Did You Know mobile business cards are the future of networking in Africa?

Did You Know mobile business cards are the future of networking in Africa?

The business card is one of the most compact business marketing tools in use today. It is sits quietly in the back pack  our pocket or wallets where it is normally placed and may be regarded as a small insignificant piece of paper that is part of our interconnection and collaboration with people, but in reality  its  value is far more powerful and opens doors no one would.  As much as we have evolved into the world of digitalisation, but this old school strategy is still the best if you want to make real networking and real relationships-for it is  in engaging in real eye contact and actual conversations that meaningful relationships are built. As one of the best marketing tools, they ease making valuable business than typed e-mails which are impersonal.

These cards have a long history and an evolution which reflect their significance in our lives than we can anticipate. According to a 2011 article by Designer-daily, business cards began in the 17th century in Europe, where they were used for social interaction, which was the only way interactive form of communication. Centuries down the line, aristocrats and royalty began to appreciate them as well. Servants were the major messengers during the time who were sent to deliver cards to other servants of intended hosts. Ordinary people and the working class had to no access to them as they were regarded as having no class value and hence strictly used by those in higher powers to show respect and to politely make requisitions. Rules to their usage evolved as well, from how they were folded to serving as evidence of meeting attendance where visitors had to put them in trays of hosts. The more fancier and stylish they looked, the more noticeable they became which late a powerful base for future customs of exchanges in trade, Christmas and Valentine’s Day cards.

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It is undeniable therefore after evolving from several different predecessors that ultimately merged into today’s familiar appearance, the business card still has a fascinating impact in peoples lives. Business cards used to be printed in black and white for many centuries. Technology has advanced and revived their appearance in recent times where the world is over crowded with advertising messages. Due to innovation playing a vital part, it is still easy to distinguish oneself from others. One problem has how ever been outstanding with business cards- keeping them organised. The small cards find their way almost every where: into handbags, jackets , desk drawers, little buckets by the computer and many other places. The trouble is, you can’t find the one you want when you need it.

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Two school students from Feza International school based in Dar es Salam Tanzania realised this problem like most of us but unlike some of us, they came up with a digital solution. They developed an e-business card app called VCARDIN which permits all business cards to be handled on a mobile phone. The initial drive that encouraged them to be so innovative was an encounter they came across with one of their teachers who was  struggling like many others to keep business cards organised. The app has amazing features which allows  users  to exchange their details between devices by simply “Swapping” finger on the phone while the app is on. Access to this feature gives room for historical background check of how, when and why people met, with additional information issues discussed inclusive. Not only does this feature save time but it also saves business people from loosing important clients. Through tapping the device together and selecting messages to transmit, the app gives users a bigger platform of sharing important  information, from  calendar events  to LinkedIn accounts. The app will be officially launched in November this year.

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The impact of youth on the technology scene is undeniable. If you want to stay “young” and innovative, there is no other alternative but to immerse yourself in the emerging tools of the current and next generation which our blog  advocates for. Dar es Salaam is the fastest growing city in Africa, according to the African Development Bank (pdf). It has attracted a host of startup companies and NGOs but it has also become a fast field for emerging technology, such as drones and smartphone apps, as it expands and develops its urbanisation process. It should come as no surprise therefore for us to see more emerging technological solutions to some of its problems. We can draw examples  from the implementation what3words, an app that records GPS coordinates to nine square metres and simplifies them into a three-word combination. what3words is doing in transforming Tanzania’s  informal settlement is amazing. Many people without formal addresses did not have access to services and a legal identity but now they do. With more innovative ideas coming up, there is no doubt that many citizens are yet to continue enjoying the fruits technology.

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 share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

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Did You Know data could create a booming agricultural sector in Africa?

Did You Know data could create a booming agricultural sector in Africa?

Money makes the world go round..right? Well, maybe the tides are turning, and there is another influencer that is pulling the strings of the world. Data! Data and its analysis is influencing our daily lives constantly, whether at home sitting on the sofa watching Netflix, or in the work place, trying to work out how to deliver your product to the right audience on social media. It is even helping you to get to work quicker by letting you know the quickest routes.

