October, 2013

What are the challenges of uptake of mAgric solutions?

Agriculture, Wireless Wednesday

October 30, 2013

m:lab East Africa held one of the most interactive mobiles for agriculture meetup in partnership with USAID today. The meetup attracted key stakeholders in the agriculture sectors who met with the farmers and developers to discuss the theme of the day. The Key discussants were; Anuj Tanna VAS Product Manager, Orange, Qureish Noordin, Program Officer, Extension Support Function, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Spencer Morley, Farmforce Implementing Manager Syngenta Foundation for sustainable Agriculture. We also had an Extension officer from Tala and farmers from Nyanza, Western and Eastern Provinces The uptake of mAgric innovations is still slowly picking up especially in the rural areas where most of the farming is taking place. In the previous Wireless Wednesday meetups that we’ve held,most farmers do not know about the existing innovations and for the few who know about the existing innovations not all of them are using them. In today’s Wireless Wednesday, we visited some of the challenges of uptake of mAgric innovations and suggested ways to increase awareness of the innovations. 1421022_608830812509732_1960025827_o Some of the challenges mentioned include; Cost – Are farmers willing to spend money on available solution? that is one questions that has been asked several times during the meetups. Developers come up with solutions that are expensive for the farmers hence farmers do not use the innovations available. Some of the farmers said they are willing to spend money on a solution that adds value to their production. Targeting the wrong customers – Farming is widely diverse and thus some might require different solutions. Most developers target “all customer” in agriculture without having to factor in the needs of the different customer segments, this leads to unsatisfied customers for example the needs of a dairy farmer might not necessarily be the same as of those of a maize farmer. Blanket information: Most developers put information about everything in the app/solution. The information is not localized or customized for a particular region/type of farming/ specific crop or a specified farmer. Simplicity – The type of message and language used in your solution can contribute to slow uptake of your application. The message should be simple, in a language that is familiar and understandable to your target customers. Do not assume that everyone knows how it works, explain clearly each and

every step of your solution. Ensure that your solution is easy and simple to use Need-driven – The solutions should be more need driven than demand driven. More often developers are more demand driven rather than need driven hence developing a product because it is on demand rather than focusing on the real need of the customers. Linkages and partnerships – Finding the right and trusted organizations to partner with is a big challenge especially for developers. When it comes to marketing your product partnerships is very important. Partnership with trusted organizations/Government gives your product credibility hence creates trust with your users.


Participants interacting after the discussion

With an aim of increasing awareness of the mAgric solutions, the following key points were suggested; Partnerships – Partnerships with the right organizations is very important, Developers can leverage on existing networks on the ground like NGOs, farmer groups and Extension officers who can link them to the farmers directly. Such partnerships can help developers reach a good number of farmers at once saving them on cost. Partnerships with also telcos is important as developers can leverage on their mass market reach. Leverage on existing research – Before jumping into your primary market research head first, it’s important that you first seek out existing, relevant research. This not only saves your startup time, but also prevents wasted funding on a product that would have duplicated existing results. In conclusion, developers should strive to make their innovations accessible, affordable and appealing to the right customer target.

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Winners of the QDevNet SignUps Announced

Training, Workshops

October 23, 2013

Qualcomm is a company that manufactures wireless chipsets, license technology and provides communication services around the world. Its ideas and inventions have driven the evolution of wireless communications, connecting people more closely to information, entertainment and each other. They also have several tools that are very useful to developers on their developer network(QDevNet.)


On 16th September, Qualcomm in collaboration with m:lab East Africa and Mobile Monday hosted Mobile Monday with Qualcomm. The event took place at iHub from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. While gearing up to the event, qualcomm requested developers to signup on their developer network to familiarize themselves with the platform as well as learn about tools they could use to make their apps different, like AllJoyn SDK and Qualcomm Vuforia™. The first 10 developers who signed up on the QDevNet  will receive gift harpers Courtesy of Qualcomm this Friday 29th October from 3.00 – 4.00 pm at m:lab East Africa. And the 10 lucky winners are;


  • Neville Masheti

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  • Margaret Adhiambo

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  • Theophilus Machogu

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  • Harris Geift

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  • Vincent Omondi

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  • Samuel Waithaka

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  • Stephen Maingi

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  • Gitonga Joseph

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  • James Chege

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  • Nimrod Kibua

Still in the the spirit of working with developers, Qualcomm will be conducting a FREE developer training workshop for 2days at m:lab East Africa. The workshop will take place on 7th and 8th November. There are only 25 slots available, sign up HERE.

