Opportunities for Singaporean start-ups in South Africa and beyond

Thinkroom Consulting

Published | 01 June 2023

About the report:

This report was created to provide an overview of start-ups in South Africa, tailored to global start-ups that wish to establish themselves in the country or the broader African market. While this specific report was developed for Singaporean companies, it contains much information that would be useful to both local and global start-ups evaluating the start-up landscape in South Africa and Africa. Opportunities for Singaporean start-ups in South Africa and beyond was developed to introduce each sector, whether HealthTech or EdTech. This infographic was intended to be used at the start of each sector/industry analysis, providing a wide overview of the potential markets in Africa and South Africa, before narrowing down to look at opportunities in Cape Town as the hub of entrepreneurship and academia in the country, and the host of The Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) Cape Town Acceleration Programme.

Each industry report was developed to be used as a sales tool or aid to showcase the opportunities available to Singaporean start-ups in South Africa as part of the GIA Cape Town programme – a collaboration between the Grindstone accelerator and Enterprise Singapore. This programme aims to help 20 innovation-driven Singaporean start-ups to grow and expand their business in the South African market, as part of a focused GTM programme.

To find out more visit: https://ventureburn.com/2022/09/grindstone-gives-singapore-tech-start-ups-a-leg-up-in-sa/

and click here: https://grindstonexl.com/geographies/singapore/


This report provides valuable insights into the potential business opportunities for Singaporean companies in Africa, with a specific focus on South Africa. It highlights the vast size and population of Africa, its growing start-up ecosystem, and the key sectors driving entrepreneurial activity. Additionally, it compares Singapore and South Africa in terms of their demographics, economic indicators, and key industries. The report also showcases several Singaporean companies that have established a presence in Africa, demonstrating the close business ties between the two regions. Overall, this aims to inform Singaporean enterprises about the potential benefits and prospects of expanding their operations into South Africa and the broader African market.

Summary of the report of the opportunities for Singaporean start-ups in South Africa and beyond

This report emphasises the immense opportunities that Africa presents to Singaporean enterprises.

With a land area of 29.648 million square kilometres and a population of 1.4 billion people, Africa has the potential to become a significant consumer market.

What’s more, the start-up ecosystem in Africa has been growing rapidly, with 10 unicorns, and 1.2% of all global start-up funding raised in 2022, it was the only region where start-up funding saw year-on-year growth.


Our research highlights South Africa as a particularly attractive market for Singaporean companies. South Africa has:

  • The most mature start-up ecosystem in Africa, second only to Nigeria in terms of the number of start-ups.
  • A well-established banking system
  • High internet penetration
  • A developed venture capital network
  • Three times as many FinTech start-ups compares to any other vertical, with FinTech the major driver of start-up activity.
  • Supportive public-private partnerships
    • The South African government has implemented various programmes and initiatives to support entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These include the National Integrated Small Enterprise Development (NISED) Strategic Framework, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), and the Department of Science and Innovation.
    • The public and private sectors are working together to drive economic growth and generate new jobs, with SMEs expected to account for 60-80% of GDP increase and generate 90% of 11 million new jobs in South Africa by 2030.

We compare Singapore and South Africa in terms of population, land area, GDP, and key industries. While Singapore has a smaller land area and population, it boasts a highly developed economy and key industries such as electronics, chemicals, financial services, and logistics. South Africa, on the other hand, has a larger land area and population, with key industries including mining, manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture.

We then list several Singaporean companies that have successfully established their presence in Africa. These companies operate in diverse sectors such as commodities trading, hospitality, e-government solutions, agriculture, engineering, transportation, and FMCG. Their success serves as an example for other Singaporean enterprises looking to explore opportunities in Africa.

In summary, our research highlights the vast potential and opportunities for Singaporean enterprises in South Africa and the broader African market. It provides insights into the start-up ecosystem, key sectors, government support, and existing business ties between Singapore and Africa. This research serves to encourage Singaporean companies to consider scaling their operations into South Africa to leverage the growing opportunities in the African continent.


Download the full report here.


Read our analysis on the HealthTech sector here.

Read our analysis on the edtech sector here.





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