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398

Facebook partners with m:lab East Africa in FbStart Program

Uncategorized

February 10, 2016

Facebook has partnered with m:lab East Africa in one of their program fbstart to help mobile startups succeed.  FbStart is a program that provides app developers with free tools and services via three tracks: Pre-launch, Bootstrap and Accelerate.
Facebook has partnered with some great partners in the program and they are offering a package of free tools and services designed to help app developers build and grow their mobile apps. They are providing year round mentorship opportunities to connect directly with the Facebook team as well as an exclusive community of global startups
The program is accepting the following developers into FbStart;

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  • Pre-launch track: Developers that have not yet launched an app but intend to launch one within the next year and are associated with one of facebook’s venture capital, accelerator, or incubator partners
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  • Bootstrap track: Any developer who’s launched a quality, working mobile app in the Apple or Google Play app stores
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  • Accelerate tracks: Any developer who’s launched a working mobile app in the Apple or Google Play app stores and has seen a sustained level of growth in their markets

All those who will be accepted to the program will be placed into the track most relevant for their stage of development as determined by size, growth, quality, and engagement, among other factors evaluated. Once accepted into a track, developers receive a set of free tools and services meant to serve your app development needs.
All the members in the program will receive three main offerings;

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  • Benefits – you’ll receive a free package of tools and services valuing up to $80,000 from Facebook, Parse, and 23 third party partners including Adobe, Salesforce, MailChimp, Hootsuite and UserTesting
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  • Mentorship – you’ll have opportunities throughout the year to connect with product managers, engineers, partnerships, and operations through events, office hours, webinars, email and more
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  • Community – meet others in the startup community through the FbStart.com member portal, forums, meetups and events

Developers with more than one application can apply for the program with the apps but are encouraged to prioritize their apps in the application form by listing their most engaging and successful apps first. Only one app will be selected for inclusion in the program, and you’ll only receive one set of benefits even if both apps qualify.
Your company is approved as a whole, rather than your individual apps. So while you can submit several apps for consideration, only one app per company will be accepted to FbStart, and you’ll only receive one set of benefits.
If you wish to benefit from this opportunity, fill in the form provided below. We will then send you a referral code which you will use to apply here https://fbstart.com/.
For more information visit fbstart.com or mlab.co.ke/fbstart

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3673

Sign up for an opportunity to be an all-rounded mobile apps developer

Training

December 11, 2015

Four years ago when the m:lab was formed, East Africa’s mobile ecosystem was a zone of undiscovered potential – raw and untapped. App and mobile related development, as a craft, was still fairly new. Developers of the day banked on feature phone technologies and smartphone as a term was a vocabulary new to many.
m:lab’s role emerged as one of bringing together a thriving mobile ecosystem from what was already in existence, with a special focus on entrepreneurship. Entrenched in its mission statement are the words “…aiming to be a leader in identifying, nurturing and helping to build sustainable enterprises in the knowledge economy”
One of the ways that m:lab achieved this was through the introduction of the infoDev-funded mobile app development training for aspiring developers, coupled with entrepreneurship classes. This would ensure that developers did not just graduate with the powers to write code, but were equipped with the requisite skills of building solid businesses. Such knowledge not only comes in handy in the startups space but is also useful in the consultancy business- building enterprise solutions – and even in the employment market.
The 4-month program was run from 2011 – 2013. Five successive classes later, the mlab boasts of having trained over a hundred students under this program, who have gone into various fields in the tech ecosystem- a good number of them wielding success stories in the greater mobile community.
m:lab East Africa in partnership with eMobilis is planning to re-introduce this course from the beginning of 2016. The training will be undertaken at m:lab East Africa’s premises in Nairobi, Kenya, located at Bishop Magua Centre along Ngong road. The training facility is equipped with computers and high speed internet connections with capacity for 25 students. (Additionally, the Lab runs a testing facility furnished with a wide range of mobile devices supporting various platforms is also accessible for application testing and mobile apps quality assurance).
Technologies covered in the training will include

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  • Android
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  • Windows Phone
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  • SMS
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  • USSD
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  • PHP & MySQL
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  • Mobile Web
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  • User Experience  & Design

Business skills covered will include

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  • the lean methodology,
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  • business model canvas,
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  • monetization strategies for mobile innovation,
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  • customer development
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  • user experience design.