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PIVOT EAST 2013 Winners! Four months down the line

Incubation, PIVOT East, Winners

October 23, 2013

Pivot East is one of the most prestigious startups pitching competition and conference in the region. This year’s event went down on 25 -26th June 2013 at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala Uganda. There was  stiff competition between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania startups in all the five categories. The competition culminated to the announcing of the winners at the gala dinner. The winners received a grant of 10,000USD

Four months down the line, the startups are making tremendous progress in terms of securing partnerships, grants, creating employment and scaling up their businesses. We have highlighted progress made so far by the startups in this article.

SleepOut_300dpi_300wSleepOut: Kenya-based accommodation marketplace SleepOut has been named among the top 50 global startups in the run up to WebSummit 2013 to be held in October 30th and 31st in Dublin, Ireland. SleepOut made it to the top 50 list after having applied for the widely celebrated conference’s ALPHA Program. They have also been invited to exhibit, together with a selected number of individuals and startups from around the world.

SleepOut participated in Angel Fair which was held on 25th – 26th September at Sandton Convention Center, Johannesburg South Africa. Angel Fair 2013 aimed at bringing together accelerators, incubators and their emerging businesses from across the African continent and angel investors to do deals.

SleepOut makes it easy for you to make booking of accommodation online, they provide a secure accommodation marketplace connecting travellers looking for a cool place to stay, with hosts and their empty beds. Currently SleepOut is launching their new Africa and Middle East portal with listings in over 20 countries. They have also been selected to launch at this year’s DEMO Africa conference to be held in Nairobi, Kenya in October 24 and 25, 2013. SleepOut won in the Enterprise Category at PIVOT EAST 2013. For more information on SleepOut view their profile HERE

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KytabuKytabu:  Kytabu is a textbook subscription app for android tablets for students that drastically reduces the cost of buying textbooks. Kytabu has won several accolades including PIVOT EAST 2013 best startup in the mobile society category and the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) competition which was held on October 12, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia where Kytabu emerged winners. Global Innovation Science through technology is an initiative of CRDF Global and other partners to  help launch ideas or grow businesses of most promising entrepreneurs in these emerging economies through seed funding, training, networking and by providing mentoring from the best entrepreneurs in the world, angel investors, and venture capitalists.

Kytabu has been invited to TechCrunch Berlin on 28th – 29th October to showcase Kytabu Android on their tablets. Currently they are working on a desktop application which will be launched later this year in partnership with Microsoft. For more information on Kytabu view their profile HERE

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Ma3Route-2-LogoMa3Route: Ma3Route is a mobile/web/SMS platform that helps you get to your destination easily and quickly. Ma3Route helps citizens share/access info about transport and current traffic conditions for a city. Ma3Route is currently working to finalize their App on Windows and iOS platforms which will be up and running very soon. They are also optimizing their website for mobile.

Ma3Route is growing in terms of its team, currently they have a team of 8 people with 3 full time employees based at their offices at m:lab East Africa. Ma3Route has been able secured partnerships over the past few months. They have partnered with Nokia in their upcoming windows app and they are also in talks with Nation TV to propagate their data on the AM Live show.

Apart from taking part in PIVOT EAST 2013 where they won in the mobile Utility Category, Ma3Route participated in Angel Fair which was held on 25th – 26th September at Sandton Convention Center, Johannesburg South Africa. They were also in the semifinalist of VentureOut Internalization Challenge. For more information on Ma3Route, view their profile HERE.

