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Google announces 15 promising startups for Accelerator Africa Class 7

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Tech giant, Google, on Monday announced fifteen participants for its 2022 Google for Startups Accelerator Africa Class 7 with Cote D’Ivoire joining for the first time.

A representative of Google and Head of Startup Ecosystem, Africa, Folarin Aiyegbusi made the announcement in a statement made available to newsmen

– “We’re thrilled to be starting off our seventh cohort with such a diverse and inspiring group of companies who are harnessing technology to tackle the problems that many people on the continent face every day”.

The class, which was selected from thousands of applications, with final selection based on product stage, programme alignment and market fit is aimed at lifting African companies who are committed to providing tech solutions to challenges, particularly problems that are peculiar to Africa.

“Startups in Africa are solving some of the region’s most pressing issues -from employment to logistics, banking, healthcare, and education. This is a journey that we’re happy to be on.”

The Google for Startups Accelerator Africa programme has supported 82 startups from 17 African countries over the past four years. Collectively, they have raised $112 million and created 2800 direct jobs. In this time, Google has invested $5 million through a combination of equity free funding and product credits for Google services.

“Google is committed to Africa’s growing startup and developer ecosystem,” adds Aiyegbusi.

“Providing end-to-end support and investment to startups pays off for everyone in the long run. As these startups grow, they advance their local economies, create jobs and opportunities, and provide solutions in their communities. A stronger African economy is great for everyone, and Google is committed to helping African businesses thrive,” he concludes.

One of the selected participants, Zita Agwunobi, CEO of iVerify.ng, expressed enthusiasm towards highly coveted opportunity and thanked the tech giant for “validating our dream”

“As a digital identity onboarding platform based in Nigeria, iVerify.ng is extremely delighted to have been selected for Class 7 of Google for Startups Accelerator Africa amidst our need to deploy more robust technology infrastructure and scale our operations across Africa. We’re looking forward to the workshops, mentoring and inestimable value we’ve heard so much about” Zita Agwunobi added

Another selected Start-up, Balqis  Chepkwony CEO of Kenyan Fleetsimplify says: “Fleetsimplify is thrilled to have been selected for the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa! We’re looking forward to working with the Google team to bring sustainable shared mobility solutions in Africa.”

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UN signs MoU with Kenya’s Konza Technopolis

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The United Nations has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kenya’s Konza Technopolis that will provide a wide range of interrelationships with the various UN agencies domiciled in Nairobi.

Konza CEO, John Paul Okwiri, who disclosed this in a statement on Monday, said the MoU would see Konza Technopolis working together with UN-Habitat, the World Food Programme, United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), among other UN agencies.

“This MOU provides us with a collaborative platform whereby we bring our strengths and unite for a common good,” Okwiri said.

“The MoU will see Konza Technopolis partner with UN-Habitat and allow city-to-city benchmarking and learning exchanges, strengthening smart city growth including research and data sharing, implement local climate action initiatives including greening initiatives, promotion of non-motorised transport and formulation of smart city frameworks,” he added.

Also speaking on the partnership, Dr. Stephen Jackson, the Resident Coordinator for UN Kenya, said:

“Our MoU will support to explore points of synergies, and strategic partnerships in supporting Kenya and Konza Technopolis as part of Vision
2030 and UN Agenda 2030.”

Konza Technopolis, also known as the Silicon Savannah, is envisaged to be a smart city that will provide work and living space.

“The smart city spatial planning has taken into account provision of clustered industries, educational facilities, recreational parks, green spaces. It has one of the most modern waste recycling and water treatment plants,” Okwiri stated.

“The other areas of cooperation is with the UNDP whereby more than 20 innovators have received technical and financial support to achieve
commercialization and market entry, strategic partnership in the implementation of joint programs based on the Kenya Innovation Ecosystem Mapping.

“We have established the Konza Innovation Ecosystem Initiative (KIEI), which supports the creation of new enterprises, training of young innovators, and commercialization of research findings.

“To date the KIEI has supported over 100 startups and innovators, providing them with mentorship, funding, and access to market.

“We have established partnerships with over 50 institutions, such a UNDP, universities, research centers, and industry associations, to foster knowledge transfer and innovation.

“It has also facilitated the development and commercialization of over 30 innovative products and solutions, such as smart irrigation systems, e-health platforms, and
blockchain applications.

“The cooperation with UNESCO involves a tripartite Agreement together with the Chinese Association of Natural Science Museum (CANSM) which will see the development and management of Konza Natural Science Museum, resource mobilization for the development of the museum and technical advice support and capacity building and professional development programs,” he added.

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Kenya’s agri-tech startup Pula raises $20m funding for farmers’ insurance

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Kenyan agri-tech and insurance startup, Pula, has announced raising $20 million Series B funding round which will be used to help thousands of smallholder farmers in emerging markets gain access to insurance against floods, droughts, and other climate-related events.

The funding round, according to the company’s co-founder and CEO, Rose Goslinga, was led by BlueOrchard, a global impact investment manager and member of the Schroders Group, via its InsuResilience strategy, while fundraising also came from IFC and the Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

“Partnering with this group of like-minded investors to boost the growth of Pula globally is a very exciting milestone in driving our triple 100 vision, through which we intend to bring insurance to 100 million smallholder farmers,” Goslinga said.

“What started nine years ago as an unconventional idea that many deemed un-scalable is now a proven solution that has solved real needs for millions of smallholder farmers across 22 countries.

“What sets Pula apart is the innovative business model, leveraging artificial intelligence, on the ground data collection mechanisms, mobile-based registration systems, remote sensing, and end-to-end automation tools.”

Co-founder of the startup which was launched in 2015, Thomas Njeru, said “Pula designs and delivers innovative agricultural insurance and digital products to help smallholder farmers endure climate risks, improve their farming practices and bolster their incomes over time.”

“Since its inception, Pula has partnered with over 70 insurance, 20 reinsurance companies, and 100 distribution partners across the globe to deliver their innovative insurance solutions,” Njeru stated.

“This has also helped develop the capacity of local insurance and reinsurance players to understand and underwrite agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers.

“Currently, Pula’s main markets span across Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and expanding our presence in Asia and Latin America. These markets are managed from Switzerland and coordinated from the Kenya service centre,” he added.

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