A criticism of the country’s nascent start-up scene is that the businesses being created are irrelevant to the actual needs of the country. Entrepreneurs are often dazzled by the shiny things that come out of Silicon Valley, but in reality they are appealing to SA’s middle class, as opposed to 90% of the population. It’s a missed opportunity, because the informal sector offers a chance to come up with unique and creative business models and work with a large, untapped potential market. Not all start-ups have that Silicon Valley mentality. In fact, there are start-ups that are very much trying to solve SA problems. These include bringing e-commerce and connectivity to townships, tackling fires in informal settlements, providing management software to taxis, giving more employment options to domestic workers, and bringing the unbanked to the formal economy. Here are some of these start-ups that are making a difference: Pargo is a courier and logistics company that claims to “solve the...

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