Today’s rapid pace of technological advancement with the advent of technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and the Internet of Things can change every aspect of our lives. And the fast-growing global startup scene is at the forefront of these changes, making our lives better, faster and more efficient.
But it is the innovative young startups from emerging markets that can make the most impact. As of 2018 85% of the world’s population lives in emerging market economies, which account for 59% of GDP. With such a huge digital consumer marketplace, these startups will play an important role in shaping and growing the post-Covid economy.
However, funding and opportunities continue to be disproportionately provided to startups based in established markets. In fact, before COVID-19 there was financial deficit of $ 5 trillion between small and medium-sized businesses from emerging and established markets.
To solve the world’s biggest problems, we do not need one-size-fits-all solutions. We need local innovation to help solve local problems and drive change.
The question is, how can we scale up and help emerging market startups gain the opportunities they need to thrive?
Enter Seedstars… The mission of this Swiss privately held company is to influence the lives of people in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. They have developed a range of accelerators, growth programs, technology hubs and investment opportunities for high-growth companies in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia.
Annual World Seedstars Competition This is the moment when the best startups from their global network come together for the chance to win a $ 500K investment. Founded in 2013 with the help of its cantonal VAUD partners, HEG-FR: The School Of Management Friborg, Mada and Presence Switzerland, Seedstars World has since grown into the largest startup competition in emerging markets, spanning 90 countries. And this year they are teaming up with TNW to bring it to an even wider audience.
We spoke with the five finalists to find out what they think will be most important in shaping the post-Covid world.
Understanding data collection
There is widespread discussion on the Internet about the ethics of data collection and data privacy. But it has to be more than just understanding the data; we must also ensure that collection procedures are consistent with existing technology.
Luis Santiago, CEO of the Venezuelan PEGASI believes we would be better equipped to deal with this pandemic if health information were not collected in “unstructured and similar formats.”
PEGASI makes health information accessible, understandable and useful for patients, doctors and service providers in developing countries. Their goal is to build:
A world with widespread use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Personal Health Records (PHR), strong privacy policies detailing the exchange of meaningful information, and support for public-private partnerships that drive digital transformation in the healthcare sector.
Santiago will be a finalist for the Seedstars competition. “These are usually very complex industries and regions in which to succeed and attract the attention of investors. Having a partner who directs all our attention in such a way that we have a chance to bring about positive change is an extremely valuable asset for us. “
Reducing wealth inequality
Another issue that the pandemic has shed light on? The ever-growing wealth inequality gap. Although the wealthy were not greatly affected (some even got a favor), so many others struggled to cover their living expenses.
This problem is one of those that an Uzbek startup IMAN hopes to fix: “Our vision is to harness the power of technology to connect investors with borrowers at the point of sale using the principles of Islamic finance,” says CFO and founder Mark Zubov.
In this way, any retail investor on the planet can multiply their wealth in an ethical way by making it easier for consumers in border markets to access fair and transparent finance.
By incorporating P2P lending into IMAN, a startup can create investment products that are both more accessible to investors and more accessible to borrowers, helping to create a more equitable financial system.
While access to capital is always a barrier, Zubov says: “Events like the Seedstars World Competition give startups from anywhere in the world the opportunity to present their projects, connect with other entrepreneurs, and learn from mentors who are the best in their field. … “
Moving to a more digital world
If the past year has shown anything to us, it is that most services can be delivered digitally. This is definitely true of the financial services industry. Unfortunately, there are many institutions that were simply not ready to go digital or just touched digital transformationstrongly affecting their business.
The financial industry doesn’t have to be like this, which is why decentralized financial transactions have dominated the industry and are now challenging the entire future of the industry.
Malaysia Finology is a startup that provides seamless access to financial products through its technology and digital distribution channels. As the financial services industry evolves digitally, it is important for startups like Finology to speak to the public: “Where there is attention, there are opportunities,” says co-founder Jared Lim, “and any such opportunity could just be fuel that will forever change the trajectory of the company’s development ”.
Of course, Lim believes there is still hope for the industry:
FSIs can continue to be relevant if they leverage their strengths as legacy operators and update their IT infrastructure and processes to make them more digital-friendly.
Finology insists on this because it enables seamless access to financial products everywhere through end-to-end digital brokerage technology.
“A resilient economy is better able to support households and businesses in times of crisis,” says Ladda’s Olaseinde. Unfortunately, a supportive operating environment was lacking in some emerging markets. This is true in Nigeria, where there is a high dependence on commodity exports.
One of the keys to making a startup more sustainable is maintaining sustainability. Olaseinde says Ladda is trying to “keep spending under control to maintain good cash flow and strong buffers.”
Ladda provides cheap and convenient access to investment opportunities for retail investors in Nigeria. Founder Oluwatosin Olaseinde knows about startup struggles:
Emerging market startups continue to face huge funding gaps compared to their developed market counterparts.
But he noted that the Seedstars Global Competition “provides direct and indirect funding opportunities” for all participants.
Acceptance of current limitations
“This pandemic has sent a wake-up call to anyone using this quote:“ E-commerce is the future, ”says Kais Khadhraui, CEO and Founder Execution bridge… “We tell them that it was the future, but 20 years ago.”
Yes, the pandemic has driven the growth of online businesses, but that doesn’t mean e-commerce is perfect. The current infrastructure has several major limitations and limitationsespecially in emerging markets such as Africa and the Middle East, regions that were slow adapt to online commerce.
This is where a startup like Tunisian Fulfillment Bridge comes in. This cloud-based, global e-commerce logistics platform offers warehouse services across four continents, order fulfillment, shipping, returns management and more.
Khadhrawi says the past year has helped shape both its vision and mission. As they redefine e-commerce with a focus on Africa and the Middle East, the Fulfillment Bridge hopes to “build an infrastructure to move e-commerce transactions from, to and within the region.” As Khadhraui says,
Everyone is looking to implement an e-commerce infrastructure. This means understanding legislation, logistics, payment and user education for this new regulation.
Want to know who will be this year’s Global Winner?
register here The live public broadcast will be available to watch on 20 May 2021 at 14:00 CET.
Along with the grand finale of the competition, awards will be given to the best startups in the categories EdTech, ICT accessibility, women’s empowerment, climate change and child development. And don’t miss the expert panel discussions on how technology can change access to education in emerging markets!