Startup venture funding jumped more than 50% in Africa last year to a record high

  • Written by Isaac Kwasi Adusei
  • Category: News

With African tech hubs, startups and founders starting to mature and gain deeper understanding of local markets after a few years of heady hype that was more about potential than substance, investors increasingly look towards the continent.

Partech Ventures’ latest annual funding report shows that venture capital funding in 2017 reached $560 million, recording 53% year on year growth. The scale of growth in funding is seen in the number of investment rounds participated in by startups: in 2017, 124 startups participated in 128 funding rounds compared to 77 rounds in 2016. Partech’s reports include startups that have a primary market in Africa whether or not they are headquartered or incorporated on the continent.

Across sectors, financial inclusion accounted for 45% of total investmentmore than any other sectorwith $253 million raised. Partech’s report categorizes off-grid tech, fintech and insurance tech startups under financial inclusion. Over the past 18 months, African fintech startups have particularly grown in appeal and reputation with a number of big-ticket deals, most notably a $10 million Series A raise by payments company Flutterwaveone of the largest Series A rounds by an African startup. That appeal is linked to the upside for these startups who, rather than entirely disrupting the financial sector which currently exists, are plugging many of its gaps. An earlier funding report by Disrupt Africa also shows that fintech startups attracted nearly a third of startup funding in 2017.

Online and mobile consumer services also drew significant interest pulling 42% of total investment ($236 million). The single largest deal in the report came in this sector with the $69 million Series D investment in TakeALot, the South African e-commerce startup, led by Naspers, Africa’s most valuable company.

In line with previous years, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria continue to dominate as investment destinations accounting for 76% of total funding this year, slightly lower than the 81% of last year’s total. Similarly, the three leading tech startup ecosystems lead the way with number of startups funded per country.

Startups in Francophone Africa have also seen more investment, accounting for $55.5 million10% of the total funding, and nearly 14% of the total transactions in 2017. That progress seems set to continue as, last month, Partech Ventures has launched a pan-African fund based in Dakar, Senegal and plans to pay closer attention to startups in French-speaking countries.

-  Source Quartz Africa

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Kankan Musa: The Richest Man in World History

  • Written by Super User
  • Category: News

Today, I would like to talk about the richest man planet earth has ever seen… yes, you heard me right, the richest man whose fortune was estimated to be over 400 billion dollars, or 310 billion euros. Did you guess who that was ? If you thought Bill Gates, I am sorry to disappoint you. It is the great Emperor of Mali, Kankan Musa, also written Kankan Moussa, or Mansa Musa, or Mansa Moussa, or Kankou Moussa.

Kankan Musa was the tenth MansaKing of Kings, or Emperor of the great Empire of Mali from 1312 to 1337. At the time of Musa’s accession to the throne, the Empire of Mali consisted of territories which had belonged to the Empire of Ghana and Melle, and surrounding areas.

Emperor Kankan Musa

His name, Kankan Musa or Kanga Musa meant « Musa, son of Kankou Hamidou », in reference to his mother (In those days, the Mandinka people were a matriarcal society). Kankan Musa is often referred to, in literature, as Mali-koy Kankan MusaGonga Musa, and Lion of Mali. He had lots of titles, including Emir of MelleLord of the Mines of WangaraConqueror of GhanataFouta Djallon (also written Futa Jallon), and at least a dozen other areas.

Empire of Mali (Wikipedia)

He took the Empire of Mali to its peak, from the Fouta Djallon to Agadez (in northern Niger), including the ancient Ghana, and Songhai Empires. He established diplomatic relationships with PortugalMoroccoTunisia, and Egypt. His reign corresponds to the golden era of the Malian Empire.

 

Assemblée constitutive de l’empire du Mandé (Source: Wikipedia.fr)

Kankan Musa’s pilgrimage to Mecca made him popular in North Africa, and in the Middle East. Musa made his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324, with a procession of 60,000 men12,000 servants who each carried four pounds of gold bars, heralds dressed in silks who bore gold staffs, organized horses and handled bags. Also in the train, were 80 camels, which carried between 50 and 300 pounds of gold dust each (Gold was the currency in Mali). He gave away gold to the poor along his routeMusa not only gave gold to the cities he passed on his way to Mecca, including Cairo and Medinabut he also traded gold for souvenirs. Moreover, he would also build a new mosque every Friday in any city he so happened to pass by. Musa’s journey was documented by several eyewitnesses along his route, who were in awe of his wealth and extensive procession, and records exist in a variety of sources, including journals, oral accounts and histories. Musa’s visit with the Mamluk sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad of Egypt in July 1324 is well-recorded.

Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu

Musa’s generosity, however, inadvertently devastated the economy of the region. In the cities of Cairo, Medina and Mecca, the sudden influx of gold devalued the metal for the next decadePrices on goods and wares greatly inflatedTo rectify the gold market, Musa borrowed all the gold he could carry from money-lenders in Cairo, at high interest. This is the only time recorded in history that one man directly controlled the price of gold in theMediterranean. Imagine a single man controlling the economy of not only one country, but of an entire region!

  Sankore University in Timbuktu

Mansa Musa was a great builder. He had several mosques and madrasas built in Timbuktu and Gao. The most important of its constructions is the University of Sankore. In Niani, his capital, he built an Audience Hall, a building communicating directly with the royal palace through an interior door.  It was “an admirable Monument” surmounted by a dome, adorned with arabesques of striking colours. The windows of the upper floor were plated with wood and framed with silver, while those of a lower floor were plated with wood, framed in gold. This palace no longer exists. Like the Great Mosque, the Hall was built in cut stone. The Italian art and architecture scholar Sergio Domian said: “At the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated.” Can you imagine that? In this day and age, how many countries in this world can boast 400 densely populated cities? Yet, the Mali of Kankan Musa claimed it all.

 

Manuscripts a Tombouctou (Mali) montrant de l’astronomie et mathematique

At the end of his life, in 1332 or 1337, the Empire of Mali limits were from the Atlantic Ocean to the Eastern shores of the Niger River, and to the forests of Taghaza in the middle of the SaharaKankan Musa was not only a rich man who gave to all, built mosques, and great places of worship, he was also a just conqueror, and a great builder. He took the Empire Mali to its peak, and made it the talk of places as far as the Middle East and Europe. Many Europeans and Middle Easterns would send delegations of architects, merchants, writers, astronomers, mathematicians and teachers, to study in his great university at Timbuktu. So next time someone asks you who was the richest man on planet earth, remember to tell them that before Bill Gates, there was Kankan Musa! - -Afrolegends.com

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10 Ways to Attract High Quality Employees

  • Written by Super User
  • Category: News

Economists maintain that future demographic trends will contribute to a shortage of high quality employees and small business jobs will go begging. “The labor force is not increasing anymore and will not for the next few years. It will get much more difficult to hire people. Baby Boomers will be gone, and millennials are taking over with different expectations,” says Pierre Cléroux of the Business Development of Canada (BDC).

But that doesn't mean that you should just give up on hiring any new staff because as a small business, you don’t have a chance of attracting high quality employees. All things being equal, there are many people who would prefer to work for a small business. These tips for attracting staff will up the odds of attracting (and retaining) the people you need.

How to Recruit Employees for Small Business

1. Find out what the going rate is for the position and match it.

One common mistake small businesses make when creating a position is to base the salary on their budget rather than on the market realities – in effect making sure that their employee recruitment efforts are going to be unsuccessful. If a retail sales person in a starting position in your area normally makes $10 an hour, why would someone want to accept that position in your company for $9 an hour?

2. Offer an employee benefit program.

In times when employees get to pick and choose, an employee benefit program moves from their wish list to their necessities list.

 If you're going to attract high quality staff, your company needs to offer high quality benefits and that means offering employees at least life, medical and dental coverage. If your small business does not have an employee benefits program, talk to your insurance company about setting one up.

One of the advantages of belonging to business organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, is that they offer more inexpensive insurance, including employee benefit programs, so check with the organizations you belong to first.

 

3. Make lifestyle part of your employee recruitment offer.

Many employees are just as concerned about the quality of life as they are about the amount of money a position offers. If you’re fortunate enough to be located in an area with great skiing, beaches, extensive hiking/biking trails, excellent golf courses or other attractive features be sure to play them up when you’re trying to recruit employees.

4. Emphasize the benefits your small business offers.

Make your company more attractive to potential employees by offering things such as flexible hours and work at home options. Among the more unusual benefits some small businesses offer are being able to bring a pet to work and allowing employees to power-nap during the day.