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Kola-StudiosKola studios: Kola Studios is a developer and publisher of Social Mobile games for the web, smartphone & tablet devices. Matatu, a local Ugandan card game, is one of their most popular games with over 4 million games played in a year, a localized version for Kenya, Karatu was recently launched. On 16th August, Kola studios officially launched the game MATATU at Outbox in Uganda. The launch was graced by Airtel UG Managing director V.G Somasekhar. Kola studios emerged the best in the mobile entertainment category at PIVOT EAST 2013. For more information on Kola Studios view their profile HERE

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gofinanceGo finance: GO Finance believes access to finance is as vital to a community as access to clean water.  GO works to bring a range of financial solutions closer to underserved small businesses and people at the base of the pyramid through using technology, business value chains, and by collaborating with strategic partners.

According to Geoffrey Ndosi Executive Director Go Finance, “Winning at PIVOT EAST has elevated our profile regionally as well as with multinational organisations. Not only have we reached a critical juncture with regards to equity financing from a seed venture fund, but we are also collaborating with Microsoft 4 Afrika and have had conversations with the International Finance Corporation (the World Bank’s private sector arm), and the FMO (Netherlands) as a result of participating in PIVOT EAST.” For more information on Go Finance view their profile HERE

Currently two startups (SleepOut and Ma3Route) are incubated at the m:lab incubation facility. Go Finance is incubated virtually.

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Waabeh makes it to the finals of VentureOut Internalization Challenge


October 18, 2013

Discovering African audio content buying has been a problem for a while now. International solutions do not address the local market and even those that have the content don’t have payment solutions that make it easy for local purchases. There is almost no discovery, distribution, monetization, collation and marketing of African content to the scale achieved with external media


Waabeh, Africa’s audio market place (music & online-radio) solves the problem of discovery and distribution of audio content from the continent. Currently Waabeh is available on the Web, and as native apps for Android and Windows 8, all with delightful and easy to use design that takes the headache out of discovering new as well as vintage African sounds and puts the focus back on what is important; hearing what you love.

Since inception to date, Waabeh has over 8,000 downloads, with 1,500 plus registered users, over 227,000 users plays/strems music on their website and over 1000 downloads on google play and Samsung App store.  75% of the content is premium.


The team, from left; Jeff maina Lead Designer, Tim Rimbui COE and King’ori Maina CTO

Recently Waabeh applied for an international challenge called VentureOut Internalization Challenge which is an initiative of infoDev  and CRDF Global to propel expansion-ready mobile entrepreneurs into enticing international markets. The program helps entrepreneurs through hands-on training, virtual learning opportunities, mentorship, international exposure, and seed funding.

Waabeh is the only startup from East Africa that made it to the finals of the challenge. They will be competing against 12 other startups from all over the world for $10,000 in seed funding in the Dragon’s Den in Chisinau, Moldova during an international mobile meeting on 30th – 1st November. For more information on ventureOut Challenge, visit their website

For more information on Waabeh, visit their website, you can also check out their android app here and Android app demo here.

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Eneza Education Scoops an Award at the GIST Tech-I Competition in Malaysia


October 18, 2013

Gist-finals-150x150Eneza Education scooped an award at the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) which was held on October 12, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Held for the third time,  Global Innovation Science through technology is an initiative of CRDF Global and other partners to  help launch ideas or grow businesses of most promising entrepreneurs in these emerging economies through seed funding, training, networking and by providing mentoring from the best entrepreneurs in the world, angel investors, and venture capitalists.

Eneza Education which is currently incubated at m:lab East Africa made it to the finals competing against 15 other startups in the startup category. Eneza Education emerged Runners up in the competition receiving a grant of  $10,000.

The summit awards top ventures in startup and Idea stage categories. The awards filters entrants of the competition in two stages which includes expert review and public participation through online voting. Prior to the summit, GIST alumni undergo a mentorship, training and pitching program.

Since inception, Eneza Education has won several accolades which includes Pivot East 2012 competition where they emerged First in the mobile society category and the Milken PennGSE 2012 , an Education Entrepreneurship Competition where they also emerged first.

