Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 06 November 2023 – Following the success of the global award in 2022 won by Ugandan startup Emata, this year saw Ugandan startups claim two of the top awards at the Global Startup Awards (GSA) Africa Summit recently held in Addis Ababa. The GSA Africa in collaboration with the Global Innovation Initiative Group (GIIG), the Ethiopian Ministry of Labour and Skills (MOLS), the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MInT) with the support of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) Ethiopia, revealed the names of 16 overall African category winners.
At a spectacular awards ceremony in the Ethiopian capital, Ugandan startups topped two categories, namely, Best Co-working Space and Best Commerce Tech.
The Best Commerce Tech award went to Zofi Cash, a startup that is revolutionising how salaried individuals access their wages, take top honours. “This is not just an accolade for us but a testimony to our bold ideas and daring innovations that distinguish Zofi Cash. This isn’t simply an award but a mandate that echoes our commitment to disrupting the antiquated monthly pay system, a system that promotes inequality and inhibits progress. Yet, our journey has just begun. This victory increases our responsibility to challenge and dismantle the archaic pay cycle. We intend to carry this torch, fuelled by the belief that we can and will reform the status quo together. This award is validation for us. It means it’s not just us seeing the opportunity, but everyone else is seeing it.” commented Paul Kirungi, founder and CEO of Zofi Cash said.
Tech Buzz Hub took the Best Co-working Space award. The company is a hub dedicated to creating inclusive workspaces, with a mission to help young entrepreneurs fulfil their enterprise dreams and vision through coworking spaces and providing facilities and infrastructure. “I feel extremely excited. This is our first award and the first award we have ever entered. This being a continental award that will take us closer to a global award, I can’t feel any better. I can’t control my emotions,” said Keneth Twesigye, CEO of Tech Buzz Hub. “With the big dreams that we have, we believe we are going to move this continent and amplify our growth.”
This year’s Ugandan winners competed against 2,682 entrants from the region and were among more than 8,200 GSA Africa entrants overall.
In March 2023, two Eastern African startups were named Global Winners at last season’s Grand Finale hosted in Copenhagen. Competing against more than 120 companies from 115 countries, Ethiopian green-tech startup, Kubik, was recognised as ‘Startup of the Year’, while the Ugandan fintech, Emata, was proclaimed ‘Best Newcomer’.
This year’s winners will also have the exclusive opportunity to engage with the GIIG Africa Fund, the competition’s dedicated investment partner. Through its GIIG Africa Fund and the GIIG Africa Foundation, the organisation aims to find, fund and grow African solutions to globally relevant challenges.
The year-long competition saw entrants compete at a national level before vying for their spot as regional finalists. Winners were then decided by an independent panel of judges, offering a holistic view of the African tech ecosystem.
Jo Griffiths, co-founder of the GSA Africa and GIIG, highlighted, “The Global Startup Awards Africa aims to raise the visibility of African innovation as a unifying mechanism that transcends borders, cultures, and nationalities as well as the diverse maturity levels of the various startup ecosystems. It provides a common language for us all, fostering understanding and connection, and providing a platform to implement a shared vision of scaled impact.”
Caitlin Nash, co-founder of GSA Africa and GIIG added, “The GSA Africa Summit is an enabler of collaborative transformation – of Africa’s emerging startup nations, founders, and communities leveraging and amplifying Africa’s growing influence in the global community. It is our mission to find and support these operators and innovators of Africa – these are the young leaders with the ideas, energy, local knowledge, commitment and experience that will build this continent. We have an always-on call out for organisations that share this vision to partner with us on our GIIG Fund and Foundation work that delivers this support especially ahead of the new programme starting in January 2024.”
