Interesting Startups from Y Combinator Winter 2016 Batch

Y Combinator's Winter 2016 batch had their Demo Day earlier this week. Summarised below are the startups that had products or service relevant to developing countries, or based there (there were more of them than I thought there'd be, which is a good thing given its base in the Valley). 

Paystack / Nigeria: Paystack helps Nigerian companies sell online by enabling them to accept payments via Mastercard, Visa and Verve (a prepaid cash card from Nigeria's First Bank), with easy website integration via REST APIs. Integration is supposed to take half an hour instead of a month or more, traditionally the case. 

Kisan Network / India: Delhi-based Kisan Network gives rural farmers the ability to take pictures of their crops and harvest, upload it to their phones, and wait for buyers to contact them directly. This is a complete re-haul of existing market dynamics, where there are often multiple middlemen between farmer and customer. Co-founder Aditya Agarwalla dropped out of Princeton to build the business, which has a lot of potential in terms of market size (obviously). More here

WorldCover / West Africa: The founders of the business met at MIT in 2004 as students, and went on to work in New York in finance. They provide peer-to-peer insurance to farmers, connecting impact investors with the need for natural disaster insurance in the developing world. The investors earn a portion of the premiums paid, with the money covering the farmers in the event of a drought (WorldCover are starting with drought insurance). Agricultural farmers, left to the vagaries of nature, can get peace of mind from such insurance (in India alone, farmer suicide rates have been worryingly high in recent years). In fact, WorldCover use satellites to monitor rainfall and trigger payments automatically. 

Shypmate / Ghana, Nigeria: This is an international courier business that uses inbound travellers as the couriers, effectively! Shypmate cuts down the time of delivery for a package from the US to Nigeria from 5 weeks to 5-10 days, and the cost from $200 to $20. The recipient just needs to meet the passenger at the airport. At first glance it sounded like that couldn't be legal, but it is - products sent are bought solely through Shypmate partner stores directly, and background checks are done, with a successful passenger receiving 70% of what Shypmate makes. Pretty impressive. More here

Zenysis / multiple (starting with Ethiopia): I would absolutely love to see this software in action. Zenysis takes data from the ground (health workers in a slum area for example), and integrates all relevant data into a system that developing country governments can use on an ongoing basis, and particularly when they are faced with natural disasters or humanitarian crises etc. They are currently in a $1 million pilot programme with the Ethiopian government.

Lynks / Egypt: Lynks allows Egyptian customers to buy products from US sites by pasting in a URL on their website, with customs, fulfilment, logistics etc. all  taken care of by Lynks.

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