After grabbing the ringing phone at Acapulco Mexican Grill and Bar in the center of Addis Ababa, owner Abel Wondowsen quickly scribbles an order for quesadillas and tacos on a pad of paper. Soon a bundle of wrapped food is on the counter awaiting a motorbike dispatcher from Deliver Addis.
Western-styled restaurant home delivery – especially involving Mexican food – is a relatively new concept in the Ethiopian capital, even more so across the country. Hence when Deliver Addis founder Feleg Tsegaye moved to Ethiopia from the U.S. five years ago, he despaired at being unable to order home delivery after a long work day.
“So I put together a quick website, talked to a couple of restaurants, hired a motorcycle for a month and invited about 30 people to use it,” Tsegaye says of his experiment in March 2015. “I just wanted to be lazy and not have to cook in the evening. It backfired badly as this is the most busy I’ve been in my life.”
Tsegaye is far from alone in finding his business idea take off. Across Africa a vibrant startup scene is transforming economies and lifestyles. Tech startups alone raised $129 million in Africa during 2016, representing a 16.8 percent rise in the number of successfully funded startups over 2015, according to a new report from Nairobi-based Disrupt Africa, an online media site providing news, information and commentary on Africa’s tech startup and investment scene.
While South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya are the continent’s three most popular investment destinations, securing just over 80 percent of funds, entrepreneurial vigour is evident everywhere.
“We see increasing activity in other countries, such as Egypt, Ghana, Rwanda, Morocco, Tunisia, Zimbabwe,” says Gabriella Mulligan, co-founder of Disrupt Africa. “So it’s fair to say markets are developing [and] incredible ideas and innovations are popping up continent-wide.”
Going high and low
The tech scene is only part of it. Characteristic of Africa’s startup scene is how people are building both high-tech and low-tech business models around impact projects geared toward a similar goal.