Mining digital disruptor concludes first allocation of R43.5-million
In July 2021, Mineworkers Investment Company (MIC) launched MIC Khulisani Ventures, a R150-million early-stage investment vehicle targeting black-owned innovative, high growth businesses in South Africa. This investment initiative targeted high-growth potential companies across all sectors barring primary agriculture and primary extractive industries.
Calls for applications closed on 15 August 2021 with MIC Khulisani Ventures having received 722 applications. MIC Khulisani Ventures sifted through hundreds of promising business ideas searching for companies that showed the best signs of scalability, innovation and capability to be disruptive industry players.
“The pitch deck reviews and adjudication by the MIC Khulisani Ventures investment panel narrowed applications down to a list of top ten finalists who were invited to pitch meetings. After several rounds of brisk Shark Tank-esque interviews, Kelo and Rentoza were the first to close with a combined investment of R 43,5 million. The economic enablement associated with their respective business models served as an attraction and helped set them apart during the selection process. They are an example of the kinds of entities we continue to seek out mutually beneficial partnerships with.” says MIC Chief Investment Officer, Nchaupe Khaole.
Ed-tech business Kelo received a capital allocation of up to R23.5 million from Khulisani. The company secured contracts with key publishers that gave them licensing rights to educational content libraries with over fifty thousand titles.
MIC Impact Investment Manager, Thato Ntseare, refers to Kelo as a disruptor of industry — changing the way people learn and access studying material using digital technology. “Their practical, book-rental model allows students to get the books they need for much cheaper, especially since they often need certain textbooks for a limited time only during the course of their studies. Their digital approach also contributes to saving paper as well as storage efficiency by avoiding the use of physical space for books. These are some of the things that caught our attention about them.”
Kelo CEO, Zakheni Ngubo says, “Through this investment and partnership, Kelo will be able to produce much greater results. We will be better positioned to demonstrate the true strength of our platform and contribute towards enhancing the education experience of many people by minimising the hassles that come with acquiring, circulating and even storing studying material. I am very pleased with the interest that MIC has shown in this innovative platform that is bringing an impactful solution to the market.”
Rentoza is an online electronics and appliances retailer operating on a subscription-based model. They make access to essential technology easy and affordable to consumers, especially when traditional means of acquiring tech products are not an option.
“Rentoza’s focus on creating alternative means of accessing devices that play such a big role in our daily lives was the drawcard that attracted us to the business,” says Ntseare. “Their growth rate from the onset, showed that they are well-organised, extensively experienced, and a very capable enterprise. It is critical that we provide funding for businesses of this nature especially since they are developing solutions that speak to specific needs of consumers.”
Chief Marketing Officer at Rentoza, Mishaan Ratan believes the strategic partnership with MIC enables Rentoza to unlock and expedite its collective vision. “Throughout the interaction with MIC we have realised that this partnership is positioned in both our minds and hearts. This is going to deliver real impact to a country hungry for access and growth on both a personal and business level.”
Ratan says the vision for economic inclusion and empowerment in South Africa is the basis of this relationship with MIC creating generational growth and opportunity for this country. “We see ourselves as the next wave of economic inclusion and empowerment with a partner that has navigated this plane for a long time. Their perspective and experience is invaluable to us and ensures that we can leverage our current momentum to continue delivering accelerated growth and deliver a new model in the market that will evolve the way everyone relates to and interacts with products,” adds Ratan.
Ntseare says the experience and competencies of Kelo and Rentoza, gives MIC the confidence that both companies will deliver something remarkable to this modern, online-driven economy. “Kelo and Rentoza have established themselves in niche markets that are underserved in terms of funding. Our role is to partner with them as they broaden their reach and unlock more opportunities and potential. We want to do our part in supporting their ambitions to develop new technology products and services that will benefit a majority of South Africans,” concludes Ntseare.