Victoria from Techpoint here,
Here's what I've got for you today:
- Access Corp launches a standalone digital lending platform
- Accelerate Africa wants to be the YC of Africa
- Cell C to cut workforce by 40%
- Uzapoint partners Pezesha
Access Corp launches a standalone digital lending platform
Access Corporation, Access Bank's parent company, is launching Oxygen X, a standalone digital lending subsidiary.
Although the launch date for Oxygen X is undisclosed, the company has received preliminary approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria to begin operations.
Unlike traditional banking, you don't need an Access Bank account to access this new platform.
Oxygen X aims to provide digital lending solutions to a broader market beyond existing banking customers, making it more accessible to users who may not have accounts with Access Bank.
Access Corp is entering a competitive market to cater to an increasing number of digitally native consumers, competing with other digital lenders such as Carbon and OPay.
Zoom out: Access Bank Zambia Limited recently acquired African Banking Corporation Zambia Limited — trading as Atlas Mara Zambia — after receiving all necessary regulatory approvals.
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Accelerate Africa wants to be the YC of Africa
Remember that in March 2023, Y Combinator (YC) laid off 17 team members, or about 20% of the accelerator's workforce, after announcing that it would offer late-stage startups fewer checks?
In the same year, the accelerator reduced the size of its cohort as startups found it more challenging to raise funds, affecting African startups.
Consequently, Accelerate Africa, an accelerator programme backed by a $750,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an agency responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance, aims to be the YC of Africa.
Founders: Accelerate Africa is the brainchild of Iyin Aboyeji, the former co-founder of Andela and Flutterwave, and Mia von Koschitzky-Kimani, Managing Partner at Future Africa and previously Vice President Incubation Lead Micro-Retail at MasterCard Labs.
Objective: The “YC of Africa" plans to nurture ten pre-seed and seed-stage startups from all African countries during an eight-week programme, focusing on storytelling, team building, and business/product development. However, the accelerator promises no investment.
Differentiator: Accelerate Africa differentiates itself from Y Combinator by emphasising its African perspective, access to regulators, and understanding of the local market.
Operational Model: The programme will be conducted in-person in Nairobi and Lagos, with follow-on funding for participating startups serving as a gauge of success. The accelerator says this move is due to a previous messy experience during the pilot phase.
Demo Day: During demo day, participating startups will pitch to several investors, including angel investors, Series A and B investors, and Future Africa, with varying check sizes.
For more information, check this out: Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is building Africa's Y Combinator but without the money
Cell C to cut workforce by 40%
Cell C, a South African telco, is considering reducing its junior management and semi-skilled workforce by 40%, four months after cutting its headcount from 2,600 to 900.
The move comes as the company faces operational challenges and seeks to increase flexibility while cutting costs.
The restructuring follows a review of the organisational structure and operating model, with a focus on addressing business stagnation, silos, redundant roles, and operational inefficiencies.
Cell C's workforce reduction plan reflects the company's financial struggles and declining user base.
For instance, between June 2022 and September 2023, the telco's customer base dropped by 4.59 million, indicating a significant challenge.
Besides, in 2020, Cell C laid off 960 employees due to poor financial performance and an employee protest over unpaid bonuses.
In November 2023, the company sought to transfer its telecom licences to major shareholder Blue Label Telecoms, further indicating its strategic restructuring efforts.
Zoom out: Lyca Mobile's seven-year partnership with Cell C ended a week ago when the mobile virtual network operator shut up shop in South Africa after six years of operation.
Uzapoint partners Pezesha
What’s the news? Uzapoint Technologies, a Kenyan software company, and Pezesha, a fintech startup, have collaborated to improve access to finance for micro and small businesses across Africa.
This partnership allows Uzapoint merchants to easily access affordable working capital by integrating Pezesha's APIs into the Uzapoint Point of Sale (PoS) platform.
Why does it matter? The partnership aims to tackle the issues presented by elevated inflation rates and the expanding low-income sector within Kenya's retail industry.
This new development intends to mitigate stockouts, a recurring problem for enterprises earning less than KSh 5,000 ($31.06) daily, by giving Uzapoint merchants easily accessible working capital.
The Big Picture: Ivy Kariuki, Managing Director of Uzapoint, stressed the company's dedication to innovation and economic development.
In addition to streamlining the supply chain for micro and small businesses, integrating Pezesha's financial solutions into the Uzapoint PoS platform will better equip retailers and promote customer-friendly retail environments and sustainability.
Zoom out: Pezesha, which raised $11 million pre-Series A in 2022, submitted a petition to liquidate a B2B eCommerce platform, MarketForce Technologies Limited's (MarketForce), due to “outstanding debts” in December 2023.
In case you missed it
- UNDP and Africa launch $1 billion Timbuktoo initiative for a startup revolution
- GhIPSS and Visa plan to expand payment services in Ghana
- Egyptian banks impose card limits for travellers due to forex challenges
- Convergence Partners to acquire Datacentrix for improved client operations
- Patricia plans to repay customers in 2 to 5 years for "expectation management purposes"
- Egyptian healthtech startup Yodawy raises $10 million to scale
- Paratus South Africa and Eutelsat OneWeb launch connectivity services to drive business growth
- South Africa's TymeBank turns first-ever profit nearly five years post-launch
- General Atlantic to acquire Actis, creating a $96 billion diversified investment platform
What I'm reading and watching
- LinkedIn rolls out new job search features to make it easier to find relevant opportunities
- If You Can't Answer These 6 Questions You Don't Have A Story - Glenn Gers
- South African lawyer's incredible speech accusing Israel of genocide at ICJ
- Pitch Friday is tomorrow, Friday, January 19, 2024. To attend or pitch, click this link.
- Voltrox HQ is looking for a Full Stack Developer in Nigeria. Apply for the remote role here.
- Lightcurve (based in Berlin) is hiring remotely for a Tech Lead, Head of Marketing, Senior Legal Counsel, Senior Product Manager, and Head of Business Development. Apply here.
- MailerLite is looking for a Product Designer. Apply here.
- Blueground is hiring a Product Manager. Apply here.
- Kenyan startups focused on embedded finance, future fintech, SME productivity tools, and content like local gaming and mobile advertising can apply for Safaricom’s Spark Accelerator programme. For more information, check this out.
- GitLab is hiring a Product Designer. Apply here.
- The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is looking for an editor to support the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship. Apply here.
- Application for the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) Class of 2025 is now open. Check out the one-year, fully sponsored, graduate-level programme in tech entrepreneurship here before March 18, 2023.
- Do you live in Nigeria and work with a local or foreign company? Whether it's remotely, on-site, hybrid, full-time, part-time or as a freelancer, @TheIntelpoint is trying to understand the Nigerian workspace: how you work, and toxicity in the workspace among others. Please, fill out the questionnaire here.
- If you are a software engineer, creative designer, product manager, design researcher, or a techie looking for an internship role, please, check out this website.
Have a fabulous Thursday!
Victoria Fakiya for Techpoint Africa.