The inaugural edition of LEAP has set new records for a debut technology event, attracting over 100,000 registered attendees from more than 80 countries. Over 700 exhibitors including the world’s leading technology companies and over 1,500 of the most innovative start-ups, along with more than 500 international speakers joined LEAP22, which concluded yesterday in Riyadh, making it the largest ever first edition for a technology event.
LEAP22 saw more than US$6.4 billion of investments and new technology initiatives announced, with US$1 million in prizes awarded to the winners of the Rocket Fuel Start-up Competition, an international contest to find the best new business ideas.
LEAPFROGGING ENTREPRENEURS, START-UPS AND INVESTORS
LEAP22 saw the announcement of multiple investments and funds for start-ups and entrepreneurs of over US$266 million.
Among the announcements was the completion of closing of the second round of Khwarizmi Ventures fund with a value of US$69.8 million; investment into the Emkan VC fund of over US$49.8 million and the launch by Saudi Venture Investment Company of the Investment in Advanced Stage Funds, with a value of over US$134 million, to promote the growth of start-ups.
A new partnership to build start-ups between Unifonic and TheSpaceKSA, called UnifonicX, was also revealed.
Start-up deals included Nana closing an investment round led by FIM Partners and the STV Fund, worth US$50 million; and Quant closing an investment round worth US$800,000 led by VentureSouq with participation by RaedVC and Seedra, and also announced an additional round of investment. Muzn Artificial Intelligence raised an investment round of US$10.1 million, led by Raed Ventures with the participation of Shorooq Partners, VentureSouq, Sukna Ventures and others; while Taffi raised more than US$1.8 million investment, and SIFI and Tamawal closed pre-seed rounds.
ROCKET FUEL START-UP COMPETITION
Start-ups from around the world went head-to-head in the Rocket Fuel Start-up Competition, promoting their innovative business ideas to powerhouse venture capitalists and leading international investors, to win a share of the US$1 million prize fund. Seven start-ups were victorious overall, taking home cash prizes for exciting and impactful new business ideas, scored on creativity, innovation, potential, functionality and impact on people and society.
APPLE DEVELOPER ACADEMY
Apple selected Riyadh for its first Apple Developer Academy headquarters in the Middle East and North Africa region. The academy caters solely to female programmers and developers and is located at the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University. The Apple Developer Academy will play a significant role in building coding talent in Saudi Arabia and encouraging women to develop their skills and explore careers in this exciting new sector. Female participants have already enrolled at Apple’s Developer Academy in Riyadh.
Michael Champion, Regional Executive Vice President – MEA, Informa, said LEAP22 is a breakthrough success, attracting the biggest audience for a technology event in recent years, surpassing even CES, and setting a new record for most attendees to a new platform. “LEAP22 has been able to bring to Riyadh the leading names in technology with the most exciting new start-ups and creators, to present cutting-edge innovations that will reshape the world around us. We would like to thank our world-class speakers, sponsors and partners and look forward to hosting an even bigger LEAP next year,” said Champion.
The debut edition of LEAP was sponsored by stc, Ericsson, Mobily, Huawei, Cisco, SAP, Microsoft, Saudi Digital Academy, National Technology Development Program, Monsha’at and Jahez.
AJE FESTIVAL 2022: OONI PLANS BIG AS IYALAJE OODUA HOSTS ECONOMIC SUMMIT, EXHIBITIONS, MUSIC FIESTA
All roads lead to the ancient city of Ile-Ife, the source and ancestral home of the Yorubas and the entire Oodua Race worldwide as the Ooni of Ife, Arole Oodua Olofin Adimula, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, will on Friday 25th February, 2022 declare Aje Heritage & Economic Summit open to kickstart this year’s edition of the annual Global Aje Festival
Ooni’s Spokesman and Chairman of Aje Festival Media Committee, Otunba Moses Olafare made this known via a press release on Tuesday, explaining that Princess Dr. Toyin Kolade the Iyalaje Oodua Worldwide who doubles as Global Ambassador of Aje Festival is leaving no stone unturned as she has been working assiduously coordinating the Aje Festival Committee and all machineries put in place towards making the forthcoming festival the best of its kind.
