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Hummingbird is raising $24M to back impactful tech ventures in Africa

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Hummingbird Impact, a for-profit and impact-driven tech venture fund launched recently by the Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB Canada) at its Global xChange 2020 Conference, is raising $24m for startups in Africa.

Hummingbird Impact, banking on EWB Canada’s nearly a decade experience delivering talent and seed capital to early-stage, for-profit social ventures in Africa with a track record of 11 investments, will operate autonomously though it’s supported by and affiliated with EWB Canada.

The fund is $20M blended-finance impact fund to invest in scalable, tech-enabled social ventures at the pre-Seed, Seed and Series A stages. The $4M will be a technical assistance facility to accelerate the growth and impact performance of its portfolio. 

According to Boris Martin, CEO of EWB Canada, “Spinning off a business unit has precedence at EWB. We do it when it allows us to reach sustainable impact at scale. In this case, Hummingbird will allow us to catalyse both philanthropic and commercial capital towards a shared mission.”

Hummingbird, a gender-lens investor, will focus on bringing a holistic approach to business practices that promotes women’s economic participation, leadership and entrepreneurship. The fund will contribute to the sustainable development of the continent by leapfrogging growth obstacles. By proving the financial and impact potential of investing in diverse teams, Hummingbird will be working both private and public investors to address inequality and promote empowerment by dedicating capital towards women-led and locally founded African startups. 

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“Gender equality and women’s empowerment are key to reducing global poverty. Research also shows that gender and ethnically diverse teams are positively correlated with higher impact and profitability than their peers. Hummingbird will therefore commit 100% of its proceeds towards these underserved, undervalued and undercapitalised ventures,” says Muthoni Wachira, Founding Partner for Hummingbird. “It is my personal ambition to even out the funding landscape and see more gender and ethnic representation at the investor and investee levels. It is not only our moral imperative, it is smart economics,” she concludes.


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Ukheshe launches track & trace to assist with Covid-19 infection alerts

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Ukheshe, a SMME focused digital banking platform, has launched a Track and Trace service using its existing payment ecosystem to assist consumers to manage any possible risk factors in level three lockdown.

Ukeshe’s CEO and co-founder, Clayton Hayward says that Covid-19 is a concern for all citizens and in addition to making the platform free for grant disbursements, Ukheshe wanted to assist in other ways: “We created a track and trace solution to assist consumers to keep updated on infection rates and if they have been compromised.”

As a registered user, by simply checking-in, using the Ukheshe app or via Whatsapp at any business displaying the company’s Masterpass QR code, you will be updated on any Covid-19 infections. For new users without a smartphone, Ukheshe can be accessed by using a USSD code.

“If any infections are reported, the track and trace solution will enable the relevant venue to immediately contact anyone that has visited the location: “Our payment platform is a perfect solution to keep consumers updated and to help fight to flatten the curve,” says Hayward.

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The Ukheshe App is free, user friendly and easy to download for anyone needing to transact without a bank account.

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=guru.jini.ukheshe&hl=en_ZA

iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ukheshe/id1350353337

For more formation visit www.ukheshe.co.za


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Huawei’s global smartwatch shipment rises to second place in Q1 2020

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Huawei’s global smartwatch shipment rose to second place in Q1 2020 according to recent data by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Huawei comes second after Apple according to the report dubbed the Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report. The report showed that global shipments of wearable devices reached 72.6 million units in the first quarter of 2020, with a year-on-year increase of 29.7%.

According to the report, Huawei maintained a high share of the wearable market in the first quarter of 2020, with a year-on-year smartwatch shipment increase of 62.2%. 

In the smartwatch segment, 16.9 million units of smartwatches were shipped in the first quarter of 2020, down 7.1% year on year. Huawei ranked second with 2.6 million units shipped, up 118.5% year on year, making it the only smartwatch brand to grow more than 100%.

Latest smartwatch market data by IDC

The IDC report said that Huawei continued to grow thanks to its strong online presence and close ties with retailers. Besides the Chinese market, Huawei also made successful progress in Europe, Latin America, and other Asian markets.

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Meanwhile, Huawei’s smartwatch business is growing against the tide, resulting from its new product launch in the first quarter as well as constant optimisation of fitness and health features. In the first quarter in 2020, Huawei launched the new HUAWEI WATCH GT 2 Series devices globally. Through continuous optimisation in sensor technology, Huawei smartwatches bring more remarkable advantages over its competitors in fitness and health tracking. The SpO2 blood oxygen level measuring feature came with the new HUAWEI WATCH GT Series also received positive feedback from the market.