Eneza Logo

Eneza Education was formed with an ultimate aim of solving problems that lead to students failing, Eneza connects students to study tools, teachers and parents to data to help their children improve, and educational leaders to resources. Most importantly, they are creating a network in which the dialogue around student learning grows, enticing schools to collaborate and compete. For more information about Eneza Education visit their website.

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UpStart Africa Nairobi auditions are here!


October 17, 2013

Over the last two weeks UpStart Africa has toured Kisumu and Mombasa looking for creatives, developers and marketers to join the inaugural Kenyan tech based business reality TV show that premiers mid November. Most people think that all talent in the country is based in Nairobi, the auditions have told a different story. The turnout has been

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great and the contestants have been nothing but impressive.

Upstart Africa’s vision is to use television to inspire thousands of young people across Africa to take up technology and entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to job seeking. Participants on the show will form teams each made up of three individuals with different skill sets that complement each other.


Upstart Africa Kisumu Auditions at Tom Mboya Labour College Kisumu

The teams will then work on ideas that use tech to solve real world problems. Mentors will guide the teams along each step. A panel of VCs will act as the elimination panel. The winning team wins $50,000 investment.

On Saturday (19th) and Sunday (20th) of October 2013 the Nairobi auditions will take place at the

Kenya National Theatre. Interested individuals can sign up for the auditions by going to

If you have any queries feel free to contact the Upstart team through;

Twitter handle @upstartafricatv or

Facebook page (

This article is written by the Upstart team

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ICT4Ag Hackathon National Winners Announced


October 14, 2013

The ICT for Agriculture (ICT4Ag) international conference and its parallel hackathon (dubbed “Agri-hack championship”) will take place from 4th – 8th November 2013 in Kigali Rwanda. The conference seeks to examine how ICTs are truly empowering producers and consumers along the entire value chain. Earlier this year, the Technical Center for Agricutural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) placed a call for expression of interest for hubs to hold national events across East Africa. 9 Hubs, which are among the key ones in East Africa, were selected. Each of these hubs organized national hackathons or selection events.
The winning teams from each hub’s national event are as follows:


  • Hive Colab (Uganda)- The Agripreneur – Digital Platform to connect and harmonize key Youth stakeholders along the agricultural value chain. By Byamugisha Donald and Denis Izakare
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  • OutBox (Uganda)- ENSIBUUKO: Leveraging mobile and web technologies to improve access to finance for better household livelyhood. By David Opio and Gerald Otim.
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  • iBiz Africa (Kenya) – Kosmerc Systems: Mobile app providing location based information to farmers on favourable crops, seeds, fertilizer, farm management and soil type. By Jeffrey Cherogony and Clinton Busolo.
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  • C4DLab(Kenya)-  FARM DRIVE: Digital book keeping app to enhance credit-worthiness for a 21st century farmer by James Macharia Kimani and Caroline Mbithe Muteti.
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  • Habaka Madagascar Innovation Hub – HighHay: Project Management application for farming by Joelisata RABEHARISOLO and Miradontsoa Asafa ANDRIANARISON.
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  • Buni Hub(Tanzania) – AgrInfo: Farm Plots GIS by Rose Peter Funja and Grace  Slyvester Makanyaga.
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  • Kinu Group Limited (Tanzania) – HabariMazao: SMS, USSD, and Web based platform for collection and sharing of market price data – from markets to the farmers by Elilaki Bariki Guard and Ntomoka Sugwejo Kaboda.
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  • IceAddis (Ethiopia) – mAgric: by Mr. Nebiyou Yirga Wolde and Dr. Abeselom Samson Joseph
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  • iHub (Kenya)– was selected as non competing hub. They will send a team to showcase their product but will not compete with the teams from the other hubs. The team that will represent iHub is Smart Agriculture- Automatic weather stations that sends updates on when to plant to farmers, etc via sms by Tom Ekajja  and Cyrus Baraza.