But some traditional sectors in Africa are finding it difficult to keep up with the data revolution. In many areas agriculture remains almost unchanged for decades, or even centuries. Traditional methods are used throughout the process, from ploughing the land to selling produce at markets. This means, a large amount of farmers are not utilising data to improve their farming practices, increasing yields and selling at fairer prices. As you will have seen on Inventive Africa over the past couple of years, technology is beginning to be developed for the African agricultural sector. Many of these apps use mobile technology to put information in the hands of farmers, and they don’t even need to have smart phones.

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Technology is letting farmers to ask advice from other around the world, with innovations like those of WeFarm. It is helping them sell their produce online, without having to transport it to market themselves, and also enabling them to know the prices of produces in the market on a particular day without having to rely on the price of a middleman. Technology is even enabling farmers to gain access to farm equipment such Continue reading “Did You Know data could create a booming agricultural sector in Africa?”

Did You Know Women are Taking The Lead In African Innovation?

Did You Know Women are Taking The Lead In African Innovation?

African women history embraces a huge variety of strong women in society despite a common trend of matrilineal descent. From heroins like Yaa Asantewa of Ghana and Winnie Mandela of South Africa to Funmilayo Ransome Kuti of Nigeria, there is no doubt that women can conquer the world. The road to a woman’s success in Africa is not a smooth ride. Especially in business and entrepreneurship. The struggle to raise business funds is a common issue that many startup owners are faced with, especially women entrepreneurs. With lack of support and mentorship programmes,  patriarchal nature of societies, many women are challenged in running sustainable businesses despite their potential but they keep on rising against all odds.

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Yaa Asantewaa an Asante heroine

In a male dominated sphere of startups and entrepreneurship, She leads Africa is one solution taking steps in breaking barriers in entrepreneurship and leadership for women. It is a free social network community for startups in business and already existing businesses to over 400,000 communities aimed at helping women achieve their diverse goals. It engages online content across Africa to events that promote effective networking as a way of educating women about businesses and to also boost their confidence and self esteem their accelerator. As a result a platform for real nurturing of innovative ideas can be identified, giving rise to overwhelming positive results which have the potential to accelerate personal development.

It is founded by two young passionate women, Yasmin Belo-Osagie and Afua Osie who want to overcome barriers of accounting education, fundamentals of finance access and mentorship to most women across Africa as far as businesses and entrepreneurship are concerned. Their initiative is in partnership with a number of alliances such as Work in Progress Alliance, which focuses on promoting sustainable living incomes, Lagos innovates, which  focuses on promoting technology and start ups in Africa, VC4Africa and many others. Such initiatives have not provided a platform for creativity and confidence development only. The massive growth in She leads Africa through its communities throughout many countries in Africa does signify that more innovative ideas are yet to grow and change in the African entrepreneurship world for women for generations to come, providing solutions and promoting women empowerment in the long run.

 

Women are already playing a significant role in African innovation. This two add to our list of powerful innovative women once featured in our blog. The likes of Lucy Quist is one. She was the first female CEO a telecommunication company in Ghana with Airtel Ghana, a mentor to the youth and women in Ghana. Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja is another, she is a Co-founder and executive Director of We farm Africa. We cannot forget Hawawu Mustapha Yaajalal and her innovation My doc Ghana, one of the most viewed posts on Inventive Africa. You can check out this blog to read more about them.

One article from Imagination defines innovation as a visionary strategic lever for change, business transformation, management, profitability and overall sustainability. It is also a systemic lever that engages, empowers and enables people to affect business breakthroughs and deliver profound culture, system, process, product and people changes. The result is increased organisational engagement, reach, competitiveness, faster business growth and increased business value to enable businesses to flow and flourish in this age of disruption. She leads Africa seems to be walking in the same footsteps with its powerful communities such as she hive, which through its classes in many African countries covers and mixes relaxation, connecting, coaching, brand building, partnering, and speed networking all at once for many women across the globe.

From women having access to different callings than men to having multitasky societal roles, it is evident that women entrepreneurs have far more value and sharpened perspective which can provide sustainable economies for the African continent.

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 share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

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Did You Know maths in Africa is not so boring?

Did You Know maths in Africa is not so boring?

Senegal like most African history has its our story to tell about historic education systems and their revolutions. Left with little choice Senegal was bound to use software made in France called “Geogebra”. Its practicality in assisting with daily needs and problem solving solutions seems to a large extent  to be questionable in addressing mathematical problems hence Michel Seck`s new innovation ,“Simula”  an uprising mathematics alternative never before done by anyone in Senegal or Africa.

