THE BLOG

5 Startups That are Taking South Africa by Storm

06/18/2014 10:53 am ET | Updated Aug 18, 2014

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Although they didn't qualify for the World Cup, South Africa is still on the minds of many across the world. With 11 official languages and the continent's second largest economy, South Africa is poised for continued growth and exciting innovation within its blossoming tech scene.

Let's take a look at some of the most influential startups that are taking South Africa by storm.

Mellowcabs

Although they are making many improvements, the public transportation system in South Africa is not on par with other first world countries. Locals and travelers are reliant on the taxi system in order to get around. This opens up a big market for taxi startups in the country. Managing Director, Neil Du Preez and his team came across a rather lucrative and technologically advanced startup, Mellowcabs.

Mellowcabs are electronic vehicles (manufactured from recycled materials) focused on providing transport for commuters within a 3km radius. Currently local transportation startups have to compete with international companies such as Uber, but Mellowcabs has a way of setting themselves apart from the competition.

What makes them different is their revenue model, which relies on advertising and to a lesser extent, passenger fares. They make money from companies advertising in and on their vehicles in the form of banner ads; genius! These taxi-cabs operate in areas where trains and buses don't so they have found their niche; believe it or not one Mellowcab can provide 120kms of travel distance per day.

As their slogan reads; Efficient transportation - Irresistible Advertising

Edge Campus

One of the most pressing matters in South Africa is  the poor education system and lack of efficient teachers. The Edge Campus initiative is aimed at offering high quality, low cost education solutions to the masses. As explained by one of the founders, Paul; "The inequality that exits in the education system is horrifying and we wanted to do our bit in improving the situation".

They've realized that student assessments and management can be rather time consuming. Founded in Stellenbosch, Edge Campus launched Qurio; the ultimate teaching and question-asking tool. Qurio can be viewed as an application displaying various features such as quizzes, multiple choice questions etc. It allows the student to be interactive with the content. It saves the teacher the effort in having to mark every student's tasks.

This free basic application is web-based so nothing has to be downloaded. It can be used via the software's native mobi-site and Mxit.

SPOTTM

As you might have heard, South Africa has a problem with crime; logging in at number seven on the crime per capita world list.

This is where SPOTTM fits in; created as an awareness application for communities and neighborhoods to report and monitor the crime in their area they've realized that it is harder for criminals to operate in close-knit community. This networking platform puts the power back in the community's hands where they can connect on a safe, transparent and secure level.

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This platform allows victims and witnesses to report the incidents of crime and create awareness on a bigger scale. Think of it as an evolved neighborhood watch system. SPOTTM works alongside your local Neighborhood watches, SAPS, City Departments and Community Police Forums. Users can report crimes and incidents, stay connected with the community, organize events, create localized neighborhood watches, buy and sell goods no longer needed.

BRCK

The reason why most startups come to life is because they've developed an idea to fill a need or solve a problem. It's all about simplifying and enhancing our lifestyles. Effective communication is another troublesome area within rural parts of South Africa. Individuals are yearning to join the online generation, but not everyone has this luxury. In order to evolve we need to stay connected and with many rural settlements and underprivileged communities there is no 'connectivity'.

BRCK is solving Africa's connectivity issues and even describes their product as "the easiest, most reliable way to connect to the internet, anywhere in the world, even when you don't have electricity". The team consists of expert software developers, technologists and engineers and the prototype was created in Nairobi, Kenya. BRCK will change the way in which we connect, the product can 'jump' from network to network to find the best connectivity. Read more about the specifications, here.

Snapscan

Dubbed SA's App of the year in 2013, Snapscan allows you to pay your bills by using your phone or tablet device. Download the application for your Apple, Android or Blackberry device and get started. Firstly you scan the SnapCode on your bill or at the payout, then you enter the amount you want to pay and your four-digit pin code and the payment will be made.

As co-founder, Kobus Ehlers explains that payment information is secure on the application and your banking details only need to be entered once.  You will be asked to enter your pin and at no point will Snapscan transmit the card details to the merchant.

Small business and merchants can retrieve the money by getting a voucher code at the end of each day and punch it in at a Standard Bank ATM or Spar. The application is free to download, super safe and really simplifies the payment process.

These are just a hand full of the thousands of innovative startups making name in South Africa. It is great to see entrepreneurs step up and provide solutions to a country with immense possibilities.