Local innovative companies get global recognition

From left: Aerobotics CTO Benji Meltzer, CEO James Paterson, chief commercial officer Andrew Burdock and COO Tim Willis.

From left: Aerobotics CTO Benji Meltzer, CEO James Paterson, chief commercial officer Andrew Burdock and COO Tim Willis.

Two local tech companies, The Sun Exchange and Aerobotics, have been listed in Fast Company’s top 10 most innovative companies in Africa for 2019.

The global business magazine focuses on technology, business and design, and releases an annual list of the most innovative companies globally and another focusing on businesses “making the most profound impact on industry and culture” on their respective continents.

The two South African firms were included in this year’s Africa list.

The Sun Exchange, a Cape Town-based start-up that uses blockchain technology to democratise solar power, ranked in eighth place, while drone and satellite data firm Aerobotics was in tenth position.

The Sun Exchange provides users an opportunity to earn income while helping to bring solar power to developing global regions.

Through its online platform, members can purchase solar photovoltaic cells for approximately $10 per cell and lease them to be installed in solar projects for businesses, hospitals, schools and other organisations in Southern Africa, the Middle East and other sunny developing regions.

The start-up was founded by Abraham Cambridge, who has a background in climate change and environmental management. The online platform has over 10 000 users and has constructed six projects, including one at the Knysna Elephant Park, and it is now expanding into Kenya.

Others in the top 10 list include Kenya’s Farm to Market Alliance, Tanzania-based Sanku Project Healthy Children and Washington DC-headquartered Ovamba Solutions, which also operates on various parts of the continent.

Cape Town-headquartered Aerobotics processes data from drone and satellite imagery through its proprietary artificial intelligence platform, to discover and analyse problems, pests and diseases affecting trees or vines on a farm.

The company was co-founded by James Paterson (CEO) and Benji Meltzer (CTO) in 2014.

“We are proud and excited to have been named to Fast Company’s 2019 Top 10 Most Innovative Companies list,” says Paterson.

“The hard work all of us have been putting into growing Aerobotics and increasing the number of farmers and agriculture partners is being recognised more and more.”

Aerobotics also won the VivaTech Challenge at the 2018 edition of the AfricArena event in Cape Town.

It now operates across hundreds of farms in 11 countries throughout the world, including SA, Australia and the US.

The agritech company says it is working to expand its impact beyond the agriculture community by creating initiatives that positively impact the South African economy and create jobs.

Fast Company’s top 10 most innovative companies in Africa

  • African Leadership University (Mauritius): For re-making education for a new era.
  • Flutterwave (Nigeria): For easing e-commerce payments in more than 150 currencies.
  • Flare (Kenya): For creating an on-demand ambulance network.
  • Sanku-Project Healthy Children (Tanzania): For fortifying flour with nutrients during the milling process.
  • Farm to Market Alliance (Kenya): For helping more than 150 000 small farmers reach bigger markets.
  • Talamus Health (Ghana): For building a mobile-first healthcare network.
  • Yego Innovision (Rwanda): For bringing quality and consistency to Rwanda’s motorcycle taxi industry.
  • The Sun Exchange (SA): For tapping crypto communities to fund solar projects.
  • Ovamba Solutions (Cameroon): For connecting promising African enterprises with investors to fund growth.
  • Aerobotics (SA): For guiding farmers with satellite and drone images.

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