“By crawling, a child learns to stand”
As our Africa Week comes to an end, we take some time to share a summary of what can only be described as an incredibly successful launch into the African blockchain ecosystem.
Kofi Genfi, the Director of Business Strategy at Mazzuma, said “although we are united as Africans, the truth is that our cultures and countries are extremely fragmented. For the first time ever, there is a technology — blockchain, which allows us to unite our people, economies, and countries in ways that we have yet to experience.”
Hosted in Cape Town and Johannesburg, Africa Week demonstrated how the African continent is embracing blockchain technology as a medium to build new industries, new marketplaces, new asset classes, and new ways to transact. Given the wide range of basic infrastructure problems and lack of financial inclusion, blockchain technology has presented a variety of solutions that are changing the lives of millions.
“What previously was a challenge is now an opportunity, there is so much room for improvement and disruption. Africa is the perfect territory where blockchain use-cases can be built from the ground up, enhancing the ways in which Africans can interact and transact.” Brenton Naicker, CV VC Africa.
Africa Week consisted of two launch parties that were hosted by CV Labs, CV VC (Crypto Valley Venture Capital) and SECO, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. Together with Binance Smart Chain, the Cape Innovation & Technology Initiative, the Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn, and the University of Johannesburg, we successfully introduced the world to the thriving African blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem.
CV VC and SECO have firmly established their presence on the African continent and they have successfully demonstrated their commitment to accelerating the adoption of blockchain technologies. “As founders ourselves, we believe that blockchain technology is an unparalleled disruptive force that can power our world. Investing in these new blockchain ventures means investing in the future of our world. Our goal is to build a Crypto Valley outside of Switzerland. Blockchain is more than technology, blockchain resonates with people.” Mathias Ruch, Founder and CEO at CV VC.
This is an exciting time for Africa and we are excited to be a part of the life-changing technological evolution that is taking place.
It’s all about community, building it, engaging with it, and thriving within it!
First leg of the week — Cape Town
The Cape Town portion of Africa Week was held at the Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn. Khayelitsha exhibited the perfect combination of culture and community to help us kick things off for Africa Week. As Veronique Haller, Deputy Head of Commission for the Swiss Government, mentioned “the name Khayelitsha is a Xhosa phrase that means “new home”, and what a lovely message this is for CV VC and the Swiss Government’s initiative in Africa.”
We had the privilege of hosting sponsors, speakers, and startups that took us through the journey of blockchain technology and how it is currently solving real-world problems in Africa. Included in the prestigious lineup of speakers were Fritz Milosevic, Vodacom’s Managing Executive Ventures & Partnerships, Costas Constantinou, Founder & CEO of Lov. Cash, Zach George, Founder & CEO at Launch Africa Ventures, Co Pierre Georg, Associate Prof. at the University of Cape Town, Devon Krantz, Founder & CEO of Linum Labs, Justin Swart, VC Associate at Newtown Partners, Motlhabane Koloi, Greenfeld Investment Portfolio Manager at Wesgro, Judith Shoniwa, National Programme Officer at Swiss Economic Cooperation and Development, and Fleur Heyns, Founder & CEO at Proof of Impact. Guiding the conversation and engaging with our speakers and audience was our MC, Ian Merrington from the Cape Innovation & Technology Initiative.
South Africa was proud to host one of the international InCube Challenges, an interactive challenge where participants spend 5 days in a glass cube and together they attempt to provide a solution to a problem that matters. This year’s challenge was digital property rights and the winners conceptualized a data privacy innovation for emerging healthcare markets that tackles the lack of data privacy, traceability, and fragmentation. We were fortunate to have the South African challenge winners with us in Khayelitsha, presenting their solution. The InCube SA team was comprised of Jada Adache, Zino Cilliers, Lebohang Neo, Lunga Momoza, Christian Pierce (Facilitator), Janick Fischer, (ETH Zurich Operations), and Lungelo Njoko (SA Lead).