Her Excellency Muferihat Kamil, Minister of Labour and Skills, shared, “Ethiopia has big ambitions. We believe it is our turn to shape tomorrow’s world. It is Africa’s turn to herald a new world, a more equitable, more humanity-centred, and more just world. It will be all of us standing tall, and Africa standing tall, Africa assuming its rightful place in the world, Africa ceasing to be a synonym for poverty, social malaise, and hopelessness, and Africa becoming the new frontier for innovation and economic vitality.” H.E. Kamil encouraged all startups, “As you go home, go home with Africa’s future on your shoulders, with Africa’s dream for salvation in your hearts.”
His Excellency Dr Belete Molla Getahun, Minister of Innovation and Technology, said, “If African countries are to truly reap the benefits of the demographic dividends from their sizeable young population, it is extremely necessary to support entrepreneurship and startups with a sense of urgency and purpose. Here, we must leverage this platform to learn from other countries’ experiences and to share yours as well as your country’s vision of going global by fostering a local innovation ecosystem.
This is the building of a community of disrupters ready to make its mark on the global startup ecosystem. The world will soon feel your impact, from Lagos to Lilongwe, Cape Town to Cairo. You are the fearless makers and shakers. With you at the helm, steering us forward, there will be light ahead.”
Additional key partners to the GSA Africa summit included UNICEF Ethiopia, UNDP Ethiopia, Grant Thornton Ethiopia, The Mayor’s Office Addis Ababa, The Development Bank Ethiopia, First Consult, and supported by Loudhailer Global.
For more information about the GSA Africa winners and opportunities to get involved, visit www.globalstartupawardsafrica.com
The GSA Africa awards began in 2021, a journey that has led to over 15,000 African innovators nominated from 54 countries, support of 300 jury members, ambassadors, and hundreds of innovation hubs across the continent.
In March 2023, two African startups were named global winners at last season’s grand finale in Copenhagen. Competing against more than 120 companies from 115 countries, Ethiopian GreenTech startup, Kubik, was recognised as ‘Startup of the Year’, while the Ugandan fintech startup, Emata, was proclaimed ‘Best Newcomer’.
This season’s 16 African winners span diverse categories in the startup ecosystem, showcasing the depth and diversity of the continent’s ability to build human-needs-driven innovation for all levels of societal inclusion.
Startup of the Year: Hiryo (Egypt), a women’s safety and anti-harassment app that uses high-end tech like AI to support women, help them feel safer and fight gender-based violence.
Best Newcomer: Awabah (Nigeria), a digital technology company focused on building wealth and providing financial sustainability to informal sector workers, secured this award. Awabah CEO, Tunji Andrews, reflected, “I was blown away by the organization of what is a truly Pan-African celebration of entrepreneurship. Innovation from all across the continent was on display and it was truly a pleasure to share and learn from every start-up present. Also having an opportunity to interact with the GSA Africa and GIIG team was amazing because they not only understood our vision, but they also saw our future and I only hope we get to work together and make Africa an awesome place. This is our first international award and a testament to our growth as a business and the validity that great ideas can come to life.”
Best Mobility and Logistics: BasiGo (Kenya), is a startup focused on creating the future of clean, electric public transport in Africa. The company’s Pay-As-You-Drive financing solutions make electric buses affordable to all bus owners in Nairobi.
“It’s amazing to be named a winner, we’ve been working hard with the whole team. Making electric buses a daily reality in Africa sounds so far-fetched but to come here, pitch and hear people saying that what we are doing is leading the future of African transport- and then to win is ridiculous. It’s the ultimate validation that we are facilitating a critical transition for Africa and have the operational experience to scale this,” said Moses Ndiritu, Chief Revenue Officer of BasiGo. “I didn’t know much about Ethiopia but now I’m finding that there’s a huge opportunity here to electrify public transport. It’s good to be recognised, it’s good to win something and it’s also good to be part of a solution that affects all people.”
Best Greentech: Coffee Resurrect (Ethiopia), the first Biotech company in Africa to create 100% natural personal care, nutraceutical, and food ingredients from coffee waste claimed Best GreenTech. “GSA Africa will help us impact entrepreneurs across Africa and beyond, adds Almaw Molla, founder of and CEO at Coffee Resurrect Inc. “It [will] help us to steadfastly adhere to a circular business model and continue to develop local solutions to address global challenges.”
