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Demo Africa opens another window for entrepreneurs


About 30 selected entrepreneurs from across Africa will this week have the rare opportunity to market their products and services to potential investors at the Sandton Convention Centre during this year’s edition of Demo Africa.

The annual exhibition, which is backed by the City of Johannesburg’s Economic Development Department, will be held on Thursday August 25 and Friday August 26.

The exhibition is seen as a springboard for innovative and creative start-up companies to launch themselves into the big time. The Sandton Convention Centre is expected to be a beehive of activity during the two days as the selected entrepreneurs scramble to draw the attention of local and international sponsors. At a boot camp held at the Balalaika Hotel in Sandton on Tuesday August 23, the selected applicants from various countries were seen crafting and polishing their marketing skills to sell their ideas to potential investors.

They were also equipped with the tools to bridge knowledge gaps between selling ideas and establishing enterprises.

“We did the selections through a rigorous process involving different levels of adjudications. We have an online selection process and a continental jury. We also looked at different companies and their levels of maturity. We then came up with a list of companies that were ready to invest in our applicants’ products,” said Harry Hare, Demo Africa’s Executive Director.

Hare said Demo Africa was a platform that connected entrepreneurs with suitable markets and provided them with technology linkages.

“My co-founders and I decided to create a space within which to connect entrepreneurs who had amazing ideas to buyers, media, investors and broader markets.We were focusing on technologically based products because they have major impacts on the economy,” Hare added.

The City of Johannesburg’s Tsholo Mokgotsi said Demo Africa was a perfect launch pad for entrepreneurs across the continent.

“This was a call for the City to collaborate with Demo Africa as we position Johannesburg as a big start-up hub,” he said., a newly established technological start-up that seeks to enhance the lives of working people through a new app, is one of the up-and-coming companies that will be exhibiting at Demo Africa.

“Most people use their email inbox and instant messaging like Whatsapp in the business context to manage work. But the entire idea of managing your work out of your inbox never made sense to us. The fact that I can send someone an email and for the email to land on top of an email inbox effectively becomes a task and consumes time. What we are looking to do is to revolutionise how people manage this, which allows them to action their communication straight from wherever they are working,” said the Sandton-based company's Rodney Kuhn, 38.

Boot camp coach and African Technology Foundation CEO Stephen Ozoigbo said: “The boot camp will help the applicants with the science of venture creations ... Today we are introducing them to certain elements that are important for them to master.”