NFTs are a hot topic in the blockchain space, and what would the day be without including a one-of-a-kind NFT reveal? Globally acclaimed artist, Shinji Artiste, painted a mural on a wall in the Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn that visually articulates the synergy between technology and community. The artwork is called Blockchain Hive Rhythm and it will be auctioned off as an NFT on the Binance NFT Marketplace. To further install the commitment on building a community, all proceeds raised from the auction will be donated to the Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn to aid with the ongoing empowerment of local entrepreneurs.
The Cape Town leg of Africa Week concluded with a guided walking tour through the surrounding community of Khayelitsha, which allowed us to engage with the community and to experience firsthand how the African continent is already utilizing blockchain technology. Lov. Cash, a local South African success story of social upliftment and financial inclusion for informal communities, gave a demonstration of their cashless technology solution in one of the local Khaelitsha spaza shops. (“Spaza shop” is Southern African slang which means small informal shop in a township.)
Second leg of the week — Johannesburg
Set against the backdrop of the surrounding city, our second and final leg of Africa Week was held at the University of Johannesburg. We had the pleasure of hosting his Excellency, Dr. Nicolas Brühl, Ambassador of Switzerland to South Africa. During his address, he touched on the Swiss Government’s contribution towards “supporting the positively thriving local ecosystem and supporting the change for many across the continent. We will kickstart the process, support the process, and show that the process is feasible so that other investors and mentors can get involved in the initiative.”
Accompanying his Excellency, Dr. Nicolas Brühl in addressing our Johannesburg audience was Professor Saurabh Sinha, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Internationalisation at the University of Johannesburg, Bruno Olierhoek, CEO of Nestle, and Janet Terblanche, Head of Policy Division SARB, who all added value, wisdom, and expertise to the African blockchain ecosystem discussion. Our fantastic and enthusiastic MC for the event was Johannesburg-born entrepreneur, Antoinette Prophy.
Some of the many highlights of the day were the presentations by our very talented CV Labs Incubatees. Each business had the opportunity to address the audience and introduce its innovative technologies that are already impacting and improving the lives of millions.
- Mazuma (International remittance and mobile money — Ghana)
- HouseAfrica (Digital Property Validation System — Nigeria)
- Pravica (Decentralized communication suite for enterprises — Egypt)
- Carmachain (P2P data marketplace for the unbanked — Nigeria)
All incubatees successfully demonstrated how they have harnessed the power of blockchain technology to solve everyday problems experienced by those on the African continent. The African contingent of incubatees is reflective of CV VC and the Swiss Governments global investment strategy, to invest in blockchains’ wider applicability to solving problems and creating new markets, beyond crypto.
Both the Cape Town and Johannesburg launch parties were an incredible success, showcasing the thriving ecosystem, talent, and innovations that Africa has to offer. As Gideon Grieves, Managing Director of CV VC Africa beautifully summed up, “the Africa Week launch events stand testimony to the ecosystem that we are building in Africa.”
Thank you for joining us!
There is an African proverb that says “by crawling, a child learns to stand”. CV VC and SECO have successfully embarked on their journey to build the first-ever blockchain-focused Accelerator for Africa and over the next 4 years, the Accelerator will invest in 100 blockchain-related startups from the African continent.
Africa has an abundance of opportunities and untapped potential and it is our mission to continue to nurture and empower those that are using blockchain technology to solve everyday problems.
Thank you to our partners, sponsors, and everyone that participated in this year’s Africa Week, and thank you to those that have followed our journey into the African ecosystem. “Ke nako,” it’s time, and this is only the beginning!
CV VC is an early-stage venture capital investor with a focus on startups that build on blockchain technology. Qualified investors can learn how to participate in the success of CV VC’s portfolio companies.
CV Labs is a blockchain incubator and co-working space based in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Dubai. Startups can learn more about how to get funding via the next acceleration batch.