Africa’s startup scene is powered by social impact

Ventures Africa’s new Top 10 “Tech for Good” Start-ups to Watch list includes OneUni, a Nairobi and California-based startup offering a low-cost smartphone university degree program; Lumkani, in Cape Town, an “internet of things” startup fighting slum fires; and Giraffe, a jobs platform for medium-skilled workers in South Africa.

Last month, Forbes’ list of the top 30 most promising African entrepreneurs was packed with social businesses. The continent may be decades away from its first “unicorn,” or startup with a valuation of more than $1 billion, according to a new report from Liquid Telecom.

That may not be all bad: The obsession with unicorns can distort measures of success, which should perhaps be defined by profitability along with social impact, cohesiveness and shared prosperity.

Africa's rising tech stars were featured at last month’s Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Johannesburg.

This post originally appeared in ImpactAlpha's daily newsletter. Get The Brief.

Photo credit: CNN

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