Africa’s new generation of entrepreneurs is making money and touching the lives of people positively. What they do is to focus on problems facing the continent and find amicable solutions to them.
In as much as the road to the top is bumpy, African entrepreneurs are defying the odds and developing new ways to make money and attract investment in their respective countries.
Interestingly, some of these African businesses are also beginning to appreciate the value of innovation towards the success of their operations. They are implementing new ideas, creating dynamic products and services or improving their existing ones.
The following are the 5 most innovative companies in Africa, compiled by business magazine, Fast Company.
The winners were selected based on those “making the most profound impact on both industry and culture,” the magazine said.
African Leadership University
Founded by Ghanaian, Fred Swaniker, in September 2015, the African Leadership University (ALU) earned the number one spot. In 2008, Swaniker, a Stanford Business School-educated serial entrepreneur, founded ALU’s sister organization, the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg. It was dedicated to educating the next generation of African leaders.
In 2015, Swaniker expanded that effort and opened the ALU in Mauritius, an institute of higher education designed to teach leadership skills to Africa’s brightest and to fight the brain drain. In 2017, he opened his second undergraduate campus of ALU, in Kigali, Rwanda. The ALU is training future African leaders by moving away from more traditional university programs, as students select missions to pursue, rather than majors, said the magazine.
Swaniker is now expanding even further with the new ALX accelerator program, which runs six-month courses in leadership and technical skills in areas like data science and operational management from low-cost setups such as co-working spaces. ALU has also rolled out an innovative approach to student finance, in which students pay nothing up front for their education. Instead, they only pay a share of their income to investors once they are employed. ALU already has campuses in Mauritius, Rwanda, and Kenya, and will use its funding to open its doors in Johannesburg, Lagos, Cape Town, and Casablanca.
Nigerian entrepreneur, Olugbenga Agboola, started Flutterwave in 2016 following problems of fragmented payments in Africa. The digital payment API is designed to make it easier to do business across the continent by allowing users to make international payments in their own currencies. It is now integrated with major online tools such as Shopify and WooCommerce and allows customers to make payments on platforms like Amazon. Flutterwave, which has since expanded across Africa, processes millions of dollars in transactions. It is currently testing a solution directly targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises, which allows them to convert their Instagram pages into e-commerce stores.
The Kenyan company provides support to emergency response teams in the country through its software infrastructure. The company’s digital platform brings together the country’s fragmented ecosystem of emergency vehicles, and uses GPS tracking and Google navigation to route the most appropriate responders to each emergency scene as requested by users, said Fast Company. With a network of over 400 ambulances, Flare has already completed 350 life-saving rescues and reduced its average response time to 20 minutes. It has also launched its membership product, Rescue, to the market and provided around 28,000 Kenyans with coverage. The company’s aim is to launch in all countries that do not have existing emergency systems.