The training will give participants a chance to start viable companies, it will give them top-level exposure to mobile programming technologies, practical skills development, exposure to the business models and monetization aspects of mobile among other benefits.
Some of  the factors applicants should consider before submitting applications:

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  1. The course is on a half day basis for a period of 3 months, it will run from February to April.
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  3. Accepted trainees will pay a total of Kshs 60,000 (excluding taxes).
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  5. The application Deadline has been extended to Sunday, 31st January 2016, 11:59pm.

Eligibility criteria

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  1. Must be available on a daily basis for 3 months (between February and April 2016)
  2. o

  3. Demonstrate some skill in any major programming language.
  4. o

  5. A strong entrepreneurial instinct is an added advantage.

For any inquires get in touch with us through: [email protected]
Interested participants may apply below:

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1751

The m:lab Ranked Among the top 10 Business Accelerators in the world

Incubation

November 27, 2015

m:lab East Africa has been ranked among the top 10 University Business Accelerators Globally by the UBI Global. The m:lab which is the only incubator from Africa in the top rankings, has been ranked position 10 globally during this year’s UBI Global World Rankings for university Business Incubators and University Business Accelerators.
Last week, The UBI Global hosted an online award ceremony for the 2015 High Impact Incubation Programs in Africa where the m:lab together with 2 other incubators from Nigeria and South Africa were recognized as the top three best performing incubators in Africa.
The three incubators were shortlisted for the UBI Global’s World Rankings in London, United Kingdom which was held November 25 where  UBI Global released the World Top University Business Incubator and Accelerator Rankings 2015. The UBI Global’s CEO, Ali Amin, announced the rankings from Trafalgar Square in central London, through a live broadcast streamed on ubi- global.com
UBI Global is thought leader in performance analysis of business incubation around the world. They help business incubators and business accelerators become more efficient and competitive through a comprehensive benchmark.
UBI Global provides their rankings and benchmarks of University Business Incubators and University Business Accelerators through a proper representation of worldwide incubation programs. This year the final participants were selected by assessing 1200 incubators after which over 340 from 64 countries were retained for the benchmark.
According to UBI Global CEO and co-founder, Ali Amin,” The importance of discovering and identifying these top performing incubators is underlined by our studies, which show that top benchmarked incubators provide almost half of the total economic impact within the incubation market”
We would like to thank the UBI Global for the recognition.

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2078

m:lab Recognized Among the Best Performing Incubator in Africa

Incubation

November 20, 2015

On 19th November, the m:lab East Africa was recognized among the top three best performing University Business Incubator in Africa by the UBI Global. UBI Global is thought leader in performance analysis of business incubation around the world. They help business incubators and business accelerators become more efficient and competitive through a comprehensive benchmark where more than 400 incubation programs in over 70 countries participate.
The UBI Global hosted an online award ceremony for the 2015 High Impact Incubation Programs in Africa. A High Impact Incubation Program is a successful business incubator or accelerator that is managed, affiliated or associated with a university, that has high impact on its ecosystem and provides higher value to their startup clients than their regional or global peers. They stand out from average-performing incubation programs with better outcomes on economy enhancement, access to funds and post incubation performance indicators.
It was during the UBI online award ceremony which was held at UBI Global’s headquarters in Stockholm and streamed live via https://goo.gl/onIf4J that the m:lab East Africa together with two other incubators from Africa (Technology Incubation Centre from Nigeria and Timbali Technology Incubator from South Africa) were recognized as the best performing University Business Incubators in Africa.