HUAWEI WATCH GT 2e launched in Q1 2020 received the “Best Choice” award from Pocketnow, a top global tech outlet.

Furthermore, as Huawei is accelerating the implementation of 1+8+N All-Scenario Seamless AI Life Strategy in 2020, Huawei smartwatches are integrating into Huawei’s all-scenario ecosystem in a better way, offering consumers richer fitness and health experiences.


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Diaspora remittances critical for Covid-19 recovery: COMESA

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Remittance flows to Sub Saharan African countries will drop by 23.1% from $48 billion in 2019 to $37 billion in 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 economic crisis, according to the World Bank.

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Globally, the top remittance recipients’ countries, last year were, India ($79 bn), China ($67 bn), Mexico ($36 bn), the Philippines ($34 bn), and Egypt ($26.7 bn) among other countries.

In COMESA region, the leading recipients of remittances were Egypt (US$ 26,791 million), Kenya (US$ 2,819 million), Tunisia (US$ 1,912 million), DR Congo (US 1,823 million) and Zimbabwe (US$ 1,730).

In terms of contribution of remittances to GDP, Zimbabwe led with 13.5%, Comoros (11.5%) and Egypt (8.2%).

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Further, the World Bank estimates that foreign direct investment will drop by around 35% due to travel restrictions, disruption of international trade and decline in the stock prices of multinationals. Thus, diaspora remittances will remain crucial to many countries in the region.

COMESA Director of Trade and Customs Dr Christopher Onyango observes: “Diaspora remittances are a key source of investments and enabler of economic growth and sustainable development. They have multiplier effects in the economy through savings, investments, fiscal and debt sustainability.”

In his report on the impact of COVID-19 on diaspora remittances, he notes that affluent countries such as the USA, France, United Kingdom, Italy and China, which account for up to a quarter of all funds remitted to African countries are among the worst hit by the pandemic.

“Migrants in the diaspora have lost jobs and taken pay-cuts amidst the corona virus outbreak and subsequent lockdown leading to the drastic fall in remittances. Thus, many countries have suffered a double blow more so those that remittances constitute a significant share of the GDPs,” he says.

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Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has tremendously constrained mobility and travelling across countries, and this may reverse the gains already made in promoting greater openness and flexibility in migration.  This is because a range of professionals and semi-skilled workers are needed to provide various services.

Dr Onyango adds: “About 13% of essential workers, including ICT technicians, teachers, health professionals, sports men and women, cleaners, drivers and other general workers in Europe are immigrants. Stringent immigration policies are therefore likely to close out immigrant workers and therefore reduce diaspora remittances.”

The other challenge has been the high cost of sending remittances. According to the World Bank’s Remittance Prices Worldwide database, the global average cost of sending $200 stood at around 7% in the first quarter of 2019. No wonder the reduction of remittance costs to 3% by 2030 is a global target under the SDGs.

For many countries in Africa and the small islands in the Pacific, the costs are above 10% thus encouraging the use of informal channels or even illegal transactions, including money laundering. In addition, actual data is not captured in most cases leading to under estimations.

The report identified banks in Africa as the most expensive remittance channels, charging an average fee of 11% in the first quarter of 2019. Post offices were the next most expensive, at over 7%. Remittance fees tend to include a premium where national post offices have an exclusive partnership with a money transfer operator.

Within Africa and by extension COMESA, Dr Onyango says the commitments to remove restrictions on the movement of persons across the region specially professionals and other essential workers is now paramount. Restrictions hinder productivity and growth of both migrant source and destination countries and subsequently the associated remittances.

Going forward, the Director says Member States needs to undertake financial regulatory reforms to streamline and effectively reduce the costs of sending remittances. In addition, Member States should not only fully implement the protocols on free movement persons, labour and services and that of elimination of visa requirements, but also develop specific rules and regulations to guide and harness remittances as a critical source economic growth and development.

At the global level, he notes, there is need for sustained migration reforms considering the role played by migrants during the pandemic, with many of them being in the front line. Even more importantly, such reforms will enhance peaceful coexistence of humanity to foster global economic development.

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