Ben and myself are very excited to see Djoss.tv take home the Grand Prize at the 2012 Cameroon Startup Challenge. The awards event held in Douala was an electric evening filled with positive energy and enthusiasm from all the invited guests.
Djoss.tv is a social TV platform that lets viewers engage their favorite TV shows in real-time. The service brings television programming to life by allowing viewers to, for example, share their excitement when their favorite football team scores a goal or join a heated debate on a social issue. By unlocking this real-time sharing, Djoss.tv integrates a missing social layer into any television program. The service also provides viewers with additional context and information on the program they are viewing, introducing an important tool for editorial staff.Read More
Press Release: Amsterdam – Mon, May 7, 2012 9:00 AM CET
Today, VC4Africa, the largest online community of venture capitalists, angels and entrepreneurs dedicated to building businesses in Africa, and Sanaga Ventures, an early stage investment firm with a focus on African tech ventures, launched the Cameroon Startup Challenge. The competition offers a cash prize of USD $5,000 for the most innovative web, mobile or hardware-based business venture in Cameroon. As an additional benefit, the winning venture is eligible to be incubated at ActivSpaces, Cameroon’s leading technology hub, and receive ongoing support, oversight, services and mentoring. An awards ceremony will be held in Cameroon at the close of the challenge with the top three startups, participants, judges, invited guests, a video crew and local press. Entries will be accepted from May 7th – July 6th, 2012.Read More
Internet access is expanding rapidly across the continent, and with it new organizations are coming to help foster a budding tech startup scene.
This piece originally appeared in Fast Company: A New Silicon Valley? Tech Hubs Spring Up In Africa
When thinking of tech hubs, Africa doesn’t exactly spring to mind. But the continent has had some amazing spurts of open innovation, with 45 collaborative hubs now open.
Africa faces some hurdles in developing information technology. Even though global Internet penetration is about 32%, it’s lower in Africa, where only around 11% of the population have access to the Internet through a computer or mobile phone. Within the continent, too, there are enormous divides. While a country like Nigeria has 28% of its population online, Ethiopia has less than 1%. But all that is changing: Internet usage in Africa has grown faster than on any other continent over the past decade.
So what exactly do tech hubs do? In the African continent, they train, connect, and encourage innovation. Here’s a closer look:
MELTWATER ENTREPRENEURIAL SCHOOL OF TECHNOLOGY: GHANA
A nonprofit starts a school to train the next generation of tech entrepreneurs–and then funds their projects. Meltwater graduated its first 20 students in 2010 and 20 more last year. The graduates can then use seed funding of between $30,000 and $200,000 to develop software businesses that will reach both Ghanaian and global markets.
One example of a recent startup is Dropifi, a web messaging platform which helps companies better analyze, visualize, and respond to incoming messages from contacts. Last fall it took top honors at the Accra Startup Weekend.
One of the first tech hubs in Sub-Saharan Africa, ActivSpaces serves to engineer socially responsible investment and the incubation of African small and medium-sized enterprises. One thing Cameroon has going for it? A ballooning population of young people–40% under the age of 15–many of whom are online and engaged.
One example of a project is Bisou, a motion-activated streetlamp. When motion is detected, the light comes on and a piece of music or a public service announcement can be played, helping out parts of cities that can’t afford to keep the lights on all the time, but want to reduce crime.
iHub just won $150,000 in funding from Google to expand its operations. Acting as a more traditional incubator, iHub seeks to connect entrepreneurs with funders. Membership is open and free to those who work in programming, design, or research, but different levels of membership open up different opportunities.
iHub supported the creation of M-Farm, a mobile-phone service that delivers real-time information to farmers on current market prices, weather alerts, and agro-supplies in their area. It also brings farmers together to buy or sell their products in groups, helping them to gain access to larger markets.
M-Farm enables farmers to carry out a cost-benefit analysis before deciding where to sell their products, with voice controls in both English and Swahili.
CO-CREATION HUB: NIGERIA
Co-Creation calls itself a pre-incubation space, where work to catalyze creative social tech ventures can take place. It recently launched Ideas 2020 a crowdsourced platform to gather citizens’ ideas to improve Nigeria ahead of the year 2020, when the country is expected to be one of the largest 20 economies in the world.
CcHub is supporting Budgit, an online platform that uses infographics to make the Nigerian government budget easier for citizens to read and understand. The platform was born out of the Hub’s training series, which focused on good governance. Budgit went live in September last year, posting 100,000 hits in its first month online.
And there are more on the way. A pilot program funded by Google in South Africa called Umbono has just started taking applications for its six-month fellowship, training entrepreneurs and then connecting them with funding sources.Read More
We draw the inspiration for our identity from the Sanaga river, located in central Cameroon. Its most important headwaters — the Agoua and the Djérem — meet to form the Sanaga northwest of Bertoua. The river then flows southwest past Nanga-Eboko and Edéa, roughly bisecting Cameroon’s Atlantic coastline south of Douala.
The Sanaga river is a source of energy and vitality. Its waters support life, transportation and provides economic opportunity to the people living along its banks. In the context of investing in Africa, for us it represents a flow of ideas, capital and new possibilities.Read More