m:lab East Africa is the youngest of the two incubators having being started in 2011, while Technology Incubation Center from Nigeria was started in 2007 and Timbali Technology Incubator from South Africa started in 2004.
According to the UBI Global CEO, Ali Amin“Our African business incubation landscape is made up of 19 incubators, making Africa the fifth largest region UBI Global benchmarks in terms of sample size. Africa’s business incubators attracted a total of $15,4M, meaning each of the 19 incubators has received an average of $814K each. With regard to deal flow Africa’s incubators as a whole receive 1169 applications per year, equating to an average of 87 applications per incubator.In the last 5 years Africa’s business incubators have created 3150 jobs and over the same time period attracted $15.4M in investment”
The m:lab together with TIC and Timbali Technology Incubator  will be shortlisted for the UBI Global’s World Rankings in London, United Kingdom on November 25, 2015. A big thank you to the UBI Global for the recognition and congratulations to Technology Incubation Center and Timbali Technology Incubator

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657

Kidogo: Transforming Early Childhood Development In Kenya

Incubation

November 16, 2015

“57% of young children in developing countries have no access to preschool, 83% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 78% in the Arab region”, this is according to the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development. Children living in the poorest households are up to 10 times less likely to attend early childhood education programmes than those living in the richest households. UNICEF estimates that 200 million children, globally, fail to reach their full potential due to lack of sufficient care during the early years, with only 12% of children in Sub-Saharan Africa accessing formal early childhood programs.
As we all know, learning begins at birth. The early years, defined as from zero to age six, are the foundation for lifelong learning. Early Childhood Development initiatives provide the essential base for the achievement of all Education for all goals and contribute powerfully to reducing poverty.
In January, 2014, Afzal left his well paying job at the Boston Consulting Group where he was advising Fortune 500 executives on major strategy & growth projects and together with Sabrina  who was working with the Aga Khan Development Network in East Africa, managing an Integrated Primary Health Care Project and the Social Innovations portfolio of a $13.5 million maternal and child health grant, and started a social enterprise called Kidogo (a swahili word meaning small).
During her time with the Aga Khan Development Network, Sabrina encountered the problem of babycare centers in Nairobi’s informal settlements. Dissatisfied with the traditional approaches to development, they decided to start Kidogo, a social enterprise to transform the way early childhood care and education is approached in East Africa.
Kidogo provides high-quality, affordable early childhood care and education to support the healthy growth and development of young children living in Africa’s urban slums, through play and creative activities. They also improves the health and wellbeing of the children, through access to adequate nutrition and health services. Kidogo helps all children reach their full potential no matter where they are born.
The startup has established two community “hub” centers in the informal settlements that offer safe, clean and stimulating physical environment for the children, trained early childhood development (ECD) caregivers from the local community, a health and nutrition program, as well as an exploratory play-based curriculum using learning stations and child-centered strategies. The startup have around 8 trained caregivers who take care of the children at the two hubs. The caregivers at the centres offer one-on-one attention to the children given that different children have different needs, there are some that need special attention from the caregivers.
The  two hubs which are situated in Kibera and Kangemi support 115 children collectively. The children are between the ages of 6 months to 6 years. They charge the mothers a small fee which helps sustain the hubs. One of the centre at Kagemi has been able to break even and is fully self-sustainable. In addition to charging the mothers a small fee for the services, the startup is exploring at other ways for generating revenue for the community hubs.
In addition to establishing community hubs, Kidogo is supporting and empowering local women from the community to start or grow their own babycare centre through their micro-franchising program. The program which is at its pilot stage is an innovative “business-in-a-box” model which delivers training, resources (e.g curriculum materials, branding support, etc) and an ongoing support to the mama-preneurs who are running their own centres.
Currently Kidogo is in the process of developing its own early childhood curriculum and teacher training program that combines global best practices with traditional local childcare practices. They are hoping to finish the curriculum in December and test it in January 2016. Once they have tested the curriculum, the program will have a potential to be patented and licensed to other early childhood providers.
Kidogo has participated in numerous programs and challenges including, Grand Challenge Canada, Spring, Ideo.org amplify challenge, Seed gender equality award and echoing green where both Afzal and Sabrina are echoing green fellows. The startup has cumulatively raised over USD 430,000 from the programs. They are looking to raise more in the next year.
In the next years, Kidogo is hoping to open another centre in Kawangware, launch their curriculum and solidify all their processes so that they are able to rapidly scale up in 2017.
For more information visit their website www.kidogo.co, you can follow them on twitter @Kidogo_ECD and like them on facebook www.facebook.com/KidogoECD/

