Each Sunday, we bring you Swedish technology companies who’ve been written about, or mentioned by larger international press. This week, Millicom open up about their vision for an African tech community, Sweden’s b2c investment levels surge past b2b and the New York Times wrote about Sweden’s cashless society and mobile payments boom.
Sweden-based telecom firm, Millicom, is making a quick bet on Rwandan entrepreneurship. The company recently announced that it is building a tech incubator called Think in the east African nation’s capital, Kigali. The company intends to seek out ambitious entrepreneurs and provide seed financing, structured training and coaching programs to help them on their way. The company also promises to help test products and will open up paths to foreign investment. In return, Millicom is expecting equity in scalable businesses that emerge from Think.
Since the beginning of 2010, VC investors have completed 328 deals involving companies headquartered in Sweden, according to the PitchBook Platform. While the country’s information technology industry has garnered the largest share of the deal flow during that time (30%), the B2C industry (27%) follows very closely behind. Sweden’s B2C space hasn’t always been this prominent, however; in 2010, the industry lagged behind both IT and B2B in terms of deal flow share. But then things changed. Sweden’s B2C industry has gained a larger share of the deal flow each year since 2010, going from accounting for 19% of all deals that year to accounting for 32% of all deals in 2013. Meanwhile, the country’s B2B industry has experienced the opposite trend, accounting for a decreasing deal flow share each year during the timeframe (dropping from 35% in 2010 to 10% in 2013).
Science fiction writers have long envisioned a cashless society. But some places have taken bigger steps in that direction than others. The London transit agency, for instance, is trying out a new payment system that will allow passengers to tap a debit card on an electronic reader at a subway station and board the London Underground. In Sweden, consumers are increasingly using their phones for purchases at retailers or to buy a hamburger at McDonald’s and Burger King. And in Kenya, consumers are bypassing the traditional banking system and using a cellphone-based money transfer and microfinancing service instead.