By Adedapo Adesanya
Aidi Africa, an African venture builder, has partnered with Amazon Web Service’s Activate (An arm of AWS that supports early businesses) to accelerate early-stage African startups to investor-ready status.
In past months, Aidi Africa, run by its portfolio manager, Mr Tolulope Obademi, has provided support, through its angel syndicate, to industry-leading startups namely, Termii (YC W20), Payhippo (YC W21), Dash (Techstars 21), Raise (500 Startups 21), Bumpa, Cova, Nigenius and Swipe.
Founded in 2019, the venture builder includes a group of successful founders in the African ecosystem to include Deborah Gbolade (Aidi Ventures), Ham Serungoji (Chipper Cash), Emmanuel Gbolade (Termii), Tayo Oviousu (Paga), Francis Osifo (54gene), Francis Sanni (Magic) and Emmanuel Okeleji (Seamless HR).
Positioning itself as an African founder-focused accelerator, Aidi teamed up with Amazon Web Service last month to begin a 4-week program to get African startups market and investor-ready.
These companies were exposed to pieces of training from other successful industry founders and professionals around key areas which include culture building, product scaling, and the art of fundraising.
So far, Aidi has been successful in supporting its startup portfolios on their journey into major global accelerators, as well as guiding them through the process of raising over $8 Million in funding, with valuations running into $70 Million.
Startups in Current Batch
Companies participating in Aidi Africa’s summer 21 batch includes:
Zemo – www.zemocard.com
A Kenyan-based fintech that allows businesses to eliminate wasteful & fraudulent spending, as well as, access cashflow credit using its unique credit card service.
Moni – www.moni.africa
A fintech lending platform for mobile money agents which uses a social accountability model to provide agents with float and the ability to build their credit history.
MediSpark – www.swiftmedispark.com
A unified health-tech startup building solutions that connect and power businesses in the African health sector.
Vite – www.viteapp.co
An all-in-one logistics platform that allows people to easily and affordably access transport and delivery services across 70+ tier 1 and tier 2 underserved cities in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), starting with Mauritius.
Speaking on this, Mr Obademi said that the firm was looking to double down on its accelerator program twice every year while focusing on establishing partnerships between its startup alumni community and large corporates, both within Africa and across Silicon Valley.
Asides from AWS, other big corporates who have thrown their support toward Aidi’s initiatives include Hatch (An Arm of Digital Ocean), FirstBase, Brex, and Mercury.
Looking ahead, the team at Aidi expects to partner with more organizations before the year ends, as well as increase the number of business angels within its angel support community.
Russia Proposes Complete Ban on Cryptocurrencies
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Russian central bank has proposed a complete ban on cryptocurrencies in the country.
The proposal emphasized that crypto is extremely volatile and has helped to spread fraudulent activities in the country, adding that it is also a potential risk to the country’s national economy.
Director of the Bank of Russia, Ms Elizaveta Danilova, during a presentation, said that a complete ban would mean no mining, trading, or usage of crypto in the country.
However, owning cryptocurrencies would still be legal.
The report also suggested that the government should introduce punishments for individuals who buy or sell products/services using crypto.
The central bank, which is planning to issue its own digital currency, said crypto assets becoming widespread would limit the sovereignty of monetary policy, with higher interest rates needed to contain inflation.
This isn’t the first time the Bank of Russia has gone after cryptos as it had banned mutual funds from investing in any cryptocurrencies.
In 2019, the country blamed cryptocurrencies for spreading money launching and terror financing.
However, the government legalized crypto in 2020, although banning their use as payments.
The move is the latest in a global cryptocurrency crackdown as governments from Asia to the United States worry that privately operated and highly volatile digital currencies could undermine their control of financial and monetary systems.
With the total ban of the asset by China, Russia witnessed a rise in crypto mining and this move has already triggered investors to dump their coins.