Best Edtech: Dataleum (Nigeria), a tech training and consulting firm that has trained over 16,000 individuals on premium tech skills. “We take this as a call to do more – to triple our efforts in making more impact in the Tech Talent Ecosystem and to keep making our great nation proud,” said Bode Roberts, CEO and Co-Founder of Dataleum Limited. Debbie Dosunmu, Group Head of Corporate Communications added, “I think this award is going to propel us to do better and push our business out there globally and reach out to youth who need our services.”
Diversity Role Model of the Year: Developers in Vogue (Ghana) took home the prize for empowering a community of women to use tech for Africa and beyond. “This award means we are a step in the right direction and we can build the best Africa for Africans,” says Rhoda Agyeiwaa Oduro, Business and Operations Manager at Developers in Vouge.
Best HealthTech: Emergency Response Africa (Nigeria) is connecting individuals experiencing a medical emergency to deliver care in minutes using technology. “Winning the health tech award is truly an honour for us at Emergency Response Africa. It is a powerful reminder that our vision of an Africa where everyone can access emergency help in less than 10minutes resonates. The visibility and opportunity for investment that come with this award will have a significant impact, not only in saving lives but supporting us to lead the building out of a critical industry,” shares CEO and co-founder Olufolakemi Owodunni.
Founder of the Year: Freeziana.com (Egypt), an e-commerce website that is empowering women and marginalised handcraft makers, claimed this coveted award.
Ecosystem Hero: Hani W. Naguib is a leading Egyptian Business Designer and Innovation Consultant bringing a decade of experience in preparing executives and entrepreneurs to become innovators.
VC of the Year: Mo Angels (Mauritius), the first syndicated angel investment group in Mauritius working in funding early-stage startups.
Best Web 3.0 Startup: Momint (South Africa) is a leading Web3 app in Africa, using blockchain to address Payment, Opportunity, and Identity with a focus on energy. “We are honored and humbled to win the best Web3 category at the Global Startup Awards for Africa. This is a recognition of our passion and tireless dedication of the team. We are proud to represent South Africa and follow the footsteps of the Springboks – as their story represents transformation, unity, diversity, resilience, and a commitment to making a positive impact, at Momint we strive to do the same.
This is just the start of our journey. We have a vision to create a decentralized and sustainable energy network across the entire continent. Web3 is simply a tool that will enable us to achieve this goal and leapfrog the rest of the world. We are forever grateful for the support of everyone who shares this vision and the trust of our community of solar certificate owners, who are an integral part of building and owning this critical energy infrastructure alongside us.”
Best Agritech Startup: MooMe (Tunisia) is a startup that offers innovative software and hardware to monitor dairy farming production. “Hard work always pays off,” says Ahmed Ben Achballah, MooMe founder and CEO. “We have been building MooMe step-by-step within a very complicated sector and market. This recognition sheds more light on a specific type of African Agritech Startup focus for dairy and livestock farming.”
Best Co-working Space: Tech Buzz Hub (Uganda) is a hub dedicated to creating inclusive workspaces, with a mission to help young entrepreneurs fulfil their enterprise dreams and vision through coworking spaces and providing facilities and infrastructure.
Best Accelerator/Incubator Programme: The American University in Cairo Venture Lab (Egypt), is Egypt’s first university-based startup accelerator for helping innovation-driven and passionate entrepreneurs build Egypt’s next generation of tech startups.
Best Commerce Tech: Zofi Cash (Uganda), a startup that is revolutionising how salaried individuals access their wages. “Becoming a winner for the Global Startup Awards Africa feels like an incredible achievement for Zofi Cash and the clients and businesses we are working with”, says Zofi Cash founder and CEO, Paul Kirungi. “Scoring this nomination showcases the great work we are doing in the fintech industry and validates our efforts to create a better financial future for everyone. A decade ago, Africa was exporting crafts, now we are exporting revolutionary technologies across African borders and globally.”