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1072

Why you should test your mobile app at the mlab testing facility

Mobile Testing

October 30, 2015

According to Gartner, more than 2.4 billion tablets and mobile phones were shipped by the end of 2014. The Apple App store and Google Play store each offer more than one million apps for users to download to their devices. All these applications are competing for users’ attention. Meeting a high quality bar is essential for the success of an app.
Testing of mobile application has become very important and a point of concern for the app developers. Poor-quality applications not only hamper user adoption but also can cause revenue loss and irreparable brand damage.
Forbes contributor Tom Taulli noted that in today’s landscape, it’s not just about having a “cool” application; users are more likely to abandon a program if it has functionality problems, no matter how promising it seems. Even the simplest apps can be lucrative for an organization if they work correctly.
Without proper testing, users are likely to come across many unexpected bugs and errors which developers simply didn’t think of. The danger here is that they’ll quickly lose patience with your app, and the vast majority will simply stop using it without ever letting you know why.
If the mobile testing is done in a proper manner, the number of bugs can be significantly reduced and it saves your app the reputation on the market, and makes it possible to succeed and reach your business goal
m:Lab East Africa has a one of its kind testing facility in East Africa. The testing facility is open to everyone who wants to test their mobile application both individuals and corporates. The platform range and number of  devices in the facility is remarkably unique. With over one hundred and fourty mobile devices, the facility which is on Bishop Magua Center caters for the mobile testing needs of the developer ecosystem.
Several questions have been asked about the testing facility.These are some of the frequently asked questions about the m:lab’s testing facility:
Why is testing important?
Testing your app before rolling it into the market is very important because mobile devices have a wide range of screen resolutions, specs and platforms, this affects how a program runs on each device. Testing enables developers to analyse usability and functionality of the application across these various platforms.
Why test at m:lab East Africa?
As at October 2015, m:lab East Africa testing facility has a total device count of more than 140 devices, (and growing) specifically dedicated for mobile applications testing.
How do I access testing at the testing facility?
To access testing services at the facility, send an email to [email protected], requesting for a specified time slot. Once the request is approved, the developer will have access to the testing services.
What platforms are available in the testing facility?
The facility is a host to Android, J2ME, BlackBerry, Windows, Bada and iOS mobile platforms.
What devices are contained in the testing facility?
Download a complete list of all the devices present in the facility List-of-Devices-in-the-Testing-Facility
How much will I pay to test at the m:Lab East Africa’s testing facility?
For the last one and a half years the facility has been accessed for free during our partnership with Qualcomm.We have learned a lot and we have considered many factors on how to improve our testing services and achieve sustainability. It is based on those considerations that we are revising the rates for the testing room. The revised rates for the testing facility can be found HERE.
Can I borrow devices out of the testing facility? If yes, how do I do it?
Borrowing of devices out of the testing facility for field testing or overnight testing is only limited to the incubatees of m:lab East Africa. This is largely due to the demand for the devices against their limited number.

