As a small innovator it is sometimes daunting to see the big firms in your space that you have to somehow compete with. In the technology sector there are the likes of Google, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft competing in Africa to make a change and find new investments. If these huge companies are entering Africa, what is the point of trying out your own innovative ideas right? WRONG!
There may be big companies in the market, whether from outside Africa, or innovative companies like Safaricom. But, that does not mean there are not opportunities for other companies to grow to compete with them. Finding a small problem, creating a small solution can lead you into a business that grows and grows.
This was the case for Habari Node. They are a Tanzanian Internet Service Provider, who recently became the first tech company to list on the Tanzanian stock exchange. That they are the first tech company is a considerable step for the Tanzanian tech sector, but the story of how they got their is what is inspiring.
Another week, another award ceremony showcasing African Innovation. And it is another popular one! The MTN Business App of the Year Awards took place on the 12th of October in Johannesburg. MTN, Africas largest mobile operator, is one of the continent leaders in the search for the next big African innovation. One the one hand, they are interested in finding innovative solutions to social problems, and on the other hand, finding and investing in these innovations can only further develop their business.
With the Innovation Prize for Africa, Seedstars, AppsAfrica awards and many more, Africa is becoming a greater focus of innovative talent. And the world is beginning to take notice. As well as fostering this talent and encouraging people in Africa to follow through with their ideas, these awards help change the mindset of investors outside of the continent. It is now possible to see that Africa does in fact have an incredible pool of responsible, hard working talent that can be tapped into. It is no wonder we are seeing more and more stories about big firms, such as Microsoft, heading into Africa to invest.
As usual, we will feature some of our favourite winners from the MTN Business App of the year below.
SHYFT not only won the award for Best Financial Solution, but they took the overall winner award. Shyft, from Standard Bank, enables customers to purchase currency and transfer money overseas all from the comfort of their mobile phone. Forex can be purchased and stored on the phone and transferred when needed. The purchased currency, which is in USD, GBP, EUR and AUSD, can also be used through virtual cards, which means international online shopping is now possible.
If you have an interest in African innovation and technology, the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) is probably an organisation you have come across in your reading. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, they are the Swiss based organisation that runs the Innovation Prize For Africa (IPA). The IPA has been awarding African innovation for 6 years, with the 7th edition set to take next year. Earlier this week they begun their search for the next African innovations to take centre stage and compete for the generous prize and network offered. If you want to read more about their most recent winners check out the following blogs:
The IPA may be the show piece of the AIF, but there isn’t just one string to their bow! Projects like the African Law Library, which is aimed at opening up legal information to anyone in Africa, have been pioneered by the AIF. Another project that will benefit potential African innovators is ZuaHub.
ZuaHub is an online platform that links African innovators or resources in order to help them develop their ideas and give them the best chance of becoming successful. Becoming a successful innovator, where ever you are in the world, is not just about having a great idea. It can be a long process from the initial idea, to successfully launching on the market. There needs to be feedback from potential users, access to Continue reading “Did You Know African innovators can get comprehensive support online?”→
Last week, AppsAfrica announced their finalists for this years awards. Their awards ceremony will take place in Cape Town on the 6th of November 2017. We featured some of our favourites in our previous blog, but with such an exciting array of innovations, there simply wasn’t enough space to feature more. So, in this blog, we will cover some more of our favourite innovations that will battle it out in Kigali.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in the north of England looking for a particular address using the Satnav in the car. I put in the post code, drove where I was told, and found I was still 5 minutes from my actual destination. We have worked with addresses the same way for centuries, name or number of a house, street name, town, county/state and post/zip code. In the new digital world, there is surely a more efficient way to deal with addresses. We featured an idea on Inventive Africa a while back, which offered a new way to look at addresses, but What3words have come up with another solution, to help you locate any 3m X 3m spot on earth. They have created unique 3 word signatures for every little plot on the planet.
It may be one of the newer innovation awards in Africa, but AppsAfrica is also one of the most exciting and a place to find the tech to watch over the next year. And, excitingly, they have just announced their next batch of finalists and there are loads of them! This means, over the next few blogs, Inventive Africa will feature our favourites from across the board and I can’t wait to discover what new ideas are coming out of Africa. The annual Awards now in their third year attracted over 300 submissions from across 31 countries.
Some of the finalists have in fact already been featured on Inventive Africa. Of course, Farm Drive are there. Their innovative farm solutions have adjourned award ceremonies for over a year. Also Featuring amongst the finalists are Mastercard 2Kuze, who assist small holder farmers financially, Carter, a Tinder app for car buying, Flutterwave, a digital payment specialist across Africa, PiggybankNG, a previous winner that encourages saving, We are not surprised to see these incredible innovation continue to make waves, but which are the next big African technologies?
Solar energy is creating great change in many communities in Africa. Organisations like Solar Sisters are empowering people in their business and home life. Trend Solar are doing the same by distributing and financing a range of solar systems. Their systems are aimed at both low income houses, with a 70 Wh systems, up to 32 Kw all in one mini grid systems for companies or communities.
