Meet the Innovators Unlocking Africa’s Potential
The Evolve event at the Intra-African Trade Fair has come to an end, forging a path for Africa’s leading scale-ups to transform the future of business. Catch up on all the insights and hear from the companies that are making big ideas happen.
Evolve is about taking innovative, high-growth businesses and fast-tracking their expansion.
Afreximbank, Africa’s leading trade finance institution, is running an industry-first scale-up initiative.
Over the last year, a group of prestigious, meticulously selected companies have worked with Afreximbank to forge partnerships, unlock funding, and gain access to new markets. Evolve is an industry-first scheme that connects Africa’s best scale-ups with investors and customers as well as encouraging intra-African trade.
The goal is to support the existing growth journeys of these future African giants, collaborating and facilitating to realise potential each business has already exhibited. The initiative will come together in a showcase event at the Intra-African Trade Fair, amplifying their impact on the African continent and beyond.
Refined from a longlist of over 500 of the fastest growing companies in Africa, these ten ventures have all been using original, highly-imaginative solutions to improve people’s lives, boost intra-African trade and expand far beyond multiple markets.
Across agriculture, ecommerce, finance, and logistics, find out how these ten companies are front-runners in their industry, using tech to unleash the potential of Africa’s economy, businesses, and people.
Aerobotics deploys AI and drones for smarter, more sustainable farming.
HQ South Africa
Founders James Paterson (CEO) and
Benji Meltzer (CTO)
With a team of 90+ working across 18 countries, Aerobotics is contributing to the growth of the $3 trillion global agriculture industry. Large farms can be difficult to keep track of, so Aerobotics uses drones and AI to give farmers a real-time perspective on everything happening on their land. Aerial imagery is fed into an image recognition AI, which informs advanced agronomic analytics.
Farmers are alerted to issues early, taking corrective action before they become more problematic. And by following sophisticated yield models, they can maximize harvests, improving profits, and bolstering the food security of Africa – and the world.
ANKA is the ecommerce marketplace bringing African micro-retailers to the world.
HQ Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Founder Moulaye Tabouré (CEO)
ANKA's ambition is to enable African creatives to live from their passion, by feeding the global appetite for African art, fashion, and decor. Its ecommerce marketplace – which runs across 100 markets globally, with over 9000 designers - facilitates transactions and exchanges directly between buyers and sellers across the world. Demand is high, with sellers from 47 African countries and buyers from 170 countries making the most of this innovative marketplace.
The company replaces fragmented and expensive intermediaries with a user-friendly, secure, and unified sales channel for micro-retailers to sell accessories, arts, crafts, and clothing. Creators can spend less time, money, and energy managing orders, and more on making what they and their customers love.
Apollo Agriculture helps small-scale farmers access credit using AI and automation.
Founder Eli Pollak (CEO)
Apollo aims to close the finance gap that prevents smallholder farmers from farming their land to its full potential. Most African farmers lack the records required for traditional finance. Instead, Apollo uses satellite imagery, GPS data, and responses gathered through its mobile app to assess the creditworthiness using machine learning (ML) models.
Instead of cash, the company loans an optimized bundle of financing, farming inputs, advice, and insurance. Farmers repay the loan via mobile payments after harvest. While most of Apollo’s customers are subsistence maize farmers, the company is working to help them make the leap from self-sufficiency to commercial profitability. To date, Apollo has partnered with over 100,000 farmers, helping them achieve up to 89% increases in productivity.
Farmcrowdy connects farmers with customers, creditors, and suppliers on a single platform.
Founders Akindele Philips (CEO), Onyeka Akumah (Chairman), Christopher Abiodun (CTO), Ifeanyi Anazodo (CGO), Tope Omotolani
Farmcrowdy helps 425,000 registered farmers maximize yields and increase their profits by connecting them into a digital ecosystem populated with businesses at every stage of the food value chain. On the production side, farmers gain access to input providers and financial services. At harvest time, Farmcrowdy uses aggregated commodity data to match produce with local and international orders – individually, or by consolidating with other small farmers.