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788

An e-voucher platform that enables you to send benefits rather than money

Incubation

October 16, 2015

There have been cases of donor and humanitarian funds sent to the country to provide aid to a group of people/beneficiaries not reaching the intended people. The funds end up being squandered and misused by other people especially officials who handle the funds. Paykind is solving this problem by providing an online platform that allows individuals and organizations to pay for the goods and services using e-vouchers, via mobile phone and smart card technology.
With Paykind you can literally send food, healthcare or educational aid instantly via an e-voucher directly  to the beneficiary. The recipient beneficiary gets the voucher by SMS  and is able to redeem the voucher  for only that particular good or service. Charity  and aid organizations in Africa are able to mass distribute SMS e-vouchers via Paykind. Vendors need only a smartphone with a Paykind app on it to accept the vouchers. The platform allows every single voucher distributed to be track-able and provide the valuable statistics and analytics in real-time to the donor.
Paykind is not only a cheaper, faster and more efficient way of distributing aid, but it also guarantees delivery of aid vouchers to the correct beneficiaries. With Paykind it is easier to reach individuals in remote areas and can also specifically send vouchers to targeted users using their registered phone number as an ID mechanism. All the vouchers are stamped with a unique ID and are registered upon redemption. This helps to gather strong metrics on the redemption rate of vouchers by region, gender, type etc.
So how does it work? Once you visit the site www.paykind.co, you can sign in as an organization or a vendor. If you are a humanitarian group, you can then create a voucher to send to a selected beneficiary while specifying a point of redemption. Once you choose the number of beneficiaries to send the voucher to, the amount is credited from your account. Recipient receive the voucher as an SMS alert or on their NFC smart card. They go to the selected registered vendors and redeem the voucher to  get the aid specified by the voucher. The vendor logs onto the platform and keys in the voucher code. Once validated, the vendor then gives the beneficiary the aid specified. Later on, the vendor can choose to claim the voucher, and a request is sent to Chase bank to pay the vendor the amount of the claim. The startup has partnered with Chase Bank, one of the leading banks in the provision of financial solutions to the SME market segment as their banking partner.
Paykind is targeting both individuals and organisations keen on tracking payments for particular goods and services for their beneficiaries. Paykind aims to focus on healthcare, education, nutrition and agriculture. The startup has worked with more than 3 organisations already and numerous inquiries and initial conversations with many more.
For more information on Paykind, visit their website www.paykind.co . You can follow them on twitter @paykind and also visit and like  their facebook pages www.facebook.com/paykind
 

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1492

Mobidev Kenya Ltd & Totohealth Graduates Out Of Incubation Program

Incubation

September 23, 2015

It all started 3 years ago in September 2012 when the now MobiDev team joined m:lab East Africa’s mobile applications development and entrepreneurship program. The four – six  month program was designed to offer individuals with a software development background an opportunity to sharpen their skills on mobile applications technologies as well as develop their entrepreneurial skills.
Leonard Korir together with 6 other students from the fourth wave of the training were brought together by one shared vision: To define the standards in mobile application development for emerging markets. They started a company called MobiDev Kenya LTD after the training. MobiDev focuses on developing enterprise grade SMS/USSD applications, Android, iOS and Windows apps.
Their first product was MobiAgent. MobiAgent was aimed at solving one of world’s most pressing problems of unemployment by linking up the unemployed with businesses that are looking for agents/resellers all via a mobile platform. The product was still at its early stages when they applied for PIVOT East 2013 and got into the finalists (waiting list) where they got a chance to attend the final conference which was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Uganda. In August 2013 they secured incubation space at the m:lab Business Incubation.
MobiAgent did not pick up well as they had expected and was eventually shelved but this did not kill the team spirit that had been developed over time.  MobiDev has grown over the years and has been able to deploy mobile applications in Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia and Nigeria. They have worked on projects on Mobile payment/banking, Agriculture, Education, Insurance and Governance.
Last Year, Mobidev gave birth to Totohealth, a platform that uses SMS technology to help reduce maternal and child mortality. Totohealth’s solution uses SMS technology to allow parents from low-resource settings to monitor the development of their child using the electronic set of Totohealth’s abnormality indicators, empowering them with relevant information and linking them to the right health care service providers for specialized care, treatment, and guidance. The startup is led by Felix Kimaru who is the Executive Director of Totohealth and a co-founder and former head of product Development at MobiDev.
Totohealth was in the first accelerator class of the Mobile Impact Ventures program early 2014. Mobile Impact Ventures Program is an accelerator program aimed at nurturing and supporting mobile focussed social enterprise. They then applied for PIVOT East 2014 where they were finalists in the society category. After PIVOT East they secured incubation space at the m:lab Business Incubation.
Totohealth has shown tremendous growth in the past one year of its existence. The startup has sent over 540,000 SMS’s, leveraged 700 community health volunteers, and reached over 15,000 mothers and fathers. They have 9 hospitals and 2 organizations using their platform to help improve their health outcomes
Totohealth has managed to sign up 15,000 parents and caregivers who are currently using the platform to monitor the development of their children and also receive timely and targeted information about their health and that of their children.They also work with hospitals and community health workers to help send SMS reminders for doctor’s appointments.
MobiDev and Totohealth have since moved location from m:lab East Africa on 3rd floor Bishop Magua Centre to its new offices at BlueViolet Building , opposite Top Plaza, Ngong Road, on 3rd floor, office 306.
For more information visit their website mobidev.co.ke and www.totohealth.org. You can follow them on twitter @devsmobi and @totohealth
 

