[East Africa Business Week] Bob Koigi: Region’s startups are on an expansion binge
East African startups have been on an expansion drive, raising funding as they seek to tap into emerging opportunities in the region and across Africa while growing their portfolio.
Wasoko (formerly Sokowatch), an Kenyan-based B2B e-commerce startup recently announced the official launch of the “Wasoko Innovation Hub” in partnership with the Zanzibar government. Located in Fumba Town, Zanzibar, the new Hub will focus on building world-class tech solutions that will drive Africa’s e-commerce industry for years to come, becoming home to over 500 visionary engineers, product managers, UX designers and researchers from Africa and across the globe.
The Wasoko Innovation Hub is the first private-public partnership between an African tech startup and the Zanzibar government for “Silicon Zanzibar” – a new government initiative to attract and relocate tech companies from across Africa to the island. As part of the launch, Wasoko becomes Silicon Zanzibar’s first anchor company and official private sector ambassador.
At the same time, Pezesha, a Kenyan fintech that has built a platform where small and medium enterprises can access funding has raised $11 million in a pre-series A equity and debt funding.
Through its platforms, business owners seeking capital are matched with investors such as banks, microfinance institutions and other lenders The fintech plans to expand its financing offers to Rwanda, Nigeria, and Francophone Africa, which adds to its current markets in Kenya, Uganda, and Ghana.
East African countries continue to attract investors keen on taking advantage of the region's strategic and economic market.
Apollo Hospitals, one of Asia's foremost and trusted integrated private healthcare services providers, has entered Tanzania by signing an MoU with Eclipse Group, Africa to set up a cancer care centre in the Msasani area, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
With this partnership, Apollo will provide healthcare services with advanced cancer care treatments.
Legal and financial consultancy global company has made forays into the Tanzanian market through a Collaboration Agreement with Tanzania-based law firm Lawhill and Co. Advocates, a firm that offers taxation, corporate and commercial law services as well as strategic civil cases litigation spanning through various industries including telecommunications, energy and infrastructure, natural resources, banking and finance, international trade, and employment & immigration.
In Uganda, The Japan Bank for International Cooperation has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of the Republic of Uganda (Uganda) to promote support for structuring environmental preservation projects. The MOU aims to support structuring projects in Uganda, with the involvement of Japanese companies, that would contribute to preserving the environment through exchanging information between JBIC and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda on potential opportunities for environmental preservation, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
In other news shaping the East African landscape this week, the Community’s Partner States have reaffirmed their commitment to implement the African Union (AU) Declaration on Land.
African digital payments provider DPO Group Kenya has received official approval from the Central Bank of Kenya to operate as a Payment Service Provider (PSP) in the country.
The National Payment System Act requires all PSPs to undergo a rigorous license application process in order to provide payment services in Kenya.
And After announcing plans to launch commercial operations in Ethiopia within the year, Safaricom has now started large-scale customer pilot of its network in Dire Dawa.
Dire Dawa is a city in eastern Ethiopia and according to Safaricom, the pilot will be on 2G, 3G and 4G networks. Customers in the city will be able to purchase Safaricom SIM cards and choose their preferred number starting with the 07 prefix.