The Safaricom Appwiz awards were held yesterday at Crowne Plaza in Upperhill with the aim of recognizing the 3 best Appwiz inventions. This year, the challenge attracted over 320 applications in four categories including Customer Engagement solutions, Safaricom Product Excellence solutions, and Mobile convenience and Out of the Box solutions. A majority of startups do not end up being successful businesses and the challenge aims in reducing the number of failed startups.
There has been a paradigm shift especially when it comes to banks receptiveness to innovation. Most of the banks are now taking innovation seriously and have their own internal innovation teams while others outsource. This is a great leap from when they preferred to work with their old systems for security reasons and this gives a lot of young people a chance to be innovative in the sector.
Only 13 finalists were selected and they were coached, mentored and had networking opportunities with people in the various industries. This was done during the incubation phase at iBizAfrica in Strathmore University. Most of the startups fail because they mainly focus on one of the aspects of the business and forget that there are various other areas like legal, financial management and book keeping that a business needs. The finalists had mentors in the various sections and were mentored in all aspects that make a business successful.
I got a chance to talk to a few of the finalists before the awards and look at their innovations.
• KenyaMax is an app for movies and events where you can check what is currently showing and book and buy a ticket from within the app.
• AdSpace Kenya is a content aggregator app that uses beacons and wifi to tailor adverts and information to your location.
• SpotMe is and app that uses your location to notify you about the deals around you be it happy hour, meal or events. It has 1100 users and has partnered with the companies that appear on the app.
• Startag – it is an app used for social branding that uses the asterisk sign instead of the hashtag hence the name. It helps companies to run campaigns and disburse information using branded photos. You only have to add the text and use the asterisk to define what branded photo to use.
• Briglobe – it is kind of a social media site that helps you create your professional footprint through visuals. It has three sections, professional, personal and community development. They go together with the CV as they provide a visual CV that shows who you are, talks you attended and activities you engage in.
The judges looked at sustainability of the business, creativity and the ability of the business to scale up so as to determine the recipients of the awards. The 2nd runners up and taking home ksh 500,000 and a trophy were Mkulima; an app that helps farmers reduce mass wastage of harvests and track their income. Taking home 1 million Kenyan shillings and a trophy were Hisa Play who came in second. This is an app that simulates trading in the stock exchange market and equips users with the skills to invest by using system-generated virtual currency.
The winners of the day were Lynk which is software that connects users to informal workers e.g. electricians, plumbers, painters, car repair etc. It is called the ‘LinkedIn of the informal sector’. They took home ksh 1.5 million and a trophy. Lynk also got a trophy for special mentor’s award.
“Given that the issue of unemployment remains a source of concern for Kenya’s economy we have seen Lynk provide and innovative solution to the hundreds of thousands of young people looking for jobs in the informal sector,” said Mr Ogutu. Victor Kyalo the permanent secretary in the Ministry of ICT added by saying, “This competition clearly demonstrates the fact that Kenya has a wealth of creativity and the ability to develop relevant, homegrown technological solutions to our challenges and needs.”
The money won were in the form of grants that will be used towards growing their startups. The funds will however be disbursed upon milestone agreements with their mentors.