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GovChat founders’ new venture, Suppple, lists in Luxembourg in £200m IPO

Image of Suppple cofounder Professor Eldrid Jordaan

Eldrid Jordaan

4th June 2024

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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IT and AI company Suppple Plc in May witnessed its £200-million initial public offering (IPO) on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange (LuxSE) in Europe.

Suppple will be required to comply with LuxSE rules and regulations in the coming months for the listing to be definitive.

For cofounder Professor Eldrid Jordaan it has been a full circle from his days as a youngster on the Cape Flats as the son of a civic-minded trade unionist, to the board of Mxit, and on to the formation of GovChat, to this, his newest venture – the development of an application-programming-interface-driven chatbot platform for businesses, governments and large institutions.

In simple terms, the platform enables businesses and governments to build and deploy chatbots and interactive conversational experiences.

A data visualisation platform can also rapidly digitise processes and automate workflows.

Mxit was a multimillion-user free instant messaging application – Whatsapp before Whatsapp existed.

GovChat was a platform the South African government used to engage citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It facilitated real-time communication, supporting more than 10-million users with access to health updates, social relief applications and government services.

Cocreated with the South African government, GovChat’s focus was focused on quick and easy access, explains Jordaan.

Users did not need to download a new app, but could access GovChat via existing chat apps, such as WhatsApp.

Founders Goitse Konopi and Jordaan had to consider the type of phones South Africans used, the limited space and data on these phones, and the preloaded apps available on a typical South African’s phone, thereby ensuring GovChat’s success.

“It was the largest single global civic engagement platform,” says Jordaan.

In recognition of his work, Jordaan was named a professor of practice in 2022 by the University of Johannesburg’s business school.

Konopi and Jordaan have since left GovChat to create a new entity – Suppple, the three Ps indicating a focus on private-public partnerships.

Registered in the UK and based in London and Cape Town, the focus is on creating ever-widening social impact, says Jordaan.

“The roots are in GovChat, but this is an entirely different and new technology.”

"We always knew we were going to list outside the JSE first," explains Jordaan. "We want access to the global financial markets because, when you observe the technology landscape, tech companies listed in South Africa are rarely recognized on a global scale. Additionally, Luxembourg's AAA rating makes it an attractive option."

What remains the same as the GovChat days, however, is Jordaan’s focus on using technology for the greater good.

For example, GS1 is a global, non-profit issuer of barcodes, based in Belgium. Along with GS1 South Africa and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, Suppple’s technology plays a pivotal role in the verification and tracking of products in South Africa.

This not only enhances supply-chain transparency, but also combats fake and unsafe goods, as well as illicit traders working to bypass the tax man.

On a global level, the partnership between GS1 and Suppple supports the scanning and verification of more than 500-billion products globally, with 10-billion products scanned daily across 115 countries.

This system has helped uncover illegal trade activities valued between R100-billion and R1-trillion.

“Think what this technology will be able to do at South African border posts for the South African Revenue Service in uncovering fake goods?” says Jordaan. “A simple smartphone can scan any product and verify its barcode and origin.”

Other applications of Suppple technology include the enhancement of business process outsourcing services in South Africa, Kenya and Columbia with customised call-centre solutions.

Also, initiatives in cities such as Dakar and Nairobi use Suppple’s software to manage public services, including social welfare, public health and urban planning.

In partnership with the Senegalese government, Suppple has co-created platforms for citizen-government engagement and the digitisation of social welfare services.

Within the African Union, member States use the company’s AI chatbot technology to provide accessible digital healthcare services across 54 member States.

Where to next for Jordaan and Konopi?

There is a South African listing on the horizon in the next few weeks, says Jordaan, with many local investors keen to take part in Suppple’s success.

“I would also like to see the impact of our technology felt in especially the healthcare and education sectors in Africa with the school dropout rate improving and with Africans being less vulnerable to illnesses.”

 

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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