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AfricArena Southern Africa Summit - Event recap and winning startups

AfricArena hosted the Southern Africa Summit, which took place on 19 and 20 May, at Workshop 17 in Johannesburg. The 2-day conference featured pitches from 20+ startups operating in southern Africa, between Seed stage and Growth stage, as well as keynotes and panel discussions from the top minds in business, tech and investment in the region.

AfricArena is an African tech ecosystem accelerator. Through events, AfricArena accelerates the growth of tech startups and the ecosystems in which they operate by providing a platform where they can share their business model, gain valuable networks and attain funding. The Southern Africa Summit is the first of four regional events AfricArena will host across the continent. The 2-day hybrid event brought together startups, investors, corporations, public and global institution representatives, and other key stakeholders operating in the region.

The Southern Africa Summit took place in Johannesburg (Workshop 17) South Africa on 19 and 20 May 2021. A day preceding the conference, pitching startups took part in a series of workshops facilitated by the local incubator, the French South African Tech Labs (FSAT Labs).

Over the 2 days, the Summit had over 20 startups showcase their innovative solutions. Most of these startups were pre-selected through a series of virtual pitch sessions that took place between 15 and 29 April 2021. The pitch sessions were divided into three tracks: seed stage, series A and growth/late stage.

The event was sponsored by Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), the French Embassy in South Africa, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Edge Growth.

Pitching startups

Seed track: Appload (Mozambique); Sparco (Zambia); Mohiri (Botswana); Viero Tech (South Africa); LumaLaw (South Africa); 123Tutors (South Africa); Mechanico (South Africa); ZPOS (Zambia); Sorted (South Africa); Foiscience (South Africa) and Respo (South Africa)

Series A track: Lupiya (Zambia); Carscan (South Africa); LocumBase (South Africa); JobJack (South Africa); Franc (South Africa); Snode (South Africa)

Growth stage track: EMguidance (South Africa); ReachRepublic (South Africa) Flow (South Africa)


Best seed stage: 123tutors

Best Series A: Lupiya

Best Growth stage: EMguidance

Most innovative business model: Snode

Most promising entrepreneur: Zamokuhle Thwala


There was a diverse and content-rich line-up of speakers from across specialities and experiences at the Summit, with 6 keynote presentations


Vincent Viviers - speaking on scaling BOTTLES app & being acquired by a large corporate, Pick n Pay.

Olivier Laouchez - CEO of TRACE Group - spoke about his journey building the media company and the launch of the educational arm, TRACE Academia.

Philip Kiracofe - Co-founder of Startupbootcamp AfriTech - highlighted some of the key trends in the African tech ecosystem, in terms of venture funding.

Matsi Modise - Vice-Chairperson: SIMODISA and Founder & CEO: Furaha Afrika Holdings - presented on the need of building a Start-up Act in South Africa.

Abu Cassim - Founder of Jozi Angels - delivered a presentation on the state of seed stage funding in South Africa.

Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly - Country Director, Southern Africa: The World Bank - spoke on “Scaling the Southern Africa ecosystem to the next level,” mainly through more collaboration between stakeholders and more diaspora coming back to invest in local economies.

Panel discussions included: Lelemba Phiri (Catalyst Fund); Rajiv Daya (Founders Factory Africa); Renier Kriel (FSAT Labs); Murendeni Mafumo (Kusini Water), and more.

Prior to the event’s conclusion, the tables were turned: whereby investors, namely Clive Butkow of Kalon Venture Partners and Lelemba Phiri (Africa Trust Group and Enygma Ventures), pitched their funds to 3 startups, who in turn asked questions and rated them.


Speaking at the opening of the event, French Ambassador in SA Aurelien Le Chevallier stated “We will be doing everything we can to support the acceleration of the digital economy in South Africa and on the continent. This event is important to inspire entrepreneurs to expand beyond local borders.”

Patrick Krappie, Technology Innovation Agency CEO, added “AfricArena prepares our entrepreneurs for the world out there and pushed them to understand their solutions are not only relevant for the local market, but globally”

“A big congratulations on the AfricArena event. [They] brought together a group of awesome people! It was also great to have an in-person event again. Zoom has been great, but I miss really connecting with people. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share our story.” - Abu Cassim, Founder of Jozi Angels.

Next regional event

AfricArena will be hosting the West Africa Summit in late June in Dakar Senegal. The 2-day event will follow the same format as its predecessor. The main addition in the West Africa Summit will be the Investor Unconference taking place the day before the summit - where the most active investors in the region will be invited to network and take part in workshops and discussions.


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