The Africa CEO Forum is currently taking place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. It is organized by Jeune Afrique Media Groupe and hosted by IFC (International Finance Corporation), a branch of the world bank. Every year, the AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS recognizes the companies and investors that have shaped the year in Africa, during its AFRICA CEO FORUM Gala Dinner. More than 250 companies, investors, and CEOs have been nominated over the last eight years, embodying the vitality of Africa’s economy. As a coveted award, the award night brings together the topmost stakeholders in Africa’s startup ecosystem, with a view to rewarding the most significant contributions to Africa’s startup growth during the year.
This year, the Africa CEO Forum highlighted the best African startups by awarding the ‘Disrupter of Year’ trophy. The “Disrupter of the Year” trophy celebrates the startups whose activities are particularly disruptive and innovative. Emphasis is placed on products and initiatives with major impact in terms of financial inclusion, access to healthcare, education, energy, etc.
The nominees for the trophy sponsored by Visa were Chari, Vezeeta, Yassir, Paps, and Releaf.
After intensive discussions, Chari was selected by the star-studded jury consisting, Hassananein Hiridjee, CEO of Axian Group, Elizabeth Medou Badang, Senior Vice President at Orange Middle East and Africa, Obi Ozor, CEO of Kobo360, Wale Ayeni, Head of Ventures at IFC and Veronica Ogeto, Head of Ventures at Safaricom.
Other announced categories entail CEO of the year, won by Hassananein Hiridjee, CEO of Axian Group, and award for International Company, won by Development Partners International.
Chari is an e-commerce app that helps small retailers in French-Speaking Africa to procure inventory for their stores and get it delivered for free while benefiting from payment facilities. This trophy awards Chari’s efforts in bolstering financial inclusion, especially for local traditional mom-and-pop stores, and helping them withstand competition from mass retailers. Just last week, the startup had announced its acquisition of Diago, an Ivorian app that connects neighborhood shops to FMCG producers/importers.
The startup has had a phenomenal year, especially with its bridge round earlier this year, and a valuation of about $100 million. Earlier this year, the company had acquired Axa credit, the credit branch of Axa Assurance Maroc for $22 million. Prior to this, the YC-backed startup had acquired a Moroccan digital ledger book, Karny.ma. The company is very deliberate about its strategy around acquisitions, as it seeks to broaden its geographical presence and market penetration.