In 2012, the Apps4Africa: Business Challenge asked young tech developers to submit their business ideas aimed at solving local problems through a series of brainstorming sessions held in six countries across Africa. The brainstorming events, which engaged local stakeholders, partners, and local US Embassies, focused mainly on engaging and encouraging the next young tech CEOs and teams of change makers that could innovate, create, and transform their technology businesses to provide more employment opportunities and strengthen the economy of their region.
We’re excited to announce that of the near 300 submitted applications, from nearly 1000 people, three winners have been elected for funding:
Team - Titus Mawano
Country - Uganda
Award - $10,000
Website - http://ffene.com
Ffene is a low cost business management platform that enables small and medium businesses to leverage technology to reduce overhead costs incurred due to administrative tasks, freeing up resources that can be redirected to growth initiatives. Currently, Ffene can be used for accounting, customer relationship management, product management and generation of reports.
Team - William Edem Senyo, Heather Cochran
Country - Ghana
Award - $10,000
Website - http://www.facebook.com/SliceBiz
SliceBiz, is a disruptive crowdsourcing web and mobile investment platform providing alternative funding for startups. Our mission is to unlock a whole new funding market for startups to access finance by creating the framework that will make it easy and appealing for middle class Africans to invest small amounts of their disposable income into high-growth startups with proven potential to give high return on investment. The solution SliceBiz is offering is to leverage web/mobile (& offline) platforms to create a connection between startups looking for funding and business-savvy young professionals/middle class looking to invest.
Team - Francis Onwumere, Opeyemi Obembe, Ernest Ojeh
Country - Nigeria
Award - $10,000
Website - http://prowork.me
Prowork is a mobile first enterprise class project management and collaboration solution for businesses. It’s like Basecamp or Atlassian’s confluence but mobile and easier to use, more powerful, with real time collaboration everywhere, anywhere. Prowork is accessible via mobile, the web, SMS and a robust API to allow developers to extend the functionality.
Loren Treisman is the Executive of Indigo Trust, a grant-making foundation based in London that funds and supports technology-driven projects that bring about social change in Africa. She supports a wide range of programmes that focus mainly on innovation, transparency and citizen empowerment. Her portfolio also includes innovative projects that utilise information technologies to support development outcomes in any sector including the health, education, human rights and agriculture spheres. The Trust also supports technology innovation hubs across the continent.
Only two years ago, when we started funding in the tech for social change space in Africa, it was hard for people to imagine the tremendous potential for this sector to stimulate change on the continent. Mobile phone penetration was growing exponentially and submarine cables on both coasts were beginning to make high speed broadband internet a reality. Still, the power of these technologies to increase transparency, improve governance and impact upon social change across a range of sectors including health, education, agriculture and human rights was yet to be realised.
At Indigo Trust, we believe that the best solutions to Africa’s challenges will be devised by those affected by them. Technology makes this possible. As technology becomes more widely available and people are able to utilise this tool to access, share and create information, citizens are able to stimulate the change they wish to see in their own lives and communities. Young people are often early adapters of new technologies and crucially, they often have the drive and passion it takes to turn a good idea into a viable enterprise or product. Now, the young people of Africa can be the change makers in their societies.
This sector is still in its infancy, but it’s an exciting time to be involved. There’s a tangible energy across Africa. Technology innovation hubs are springing up across the continent-from KINU in Tanzania and Hive Colab in Uganda to Co-creation Hub in Nigeria and Activ Spaces in Cameroon. These hubs are places where techies and social activists can access high speed internet, training and mentorship opportunities. Most importantly they can share, collaborate and innovate.
These hubs are a crucial part of the local technology ecosystem which will stimulate local innovation and entrepreneurship and ensure that world class applications are developed in-country. This will both stimulate Africa’s economic development and ensure that social projects most effectively address the needs of beneficiaries as the teams creating them will have a better understanding of local context and culture.
We’re delighted to be supporting Apps4Africa and thank them for inviting me to sit on the judge panel. Beyond the competition, we recognise that entrepreneurs need support to transform their prototypes into viable products. We’d be keen to support some of the best projects coming out of the competition. We’ve been supporting iCow, last year’s winner of Apps4Africa for almost 2 years and we’re inspired by the team and the product. It’s incredible to see the impact it’s making on the ground, increasing their incomes through higher milk yields and better sale prices for livestock.
The opportunity is here and now. Other funders and investors are interested in this space and support is available to turn your idea into a reality. If you’ve got a great idea for an application which can support young entrepreneurs, why don’t you get involved and be part of the change you wish to see in your community.