EMURGO Africa: Q&A with Adanian Labs CEO John Kamara
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In October 2021, EMURGO announced the launch of EMURGO Africa - a newly established entity that will invest $100 million over the next few years in African tech startups - to help spur adoption of Cardano as the standard tech infrastructure platform for Africa’s emerging industrial innovation.
To mark the official launch, EMURGO Africa made an investment and formed a strategic partnership with Adanian Labs - a successful pan-African venture studio and incubator that builds, nurtures, and incubates high potential tech startups - to drive societal adoption and solutions building on Cardano.
As a founding entity of the Cardano blockchain, EMURGO and its new entity EMURGO Africa provide technical expertise and understanding of the Cardano ecosystem along with a network of industry partners to support Adanian Labs and selected startups to build socially impactful solutions on Cardano.
Our recent blog highlighting how EMURGO Africa and Adanian Labs will help 100 African startups adopt Cardano is one of the first steps towards outlining the vision of our strategic partnership.
In this Q&A with Adanian Labs’ CEO John Kamara, we will further discuss the details behind this partnership and what it means for Cardano adoption in Africa, and opportunities for local startups, developers, and entrepreneurs.
Q&A Interview with Adanian Labs CEO John Kamara
1) There have been some exciting developments from Adanian Labs in driving blockchain adoption in Africa. What are some of your recent wins in this space?
We launched The Africa Blockchain Center (The ABC), a first of its kind in Africa, to build blockchain capacity for developers, business leaders, and governments, as well as build solutions and drive blockchain adoption.
The ABC received its seed funding within the first 3 months of its inception and is currently rolling out a massive training program for blockchain developers in 5 countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa and Nigeria.
The ABC is also running advocacy programs to educate stakeholders on the potential and opportunities presented by this emerging technology.
Some other recent key wins include:
1) Raising blockchain awareness – Adanian Labs has had the honor of showcasing at local and international conferences to raise awareness of blockchain technology by sharing content around the use cases of blockchain technology for Africa.
2) Blockchain R&D projects - We have a couple of exciting blockchain projects under research and development that are set to hit the market in the near future.
3) Blockchain in African art – We are exploring NFT’s for African art with partners to see how we can launch a platform that will help artists create and retain value for their work through non-fungible tokens.
2) Adanian Labs chose to forge a strategic partnership with EMURGO Africa. How will this help you achieve your goals?
Our goal is to build 300 tech powered companies in Africa by 2025.
Adanian Labs’ partnership with EMURGO is a key milestone in accomplishing this goal through gaining access to resources and capacities needed to see the goal through.
We are redesigning the startup investment template on how African startups are supported.
We want Africa to consume its own technology and own its data so that we can solve our own problems efficiently.
This is why we are intentional and deliberate in building startup ventures and supporting them with access to the market, technology development, technical know-how, and resources needed to scale while de-risking the startups probability to failure.
EMURGO Africa understood this aspect of our model very well and were happy to get onboard and support us.
EMURGO Africa is helping us build capacity inwardly and outwardly, within the Adanian Labs team and for tech developers across Africa.
3) Tell us about some of the startups that have participated in Adanian Labs’ programs and why they get you excited for the future?
Some of the successful startups that have participated in Adanian Labs’ programs include:
- eCOBbA – A blockchain-based fintech platform for Africa’s underbanked that is digitizing over 80% of Africans in the informal sector who access finance through community savings groups.
- Afya Rekod - A first of its kind decentralized patient-driven platform that allows users to store and manage their health records solving the issue of health data accessibility and mobility that are key in delivering quality healthcare.
- Paylend - A fintech startup helping micro SMEs across Africa solve the problem of access to continous capital while bridging the consumer data gap by connecting consumers to products and services. Paylend is exciting because it collects last mile consumer data that allows for a thorough understanding of consumer needs as it creates value for the SMEs in its ecosystem.
Also, I would like to shine light on two centers of excellence that we launched, Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence (The AICE) and The Africa Blockchain Center (The ABC) to build AI and blockchain capacity and promote adoption of smart technologies in Africa.
4) What are some of the most in-demand tech solutions presently needed in the local market? How can Cardano specifically provide unique value for these solutions?
