ProWork Joins 13 Finalists in VentureOut Mobile App Competition

VentureOut 2013

Thirteen international startups have been selected by the VentureOut Challenge, an initiative of infoDev and CRDF Global, to compete before a live audience and a panel of mobile experts in Chisinau, Moldova on November 1, 2013. The winners included Apps4Africa 2012 Challenge winner ProWork.

Top mobile app entrepreneurs from 33 countries competed in the VentureOut Challenge. The goal: Internationalization of their mobile applications — entering new countries, continents, or going global with their amazing apps. Stakes are high: $10,000 seed funding; Mentorship with international and regional mobile experts; Dragon’s Den exposition in Chisinau, Moldova; and TechCrunch Disrupt Europe Scholarship to Berlin.

The VentureOut initiative was launched to help mobile app entrepreneurs to expand internationally. The finalists include ventures from Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe and Central Asia and represent mobile applications ranging from mobile health focusing on patient-centric health applications to location-based services and different sorts of entertainment including music, gaming and television.

The 2013 VentureOut Mobile App Competition Finalists

  • GoMetro is a transit app for emerging markets that combines trains, buses, rapid transit and taxis into one app using multiple data sources. Alicia Ernstzen, South Africa, gometroapp.com
  • Grikly is a business networking application that allows users to share contact details easily. Dwayne Samuels Jamaica, grik.ly
  • Idram Mobile Wallet empowers users to make payments and transfer money using only their phone. Narek Vardanyan, Armenia, mobile.idram.am
  • M.A.D.E. is a disaster and emergency focused native mobile app providing users with information about what to do before, during, and after natural disasters and national emergencies faced by the Caribbean. Ade Inniss-King, Trinidad & Tobago
  • Manifesto instantly records video or audio with one tap and shares it seamlessly. Dorian Postevca, Moldova, seemanifesto.com
  • Marodi.tv is a replay TV platform for mobile and web playing TV programs from channels in Senegal and Cameroon. Jimmy KUMAKO, Senegal, marodi.tv
  • Nearest Locator helps you easily find the nearest ATMs, banks, eateries, hospitals, pharmacies and more. Ayoola ajebeku, Nigeria, getnearest.com
  • Prowork empowers businesses by bringing project management and collaboration together on one platform. Francis Onwumere, Nigeria, prowork.me
  • SweetSOA offers web services to businesses. Jerome Campbell, Jamaica, sweetandsoa.com
  • Teddy the Guardian is a teddy that uses state-of-the-art medical sensors to capture, report on and share a child’s vital signs like heart rate, body temperature and oxygen saturation. Ana Burica, Croatia, teddytheguardian.com
  • Tuning Fork is karaoke with real-time pitch verification. Dilara Rustam-Zadeh, Azerbaijan, tuningfork.az
  • Waabeh is Africa’s audio market place helping with discovery and distribution of audio content from the continent. King’ori Maina, Kenya, waabeh.com
  • X-Rift is a location-based augmented reality game for mobile devices. Daniel Tonkopiy, Ukraine, x-rift.com

All finalists will receive ongoing mentoring from exceptional entrepreneurs and investors from around the globe who have experience building companies and taking them global.

Beyond mentoring the finalists, infoDev and CRDF Global will offer resources for any growing mobile startup to learn necessary skills, make connections, and find inspiration to go global. The conference in Moldova will also include hands-on training sessions to help entrepreneurs identify and develop their customer base and learn other critical aspects of business modeling.

About infoDev

infoDev is a global partnership program within The World Bank Group. Its Mobile Innovation Program supports growth-oriented mobile app businesses by enabling entrepreneurship, building mobile innovation communities, and researching the app economy of emerging and frontier markets. www.infodev.org

About CRDF Global

Founded in 1995, CRDF Global is an independent nonprofit organization that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration through grants, technical resources, training and services. www.crdfglobal.org

Farmerline Among InfoDev’s mAgri Challenge Winners

Congrats to Apps4Africa 2011 Challenge winner Farmerline and the other teams from Kenya and Senegal who have been named winners in InfoDev’s mAgri Challenge. Winners will receive a spot at InfoDev’s Mobile Startup Camp as well as other resources aimed at helping them grow their businesses.

The four winners, along with fourteen of the best startups from infoDev’s business incubator network, will be invited to November’s Mobile Startup Camp. The Camp is designed to accelerate the growth of early-stage entrepreneurs. A five-day program of lectures and hands on workshops will provide participants with an opportunity to refine their product strategies, business models and marketing pitches, sharpen their negotiating skills and network with investors and peers.

It will also include a Demo Day – a pitching competition before a panel of industry experts and angel investors.

