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Today's Top Entrepreneurship and Business Stories (11 August)

Call For Digital Startups To Enter Africa’s Largest Tech Startup Competition, Department of Labour Inspects JSE Companies' Employment Equity Plans, and more


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Call For Digital Startups To Enter Africa’s Largest Tech Startup Competition

Digital startups from South Africa and the continent are being called on to enter the 2017 edition of DEMO Africa before 31 August 2017. 

DEMO Africa is a platform that gives technology entrepreneurs an opportunity to meet with potential investors and technology buyers. The selected thirty startups are also each provided mentorship and tools worth more than R3.3-million.

The Gauteng Province is the host for DEMO Africa 2017 which takes place from 23 - 24 November 2017 at the Birchwood Hotel and Convention Centre, making it the second year that South Africa’s largest economic province, which is also the technology hub for Africa, will host the event.

"We are very excited to be working with the Gauteng Province to showcase Africa’s best technology entrepreneurs and provide them an opportunity to launch and pitch their products and services," says Harry Hare, executive director and producer at DEMO Africa.

David Makhura, Premier, Gauteng Province, says: "We recognize that DEMO Africa brings the best emerging technology firms in Africa and introduces new technology trends and investment opportunities to about 2 000 investors, technology buyers, corporate acquirers, company founders, SME support institutions, strategic partners and global press. As such DEMO Africa is well suited to the economic profile and economic development plan of the Gauteng Province."

DEMO Africa has launched more than 180 startups in the last five years who have raised more than R700-million in investment and business deals. Some of the notable startups to launch at DEMO Africa include GoMetro, GMaven, Eduze, SpacePointe, Zuvaa, Shop Soko, Lipisha, Eneza Education, Eventus, Traffic Bytes and Vivifi.

The DEMO Africa programme includes an 8-week mentorship programme and access to tools and services from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. 

This year, the DEMO Africa team toured 14 cities in Africa to identify startups that fit the DEMO Africa selection criteria. Companies that launch at DEMO Africa must:

  • Have a working product
  • Have an innovative solution to a difficult problem
  • Have a team to execute the solution
  • Have potential to scale and
  • Be investor ready.

Apply to launch through the Venture Africa portal at www.venture-africa.com by 31 August 2017.

Department of Labour Inspects JSE Companies' Employment Equity Plans

The Department of Labour said on Thursday that its inspection and enforcement services branch had initiated a national director-general review to inspect 72 companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) to ensure compliance with employment equity.

The department said the initiative was part of achieving the department’s outcome to promote equity in the labour market. The review team started with the inspections last month and these will continue until December. 

The review involves a process of interrogating companies’ employment equity plans to assess whether the plans comply with legislation and was able to transform when put to test.

Fikiswa Mncanca, the department’s chief director for statutory and advocacy services, said the programme started with a review of the JSE Securities Exchange, which the department found was wanting when its came to employment equity implementation.

Mncanca said the review found that the JSE plan was not complying in terms of Section 20 (2) of the Employment Equity Act and recommendations were issued and the chief executive, Nicky Newton-King, and her team signed the recommendations and agreed to address the shortcomings.

The JSE was given 60 days to comply. 

Mncanca said the department was also busy with employment equity workshops across the country while the inspections and review were in progress. 

"It is our responsibility to educate our stakeholders on the expectations, conduct inspections to check compliance and for those employers that are not willing to comply, refer them for prosecutions and enforcement compliance," Mncanca said.

Mncanca said that if a company did not have a plan, it would be subjected to a fine of R1.5 million and that those failing to report on employment equity plans would also be subjected to a R1.5 million penalty. (via African News Agency)

New Africa Infrastructure Fund Launched

 A.P. Moller Holding has together with PKA, PensionDanmark and Lægernes Pension launched a new infrastructure fund with a focus on Africa. The fund has received commitments of USD 550 million from anchor investors.

The new fund will focus on investments in infrastructure in Africa to support sustainable economic growth in the region while delivering an attractive return to its investors.

The fund will be managed by A.P. Moller Capital, which is an affiliate of A.P. Moller Holding, and consists of a team lead by four partners, Kim Fejfer, Lars Reno Jakobsen, Jens Thomassen and Joe Nicklaus Nielsen. The partners all have extensive industrial and investment experience combined with a substantial network in Africa.

"We are very pleased with the significant support from the Danish pension funds and A.P. Moller Holding. Together, we will build and operate infrastructure business in Africa to support sustainable development and improvements in living standards across the continent. We will combine the best from industry in terms of project management and operational capabilities with the best from private equity in terms of agility and focus," says Kim Fejfer, Managing Partner and CEO of A.P. Moller Capital.

"A.P. Moller Holding was established to build value creating businesses that have a positive impact on society. Africa, with a working-age population likely to reach more than one billion people in the next decades, has a pressing requirement for more investments in infrastructure. In this respect, we are delighted to have established a new promising company in our portfolio with a strong team, who hold the right capabilities and experience to manage infrastructure investments in emerging markets," says Robert Mærsk Uggla, CEO of A.P. Moller Holding.

The fund has a duration of 10 years and has an initial target of 10 to 15 investments in total.

Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO at PKA: "PKA has for many years invested in infrastructure both in Denmark and abroad. We have positive experiences investing in Africa and we have for a long time wanted to invest more on the continent. With this new fund we will be making infrastructure investments in Africa and get the opportunity to provide a good return to the pension savers and at the same time make a positive difference in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals."

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