Farmcrowdy also provides advanced data tools to help farmers optimize their work, and to match them with exactly the inputs they need to produce better yields from their land.
Kobo360 makes business logistics as simple as pushing a button.
Founders Obi Ozor (CEO)
Kobo360 describes itself as “Uber for logistics.” With its paperless, app-based system, Kobo360 connects businesses with truck drivers, faster and cheaper than conventional logistics – with real-time tracking – while paying drivers a higher proportion of the fare.
The platform has transformed haulage in its native Nigeria, claiming that local and international delivery turnaround time can be made within 24 and 72 hours. It has since expanded to six other markets, setting the scene for the company’s ultimate ambition: Founder and CEO Obi Ozor claims Kobo360 is just the first step in building a blockchain-based Global Logistics Operating System (G-LOS).
MFS Africa makes cross-border mobile payments easy.
Founders Dare Okoudjou (CEO)
MFS Africa is the largest mobile money inter-operability hub in Africa. By connecting mobile network operators across the continent through a single API, MFS Africa is erasing the financial borders that exist between the nations of Africa.
On a continent where mobile payments are often as common as cash, the effect is to enable easier international transfers, expanding access to financial services, and connecting businesses and individuals to the global digital economy. Reaching over 320 million mobile wallets across 37 African countries, MFS Africa is already paving the way forward with financial ease.
mPharma is on a mission to make medication more affordable.
Founders Dare Okoudjou (CEO)
Pharmacists often run out of drugs in Africa, and when they do have them, they tend to be more expensive than elsewhere. mPharma takes over procurement for chemists and hospitals, using bulk buying power, data-driven efficiencies, and price transparency to reduce the cost of medication.
Data is also used to help manage their inventory, ensuring pharmacists always have the drugs their patients need, while reducing overstocks of those they don’t. mPharma’s Mutti payment scheme helps people pay for medication when they can’t afford it, enabling over 400,000 patients access to the treatment they need.
Wasoko is unlocking supply chains for small businesses.
Founders Daniel Yu (CEO)
Informal retailers comprise a large proportion of African commerce. But without access to business management tools, or the finance required to maintain inventory, they often run out of stock. Wasoko enables retailers like these to order goods via SMS or its mobile app, with free same-day delivery.
Wasoko also offers credit to retailers otherwise unable to access finance, using historical purchase data to assess ability to repay. The same data provides individualized insights for promotions and inventory management. Aggregated market trends help manufacturers tailor marketing strategies.
Wasoko has already raised $27m in its mission to support the informal retail sectors. Working with Evolve, the company aims to expand into the West African market.
SunCulture’s solar-powered irrigation is changing farmers’ lives.
HQ Nairobi, Kenya
Founders Samir Ibrahim (CEO)
Most smallholder farmers rely on rain or hand-dug wells for water. SunCulture’s solar-powered irrigation systems deliver water – and electricity – at the touch of a button. This easy access to water allows farmers liberates them from hours of labor, enables all-year growth, and unlocks the transition to higher value cash crops.
SunCulture customers have seen yield gains of up to 300%, along with water savings of up to 90%. Ultimately, its systems help to stabilize and improve smallholder incomes, while bolstering Africa’s food security, and climate resilience. Named one of Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies in 2021, SunCulture is one to watch.
Trella connects businesses with logistics they can rely on.
Founders Omar Hagrass (CEO)
Trella unites the fragmented, paper-based trucking industry with its innovative mobile app and software. Businesses can book trucks directly within the app with real-time tracking. Carriers have their own app for selecting which loads to take on which routes.
The platform uses data to reduce load-driver matching times, maximize reverse-trip utilization, and optimize the overall efficiency of B2B logistics. The first tech-enabled freight matching platform in MENA, Trella’s ultimate aim is to replace an inconsistent, inefficient industry with dependable, quality service businesses can rely on. And it’s well on the way: The company has already on-boarded over 23,000 drivers, supported 220 shippers, and transported over $1.3 billion of goods.
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