One of the first pieces of news I reported after joining Techweez was on the list of Kenyan start-ups heading to Nigeria in 2015 to launch at the DEMO Africa stage. Like I said back then, DEMO Africa is an initiative by LIONS@FRICA to provide a platform for African developers to showcase their products and garner interest from the globe. This year’s event will take place in Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg South Africa on August 25-26th where 30 startups from across Africa will take the stage.
I took some time to go through the 30 startups pitching at the event and identified a few that I am either familiar with, or those I would like to follow throughout this process to see how they fair during and after the event. Startups pitching at the event are drawn from a lot of different sectors in which they leverage technology to solve certain problems. They stem from the agricultural sector, education, transportation, energy and financial sectors to name but a few.
Country of origin: Kenya
Now these guys are familiar, at least one of their products is. Let me take you back a number of months to an app I reviewed. I think I referred to it as ‘A Student’s very own personal assistant’.
By this I meant students can be able to download their school timetable and schedule to-dos and reminders. This app ensures that you always stay up to date with your classes and changes made if any, as well as assignments that are due. Like I said back then, my relationship with time management and good memory has always been a bit sketchy so this would have been very welcome back when I was in University.
I caught up with the team recently to find out how they have been growing and building out their application and according to one of the founders, Brian Ongesa, things are looking up!
“We have been in operation actively for the last seven months with great milestones along the way. Early this year we got an accepted at the Global Incubator Network as part of 10 most innovative startups in the world.”
Why did they choose to participate in DEMO Africa?
“We choose Demo Africa as a platform to help us get the business out there. Considering it’s an African event, we plan to expand to Uganda and Tanzania in a few months and this will serve as a good place to get us known.”
They plan to showcase version 3.0 of AirKlip on the DEMO Africa stage, dubbed AirKlip Aura, which will be a web and mobile platform that will act as a collaborative tool for the students.
I’m curious how this will turn out and will definitely keep you up to date.
Country of origin: Kenya
I have one word for this platform. Comprehensive.
Honestly, I was on this site for less than 5 minutes and I left knowing way more about motherhood than I had intended and still wanted to know more. There are a lot of stories, tips and tricks, interviews, interactive sessions and videos to keep you hooked to your screen.
This is what MumsVillage was all about as its founder and CEO, Isis Nyong’o Madison says in a video, “It is an African media house that develops locally relevant content for African mums focusing on health and education.”
It literally has a lot of well-organized content for whatever stage of parenthood you may be in, solutions to issues and problems related to parenthood as well as access to events to bring the online community, offline and reinforce it.
They should be using the DEMO Africa stage to spread the word about MumsVillage to attract users from all across Africa while still investing and creating more relevant content for them.
Country of origin: Kenya
Every new school year meant dread to me. This meant getting new stuffy uniform and new tight shoes as well as a back pack full of newly minted textbooks where the smell of ink was still very distinct. I could handle the other stresses of school but textbooks brought with them huge responsibility that I was not happy with. Other than them being heavily labelled by my mother, I had to ensure that I kept track of them and keep them in good condition for my younger sister. This fete proved harder when I was seated to a boy who cared less about getting his own books or drawing nasty things on mine. It was simply a nightmare.
With digital adoption in the education industry being encouraged, Startups like Boresha have come up to offer a better and cheaper way to provide educative content in the classroom.
From their website;
It is educational software aligned to the Kenyan government 8-4-4 curriculum. It is in a multi-format including interactive e-books, self-marking assessments, cognitive learning games, animations, storytelling and games.
They have taken it upon themselves to even out the playing field, where the reliance on traditional educational materials like textbooks, which are expensive, is reduced and more and more schools can now be able to take advantage of cheaper material like videos and e-books, which are dynamic and easily replicable.
Country of origin: Nigeria
Do you wake up at some ungodly hour so that you get to the office hustle free? Or do you leave home much later in the morning so that you miss rush hour traffic, but lose some productive hours in the morning? We do either one of this things because sitting in traffic is not an experience any one of us is amused by. Bigger roads have been made over time but this just makes more people buy more cars. What is the solution to traffic then? Public transport. Scratch that, efficient and reliable public transport.
There are more options coming up to make you consider leaving your car behind more often. You can call this a form of public transport as it is shared. You can hail cab services as an individual or share the cab with others, in this case I’m talking about services like Uber Pool. But what about a solution on a bigger scale. Something more familiar to our idea of public transport. That’s where Shuttlers comes in.
This is a company from Nigeria that provides subscription based shuttle service for commuters on already pre-defined routes. The shuttles have a number of features like air conditioning and free WiFi that should convince people to leave their cars at home. There are 3 subscription packages that you can chose from. You can subscribe to ‘one way route’, ‘standard’ or ‘premium’. Once you sign up, you can look at the schedule and pick one of the routes available to take advantage of this service.
According to Osarumen of Techcabal, the founder says that a mobile application is in development that will give riders more options like tracking shuttles and viewing vacant seats
I haven’t yet been able to see the app, therefore I think they will launch it at the DEMO stage. If they do, I’ll find out more about it and how it works and share that with you.
Country of origin: Rwanda
We are a country that not only embraces mobile money, but also significantly thrives on it. The effect that mobile money has had on our financial sector and human behaviour is one that could not be anticipated but nobody can imagine a world without it. This is the space in which Vugapay plays in. It is an application that facilitates cross border, cross network mobile money transfer
The best I idea I can get about Vuga pay is that it is a mobile wallet. You top up the wallet and you can now transact using that. From their website they say that you can send money to any network in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, DR Congo, Niger, Malawi and Zamia, whether or not the receiver is a Vuga Pay user.
Last year in October during the Transform Africa Summit, they secured investment of $20,000 from an investor in exchange of 10 percent equity and a half of their 5% commission charged on the services offered.
I’m still not exactly completely sure how Vuga Pay works, but I’ll get to know more about it once I interact with it and talk to the developers during the even.
Country of origin: South Africa
How many languages can you speak? I can comfortably say that I can speak 3 languages and maybe an eighth of German. Let’s just say I cannot starve in Germany. However I rely on Google translate as many of us do, for language translation. Sometimes though, translating a language is not all that I want. I studied German in school but without practice, it slowly left my tongue. But to try and keep up, I use an app called Duolingo to keep on learning.
Zivo learning are creating an application like Duolingo but it covers African languages. It is a free app that lets you learn how to speak, write and listen to other African languages. This can come quite in handy if you travel to other African countries and you do not want to stick out like a sore thumb and really immerse yourself into the culture.
Currently, you can learn a handful of languages on the app. This include Afrikaans, Swahili, Zulu, Shona, Xhosa, Tswana, Venda, Swati, Sepedi, Tsonga, Ndebele, Hausa, Igbo and Oromo.
They will be pitching their application at DEMO Africa with the hopes of getting new users and investors on board and believe being on DEMO Africa is a validation that they are onto something that not only solves a market problem but they will also be breaking down language barriers, something they are passionate about.
I tried the application out to learn a few Zulu phrases here and there but I couldn’t get to hear pronunciation. Possibly they will showcase an improved version of the app that is more intuitive and easier to use.
This is just a small peak into the startups launching at DEMO Africa. There are 30 exciting startups in total pitching at the event, right from ones that create side walk tiles that light up at night, to others that give farmers seed planting strips where spacing is already measured and others that create social networks from listening to radio.
There is a lot to look forward to this year and I will be at the helm of it to bring their stories to you.