that had won pitches in their respective home towns — that will represent the continent at the Seedstars Summit 2020.
They include Roque Online (Angola), Crop2Cash (Nigeria), Excuus (Rwanda), Pezesha (Kenya), OKO Finance (Mali), Nadji.bi (Gambia), Nvoicia (Ghana), Vectra (South Africa), Afrikamart (Senegal), Teheca (Uganda) and Txapita.
At the global summit — which will be held in Lausanne, Switzerland in April — the 11 startups will compete with other startups from around the world for the title of Seedstars Global Winner and up to $500 000 in equity investments and other prizes.
In addition, a number of other startups won prestigious non-monetary prizes this year. They include:
- Cape Town-based agritech startup Aerobotics in November won the Best Startup and Venture Capital Company category at the 2019 Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (Savca) Industry Awards. In May the startup was named the winner of the President Macron Africa Tech Award at VivaTech 2019.
- Rainbow, a chatbot that addresses gender-based violence in SA, in November was named the winner of the Southern African regional finals of The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law’s (HiiL) Innovating Justice Challenge.
- Dr Caroline Corbett, the co-founder of Cape Town based medtech startup SmartBlade, won the Tech Entrepreneur Award at the 2019 Awief Awards in November
- The 2019 edition of the AppsAfrica Innovation Awards were held in November in Cape Town with 14 winners from across the continent scooping accolades.
- In November SA companies and entrepreneurs won 11 of the 19 categories at the finals of this year’s Southern Africa Startup Awards (SASAwards).
- Also in November, The Innovation Hub announced the winners of the 2019 Gauteng Accelerator Programme (GAP) Innovation Competition. This year’s edition was held in Johannesburg on 21 November and recognised innovators across the ICT, medical, bio-sciences, green economy and township economy categories.
- The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in October selected four African founders as recipients of its 2019 Social Entrepreneurship Awards. The four were Cellulant co-founder and co-CEO Kennedy Njoroge, Nafham co-founder Mostafa Farahat and Easy Solar co-founder and CMO Nthabiseng Mosia who was selected together with the startup’s co-founder and CEO Alexandre Tourre.
- Johannesburg-based insurtech startup Naked in October emerged as the overall winner of this year’s MTN App Awards. This, after it scooped the best financial solution and best app accolades. There were several other prizes.
- In October another SA insurtech InvestSure was included on the Insurtech100 2019 list. The Insurtech100 is an annual list of 100 of the world’s most innovative insurtech companies selected by a panel of industry experts.
- Also in October, SA fintech startup JUMO and Mauritius’s based 4G Capital were recognised by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the SME Finance Forum for innovation in small business lending.
- SA’s uKheshe and Canada’s MindBridge Analytics were in October named the winners of the SA Reserve Bank’s 2019 Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa competition.
- Legal Hub Uganda in October was named the winner of The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) 2019 Innovating Justice Challenge Kampala Regional Finals.
- Cape Town based smart solar geyser startup Plentify in October was named the winner of the SA finals of the EDF Pulse Africa innovation contest.
- Also in October, Johannesburg-based social enterprise Hustlenomics was named one of the winners of the 2019 Seed Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development.
- In September Nestlé awarded three African startups with a four-month residency in its new Nestlé research and development (R&D) accelerator for Sub-Saharan Africa, after they won the organisation’s R&D innovation challenge.
- In June, Cape Town-based machine learning startup DataProphet won the AIconics Award for Best Innovation in Deep Learning.
- Also in June, the UK’s Department of International Trade announced that it will accompany two Africa Tech Week winners to attend London Tech Week. The delegation included Digital Kungfu CEO Matt Brown and Nkgwete IT Solutions managing director Sidikka Osman.
- In March Nigerian logistics startup Kobo360 was named Disrupter of the Year at the 2019 Africa CEO Forum Awards in Kigali, Rwanda.