03 Oct Hypertext: Agri-app
A solar rental system for African villages, an agricultural information app and a mobile service and solar electricity kiosk today got the chance to pitch to big players in the African mobile and telecoms industry for the chance to possibly secure investment, during the first GSMA JumpStart@Mobile 360 showcase.
The informal showcase was hosted on the closing day of the GSMA Mobile 360 Africa Conference in Cape Town.
Oolu Solar, Haller Farmers App and ARED were chosen from hundreds of applications from hundreds of African entrepreneurs to be part of the event.
Each startup had five minutes to make their pitch, a panel of experts were on hand to review the three startups’ pitches, ask them a number of questions from an investor’s perspective and give them advice on how to take their businesses further.
First up to pitch was Henry Nyakarundi, CEO of ARED.
ARED manufactures 1.8 metre mobile kiosks with fitted solar panels. Each bicycle-operated kiosks allows customers in Rwanda and Burundi, particularly in rural areas where there’s little to no access to electricity to charge their phones, buy airtime, mobile money, data and prepaid electricity.
ARED kiosks also have advertising space which companies can use to market themselves.
The company franchises its smart kiosks to entrepreneurs vendors for around R1 200 and offers free maintenance of each one.
Nyakarundi said his main hope for ARED is to build relationships with telecoms companies on the continent to help scale his business.
Next was Nomusa Taylor-Dube of the Haller Farmers App.
Haller Farmers is an agri-info app that features 50 years worth of curated vital information from the Haller Foundation and is available as a once-off 1MB download for farmers in parts of East Africa.
Taylor-Dube said the app’s main purpose is to equip farmers with knowledge that will help boost productivity. Haller Farmer is currently also available as a portal on Internet.org in Kenya.
Launched in 2014, info on Haller Farmers is available in the form of text, audio and images in English and Swahili. Farmers need only to download content onto their phones once, instead of having to go back to the app every time.
“Our future goal is to reach the rest of East Africa by 2017 and pan Africa by 2018,” Taylor-Dube said.
Last to pitch their business was Vincenzo Capogna, CTO of a company called Oolu Solar, launched in May this year.
Oolu Solar buys solar panel systems and rents them out in rural Senegal, providing residents who have no access to electricity with a way to power up appliances and lighting.
Oolu Systems are rented out for a minimum monthly fee of $5, which can power residents’ lights and allow them to charge battery operated appliances and cell phones. If residents want a system that can be used for more appliances, they can request a bigger system for a slightly higher price.
According to Capogna, 1 5000 Oolu Systems have been installed so far
Though the pitch wasn’t a competition and no winner was chosen to receive a prize, Jumpstart organisers said the aim was open up the platform for the startups to strike up conversations with key players in the mobile industry and possibly spark interest in an investment into their startups.