“We were looking for prototype-stage startups in a niche market, and were surprised to receive so many applications of high quality,” says Maja Andjelkovic, Mobile Innovation Specialist at infoDev. “These entrepreneurs are showing not only the potential impact mobile agri applications can have in Africa and around the world, but also the considerable talent behind innovation driven startups on the continent.”

Members of the jury representing leading private sector players in the mobile industry were also impressed by the entries.

Ernest Akinola, West Africa Government Relations for Blackberry said “The winners demonstrated robust and well thought through concepts, but many more entries showed niche applications for specific needs within the agri sector. I wish the best of luck to all of the founders who entered.”

Echoing Akinola’s remarks, Arjun Thomas, Global Product Manager for Nokia Life said, “The competition unearthed very interesting applications. As these startups grow, adapting the business case to ensure steady and versatile revenue generation streams will be critical to their success.”

We would like to congratulate all of the applicants, including the four winners and six runners-up below.

mAgri Challenge 2013 Winners

  • Farmerline, Ghana: uses voice and SMS to collect data, share new farming techniques, and better link smallholder farmers to other actors along the agricultural value chain. Its survey tool allows agricultural workers and NGOs to conduct immediate surveys with thousands of farmers at a fraction of the cost of traditional techniques.
  • Intellect Tech, Kenya: helps farmers and insurance firms track compensation claims in real-time. The platform improves transparency and facilitates faster processing of farmers’ insurance claims.
  • mLouma, Senegal: connects farmers to food purchasers by displaying real-time market prices and localizations. The service will improve the efficiency of the agriculture supply chain, helping farmers to get a better price for their produce.
  • Price Calculate, Kenya: aids agricultural producers to calculate the competitive price at which they can offer their products. The app educates producers on the market structures between them and their final consumer (local or international), helping them make more informed price decisions.

Announcing the Apps4Africa 2013 Companies and More!!!

Apps4Africa 2010-2013Apps4Africa 2010-2013

The Apps4Africa program has come a long way since late 2009 when it was conceived. For one, its evolved from a series of annual competitions into a full-fledged acceleration program. This was to address the primary feedback we got from the first few classes of participants funded by the program that the funding was great, but they really wanted ongoing mentorship, and opportunities for more funding.

As we focused on this on-going relationship with our companies, we realized that was one of the best ways we could help these portfolio companies to continue to accomplish much more, which they did! Entrepreneurs like Eric Mutta went on to raise over $300,000 for his startup Minishop, Alloysius Attah has traveled the world speaking about his company Farmerline, while other companies have found successes in other areas. The biggest need these guys have is maintaining a relationship with advisors and mentors like us as they grow and establish Africa’s next generation of game-changing services and organizations.

apps4africa companies

Announcing our 2013 Participants

So this year rather than continuing the tradition of our challenges, we’re doubling down on this aspect of what we do by launching an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program! This program will work on behalf of four new companies who will join the ranks of our Apps4Africa participants, to benefit from the relationships we’ve established for our community of entrepreneurs. Similar to the previous ranks of A4A winners, these groups are social entrepreneurs using technology to solve challenges for Africa and, in some cases, the world.

These companies will receive funding, support and mentorship in varying degrees.  You can read more about the Apps4Africa EIR program here.

The 2013 EIR inductees are:

  • Remit.ug (Uganda/USA)- A competitor of sorts to Western Union and MoneyGram aiming to facilitate transactions from the African diaspora to relatives in Africa. There are over $62 billion dollars in remittances sent to Africa by the diaspora annually. Remit’s mission is to try to capture a portion of that market.
  • Upstream Analytics (Congo/USA)- An analytic platform used by multinational corporations to ensure the resources they source from Africa are compliant with international standards for avoiding corruption, bribery and illegal operations.  This, for example, might help organizations like Google, Samsung, Shell and others to ensure that the minerals and commodities they source from African countries are not fueling conflict, illicit, or immoral activity.
  • SiftDeck (Kenya) – A customizable application that alerts organizations and businesses to how social media and mobile conversations relate to and reference offline interests. (For example: The recent attacks in Kenya, and subsequent discussion affects countless businesses, places, people, and institutions. This tool catalogs this information and aims visualize the contextual relationships between these things.)

We’re proud to welcome them all to the family!

2014 Challenges

So what of the Apps4Africa challenges?  Well traditionally we visit anywhere between three and sixteen countries in an effort to find and engage with as many young entrepreneurs as possible.  We then run a competitive funding initiative that allows them to compete for $10,000 seed capital.  The ones that make it through the rigorous vetting and judging process go on to receive awards, funding and attention.

