The AMPION Venture Bus competition touched down in Windhoek on the 10th of November with the participants accommodated at the Safari Hotels (who were generous enough to sponsor us a conference hall and free wi-fi on short notice). The actual event hosted by us which included a hackathon and startup pitch sessions took place the next day(11th November) at the NBII Mobile Lab located at the Polytechnic of Namibia Innovation Village.
36 participants came together to travel from Harare to Cape Town and build 9 startup teams of which E-Maji, a device to monitor biological water contamination at source, was chosen as winner at the final pitch held at AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town. This year saw an awesome batch of participants with various backgrounds from MIT graduates, former Vodacom managers, investment bankers and of course developers from Africa and around the globe.
A total of six Namibian participants qualified to board the bus. Two of those, Anastacia Shipepe of team MEM(a platform to facilitate growth for SME’s in Africa) and Harry Moon of team DaMark.com (a platform to bridge the gap between formal and informal business sector in Africa) represented Namibia in 2014.
We had the chance to meet some awesome people and facilitate the first Namibian participants and make some noise about startups to get interest in Namibia going. To follow up on the bus coming to Windhoek, we will be facilitating meetings between Namibian and SADC tech hubs to find points of synergy in the upcoming months. We will also be working with local players in innovation to expand the Venture Bus idea in a local context.
We are also happy to announce that SAIS, Leap Namibia, information.na and Microsoft are already onboard for next year’s bus. We’ll keep you updated on how the movement grows going forward and thank you for your support!
The StartupBus programme was founded in 2010 in the US by Elias Bizanneson the premise that “Entrepreneurship cannot be taught but we believe it can be learned”. The idea is to put around 40 multi disciplinary entrepreneurs on a bus in a given locale and have them build a company in three to five days after which they pitch their business models/ ideas to a panel of judges and one company gets chosen for funding/acceleration. The big payoff is the networks created by participants who go on to utilize their skills and new found connections back at their respective places of residence and/or business.
Alumni of the StartupBus competition have spawned some notable startups amongst them Instacart which just recently secured 8.5 million USD in funding from famed Silicon Valley tech VC, Sequoia Capital, Branch which was recently purchased by Facebook for 15 million USD and Sterio.Me which has already partnered with schools across Africa to roll out its pilot programme to help students access educational content over mobile.
Fast forward to 2014 and StartupBus competition is now present on three continents with over 200 participants, but we would like to home in on the StartupBus Africa programme. The first StartupBus Africa competition kicked off in 2013 with a southern African leg touching down in Harare in Zimbabwe and Joburg, Bloemfontein, Cape Town in South Africa. This year the competition is aggressively expanding, enlisting a whopping 160 entrepreneurs and will include the following countries on the bus routes:
Last years StartupBus Africa competition spawned Workforce a mobile construction labor hiring platform, funeral.ly a funeral management app and Sterio.Me a free educational platform to help teachers engage more with their students through an SMS activated audible quiz. With this years expanded bus routes and many more entrepreneurs there should be many new exciting startups coming from African soil.
On top of their outstanding entrepreneurial skills, the participants bring sound knowledge in IT, web design, new media and business development. They will form interdisciplinary teams and work on different projects during the journey, with focus in 3 key areas: energy, healthcare and education.
At least half of the buspreneurs come from Africa and because we believe in the entrepreneurial energy of young women, we strive to have 50% of female buspreneurs on each bus.
To make sure that the bus reaches Namibian roads we need YOUR help. There are several sponsorship options for your organisation or company to become partners in StartupBus Namibia. Please click here get into contact with us or send an email to [email protected].
Namibia has set itself a target in the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4) of becoming the most competitive economy in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region by 2017. This was the message of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Joel Kaapanda at the Polytechnic of Namibia’s first annual Technology Day here on Wednesday. His special advisor, Mvula ya Nangolo, read the Minister’s speech on his behalf at the day being hosted under the theme “Innovative technologies for enhanced teaching, learning and assessment in Universities of Science and Technology”. “You will all agree with me that without proper investment in education, and especially higher education, this will not be possible. Knowledge and intellectual property are key to achieving national development,” Kaapanda said.
For the country to achieve Vision 2030 and become a knowledge-based society, it is vital that its citizens engage in continuous lifelong learning to acquire knowledge and remain relevant and competitive. He added that monitoring and evaluation reports of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have also shown that some progress has been made in increasing enrolments in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
THE Namibian Government is injecting huge stimulus into the Namibian economy in order to accelerate the growth of local enterprises. The recent promulgation of the amended Regulation 28 and 29 of the Pension Funds Act has the potential to unlock capital and channel its flow towards entrepreneurial businesses.Amended Regulation 28, which limits the extent to which retirement funds can invest in specific asset categories, stipulates that of the 35% compulsory investment in Namibian assets, the exposure in dual listed shares is required to reduce to 10% over the next 4 years. Amended Regulation 29 requires Pension and Provident Funds to invest a minimum of 1,75% of total assets under management in unlisted investments by 2017. This could lead to a massive boost for entrepreneurship in Namibia, as the availability of capital for private enterprises will surge and the Namibian Stock Exchange could see a gradual increase in listing activity of local companies.Nothing ventured, nothing gained