The inaugural AYO Scaling Africa Series recently culminated in an enthusiastically contended and attended Demo Day. The top five technopreneurs selected from a broad spread of excellent entries, competed for a R100 000 cash prize, with the female-led, community-focused Memeza Shout Crime Prevention alarm system taking top honours. The range of sectors included Edutech, Cleantech, Robotics, 3D Printing and Cities of the Future.
The AYO Scaling Africa Series challenge, a collaboration between the SA Innovation Summit and AYO Technology Solutions, is aimed at empowering South Africa’s Technopreneurs, and identifying and supporting South African digital and tech-based businesses that are disrupting the ecosystem with novel ways to solve business and everyday needs of communities across Africa.
The challenge is geared to provide Series A funding seekers with high growth strategies and a sustainable competitive advantage, a chance to build capacity and expand their horizons. Aside from a cash prize to the winner, the Series also provides the opportunity for AYO, and other investors (part of the judging and audience), the potential to invest in businesses who entered the competition.
Jeni Kostova, Group Executive: Marketing and Communications at Ayo Technology Solutions observed: “South Africa is well-known for its innovative and entrepreneurial abilities. This competition proved this as a truism yet again. We have been duly impressed by all the entries we received and well done to each of these inspiring technopreneurs on their dedication to moving South Africa forward.
“Our special congratulations to Thuli and Elmarie and the team at Memeza Shout for their contribution to making the country safer and for their dedication in their efforts. We are truly proud of you and all that you do and look forward to seeing what’s next for your business.”
Each of the five finalists presented to a virtual audience and judging panel, with the audience also having the opportunity to pseudo invest in each of the businesses via an event app created for these purposes. Memeza Shout, however, impressed the judges with their crime prevention innovation and walked away with the cash prize.
Truly thrilled, yet humbled by the acknowledgment, Thuli Mthethwa, founder of Memeza Shout said: “Here is to all women, girls and children who have suffered, been raped, violated, assaulted, murdered, just because they are who God made them to be, this is to you!
“I am lost for words; it’s just joy in my heart. Everything that I went through, everything that I have been doing, for the past years, has culminated to this day. Today means we will finally have the impact investment we have always yearned for, to really make an impact in South Africa and beyond. Soon, the days of crime and violence against women, will only be in our history books. I thank you AYO.”
The company is the first black woman-owned company to provide South Africa’s first, patented public alarm system, combining physical alarms, neighbours, community safety groups and the South Africa Police Services (SAPS) to collectively fight crime.
Elmarie Pereira, CEO of Memeza Shout added: “Thank you AYO Scaling Africa Series, winning this competition will open the doors to possible investment that Memeza needs to ensure we can make South Africa a safer place, while building a sustainable, woman-led business. We are ecstatic that you gave us the recognition as a small social enterprise and show us we can have the confidence to grow”
The runners up were LiquidGold Africa, who offer solutions for sanitation waste with globally designed, patented, and manufactured dry toilets for both male and females. Their focus is to save precious water resources and create new products from toilet resources (human waste) in a simple and cost-effective manner, as the by-products contains all the important nutrients that agriculture needs for healthy plant growth.
Dove Air, a drone delivery service for vital medical supplies to hard to reach places, Red Cup Village, an innovative on-demand 3D printing solution company, who also won the audience investment vote, and The Marking App, which uses AI to reduce the administrative load on educators, were the other finalists in the competition.
“The top contenders were inspiring, successful, and impactful. All should be supported by investors,” encouraged Dr Audrey Verhaeghe, chairperson of the SA Innovations Summit, who also suggested that would-be investors review the entrants on the SA Innovation Summit’s website or join the main event in September this year.
The judging panel included: Hannah Subayi Kamuanga, Partner at Dazzle Angels, Xolo Motswasele, Group Executive Business Development at AYO Technology Solutions Limited, Shigeru Handa, Director at Asia Africa Investment & Consulting, Wakeel Mclachlan, Group Executive Investments at AYO Technology Solutions Limited AYO has also intimated that it is currently reviewing some of the entries, who complement its current portfolio, for possible investment.