We haven’t ended this program, but due to the costs associated with the EIR program and maintaining the other aspects of the accelerator for our 2010, 2011, and 2012 participants, we’re putting off the Apps4Africa Challenge to early 2014.  If you’d like to learn more, you can follow this blog, @apps4africa on twitter or join our mailing-list here.

Interview with Prowork Founder Francis Onwumere [Video]

In a very short period of time, Francis Onwumere has lead Prowork to become one of Africa’s hottest startups. With offers coming from investors in Silicon Valley as well as Africa and being named one of the Top 50 Global Entrepreneurs by Global Forum, one might wonder what makes them such a prize. In an interview recorded late last year, Francis shares a bit of the ProWork story!

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A4A2010 Winner iCow Launches Partnership with Safaricom

Su Kahumbu and the team behind Apps4Africa 2010 Winner iCow announced a new partnership with Kenya’s largest mobile telecom provider, Safaricom. The partnership will help iCow distribute its app to the 19 million people Safaricom’s network reaches everyday in Kenya. As part of the deal iCow is also being supported by a locally renown advertising firm and business consultants.

Su and iCow were winners of the inaugural Apps4Africa competition in 2010, the Civic Challenge, and have set the high standard of success that many other winners like Farmerline (2011 Winners) and SliceBiz (2012 Winners) have followed. iCow recently won the Vision 2030 ICT Innovation Award, was selected as a finalist in the Innovation Prize for Africa, and was named Best African Mobile App by Forbes Magazine. Founder, Su recently also gave this TEDTalk about her work:

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore had this to say of the partnership, “Safaricom supports innovation across all sectors…and agriculture is one of the most important sectors in Kenya. This innovation will definitely move agriculture forward and Safaricom is happy to be involved in the development of this sector.”

iCow Kenya

A4A2011 Winner Minishop Raises $328,000

Eric Mutta Raises $328,000

Apps4Africa 2011 Winner Eric Mutta, founder of Minishop (formerly ‘The Grainy Bunch’), has just closed a $328,000 financing round from Financial Services Deepening Trust [FSDT – http://www.fsdt.or.tz. The deal was part of a competitive SME Finance Innovation Challenge Fund, in which Eric’s company defeated 13 companies to emerge the victor.

me-sos-christian-smiling

The objective of Minishop is improve the way small & medium sized enterprises (SMEs) keep financial records by providing them with an affordable and user-friendly accounting package called Minishop. Better financial records make it easier to apply for loans that can be used to grow the business, increase employment and contribute to government revenues. In Tanzania, of the 130,000 SMEs that should keep electronic financial records, only 900 currently do so (i.e. less than one percent). Eric will use the funds to close this gap, by hiring 7 employees and purchasing 500 laptops to be bundled and sold with Minishop and other supporting systems for mobile payment collection. This ratio is surprisingly consistent throughout most other African countries so there’s a lot of opportunity for Eric’s solution to grow.

“Apps4Africa will forever remain the event that got the ball rolling,” Eric Mutta exclaimed earlier today.

For more information visit TZAccounting.com and direct enquires to me via eric@tzaccounting.com and to FSDT via info@fsdt.or.tz.

Eric Mutta took home $15,000 in 2012 competition alongside Farmerline, who coincidentally announced funding from IndigoTrust last December.

SliceBiz Goes to the G8 Innovation Conference

What do Richard Branson, David Cameron, and Apps4Africa 2012 winner William Senyo have in common? Aside, from all being dashing gentleman, they all played a role in the 2013 G8 Innovation Conference last week in London!

william senyo g8

William was one of 130 brilliant minds selected by IDEO and British Airways to participate in the world’s first ‘innovation lab in the Sky’, UnGrounded. UnGrounded was made possible by a chartered 747 provided by British Airways which took these 130 individuals from San Francisco to London for events surrounding the 2013 G8 Summit. The UnGrounded flight culminated in a private tour of Britain’s House of Lords and a trip to The Siemen’s Crystal for the G8 Innovation Conference (where Mr. Branson and Cameron spoke) which was followed by the DNA Summit.

Private tour of the House of Lords

Baroness Scotland prepares to address her audience.

William Senyo and Jon Gosier

William Senyo (Co-Founder of SliceBiz) and Jon Gosier (Apps4Africa Team)

Brainstorming at 40,000 feet

Working together on the UnGrounded flight!

The Crystal in London

Arriving at the Summit

Kimberly Bryant of BlackGirlsCode

William and Kimberly Bryant of BlackGirlsCode.org

Brilliant female technologists and innovators speak at DNA Summit 2013

It was an exciting weekend and we’re glad SliceBiz was selected to participate. For more on the British Airways/IDEO UnGrounded initiative, visit http://ungroundedthinking.com