5. Be creative with perks.

As a small business, you may not be able to offer the perks large corporate companies are able to offer their employees – but you may be able to offer a reasonable facsimile. For instance, many large companies offer on-site health facilities such as a fully equipped gym.

Chances are good that as a small business, you’re not going to be able to add one of these to your premises, but you could offer employees coupons to use local gym or spa facilities.

6. Offer employees some way to move upwards.

Most employees aren't looking for jobs where they’ll do the same thing for the next thirty years. They're looking for positions that offer opportunities for advancement.

What will the position you're offering offer? The chance to develop new skills? A stepping stone to a position with more responsibilities? More money after a certain amount of time on the job? Whatever it is, in terms of attracting high quality staff, be sure to get the future possibilities on the table.

7. Create an employee incentive program.

Employee incentive programs not only reward good employee performance but give prospective employees something to look forward to if they come work for you. Whether it’s an annual company-paid retreat or a program where employees collect points that they can trade in for cash, employee incentive programs can increase your chances of attracting the people you want to hire.

8. Institute a profit sharing program.

It’s not for every business, but there’s no better way to give employees a stake in a company’s success. For businesses that look like they’re going somewhere, profit sharing programs can be a powerful inducement to come work for you instead of for someone else.

9. Sweeten the pot.

When competition for employees is fierce, a plain old signing bonus may be what’s needed to attract the high quality employee you want and get that person to work for you rather than for some other company. If you choose to do this, there are two things to keep in mind. The signing bonus has to be large enough to matter, and the signing bonus has to be contingent upon X amount of time of employment. (Otherwise, you’ll be running a revolving door as people sign up, take the money and run.)

10. Widen the scope of your advertising.

It’s not enough to place an ad in the Help Wanted section of the local newspaper anymore; your chances of attracting the employees you want will be much better if you broaden your advertising. Place ads in places such as job websites and college/university campus boards, for example. Advertise in other towns or cities. See 7 Easier Ways to Find Employees for more ideas on spreading the word about your employee search and hiring tips.

And if you have other employees, don’t forget to get them involved in the employee recruitment hunt. You can, for example, offer signing bonuses to those who successfully refer a new employee.

Make Yours the Offer They Can't Refuse

 

There are qualified people out there who can do what you need done – you just need to attract them to the positions your small business is offering. Developing an employee recruitment policy based on the tips above will give you a better chance of attracting the high quality employees you’re looking for. - The Balance

 

 

This Lesson From Benjamin Franklin in Building Generational Wealth Still Holds Up More Than 200 Years Later

  • Written by Super User
  • Category: News

How much do you need to be worth to have generational wealth? originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by John Roberson, Stock Trader; Masterpiece Tax Advisors, on Quora:

At age 79, American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin designated £1,000 to each of two trust funds, one designated "Boston" (his birthplace), the other "Philadelphia" (his adopted home). The idea was simple: provide loans for young married tradespeople during their apprenticeship years, as such individuals were, in Franklin's estimation, the bedrock of a good citizenry.

But there was a twist: Not a dime was to be touched for 100 years.

And even after that, the balance was not to be made fully available until another century had passed. So what happened?

The magic of compound interest.

Over the past two centuries, those small trusts have generated not merely thousands but millions, and out of those gains provided mortgages and grants to tradespeople, vocational training for returning veterans -- even the endowment for the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. The BFIT was, for one, the site of the first national conference call. On May 15, 1916, a phone call set up by Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson linked San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.

What does this teach us about Franklin's vision?

1. Vision starts with principle. 

Franklin did not believe elected officials should be paid for their work. The money put into these trust funds equaled his compensation as governor of Pennsylvania. It was the people's money, principle said, so he could do nothing but give it back.

2. Vision has patience. 

Twenty decades. Personally, I curse Reed Hastings and all his kin if Netflix says "Streaming..." for 20 seconds. Ben knew better.

3. Vision makes strategic choices. 

The trust named a type of person and a type of need that could benefit society by a multiple of Franklin's investment into them. Have we today devalued the contribution of tradespeople and small business, to our detriment? Do we consider not just who could use help, but when?

4. Vision shows humility.

Franklin said, "Considering the accidents to which all human affairs and projects are subject in such a length of time, I have perhaps too much flattered myself with a vain fancy that these dispositions will be continued without interruption and have the effects proposed."