Solving problems is one challenge in life we all face, but through massive growth in technology and innovation, human beings have managed to come with up with real life changing solutions. In this modern world where our capabilities are massively controlled by machines together with the amount of problems and their varying degrees of complexity, Programming has become a tool for problem solving. Thousands of Universities, Colleges and students learning in this faculty are living testimony to its importance and significance.

A Senegal academician legend who teaches mathematics at a University in Dakar also realised this when he created a software program called Simula Math that simplifies Mathematics for his students. Mathematics is a cut across concerning issue in most developing countries. It  is perceived as a tricky and boring subject by many from the beginning of their school life. The reasons for these difficulties and the lack of interest stem from the specific type of subject and the ways of teaching. According to the commission for Developing countries International Mathematical Union Report (2014) , low numbers of secondary school teachers in maths at masters and Phd levels together with few professors to train the next generation of leaders, countries cannot meet the growing demand for mathematicians with advanced, up-to-date training. Further more deficient and outdated infrastructures, instrumentation, and teaching materials coupled with geographical isolation, are still major contributing factors.

None of these limiting factors stopped this young Senegal legend Michel Seck in becoming part of the change he wanted to see in the field of Mathematics. He bridges a massive missing gap in Mathematics with his creativity and all the features it has. One of them is the function of coding. A massively growing literacy of the 21st century which empowers our digital world. Every website, smartphone app, computer programme, calculator and even microwave relies on code in order to operate. This makes coders the architects and builders of the digital age. Organisations like Coderdojo are practical examples of what Michel is also advocating for. According to the author, Simula has nearly 120,000 lines of code. “It allows to do directly exercises of statistics, calculation of the limits and computations of great powers”.

Cryptology , also Michel’s specialisation is a classical subject which traditionally is supposed to guarantee confidentiality and integrity of messages also offered by this software. Algebra applications inclusive as well. Such features  enable graduate students to gain experience on important real-world problems, and understand the applicability of mathematical concepts in solving problems based in different scenarios. Based on his own personal experience, Michel wishes this feature within the soft ware will widen the scope of teaching mathematics in many schools and promote accessibility in ICT to both teachers and students, a problem the country could not solve for centuries.

Linear algebra — the branch of mathematics concerning vector spaces and linear mappings between such spaces which includes  study of lines, planes, and subspaces is yet another feature of the software. It is a very broad field which can allow learners to choose their specific personal specialisations such as machine operations for example. One of the important application of Matrices is to solve system linear equations which are required by physicists, engineers & scientists to solve physical systems in the areas of electronics networks, space craft and many others. What this therefore signifies is that not only does the software equip students with skills needed for majority of  essential job opportunities in the real world but it also improves the quality  of mathematics teaching in Senegal. Maximising student chances of obtaining /creating better jobs as a result. The fact that it is free and will probably be used from high school to University, Michel would have overcome various challenges faced by the Mathematics department in Senegal. Any child equipped with all this skills from Michael’s software can be declared as ready to conquer the world and all the pre-requisites needed to enter into faculties of engineering sciences which require quality maths methodologies.

Creativity in education deals with  new connections, and imaginative ways of thinking. Creativity not only  enables the learner to make connections between unfamiliar elements but also identification of important problems and their connectedness. Curiosity building and openness to new ideas  give rise to new innovators never seen nor expected. Solutions to problems arising are thus continuously found. Michel is a living proof. If many can follow in his footsteps, a new revolutionised Africa may soon be a living reality to many.

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 share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

Also, don’t forget to check out and like our Facebook pageFor more interesting blogs about African Innovation, check out our homepage.

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Did You Know one innovation has transformed Rwandan education?

Did You Know one innovation has transformed Rwandan education?

The level of education is often seen as a form of capital accumulation, which helps in countries development. In Rwanda, the government implemented policies over the years to ensure there is a high literacy rate among the population. After the crisis in 1994, Rwanda focused on human capital rebuilding and increasing enrolment rates. 1996 saw the introduction of 6-year primary, 3-year lower secondary, and 3-year upper secondary education, where Kinyarwanda was the language of teaching up to lower secondary, which changed to French and English in upper secondary. Rwanda education sector analysis report

The Rwandan government has formed a national strategy for information and communications technology (ICT). This is co-ordinated by the Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA)  which was designed to serve as the national body to support the development and the implementation of the National Information and Communications Infrastructure in the public and private sectors.