The Tr70 kit comes including a solar panel, solar battery device, two Led light bulbs and lamp holders, a portable rechargeable LED tube light, and even a solar smartphone! So they not only enable a safer living environment, away from candles and dangerous kerosine lamps. The smart phone is vitally important as it enables the consumer buy their energy on a pay as you go basis, using of course mobile money. The smart phone also means that the individual or family have access to many other important information, regarding their business, education, savings, or even entertainment. With many under privileged families in Africa spending 35% to 30% of their income on lighting and phone charging, this solution should drastically reduce this expenditure and enable funds to be spent on self development. (or saved)
In a time where the world is trying to create equality for all, girls and women still lag behind in many circumstances. Often, research into the lives of girls and attitudes towards girls is hindered. Often men are doing the research, or the head of a household is a man, which alters the information. TEGA is a girl operated mobile enabled research tool, which gives an accurate insight into the lives of girl. TEGA teaches girls from 18-25 to collect meaningful, honest data about the worlds they live in, in real time. Any research made can be uploaded in a matter of minutes, and be analysed shortly after.
Not only does TEGA enable girls to portray the reality of their lives, which can inform policy and create greater awareness to the issues that girls face around the world, but it also gives girls employable skills for their future. They are currently operating in hard to reach areas in Nigeria, Malawi and Rwanda.
Financial planning is not possible for everyone. How should a small hold farmer get access to funds to develop his business, when it is impossible for him to get a credit rating. Without this, they may not be able to access a good savings scheme, or other benefits offered by banks. JUMO seeks to change this by using behavioural data form mobile usage to build a financial identity for the individual.
For many people, having this rating will mean their first contact with a bank. This will change their lives completely, with the ability to save for a rainy day, develop their businesses, and provide more for their families. JUMO is offering loans, easy ways to repay, and also easy ways to pay for good. A one stop shop! Check out their inspiring video below
Fintech is providing incredible opportunities for the unbanked. It is creating a new type of financial culture in Africa. Mobile money, like MPesa and its spinoffs are providing security for families, which was not previously possible. JUMO are not the only innovation in the same field. We featured Lending Square a few months ago, who are creating credit ratings in a similar manner in Ghana. Don’t be surprised if they are winning awards soon also!
Unfortunately we don’t have enough space in this blog to feature all of the fantastic innovations that will feature in this years Apps Africa. But, in upcoming blogs, we will continue to talk about some of the others.
If you know of any innovations in Africa, an innovation that is changing lives, or you also want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @inventiveAfrica or via email. Please she the blog with your network on Twitter andFacebook. Also, don’t forget to check out and like out Facebook page!
Across the world, exploitation of children still occurs at an alarming rate. Exploitation can take place in many forms, whether sexual abuse, trafficking or even making young people work in difficult conditions. In Africa all of these exist, but there are differencing opinions over certain elements of exploitation, for example, whether child labour is exploitation in every circumstance, especially when the family needs extra hands to create income. Regardless of which side of the argument is correct, the exploitation of children is very damaging ro society. Especially in countries where mental health care is often lacking, and so dealing with problems later on down the line can prove very difficult.
On many occasions I have met people, or heard of people that have been taken advantage of by people in positions of power. There are situations in which I have ha to personally intervene where a pastor and a teacher had managed to use their positions of power in horrible ways with the young people in their community. In both situations the young people in question were not able to speak out to their elders. It was just fortunate that they felt that they could speak out to me about it. In fact, on one occasion it was only their peers that let me know what was going on.
In Nigeria, there is a solution to combat this, and to enable children to easily speak out about any exploitation they are encountering, without talking to their parents of members of their community. The Jose Foundation have created an app called Stop CSE , which has been made for both Apple and Android devices. Children will be able to report the matter through the app, and the foundation, police, and any other relevant authorities will be informed to be able to intervene.
The ease of reporting is incredibly important for young people. It is challenging talking out against adults, especially when in many cultures children’s voices are simply not heard. This app will achieve its goal another way also. Just the knowledge of the app’s existence should give children a better understanding of their rights, and what they shouldn’t have to endure, from religious leaders, teachers, relatives and even parents.
Victims will receive a high level of confidentiality for their protection, in what is a sensitive area. This is important, simply because of the amount of power the exploiter can have over their victim. The tool will also enable greater data gathering with regards to abuse, and will be useful in informing policy of the future.
The only problem I foresee is that many children do not have access to their own smartphones, and even if they do, it is still necessary to be able to download the app. It would be interesting if mobile providers, or smart phone companies, had the app inbuilt into their systems, so that it was on every phone without the need to download it. Every child should be able to reach out for help, and that means access to a phone and the app.
It is great to see that technology is being used to help protect children. There are similar initiatives like this around the world, and it needs organisations such as the Jose Foundation in Nigeria to take action and give new opportunities for children to speak out against their abusers.
If you know of any innovations in Africa, especially those that help the vulnerable members of African society, an innovation that is changing lives, or you also want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @inventiveAfrica or via email. Please she the blog with your network on Twitter andFacebook. Also, don’t forget to check out and like out Facebook page!