Last week, Startup Digest Africa unveiled the Startup Digest Africa Founders Top 10 at Swarm 2017. This is the ranking of the top 10 tech startups in Uganda as ranked by people who have founded and still running tech startups in Uganda.
The year 2017 has been a remarkable one in Uganda's entrepreneurship calendar. It has witnessed the rise in a number of personalities and startups crossing barriers - both visible and invisible - to establish Uganda as one of the top startup ecosystems on the African continent.
The year has also seen several startups raise increasing amounts of funding, get accepted into reputable acceleration programs as well as several other achievements you'll find out as you read on.
The Startup Digest Africa Founders Top 10 will become an annual ranking and we believe it'll shine a light on individuals and startups that'd have performed extremely well for that particular year. In turn, this will unlock several opportunities - in form of partnerships, collaboration, funding, customers etc - for them.
This year's list, the inaugural one, features startups from the Agritech, fintech, health tech and other fields. One outstanding fact is that the top two startups were founded by women.
Teheca is a patient care firm that provides compassionate, caring & qualified care assistants for sick, elderly, special needs & new mothers in Uganda. The startup had an eventful 2017 having been selected among the top 4 startups in the first cohort of the Up Accelerate program. This meant the startup secured $10,000 which was used for their boot camps. But, on top of that, they went ahead and launched Prepared Mama, an improved version of Mama Kit. A product aimed at millennial mothers. They also emerged winners of the first ever MasterCard Innovation Challenge in East Africa organised by Makerere University Business School with a cash prize of $2500.
9. MamboPayMamboPay is a payment solution that leverages digital vouchers and cards to drive accountability in payments. Founded in 2013, the startup is the oldest on the ranking list. This year, the startup emerged winners of the best finance app category at the MTN Innovation Awards 2017. They had previously emerged as runners-up the first time the awards were held in 2015.
Akorion is an agritech company digitizing agricultural value chains to enable smallholder farmers to access high-quality production and marketing services. This year must have been one of the best for the startup founded in 2014. Apart from being selected to be part of part of the Westerwelle Foundation young Founders Programme, they won the digital catalyst award by USAID as well as being awarded among the most Innovative Idea by the World Economic Forum 2017.
The startup is part of Panya Tech, a company that is mostly known for their Panya bot. Sellio is an AI-powered advertising and sales automation software for small businesses in Africa. This year, Sellio was selected and pitched at the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa as well as at the Demo Africa Final.
6. Mazima Retirement Plan
Mazima Retirement Plan is registered as an irrevocable trust in Uganda and licensed by Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority targeting voluntary long-term savers. The startups market is mainly the informal sector ignored by the National Social Security Fund -NSSF. Founded in 2016, Mazima has achieved what many fail in several years. The startup has over 1000 subscribers who, between them, have saved over UGX. 700,000,000 ($190,000) under just two years. They have also signed strategic partnerships with Pride Micro Finance and MTN Uganda.
5. UriSAF (LabTECH)UriSAF is the second health startup on the ranking after Teheca. It is a portable healthcare kit for maternal and sexual reproductive healthcare for testing UTI’s gestational diabetes, ketosis and things mothers test for when they go for antenatal care check-ups. This year, the startup emerged a winner in the Intellectual Property Awards by Uganda Registration and Services Bureau. They also emerged the winner in the East Africa Global Impact Challenge by Singularity University which saw the startup spend over two months at the NASA campus in Silicon Valley mid this year. UriSAF was also shortlisted for the Africa Prize 2018 by the Royal Academy of Engineering.
SafeBoda is a community of motorcycle taxi (boda-boda) drivers bringing safety, trust and convenience to the industry in Africa. Founded in 2015, the startup raised an undisclosed amount of funding mid this year. Earlier in the year, it was also featured in the MIT Technology Review as well as the Guardian Newspaper. SafeBoda is also finalizing plans to launch in the Kenyan market, its second market after Uganda.
Numida helps small business owners ditch pen and paper and start keeping current, digital financial records that clearly show how their business is performing. The startup, founded in 2015, has enjoyed an eventful and successful year. Numida won the 2017 Seedstars Kampala, got accepted into the GSBI Social Enterprise Accelerator in San Francisco, raised $200,000 in funding in Sept. 2017 and also interviewed at Y Combinator in May 2017.
2. Wazi Vision
Wazi Vision provides more affordable eye care in Africa. Founded in 2016, the startup received a grant amounting to $75,000 from USADF in partnership with CITI Foundation in July 2017. On top of being admitted to the F-Lane Accelerator in Berlin, the startup also raised seed funding of $800,000 from Greentec Capital in October 2017.
At number one, we have !nnovate topping the Founders Top 10 ranking. Surely, 2017 has been a wonderful year for the startup. !nnovate's pioneer product, M-Voucher (Mobile Voucher) system, uses the USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) platform to enable agro-input dealers as well as agents to redeem electronic vouchers using simple basic mobile phones. The startup won the ICT4D Awards in May 2017 at ACIA Awards for M-Voucher with a reward of $7500, the best Agriculture app at MTN Innovation Awards in November 2017 with $3000 rewards and overall entrepreneur award in the Agriculture sector at this year’s Women In Africa club Summit in Marrakesh, Morocco. The founder Evelyn Namara was also crowned the innovator of the year at MTN Innovation Awards 2017.