IE South-African Alumni Digitizing Africa For The Future
IE Business School alumni’s start-ups are revolutionizing various sectors in Africa amidst the global urge to digitize.
The economic landscape in Africa has seen a digital entrepreneurship boom with digitization as the answer to systemic challenges. In just a few years, billions of dollars have been invested in tech cities, entrepreneurial teaching, agri-fintech and investment funds for small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups, and coworking spaces. Two years ago, IE Business School listed a handful of IE Alumni setting up African promising businesses.
In South Africa, rising inflation, supply shortages and electrical blackouts have dampened the outlook after a strong first quarter in 2022, where manufacturing, finance and trade account for important chunks of the GDP.
With 94 percent of the population having regular access to the internet and a mobile phone penetration of over 100 for every 100 people, South Africa is an attractive option for tech startups. Technology is spreading in South Africa, resulting in the creation of better competition and increased consumer benefits, mainly- but not only- in the financial services industry.
Here are a few IE Business School alumni start-ups in South Africa’s tech sphere to watch:
The company works with all types of businesses, from independent retailers to large multinationals, offering them the technology and expertise to grow and expand in a constantly changing environment. Kent said supporting SMEs and disrupting the South African payment market was their motivation and driver. SMEs are the backbone of most African economies, and the first step to their financial inclusion is to accept digital payments. Kent said, “It is extremely gratifying to be in a sector that has such a huge impact on job creation and social upliftment.”
Although the name Adumo was launched in 2020, the Adumo story started in 2008 as Superswipe. Now, it serves more than 50,000 clients and its group companies include iKhokha, Humble, Innervation Pan African Payment Solutions and Innervation Rewards.
“In 2013, the company was growing at a rapid pace and I wanted to ensure that I didn’t hold back progress and growth. This meant I had to continue my personal development and learning at a faster pace than the company. This was a driving force behind further education and my journey to IE Business school. The GXMBA Program provided me with the fundamentals needed to take the business from a rapidly growing 40-50 person organisation to what it is today, a group company with a workforce of >1,400 employees.”
Abu Bakr Cassim (International MBA, 2012) is the founder of Jozi Angels, a network of 29 angel investors that provides funding to early-stage companies while bringing them knowledge and networks. With the mission of further developing the startup ecosystem in Africa and supporting South Africa’s emergent innovation economy, Jozi Angels sources the hottest startups and facilitates their growth. Cassim said the company is his solution to the scarcity of early-stage angel funding in South Africa.
Since it was founded in 2015, Jozi Angels has made 47 early-stage investments, including the fitness app FitKey and the e-commerce platform Momlist. “A number of these investments have gone on to source follow-on funding which would not have been possible without our seed investments,” said Cassim.
“I was captivated by the startup space while studying at IE & stayed in the sector after I returned to South Africa at the end of 2012. I’ve run a number of businesses including an online platform that we scaled to 37 countries. Jozi Angels is the marriage of my pre-IE life in asset management & post-IE life in the startup world.”
Abu Bakr Cassim
Stuart Blyth (International MBA, 2014) is the CEO and co-founder of Hubtiger, a web and mobile platform for bike shops. Established in 2018 with the aim to advance the way the cycling industry works, Hubtiger has provided more than 628,082 services in The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, France and South Africa.
In a 2020 article by the Bicycle Retailer, Blyth described the idea behind Hubtiger: “I thought to myself, ‘If you could connect cyclists to each other and then cyclists to bike shops and races and trails, an entire ecosystem can win.’”
Hubtiger is a powerful digital solution that improves workshop efficiency with online bookings, service scheduling, automated communications, and ratings. It also allows cyclists to book their bike with the preferred bike shop, track the service and pay instantly. Blyth added:
“For the big sophisticated forward-thinking bike shops, it’s a no-brainer.”
iShack Digital Consultancy
Wayne Berger (International MBA, 2011) is the founder and chairman of iShack Digital Consultancy, a consulting firm specializing in digital and social media strategy. Established in 2005 with the purpose of ensuring business growth for corporate clients, iShack delivers digital advisory services including technology integration, information management, customer engagement & acquisition, and more.
Berger has advised multinational corporations such as Walt Disney, Canon, L’Oreal, Guess Jeans and Steve Madden, as well as national celebrities and local corporations.