Nigerian Firm, other African start-ups make WEF’s Technology Pioneers’ List

By Sharon O. Isaalah

World Economic Forum (WEF) has listed six African startups, including Nigeria’s Okra among its global Technology Pioneers of 2022.

They are among the 100-strong WEF global list of innovative tech startups for its 2022 Technology Pioneers cohort.

According to the WEF, the Technology Pioneers’ list is an assemblage of leading, “early-to growth-stage companies from around the world that are pioneering new technologies and innovations.”

This year’s cohort consists of 100 startups from across the world, including the six from Africa –Okra, Access Afya, Sendy, Pula Advisors, Ejara and Ampersand.

Following their unveiling, the technology pioneers would now join an alumni community that comprise some of the world’s most valuable tech companies, including Google, Twitter, Spotify, Wikipedia and Mozilla, among others.

“By joining this community, Technology Pioneers begin a two-year journey where they are part of the World Economic Forum’s initiatives, activities and events, bringing their cutting-edge insight and fresh thinking to critical global discussions.

“Technology Pioneers are an integral part of the Forum’s Global Innovators community, which is an invitation-only group of the world’s most promising start-ups and scale-ups that are at the forefront of technological and business model innovation,” the statement by WEF added.

Okra is a Nigerian Application Programming Interface (API)/fintech startup which specialises in digitalising financial services across the continent.

It does this by making it possible for fintechs and even banks to easily access customers’ financial information/data.

Okra — which was founded in 2019, by Fara Ashiru Jituboh and David Peterside, is described as a “one-stop-shop” platform that “empowers companies and developers to build products with seamless access to inclusive financial data and secure payments,” according to its website.

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The other five African Technology Pioneers are three Kenyan firms, Access Afya, Sendy and Pula Advisors.

Access Afya specialises in the provision of quality and affordable healthcare for the global mass market.

Using technology, the healthtech startup leverages available “patient data to facilitate efficient diagnostic, operational and follow-up care pathways.”

Sendy, another Kenyan startup specialises in building Africa’s ecommerce fulfilment infrastructure for consumer brands. In other words, the company makes “trading in Africa easier and more beneficial to more people” according to information available on its website.

Pula Advisors doubles as an insurance and technology company, designing innovative insurance and other digital products farmers. The goal is to de-risk all agricultural investments and guarantee profit.

Others are Ampersand of Rwanda, a startup that has been described as the leading battery-swap energy network for light vehicles. Information available on its website says: “we offer East Africa’s five million taxi motorcyclists a commercial electric motorcycle that is cheaper from day one, provides better overall user experience and requires minimal customer behaviour change.”

Ejara, the Cameroonian startup specialises in helping Africans at home and in the diaspora to invest in different forms of investments including equities, cryptos and commodities, among others..

Last year, eight African startups were named in the WEF 2021 Technology Pioneers list. The startups are: Cambridge Industries (Ethiopia), FlexFin Tx (Zimbabwe), Kuda (Nigeria), Moringa School (Kenya), mPharma (Ghana), Sokowatch (Kenya), 54Gene (Nigeria), and Gro Intelligence (Kenya).

According to WEF, the Technology Pioneers’ list is an assemblage of leading “early-to growth-stage companies from around the world that are pioneering new technologies and innovations.”

These startups are at the forefront of their industries, leading change and solving some of the world’s most pressing problems, including climate change, food security, cybersecurity, among others.

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