The World Economic Forum, earlier this week, announced its selection of the 100 most promising Technology Pioneers of 2021 - companies that are shaping industries from healthcare to retail and many more.

The selection included eight (8) African startups including:

  • 54 Gene: Nigerian-founded health technology company deriving insights from the world’s most diverse populations to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges.
  • Cambridge Industries: an Ethiopian company which integrates biological materials from waste sources and polluting gases by creating next-generation bioreactors and insect farms
  • FlexFinTx: a Zimbabwe-founded startup working to empower the 400 million Africans who lack proper forms of identification to build self-sovereign digital identities so that they can prove who they are at any time, even without the internet.
  • Kuda Bank: Nigerian-founded full-service, digital-led bank with a mission to make banking more accessible, affordable and rewarding for every African on the planet.
  • Moringa School: a multi-disciplinary workforce development platform based in Nairobi, Kenya, and committed to providing young Africans with the technical and soft skills they need to excel in their careers
  • mPharma: a Ghanaian-founded technology-driven healthcare company working to increase access to drugs for all patients at reduced costs while assuring and preserving quality
  • Sokowatch: an East African e-commerce company with a presence in 9 countries using innovative technology to improve supply chain inefficiencies
  • Gro intelligence: an Ethiopian-founded analytics startup deploying artificial intelligence systems for food security and climate stability solutions

The World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers are early to growth-stage companies from around the world that are involved in the use of new technologies and innovation that are poised to have a significant impact on business and society.

The Technology Pioneers are selected based on the WEF community’s selection criteria, which includes innovation, impact and leadership as well as the company’s relevance with the World Economic Forum’s Platforms.

With their selection as Technology Pioneer, representatives from all eight companies will be invited to participate at World Economic Forum activities, events and discussions throughout the year. All participating companies will also contribute to Forum initiatives over the next two years, working with global leaders to help address key industry and societal issues.

“It’s a great privilege to be acknowledged as a pioneer by the World Economic Forum”, said Sokowatch’s Daniel Yu about the company's inclusion in the list. “We are continuously looking at how technology can transform the supply chain for informal retailers and improve access to goods for the mass market. The informal retail sector makes up 80% of total retail but is extremely fragmented; introducing technology has enabled a simplified and seamless process that is slowly turning a traditionally unprofitable market into a profitable one.”

Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong had this to say about his company's inclusion in the list: “It is truly an honour to be recognised as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. This is testament to the outstanding collective output of the 54gene team to address global health disparities, and to imagine a world where precision medicine applies equally to all irrespective of one’s geographical location or economic status. There’s a long journey ahead and we look forward to continuing to collaborate and innovate with other mission-driven organizations all over the world.

Susan Nesbitt, Head of the Global Innovators community, World Economic Forum welcomed all the companies to the community, saying that she looked forward to their contribution to the WEF in its commitment to improving the state of the world.

For the first time in the community’s history, over 30% of the cohort are led by women. The firms also come from regions all around the world, extending their community far beyond Silicon Valley. This year’s cohort includes start-ups from 26 countries, with UAE, El Salvador, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe represented for the first time.

The diversity of these companies extends to their innovations as well. 2021 Tech Pioneer firms are shaping the future by advancing technologies such as AI, IoT, robotics, blockchain, biotechnology and many more. The full list of Technology Pioneers can be found here.