5. Vision is contagious. 

When in 1904 Boston's funds were deployed to establish the Franklin Institute of Technology, the notion was so contagious that Andrew Carnegie himself matched the amount and drummed up a land donation. Also signed on were the Dean of Harvard Medical School, Grover Cleveland's Secretary of War, President of General Motors, and President of MIT -- not to mention renowned artist Charles Mills.

The key lesson here: Generational wealth is not determined by the value of your financial assets. It's determined by the value of your vision. - Inc

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Ten Business Tips From Kenyan Multi-Millionaire Chris Kirubi

  • Written by Super User
  • Category: News

Chris Kirubi with Virgin Group's Sir Richard Branson

 Chris Kirubi is a complex man. One of Africa’s richest and most successful businessmen, he’s that rare blend of Donald Trump, Jeffrey Sachs, Richard Branson and American music star DJ Khaled, in African skin. In business, he’s got the cunning and clout of Trump, the economic intellect of Sachs, the rebellion of Branson, and the musical inclinations of hip-hop act DJ Khaled.

Here’s the reason why: In between running one of Africa’s largest privately held business conglomerates, delivering countless keynote lectures during frequent international economic gatherings, writing a weekly business column for a daily newspaper and mentoring young Kenyan entrepreneurs, Kirubi still finds time to make cameo appearances in Kenyan hip-hop videos, movies, and even hosts a rock show on Capital FM, a Nairobi radio station he owns. He’s the DJ!

Kirubi sits atop one of East Africa’s most successful business empires. His business interests are varied and far reaching. He is the chairman and founder of privately-held Haco Tiger Industries, East Africa’s largest manufacturers of some of the continent’s leading consumer brands in stationery, personal care and home care products. He also owns the International House, one of Nairobi’s landmark skyscrapers, and holds the largest stake in Centum Investments, a leading private equity firm listed both on the Nairobi and Uganda Stock Exchanges, among other holdings.

The Harvard-trained tycoon is one of the most tech-conscious and social media-savvy businessmen on the continent. He keeps a Twitter and Facebook account, blogs frequently, and was reportedly one of the first people in Kenya to own an iPad.

I actively follow the wealthy tycoon on his Twitter @ckirubi, where he gives his largely youthful followers tips on business, success and life.

Here are ten business success tweets in his own words, unedited:

One of the ways I believe you can find meaning of your life is by creating a strategy that you can use through your journey. You need to keep the purpose of your life, front and center as you decide how to spend your time, talents and energy. Remember that without a purpose, life can be hollow.

Visualize your past victories while visualizing and anticipating future victories. Planting the seeds of positive expectancy in your mind is the best way to reap.

One of the most important lessons that has made me be a better employer and businessman is pointing out people's strengths. I have come to learn that the praise of others may be of use in teaching us, not what we are, but what we ought to be. Enjoy your afternoon.

If you understand an idea, you can express it so others can understand it. However, if you can't explain it, you don't really understand it; and you cannot invest in a business you don't understand. So friends, do your research well and understand the idea or concept you want to execute before investing in it.

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day...but because I want to achieve my purpose and make a difference in society, I will stop focusing on the frightful things I see when I take my eyes off my goals and instead fix them there. With that said, I'm off to my meeting.

One of the most important lessons I have come to learn over the years is that you can't do today's job with yesterday's methods and be in business tomorrow. You must keep learning new methods and ways of doing things to keep abreast with the world's ever changing trends.

Business is always a struggle. There are always obstacles and competitors. There is never an open road, except the wide road that leads to failure. Every great success has always been achieved by fight. Every winner has scars....The men who succeed are the efficient few. They are the few who have the ambition and will-power to develop themselves. So choose to be among the few today.

Whatever opportunity you decide to take should be in line with your vision. When I look at the opportunities that come my way, I often ask myself, will it add value to a business or individual? If I cannot add value or contribute to some sort of growth then I will not take it.

To prosper soundly in business, you must satisfy not only your customers, but you must lay yourself out to satisfy also the men who make your product and the men who sell it...So if your not doing too well in business, you should consider the above.

One of the most important lessons I have come to learn over the years is that you can't do today's job with yesterday's methods and be in business tomorrow. You must keep learning new methods and ways of doing things to keep abreast with the world's ever changing trends.” -Mfonobong Nsehe for Forbes 

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