Most Innovative Companies 2021: TOP 5  

 

Our Most Innovative Companies 2021 were chosen for their ability to think outside the box, overcome challenges through innovation and not being afraid of taking risks. Our top 5 companies are the embodiment of these qualities – and are shooting for the stars in 2021.

Here’s all about our Top 5:

1. Tripplo

As COVID-19 adds complexity to global commerce and economic activity there has never been a better time for Africa to accelerate trade within the continent. For this reason, the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on January 1 this year, was an important development for the African economy. The next step is to reduce some of the difficulties and make it easier for companies on the continent to do more business with each other.

An important solution aimed at enabling such intra-African trade is being developed by Tripplo, a logistics tech startup. Currently, the movement of goods by truck in Africa faces process challenges and is largely dependent on manual operations. Tripplo is building a technological platform to remove some of these challenges. The company, founded by Victor Chaitezvi, a former Microsoft development manager who holds a Master degree in Entrepreneurship, is developing what can be referred to as the Uber of trucking: a logistics software platform built to automate and optimise operations for transporters in Africa. Tripplo offers efficient end-to-end management of trucking operations — from on-loading to offloading — designed by transporters, for transporters.

Tripplo aims to solve some of the challenges facing Africa’s trucking sector. Among these is the ability of a business to find a truck to move its goods; the ability to monitor the movement of those goods; enabling a driver to find work, or connecting that driver with a truck owner; and, enabling the payment of drivers.

Tripplo is moving this process away from a series of manual operations by using software under a single platform. Under normal circumstances, a software company based in South Africa would adopt a tech platform from the US or Europe and adapt it for use in Africa.

Tripplo is developing the software locally and tailoring it to suit local market conditions. The outcome of this process will lead to the digitisation of Africa’s logistics.

The company is first focusing on the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Tripplo is already servicing more than 200 clients in the SADC region. And it boasts several important corporate partners who are behind its rise.

A partnership with Standard Bank has solved a huge financial hurdle for drivers within the Tripplo ecosystem. Tripplo knew fleet owners were experiencing issues when it came to giving money upfront to drivers on their trips. There was no transparency around how much was needed and how it was spent. The problem was even harder to manage across borders. Standard Bank stepped in to support Tripplo, helping them get to the right experts fast, and delivering an “added advantage” to Tripplo and their customers.

Standard Bank’s Instant Money team gave Tripplo access to its Instant Money bulk issuing platform, in collaboration with its ATM and branches location team. In return, Tripplo help Standard Bank access a new wave of unbanked customers.

Tripplo can now enable transporters to send money to drivers via ATMs and branches, as and when they need it — removing the requirement to carry all the cash for their journey from the start.

Part of this process was made possible through the use of APIs (application programming interfaces), a software intermediary that allows application to talk to each other. Standard Bank’s eMarket Trader team opened up their APIs and user acceptance testing (UAT) environment to Tripplo — something they don’t normally do for a company that doesn’t work with settlements.

Access to these APIs meant that Tripplo could help transporters convert multi-country trip plans into their home currencies, and do this live on Tripplo’s Trip Planning module. In upcoming iterations of the product, Tripplo will be able to help transporters across Africa settle on the platform, supported by Standard Bank’s eMarket Trader platform.

Standard Bank continues to support Tripplo with access to market insights and industry expertise, as well as offer introductions to potential partners and customers.

This is just one example illustrating how Tripplo is resolving some of the major obstacles to trade within the continent.

As Tripplo continues to operate within this market, the logistics platform is bound to improve and in the process digitize how Africa conducts its logistics operations.

Technology developed by start-up logistics companies such as Tripplo eases some of the obstacles that have kept logistics costs high. The African Continental Free Trade Area has the potential to eventually jump-start the entire sector. It aims to reduce tariffs on 90 percent of all goods, and facilitate free movement of goods, services, capital and people. It promises to unite a market of 1.3 billion people, with a combined GDP of $2.6 trillion, according to a joint study by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Google.

2. Clickatell

Founder & CEO: Pieter De Villiers

Clickatell, a global leader in mobile communications and chat commerce, launched Chat Desk in 2020, a digital contact-centre solution that helps agents resolve customer queries and obtain customer insights in real-time using chat channels for live agent support. The solution addresses the growing consumer demand for easy and personal experiences by transforming the traditional call centre with one simple integration. Chat Desk enables live agents and their supervisors to communicate with customers over popular chat platforms such as WhatsApp, tracking tickets and chat histories.

By integrating chat channels within Chat Desk, businesses lower the demand on costly, traditional voice channels and enable agents to resolve multiple chat requests simultaneously, lowering the cost per resolution and increasing customer satisfaction.

3. Hypernova

Founder & CEO: Jonathan Lun

Hypernova is building an innovative, commercial off-the-shelf family of space propulsion system products that enable satellites to move around in space, avoid collisions and remain in orbit longer.

The core technology allows the company to leverage any solid metal as fuel. The benefits of this approach are that solid metals are a lot cheaper and more accessible compared to other fuels, which are very expensive, toxic and/or rare. Also, by using metals, the company can position itself to tap into the potential sources of fuel that are not just available on earth, but also in space.

There is an ever-increasing interest by the public and private parties in the use of resources in space. Hypernova recognises this and is aligning the company with that vision.

4. Yebo Fresh

Founder & CEO: Jessica Boonstra

Yebo Fresh is a tech-driven food delivery company catering exclusively to Cape Town townships. Yebo Fresh sells meat, fish, poultry, fresh fruit and vegetables, general groceries and hampers at competitive prices – and they deliver direct to doors in Gugulethu, Delft, Mfuleni, Khayelitsha, Langa, Hangberg, Imizamo Yethu and Mitchells Plain.

Yebo Fresh was founded in 2018 by Jessica Boonstra, who brought what she learned from the online retail space in the Netherlands to South Africa. Her engineering background, many years in logistics and retailing and the need to transform the world of online shopping drove her to start Yebo Fresh. Today, the company has outgrown warehouses and now boasts a 30-strong full-time staff complement, with an additional 30 people working flexibly.

During the hard lockdown, the food delivery startup found itself in the ideal position to partner with a wide range of NGOs and community action networks (CANs) to get food parcels out to those most in need.

When Covid-19 and lockdown hit in 2020, NGOs and CANs approached the startup to help deliver food par- cels to people in poorer neighbourhoods. Orders started pouring in by the thousands, forcing Yebo Fresh to expand – and to do so quickly.

5. Ozow

Founders: Thomas Pays, Mitchan Adams and Lyle Eckstein

In 2020, Ozow launched what it is calling the “Ozow Revolution”, rolling out two new payment platforms and zero-rating data costs to ensure all South Africans can access digital payments.

The fintech startup has introduced two new online payments solutions to its platform for the

South African market: Ozapp, and Ozow PIN. Ozapp is a progressive web application (PWA) that allows any customer with a bank account or e-wallet to transact without a card through a QR-code enabled payment, while Ozow PIN radically simplifies EFT payments through an easy four-step payment process that can be completed in seconds.

Ozow has seen immediate results for its innovations. In November 2020, the fintech startup processed R1-billion in transactions for the first time, with Black Friday 2020 sales contributing significantly.

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