CTA1During the Finals of the Agri-hack Championship in Kigali (04 to 07 November 2013), all applications will be fined-tuned. National teams will received advices from key stakeholders and users. Each national winner will get a prize. After a pitching session, the best three applications selected by a panel of judges will receive awards as described below:


  • Cash Prizes

5000 Euros for the Overall winner
4000 Euros for the Runner Up winner
3000 Euros for the Second Runner up.


  • Six month incubation and mentoring

The winning teams will be offered incubation and mentoring for six month in the hubs that they are affiliated with to support finalization of their applications and hopeful kick start their businesses.


  • Challenges

The teams from each hub were given these challenges to work on:
Challenge 1: How can bi-directional information sharing and communication between farmers and extension workers be encouraged or improved? Key areas of interest include information sharing and advisory on soil fertility, fertilizers, weather information, pests, diseases, access to localized farming inputs, multimedia content and ability to verify counterfeit products
Challenge 2: Through ICT applications, how can access to financial services be made easier for farmers through a disruptive, innovative tool?
The teams will now work on their product as they await the finals where they will be required to pitch infront of expert judges, mentors and fellow entrepreneurs. They will also be required to have working products by the time they are presenting during the finals.
kLab, are the hosting hub and will conduct their national selection event on 19th and 20th Oct. If you are in Kigali and would like to participate in this event,sign up HERE:
The Agri-hack Championship is organized by CTA in partnership with various stakeholders including MINAGRI (Rwanda), MYICT (Rwanda) and with the financial contribution of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). m:lab East Africa is the technical manager of this event.
For more information, visit;  Email: [email protected]

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M-Farm receives funding from M-Pesa Foundation


October 10, 2013

mfarmMFarm has secured a partnership with the M-Pesa Foundation.The partnership has seen MFarm receive a grant of KES 20 million (USD 230,000) from M-Pesa Foundation.

Linda Kwamboka co-founder and CMO of M-Farm said “We are thrilled to have secured the funds we need to continue to grow the business. Now, we will be able to help even more farmers beyond the over 8,000 farmers already using our platform, and improve their standard of living.”

MFarm limited, an award winning software solutions and agribusiness company provides vital market information and trading services to farmers via mobile app. Their mobile app enables smallholder farmers in rural Kenya to access market information hence make informed decisions on where and how to sell their farm produce.


MFarm team

M-Farm which earlier this year graduated from incubation at m:lab East Africa has come a long way since its inception in 2010.The company has been featured much in both national and international media. In 2011, during Pivot 25 where MFarm was a finalist, the company caught the attention of Techfortrade, an international impact investment organization, Techfortrade later invested in MFarm. Techfortrade recently funded Jamila’s visit to London to meet with supermarket retailers to discuss potential partnership opportunities, and to speak at this year’s Africa Gathering conference.

The company has also in the past years won many accolades including winning the IPO48 competition in 2010 and becoming one of infoDev’s top 20 SMEs in 2011

For more information about M-farm visit their website or twitter handle @mfarm_ke. For more information on their partnership, you can reach MFarm through this email address [email protected]

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Waabeh in the Finals of VentureOut Challenge


October 2, 2013

WaabehWaabeh from Kenya made it to the finals of VentureOut Internalization Challenge. Waabeh is Africa’s audio marketplace [Music & online-radio] solving the problem of Discovery and Distribution of Audio Content from the continent.

Thirteen International startups have been announced as finalist in the mobile application internationalization contest challenge with Waabeh from Kenya representing East Africa. The finalists will receive

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

The finalists will compete before a live audience and a panel of mobile experts for $10,000 in seed funding in the Dragon’s Den in Chisinau, Moldova during an international mobile meeting organized by infoDev of the World Bank on 30th – 1st November.


VentureOut Challenge is an initiative of infoDev and CRDF Global to propel expansion-ready mobile entrepreneurs into enticing international markets. The program runs from August to November 2013 and helps hundreds of entrepreneurs through hands-on training, virtual learning opportunities, mentorship, international exposure, and seed funding. For more information on VentureOut Challenge, visit their website.

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