In September, China intensified its crackdown on cryptocurrencies with a blanket ban on all crypto transactions and mining, hitting bitcoin and other major coins and pressuring crypto and blockchain-related stocks.
Market analysts note that although the Bank of Russia’s proposal can cause significant worry for its crypto traders and miners, it’s still not confirmed if the government will follow through with a total ban.
Proposed Amazon Headquarters in South Africa Under Threat
By Adedapo Adesanya
Plans by Amazon to establish its Africa headquarters in Cape Town, South Africa, could hit a snag if a legal challenge by indigenous activists is allowed to proceed, a Cape Town court heard on Thursday, January 20.
According to reports, construction is already underway for Amazon’s $262 million African headquarters on land that Khoisan communities hold sacred as a site of their early resistance to European colonisers in 1510.
Several Khoisan groups threw their support behind the project after the developers agreed to build a heritage, cultural and media centre that will be operated by indigenous groups.
However, the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council and a neighbourhood association have asked the Western Cape High Court to halt construction.
A lawyer for the property developers, the Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust, told the court that Amazon has signalled it will pull out of the project if the delay is granted.
According to an advocate, Mr Sean Rosenberg, “If Amazon has indicated, even directly, that it’s not going to tolerate any further delays, that’s not hearsay evidence.
“That’s direct evidence of what Amazon’s intentions are.”
“The much more likely possibility is that this project will not go ahead, given what has happened up until now, given Amazon’s impatience, given Amazon’s indication,” he added.
Amazon itself is not named in the case but the hearing is expected to conclude Friday.
Once hunter-gatherers, known under the now-discarded label of Bushmen, the Khoisan suffered deeply under colonisation and apartheid.
Many in their community say they still endure wide social inequalities and economic opportunities today, and their past remains overlooked.
DR Congo Raises Stake in Shelter Afrique 2.46%
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has increased its shareholding in Shelter Afrique to 2.46 per cent, up from 1.68 per cent held previously.
This followed the payment of $1.7 million capital arrears in the pan-African housing development financier on December 22, 2021, to add to the initial $2.5 million.
DR Congo has now joined Tanzania, Morocco, Mali, Lesotho, Namibia, Togo and Zimbabwe as Shelter Afrique Class A shareholders who have fully paid their capital obligations.
“We are grateful to the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo as this is a show of strong belief in the role and mandates of Shelter Afrique in the provision of affordable housing in Africa, and particularly the DRC.
“We are particularly appreciative of the roles played by the Minister for Urban Planning and Housing, Mr Pius Mukala and the Minister for Finance, Mr Nicolas Kazadi, for making the disbursements,” the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Shelter Afrique, Mr Andrew Chimphondah said.
“We wish to show our gratitude to the eight shareholders who have fully paid their capital subscriptions and to those who continue to increase their stakes in the company – it is a huge vote of confidence in our board approved strategy which is being implemented successfully by the management,” Mr Chimphondah added.
In the recent past, DRC has enhanced its engagement with Shelter Afrique. Consequently, the company has ramped up its activities in the country by actively pursuing large-scale, low-cost housing projects in DRC through public-private partnerships and equity investments.
Recently, Shelter Afrique approved a line of credit worth $11.4 million to a financial institution to finance 285 mortgages in the country.
Shelter Afrique is also keen on supporting urban regeneration projects in Lubumbashi and Goma, which is expected to develop 500 housing units – the company has set aside $20 million, pending board approval.
“Additionally, under our social housing plans, we are currently reviewing a housing project in Goma that seeks to develop 1000 housing units for families displaced by the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo and Kanyaja, which occurred in May and June 2021. When approved, we will invest $1 million in equity for a period of 7 years,” he further stated.
Other projects so far financed by Shelter Afrique in the DRC include Devimco’s 7-floor office building for rental purposes, La Tradition, Le Concorde, L’Ambassadeur; Azda; and a 10-storey building in Kinshasa developed by ELOLO SPRL.
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