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SA start-up soars in Switzerland

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Tackling unemployment in a creative way and matching people to “medium-skilled” jobs in major business sectors has seen a South African company crowned as world leaders at the final of the Seedstars World global business summit for entrepreneurs in Switzerland – where they have beaten entrants from more than 60 countries to take the honours.
The story of local entrepreneurs making good began in Johannesburg when a company, named Giraffe, began developing a revolutionary app that helps employers identify talent. Companies primarily from the retail, administration, hospitality and construction sectors use the intelligent matching engine linked to the app to automatically identify the most suitable candidates for a job, notify them by SMS and also schedule interviews.
By offering the fastest, cheapest recruitment agency service to businesses, Giraffe has since February 2015 attracted more than 75 000 job hunters and has placed candidates with hundreds of employers.
The road to Switzerland first became a possibility for Giraffe when they were selected from a field of 12 local tech start-ups to represent South Africa in the Africa finals of the Seedstars World competition.  As regional winners they were given support through Standard Bank’s Incubator programme and received tickets to go on to the African regional final event in Morocco.
They then travelled to Switzerland this month. They pitched their business against 53 other start-ups from around the world – drawn from an initial total base of 3 000 entrants – and won the ultimate accolade of Seedstars World Global Winner.
“We are proud that they were judged the best in the world and met the Seedstar vision of being the best company operating in one of the world’s developing markets to reduce unemployment in their market. The achievements by Giraffe is immense, given that Seedstars World held events in about 50 countries during 2015. Previous winners have been drawn from South Korea, Nigeria and the Philippines,” says Jayshree Naidoo, the Head of Standard Bank’s Incubator.
Peter Schlebusch, Group Chief Executive of Personal and Business Banking at Standard Bank, mentions that the Bank is committed to supporting the growth aspirations of start-ups and entrepreneurial companies.
“As we embrace the concept of open innovation we continue to engage with not just Fintech companies but all innovative companies that impact the customers we serve. This close collaboration allows us to have a positive impact on job creation and the opportunity to influence economic upliftment of a continent we call home. We don’t have all the answers but through embracing innovation and our structured Incubator offerings we aim to deliver a much better customer experience and have a positive impact on changing the lives of those we serve,” Schlebusch adds.
Craig Polkinghorne, Group Head of Commercial and Business Banking at Standard Bank notes: “Entrepreneurs continue to find and develop opportunities despite the current difficult economic conditions. The incubator allows us to bring together entrepreneurs operating in all sectors of the economy.The focus on the technology sector merges entrepreneurial activity with a major global trend. These entrepreneurs not only add efficiency through their technology but also create jobs and grow the SA economy.”
The role of the Incubator programme, available in several centres in South Africa is about supporting and developing entrepreneurs across sectors and stages of their growth.
“We embrace the entrepreneurial and start up community and recognise the uniqueness of African entrepreneurs who continuously surpass all expectations. We recognise the critical role entrepreneurs play in shifting the economic dial of the continent as well as their ability to address many of the challenges we face through innovative technologies, practices and processes,” says Naidoo.