Aje Festival 2022, a 4-day event festival which would hold in phases, will begin with the Aje Heritage & Economic Summit slated to hold at the Ojaja Arena located inside the Ife Grand Resort in Ile-Ife where Aje Festival Exhibition will also be unveiled to run daily for 4 days.
Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th February 2022 will be for Aje Music Fiesta and Aje Movie Screening respectively while Monday 28th February will climax all the activities lined up for the 2022 Aje Festival.
The Ooni’s Spokesman in the press statement acknowledged the efforts of the committee members for their relentless efforts, assuring that this year’s edition tagged “Aje Festival Reloaded” promises to be a tourist delight, investors delight and above all —full of education and entertainment.
“Aje Heritage & Economic Summit comprensively highlights the investment environments, investment policies, investment projects and cooperate products in all Oodua states of Nigeria, it will attract chambers of commerce from across Oodua-land to conduct investment briefings.
“Together with other members of the Aje Festival Committee, the trio of Yinka Odeajo(Event & Planning), Duchess Bolaji(Committee Secretary) and Otunba Ayo Olumoko(Sponsorship & Promotions) are sleeplessly working to organize a summit that offers optimum opportunity for business people of home and abroad to get a first hand information on the investment climate in Oodua-land offering them one-stop shopping services for multilateral investment cooperation,thereby helping them select from the wildest range of investment projects and business partners.” Otunba Olafare said.
According to the statement, the final part of the Annual Aje Festival 2022 holding on Monday February will be in 3 sessions; The first traditional procession of Aje Olokun by the women of Woye Asiri from Ilero, Osangangan Obamakin’s compound to pay traditional obeisance to the Ooni at the Ile-Oodua Palace, from where they will proceed to the Aje Temple located right inside ancient Ejigbomekun market also known as Oja Ife.
Afterwards, the Woye Asiri women will then leave the Aje Temple for the Yeyemolu Sacred Well Water located within the Ooni’s Palace for further spiritual rites.
The peak of all activities for the day is the iconic procession of Aje groups which would be led by the Arole Oduduwa, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, in company of members of the Ife Traditional Council, monarchs across the world and the Iyalaje Oodua, Princess (Dr.) Toyin Kolade, among many others.
“Ooni Ogunwusi hereby invites the entire lovers of culture and tradition globally to the Annual Aje Festival under the able coordination of the Aje Global Ambassador, Princess Dr. Toyin Kolade, the Iyalaje Oodua Worldwide who leaves no stone unturned working day and night coordinating the Committee and all machineries put in place by the Arole Oduduwa for a superlative edition of Aje Festival.” Otunba Olafare said.
FIRSTBANK FELICITATES WITH JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT NIGERIA ON NOBEL PEACE PRIZE NOMINATION
In recognition of the giant strides and efforts by Junior Achievement Worldwide – the parent body of Junior Achievement Nigeria and other Junior Achievement across 119 countries – in equipping young people to solve societal issues, whilst building an entrepreneurship mindset, Junior Achievement World Wide –– has been nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.
Asheesh Advani, CEO of JA Worldwide, shared his perspective in response to the nomination: “Peace is only possible when youth in all countries and regions have economic empowerment. JA Worldwide is honored to receive this nomination and will continue our work to enable all young people to have the skills and mindset to build thriving communities. Our primary hope for solving the world’s most complex problems rests in the young people of today who will be the leaders of tomorrow.”
The nomination has received commendations from various individuals and corporate bodies across the world, especially those that have been partnering with Junior Achievement to promote self-sufficiency amongst the youth in their quest to making the world a better place.
Amongst the organisations is First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider. The financial services heavyweight has remained at the forefront of driving youth development and career building in the country.
FirstBank has been partnering with Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) to implement FutureFirst programme which is built around career counselling, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. In the last 11 years, the bank, through its partnership with JAN, has hosted its annual flagship event- the National Company of the Year Competition (NCOY)- which convenes winners of the JA Company Regional Competitions across Nigeria to compete for the National Company of the Year Award.
