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We look for the stories that deserve the limelight and not your ears. We find the stories that are worth-telling to make you see things differently.

The mainstream half sells the continent this way–”Halfrica”, but we are selling it in full. It’s simply Africa! With lots of innovation going on under mundane headlines.

We’re not going to talk about bombs 🙂

Last year, $5 million was brilliantly raised by Sudanese digital marketplace, Alsoug. And that’s not all 🙂 including Fawry, an Egyptian fintech startup.

After years of sanctions by USA and the European governments, this investment happens to be the first.

One of the amazing Sudanese startups to talk about is 249startups co-founded by Ahmed Elmurtada, Mutaz Mohamednour and Khansa Alhag.

How “249startups” Is Turning The Satellite On Sudanese Startups

The 249startup’s business name rings a bell right?

“249” happens to be the country code of the north African country, Sudan.

The plan was to put Sudan on the map and definitely not with guns and bombs.

According to Elmurtada:

The Mission

“249 is the country code for Sudan, and our mission is to connect Sudanese entrepreneurs with the international community and reshape economic activities in Sudan. To invest in Sudan, you call 249, and this is where 249 comes [from]. 

“It also shows our internal aspiration to put Sudan on the map in terms of identity; a local hub that is going out of Khartoum, Sudan and across the world, getting investment and helping these startups and entrepreneurs scale and create impact across the region. 

“The term “startups” is mainly inspired by the fact that we wanted to focus on highly impact-driven companies, tech-enabled and high growth companies. So startups show that we are trying to focus on the innovative ones, the riskier ones.”

VCs In Sudan

“Sudan doesn’t have many VCs that you can see. In nearly ten years of growing the ecosystem, we’ve just now started to see these deals in the last three years. 

“There is always an issue of finding startups in Sudan that have the traction of a seed round or Series A company but have not raised much money. So any investment from the likes of YC, 500 Startups, TechStars, or other regional accelerators or funds will have a positive impact on the country. Not necessarily in terms of taking over the market, but it’s a message of hope, of what is possible.”

About Small Medium Enterprises

“SMEs can access some finance from banks. But even that in Sudan is a challenge. The banks’ interest rates can go up to 30% to 60% a year. On the equity side, most investments are angel investments, family investments and friends. 

“This is one of the reasons why the survival rate of startups in Sudan is meagre because, by the time they would like to raise follow-on capital, they will get an offer that wouldn’t work for them. And then they wouldn’t take it, and unfortunately, they will die because they will run out of cash.”

“Our conversations and experience show that if we’re able to get these entrepreneurs one step ahead, even with small cash tickets, they can generate good traction, build their legalities, governance, and chances of being accepted or raising further rounds would increase.”

“What we have done is that we show these investors how our startups are growing. We provide insights and host demo days where they meet the startups gathered from our programmes. 

“They see them, and they get a chance to talk to them, going through their financial data and business plans. Gradually, this is creating momentum and some sort of trust. Recently, one of our graduates raised above $100,000 in equity investment from Sudanese living in the diaspora.”

 

By Elijah Christopher

 

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Elijah Christopher is a lifelong creative artist and a journalist for “A New Touch Of Africa”, an American news media and magazine focusing on Africa-related issues, fashion, new technologies and innovations. He has contributed to several published works, most notably a collaborative poem celebrating Scottish poet Edwin Morgan and in 2021 was the winner of the DIAJ Award for his photo-artistry.

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