Some of the in-demand tech solutions for Africa now are:
- Governance and e-government infrastructures
- Payments especially around intra-Africa trading
- Smart Cities solutions
- Mobility solutions
- Art NFT’s
- Decentralized access to finance
Also, solutions solving issues around agriculture, health, education, energy and environment are still in demand.
The African continent is home to some of the youngest populations in the world with an average age of 19 years.
It is also set to become the largest populated continent in the world in the near future.
The most in-demand solutions are those that will help create opportunity for the young people of Africa.
With its large global user base and technology built on the principles of scalability, sustainability, and interoperability, Cardano can provide unique value by allowing developers to leverage the platform to create solutions that will help young people in Africa unlock value for themselves and their communities.
5) How do you plan to recruit and select startups wanting to build solutions on Cardano?
We plan to recruit and select innovative startups that are leveraging or looking to leverage blockchain in the deployment of their solutions. We work with them to evaluate how the technology can be built on Cardano and work with them to achieve that.
We are looking for startups that cover a wide range of sectors including agriculture, energy, environment, financial services, health, mobility, smart cities, SMEs, and beyond.
The program will last 12 months and roll across Africa; Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Nigeria and South Africa.
Eligibility for selection include:
- Tech-based startups looking to solve community problems
- A commercially viable business model with the potential to scale
- Startups with potential for social, economic, environmental impact
- Entrepreneurial mindset and resilience
- Startups in need of technical and technology support
Shortlisted applicants will pitch to the investment committee in their respective countries in January and 5 startups per country will be selected to join the program housed at the respective Adanian Labs offices across the five countries.
The first application deadline is 10th December 2021.
Youth and women are encouraged to apply.
6) What is the typical course for startups once selected by Adanian Labs?
Once selected by the lab, the startups are onboarded into a 12 months building program that includes venture building, training, and mentorship.
The program is designed with monthly KPIs under support and supervision that includes:
- Fine-tuning the tech solution using relevant technology like AI and blockchain
- Building and training a team for the startups and providing expert support
- Getting the startups investor ready and exposing them to investor networks and access to funding
- Guiding the startups with go to market strategies and support
When the startups leave the Adanian Labs at the end of 12 months they would ideally have launched a product, onboard consumers, unlocked their revenue models, closed, or are closing seed deals with investors.
7) What is Adanian Labs looking forward to in 2022 and beyond with EMURGO Africa?
We believe in the power of technology to solve some of Africa’s most pertinent challenges, and that is why Adanian Labs embarked on this mission to spur the tech revolution in Africa and build 300 tech companies by 2025.
To facilitate this, we need to build a strong ecosystem that will enable the companies that we are building to derive value and scale quicker.
Our partnership with EMURGO Africa is a critical piece as it adds so much value onto our shared economy mode.
EMURGO Africa’s mission to grow the blockchain ecosystem in Africa through the adoption of the Cardano protocol means that we are able to enhance our tech solutions with blockchain technologies to achieve tangible social empowerment in the areas of financial inclusion, agriculture, education, governance, and health.
In the forthcoming year through this partnership, we look forward to incubating blockchain startups and providing blockchain solutions for corporate enterprises and government entities in Africa.
This means that we will build massive capacity on blockchain development and drive adoption of the technology on the continent.
We foresee Africa becoming a mega exporter of technology to the world and we are excited to see how all this will transform the people and the economy of the continent.
Are you a tech startup interested in applying for funding?
As a founding entity of the Cardano blockchain, EMURGO and EMURGO Africa will also selectively provide funding to projects that want to build dApps on Cardano or migrate from other protocols.
Among the advantages of EMURGO Africa funding are:
- EMURGO funding accelerates business growth and connects networks in the Cardano ecosystem.
- Direct contact with the EMURGO R&D team and the Yoroi wallet will expedite development and user acquisition.
- Connect with EMURGO's Cardano education to become acquainted quickly with the Plutus language.
If you have are a startup and have:
- An MVP or prototype but no funds
- A strong technical team but lack of business experience in topics such as tokenomics
- Solid technical skills, but no marketing presence in the Cardano ecosystem
- A great business idea but no partners
Please feel free to go to emurgoafrica.vc and contact us for more information about funding and partnership opportunities.
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