The Black European Tech Hubs
by Steve D. Amara (@amarast)
Diversity is less discussed on the East side of the Atlantic, mainly because European countries approach the topic very differently from each other. Nonetheless, major tech hubs have seen some brilliant startups founded people of color, tackling a variety of issues from urban logistics in European capitals to financial inclusion in Emerging Markets.
Below are some that really caught our attention.
African Markets is a provider of information and data dedicated to African stock markets. A very comprehensive platform, launched by 30-year-old Cameroonian entrepreneur Romuald Yonga back in 2012.
After studying financial engineering and working in top Investments banks in Paris, he saw a real appetite for investing in emerging markets after the 2008 financial crisis. However, getting relevant data about African stock markets was particularly painful, unlike Latin American or South East Asian stock markets. So he built it as a side project in 2010 and ended up with a very comprehensive platform after 2 years.
African Markets is the go-to platform for educated investors keen on Africa. Needless to say that with the growing appetite on Sub-Saharan Africa, the last frontier market, they have bright days ahead!
When Paris-based Tonje Bakang started his journey from a very simple motivation: bring culturally relevant content to people like himself, Afro-Descendants. So he built Afrostream, the “Netflix for African and African-American content”. A product for 1 billion people from Sub-Saharan Africa to the very diverse African diaspora.
Being born and raised in Cameroon and having spent quite some time in Europe and the US, I always look for a platform that bridges the gap between Africans and the diaspora. Afrostream does just that, understanding our codes and bringing content that speaks directly to our heritage. With a serious business case behind it.
The platform has an impressive catalogue of movies, all accessible from an affordable €6.99/month ($7.6). It’s arguably the largest digital inventory of Black content, streamable in multiple languages. Spot on, as the startup caught the eye of the best investors in Europe and the US: Afrostream is backed by The Family and Y Combinator.
When I lived in Paris, I can’t count how much I craved things that I could not get delivered after a long day at work. How I wish Tok Tok Tok existed back then… Founder Serge Alleyne and his team are building the favorite on-demand delivery startup of the City of Lights. The Postmates of Paris, a real rocketship.
In a city where more people are getting used to convenience, the service was quite timely when it launched in 2012. 3 years later, the platform has specialised in food delivery from the casual fast foods to the fanciest places in the city. There is so much good food in Paris that you will always find something you fancy on Tok Tok Tok.
Delivery time is rarely almost always 1h or less, with a fair pricing point. Last year in Paris, I ordered a double chicken burrito from Chipotle and ended up with a total bill of €13 ($14). Hefty but hey, convenience has a price!
It’s a secret to no immigrant from Africa (and some Asian countries too) that remittance is of massive importance. Sending money home has always been a hassle, with the duopoly of ‘Western Union’ and Moneygram. Not anymore WorldRemit, the mobile app/website that makes it totally seamless to send money home. A few taps on a mobile phone, and voila!
Founder & CEO Ismail Ahmed is a veteran of the remittance industry. Facing the problem of sending money home seamlessly himself, he saw the power of mobile phones in Sub-Saharan Africa to ease access to financial services for the masses, so built a product that leverages that for remittances.
From Worldremit, one can send money home either to a bank account, classic cash withdrawal or, more powerful and convenient, mobile Airtime. Whoever know the importance of Airtime see why this is a big deal: with mobile money, mobile phone users can directly use their airtime credit to pay their bills. WorldRemit is a game changer, for sure.