Excited about the nomination, FirstBank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communication, Mrs. Folake Ani-Mumuney said, “we are proud to be associated with Junior Achievement on the nomination of 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination is certainly well deserved given the depth and reach of the organisation’s impact on the society based on its programmes worldwide. As an institution that remains woven into the fabric of the society, we are truly delighted for this recognition and it would further reinforce our commitment to drive youth development and empowerment in partnership with JAN’’.
In response to the news, Executive Director of JA Nigeria (Foluso Gbadamosi), commented: “It’s an honour to be part of the JA Network and we join our colleagues across the world in celebrating this recognition of our efforts to educate and empower young people across the world. Through our unique blend of entrepreneurship, digital literacy, financial literacy, and work readiness programs, we, at JA Nigeria, aim to ensure that Nigerian youth, regardless of socioeconomic status, maximise their potential and take ownership of their economic future as they become leaders of tomorrow”
Nominations may only be received from heads of state and certain elected officials, university professors in selected fields, past Nobel laureates, and a few other notable individuals. Although the identity of each nominee is officially to remain anonymous for 50 years, we have received permission to share with you that we were nominated by a distinguished Professor of Law and International Affairs who was impressed by JA’s incredible global reach, our success in delivering economic empowerment to youth at scale, and our ability to find unity in diversity.
Haskè Ventures invests in informal economy-digitalising start-up, ProXalys
Haskè Ventures, the venture builder for Francophone Africa, has boosted the growth of Senegalese distribution chain innovator ProXalys by investing $150 000 in pre-seed funding in December 2021.
ProXalys, founded in 2021 by finance expert Thierno Sakho, specialises in digital transformation in business-to-business commerce, with informal sector retailers as its primary target. The start-up aims to modernise and empower Senegal’s informal traders, who account for up to 90% of the country’s economy.
A key challenge for the sector has been growing competition from large distribution chains that have modern and formalised processes. With this new competition, informal businesses are reinventing themselves, particularly through the digitisation of conventional supply chain processes.
ProXalys is working to level the playing field for the informal sector by digitising the entire value chain and reinventing the supply chain processes of the numerous actors in this ecosystem.
According to Sakho, “Digitisation is crucial for the informal sector. We intend to strengthen and modernise the distribution channels. Our goal is to enable informal traders to withstand the dual digital and distribution revolution created by the large multinationals operating on the continent.”
It all started with a simple observation: informal traders, which include small scale vendors that operate on the side of the road – many of whom are women – and distributors of everyday products, experience difficulties accessing traditional loan or credit facilities, which are generally offered to formalised businesses.
ProXalys has three tools for managing and capturing daily financial flows in real time: an order-taking application for informal distributors; an IT system for administrative management (which includes order tracking and payment management; and a supply chain logistics management system – including: inventory, warehousing, transportation, and delivery.
The start-up also provides a procurement service for everyday products, such as onions and potatoes, with staggered payment terms and free delivery within 24-hours. A solution that will allow informal traders to extend their sales capacity thus enabling them to secure working capital for stock.
With more than a hundred customers, ProXalys is winning the trust of informal traders in Dakar. But the start-up does not plan to stop there and is also working to boost agricultural value chains. Each year in Senegal, 150 million dollars (100 billion F CFA) are lost in agricultural production due to limited market access.
“We support producers of all sizes, as we are the unique intermediary between them and informal distributors,” explains Sakho. ProXalys also works with formal sector customers across retail and hospitality value chains.
Thanks to the first round of fundraising, ProXalys intends to expand its reach in Dakar and in the major cities of Senegal with the ambition to eventually support the entire West African region. The start-up will invest the $150 000 capital in the reinforcement of its technology, and in the development of its physical infrastructure – which will include the consolidation of its vehicle fleet and warehouses.
Abdourahmane Diop, Chief Executive Officer of Haskè Ventures says, “We believe that technology has a key role to play in modernising infrastructure in Africa, a major challenge that must be addressed through the upgrade of vital operational channels. Additionally, the transfer of knowledge and skills development will play a critical role in ensuring the sustained longevity of initiatives undertaken now. We are proud to be supporting ProXalys on their journey and look forward to future progress.”