South African start-ups are claiming their space as ground-breaking solutions for Africa

Joslyn Links
12 Dec 2018

The Solution Space at the UCT Graduate School of Business, in partnership with the MTN Group, hosted the Venture Incubation Programme (VIP) Winter School Demo Day on 29 November. The VIP Winter School cohort comprised six start-ups, operating in diverse sectors. The sold-out event was attended by 120 people, including the Group General Manager for Ecosystem Development at MTN, Eero Tarjanne.

The Demo Day is the culmination of a 12-week journey of testing and validating new business models.

The ventures are all early-stage startups. Despite their early development stages, the teams participating in the programme have already notched up some notable achievements and milestones during the 12 weeks. In particular, motorcycle ride-hailing service Ok Motto has raised $10,000 funding; Opencharge, which has developed an innovative device-charging system, is currently in the process of launching its first official pilot in partnership with popular co-working space Workshop17, and is continuing discussions for another pilot with MTN South Africa; and the taste-tech startup ask-jean came first the Winetech Innovation Challenge.

Start-ups presenting on the night were:

Petal & Post, an online posy delivery service offering reliable same day delivery by an in-house all-female delivery team. Posies can be ordered as a single posy or can be upsized to double or triple posies. A weekly flower subscription service is also available.

Collocation is developing an aggregated data hub, building application programming interfaces (APIs) with accessible dashboards and geospatial maps, to provide insights and formulate models to predict future trends.

Go.Explore, a digital social platform that provides explorers with a simple and convenient way to find, book and pay for purposeful travel experiences.

Ask-Jean is a taste-tech startup that helps customers find wines, whiskies and other drinks to match their personal taste preferences. Think Spotify, Tinder and Pokémon-Go for a fun interaction, and for its advanced algorithm to learn what the consumers’ preferences are. ask-jean enables producers to discover new markets, gain deeper data driven insights into customers and to sell their product directly to consumers.

OK Motto, is a Cameroon-based mobile and web application that allows the public to safely and conveniently hail motorcycle rides securely. The fleet of motorbikes are also used for courier deliveries.

Opencharge has developed an internet-of-things (IoT) platform that transforms everyday surfaces into an interactive content channel that can engage consumers while customers take advantage of convenient wireless power charging capabilities.

Some of the start-ups who have graduated from the VIP in the past are currently also making waves with their business success at home and abroad. Prospa, a mobile savings wallet for low-income households, has raised R2 million in grant funding; Chat2Brand, which has developed a WhatsApp-based business communication tool, has achieved a turnover of R18 million with just 15 employees in two years; Nu Nanny, an on-demand babysitting service, achieved R40 000 in turnover within the first month after launching; and the MyStylist app has had over 10 000 downloads with users from different parts of the world.

Sarah-Anne Alman, Manager of Solution Space said: “Every year we’re inspired by the innovative ideas that are introduced to the Venture Incubation Programme. We designed the programme to challenge the teams and to interrogate their ideas to ensure they graduate with a viable, market-tested business model. Our mission is to build a new generation of entrepreneurs, and we are confident that the new breed of businesses emerging from the Solution Space each form a unique building block that will help us do that.”

Eero Tarjanne, MTN Group General Manager: Ecosystem Development said: “As a proud partner of the Solution Space, MTN sees this partnership as a key component in our widespread activities within the start-up ecosystem across Africa and Middle East. Our main goal is to help scale promising startups in order to create a thriving ecosystem to leverage MTN’s various digital platforms.”


Media release distributed by Solution Space. For more information, contact Sarah-Anne Alman at