There is still room for improvement in the Rwandan education sector, despite implementation of the policies such as free mandatory education for primary school (6 years) and lower secondary schooling (3 years) that is run by state schools. It has achieved significant success in increasing access to education in partnership with  organisations like USAID in order to meet its 2020 vision. Education is key and transitions into technology are visible. We are witnesses to some of its technology success of transfer of land tittle going online for instance. None of this would be impossible if the education system was not evolving.

It comes as no surprise therefore for Rwandans to have a legend like Mariam Muganga a 27-year-old  holder of a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) in Computer and Information Sciences from University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology. This woman put Rwanda on the world map with her startling educational innovation. According to Muganga, her innovation, Academic Bridge, offers a “solution for schools that want to jump into the digital age”. Academic Bridge (the enterprise) has transformed the behaviour patterns and performance of learners as recording and sending of messages of child behaviour can easily be received via sms or e-mail. Attendance to such matters have become much quicker and timely mannered.

 

 

The norm, which is common in most African schools is that children are sent to school by parents but daily communication on the child`s performance and behaviour only being attended to at the end of a term, during report collection. Challenges such as long distances, lack of transportation and little/ no technology being contributing factors to efficient parenting. Thus the teacher is the only accountable person to ensure education and monitoring for every child occurs. Having seen this gap between parents and their children education, Mariam found a solution to ensure that a parent is not only updated all the times with his/ her Childs education but also becomes involved all the way, leading to improvements in overall performance of the child in class .  The rate of drop outs which is normally experienced due to lack of  sufficient follow up is likely to reduce with the use of this application.

Furthermore the application has created a platform for each child to have an account from which reflection of correct allocated marks recorded is visible – a time consuming exercise for most teachers and schools. The application has eliminated potential errors in reports which are normally realised after printing in most schools. It has given teachers the opportunity to technologically advance in daily routines such as attendance list taking and entering of data through their smart phones. No more will teachers stay long hours after school, manually capturing data in this regard. The information the teacher enters is directly accessed by the school administrators online leading to Improvements in communications, which for centuries were not realised. Since the implementation if Miriam’s Academic Bridge application, financial transactions and invoices can be received paperless online by parents. There seems to be high chances for the quality of education to improve  with potential to attract more schools not only locally but across borders eventually.

Did You Know African musicians don’t need to be poor?

Did You Know African musicians don’t need to be poor?
South Africa has a long and very rich history in music. Many different cultures and communities live side by side and even together in South Africa, each with their own stories and background. All of these have produced amazing leaders who have been influenced and contributed to the people, history and country as it is today. The challenges we see now in the music industry long began even for the legends the world so huge embraced as far as history can take us. You know you’re an icon when Time magazine showcases you in a three page spread, as when it headlined Brenda Fassie in December 2001 as the “Madonna of the Townships’. Her extraordinary talent saw her scoop the SAMA for Best Selling Release four years in a row. Some speak of an unnatural craving for limelight, and a personal life in tatters, but she was adored by hundreds of thousands of fans and dubbed ‘the girl with the golden voice’, and ‘South Africa’s queen of pop’.
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The PM – Make your mind dey! Click on the link below to check out the video!
Who can forget the great Solomon Linda? ‘Wimowek, a wimoweh’ – everyone knows this ‘chorus’ from The Lion Sleeps Tonight – the hugely popular song that everyone knows from the world-wide Broadway musical hit, The Lion King. According to blog.sa-venues.com (entertainment section), “When Solomon Linda, the man who not only wrote the song but also sang in a high soprano, and his group, the Original Evening Birds, cut the first recording of the song in 1939 it was the first African record to sell over 100 000 copies. When he died in poverty, in 1962, it was without having received royalties for his work. He sold the rights of the song, called Mbube, to Gallo Records for 10 shillings. His daughters were later to bring a lawsuit against Walt Disney for using the song in The Lion King movie and stage musical, which was settled out of court.” The lists go on and on of similar cases in royalties.

Continue reading “Did You Know African musicians don’t need to be poor?”