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Monday, March 4, 2024

Start-ups to watch in 2024

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South Africa’s Top 5 most innovative and exciting start up businesses were crowned at a 300-strong glittering event held in the historic District 6 Homecoming Theatre earlier this month.  These were Botlhale AIEverlectric, JemMySocialLife and Strove.

“The five winning startups  selected from over 120 nominated by their communities exemplified passion, a sensitivity to sustainability, social need as well as wholehearted embrace of current technologies including AI,” said Zinhle Novazi, podcaster, competition judge and Heavy Chef Foundation board member.

“The winning criteria were not so much about “the best performing” or “biggest fundraise” but rather as judges we looked for “the most exciting” startup. We asked ourselves, “Does this startup stir my soul? Novazi said.

“And soul we found in spades,” she added.

The annual Heavy Chef Top 5 Start Up Awards were introduced in 2017 and are now confirmed as South Africa’s premium startup awards celebration. The awards are a collaboration between Heavy Chef, Xero, xneelo and Workshop17.

Support is provided by LinkedIn, Backsberg, Happy Culture, Sir Fruit, Global Citizen, Whipping The Cat, Youth Capital and Now Boarding.

Previous HeavyChef startup winners, include Yoco, Sweepsouth, Easy Equities, Aerobotics and Franc – all of which are now firmly entrenched in the economy.

Heavy Chef CEO Fred Roed explains: “This annual celebration showcases amazing small businesses that are driving the economy forward, providing employment opportunities and proving that small business development is one of the most important drivers of growth.

“Entrepreneurs are often too busy to celebrate themselves, so the Top 5 Startups awards event affords our nation’s unsung superheroes to let loose their capes for one evening. This is our 7th year and each year our awards celebration is getting bigger and more exciting,” he added.

A celebrity panel of entrepreneur judges poured over 120 unique nominations to create a shortlist of 12 for final consideration.

Among the key attributes of the 2023 list of finalists is the role played by artificial intelligence (AI) in their makeup/offering.

 “AI is clearly becoming increasingly relevant in the role startups play in society. This is very exciting and illustrates that the technology being incorporated in South African businesses is world class,”  says Roed.

The 2023 Top 12 shortlist, from which the five winning startups were chosen:

Ambani Africa – A free app with six African languages, aiding public and private sectors with varied solutions.

Botlhale AI – Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to creatively solve the continent’s intricate challenges through overcoming language barriers.

Everlectric – A seamless transition to electric fleets, prioritising simplicity and sustainability for clients.

GoBuddy – Eco-conscious delivery solutions, utilising a community-based network to reduce carbon emissions.


Jem – Payslips and instant employee information, including early pay access using messaging platforms like WhatsApp.

MBRK – An e-scooter suitable for African terrain, adept on and off-road.

Mindjoy – Seamlessly integrating AI education into top schools, broadening educational horizons for children, empowering them with valuable technological skills.

MySocialLife – Education, mental health, online safety, media literacy, and privacy for teens and pre-teens.

Plentify – Fortifies electricity grids with smart home solutions.

Stitch – One-click payments for enhanced convenience.

Strove – In-app meditations and well-being surveys, encompassing stress, sleep, work, among other mental indicators.

Xhuma – Addressing practical financial challenges and facilitating money transfers without divulging account details, utilising diverse payment methods.

Heavy Chef believes that entrepreneurs can change the world for the better and offers short courses on technology, leadership and creativity for its community of 45,000+ entrepreneurs. Nominations for the 2023 awards opened in October and since then a wide range of startups has been nominated.

“It was a tough call, but we are confident that we have selected the very best of the best,” concludes Roed.

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