Future Shaper Award: Zuri Health (Nigeria) is a virtual hospital platform that provides affordable and accessible healthcare services to patients across sub-Saharan Africa via a mobile app, website, WhatsApp bot and SMS service. “Receiving the Future Shaper Award at the African Startup Awards is an incredible honor for Zuri Health. This award comes with a great responsibility to continue our efforts towards creating a healthier future for Africa.”
About the Global Startup Awards (GSA) Africa:
GSA Africa is the largest independent startup ecosystem competition on the continent and the exclusive vehicle for the GIIG Africa Fund to find, fund and scale Africa’s most innovative startups with Sustainable Development Goal-aligned solutions. After a successful 2021/2022 season, the GSA Africa Summit seeks to unearth leading innovators with SDG-aligned solutions that strive to Power and Light Up Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialise Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
For more information, go to www.globalstartupawardsafrica.com
About the Ministry of Labour and Skills (MOLS):
Sustainable job creation and youth employment are critical challenges that Ethiopia is facing as the country aims to transition to a middle-income country by 2025. The Ministry of Labour and Skills (referred to as MOLS) adopted a holistic approach to tackle the binding constraints to jobs and proposed an ambitious, yet urgent call to create 14 million sustainable jobs by 2025.
About the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MInT):
MInT is a governmental organisation established by Proclamation 1263/2021 to play many roles and responsibilities in science, technology, and innovation and to lead the digitalisation of the country at large. It’s also mandated to provide support for the promotion of domestic innovation skills through establishing internationally standardised laboratories, workshops and information communication technology parks for selected innovation and technology research works; facilitate the establishment of a startup fund for the same; organise innovation [startups, …] and technology database, compile information, set national standards for information management; provide professional and technical support to regional innovation and technology institutions; identify and cause common understanding on innovation and technology development activities to be undertaken by the regions across the nation.
It also supports capacity building of institutions and professionals involved in innovation and technology activities; supports and encourages professional associations, research and study institutions; establishes a system that enhances the participation and role of the private sector in the development of innovation and technology. It works to create a conducive condition for implementation of the same; establish and implement a system for the grant of awards and incentives to individuals and institutions contributing to the advancement of innovation and technological development works; follow up the effectiveness of the transformation of innovative ideas into a values role for national prosperity by supporting creativity, innovation and startups.
About the Ethiopian Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI):
The Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) – Ethiopia is an autonomous institution reporting to the Ministry of Labour and Skills, came into being following the latest government reorganisation bringing together two entities, namely: The UNDP-supported Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC), established in February 2013, and the World Bank-financed Women Entrepreneurship Development Project (WEDP), inaugurated in December 2012. EDI aims to midwife the emergence of a vibrant, competitive, and innovative private-sector driven by a dynamic, vibrant, and growth-oriented SME sector. This is accomplished through a comprehensive package of entrepreneurship support programs ranging from ecosystem and capacity building to business development services (BDS), access to finance, and market linkage. Following its new mandate as a national institution, EDI plays a key role not only in the entrepreneurial ecosystem but also in self-employment. In the same vein, EDI has undertaken a strategic shift from direct services provider to building the capacities of other public and private institutions.
About the Global Innovation Initiative Group (GIIG):
GIIG exists to find funds and grow globally relevant innovation in Africa and is the driver of the Global Startup Awards Africa, the GIIG Africa Foundation and the GIIG Africa Fund. These interlinked initiatives operate a pan-African innovation community across 55 African countries and build collective collaborations on a continental and global level to innovate a Global Africa. Via inspiring the mobilisation of youth populations and builders of innovation-based economies, GIIG connects and enables multi-stakeholder value chains to evidence demonstrable innovation-in-action in emerging startup nations.
For more information, go to www.giig.africa
(+27) 83 700 3078