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1100

Paykind to Launch Today

Uncategorized

September 3, 2015

Paykind is an online platform that allows individuals and organizations to pay for the goods and services of their beneficiaries using e-vouchers, via mobile phone and smart card technology.
Using paykind one can distribute e-voucher directly  to the beneficiary. The recipient beneficiary gets the voucher by SMS  and is able to redeem the voucher  for only the particular good or service. Charity  and aid organizations in Africa are able to mass distribute SMS e-vouchers via Paykind. Paykind also  provides donor with  to instant reports and analytics and can measure  impact.
The startup will be launching the product today at the Nailab. Details of the event are;
Venue: Nailab
Date: 3rd September 2015
Time: 6.00 – 8.00pm
RSVP HERE

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1860

Meet Paykind: a platform that enables you to pay for the needs of others directly!

Incubation

September 1, 2015

Rodgers Muhadi and Sam Masinde have been friends for close to 10 years now. They met in Nakuru where they lived in the same neighbourhood. “Even back then we used to work on some pet projects together!”  says Sam. As fate would have it, they found themselves in the same university, Egerton University in Njoro where Rodgers was a few classes ahead of Sam. Rodgers pursued a degree in electronics  while Sam pursued one in computer science
After completing university, Rodgers worked first as an engineering consultant and was also a retail outlet owner.  He later worked for a payments company before joining   a leading  enterprise  software solutions company in Kenya. From his engineering background and work experience, he was fascinated by micro-chip technonogy especially as used in smartcards and wanted to build a product around it.  In  late 2012 when Sam completed university, they came together and started working on their first product which was a school Smart Card for school fees, attendance among others,  which  used  “chip-to-cloud” technology by basically  integrating a Near Field Communication (NFC), smartcard to a web-based solution which led to the birth their company Cardplanet Solutions Ltd.
Later in 2013, they realized the potential of electronic money transfers tied specifically to allocated expenses. They extended their solution from just a student  payment card to becoming  an online platform electronic medical and nutritional vouchers platform, using mobile phone technology. This product branded as  Paykind, is now their main product.
Using Paykind, one can instantly mass distribute digital vouchers to people via SMS on both feature and smartphones. These vouchers can be redeemed by the receiver at any of the certified vendors.  The Paykind platform can be used for highly specific uses, including remittances or aid grants earmarked specifically for education, healthcare expenses, or food.  Paykind provides valuable tracking and analytics in real-time to monitor voucher redemption, product choices, frequently visited stores and identity of the user. Donors and aid organizations across Africa work hard to guarantee funds are allocated for specific services or resources. While international donations into food, health and education seem large on scale ($42Bn to Africa yearly), the direct impact of these donations are diluted by high overhead costs, distribution hurdles, information inefficiencies, and corruption. What if donors were able to know that 100% of that money made it to the intended beneficiaries?
Currently the startup is made up of a team of four , Rodgers who is the CEO and Sam who is the CTO, both of them are co-founders .Brian who joined the team in 2014 is their lead developer and was also at Egerton University, where he shared the same class with Sam. It is interesting that both Sam and Brian  were among the best in their class. Chris joined them recently to aid their growth as the  head of sales.
In late 2012, Cardplanet Solutions was accepted into Nailab incubation. In 2013 they  joined Savannah Fund accelerator where they got mentorship and funding of $25,000 to launch a number of products. Currently they are incubated at the m:lab business incubation program. The incubation space offers a quiet and dedicated space conducive for team building and “heads down” focus. Incubation at m:lab East Africa also improves access to resources including investors, mentors, potential partners, mobile trainings and an avid mobile community
Late last year, the startup was accepted into Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups. Cardplanet was the second African startup to be accepted at 500 Startups and the first Kenyan startup to make it to Silicon Valley accelerator. They were able to raise funding of $100,000 at 500 Startups. The startup has raised a total of $125,000 and is looking to raise another $250,000 to help with their growth plan for the next two years.
For more information on Cardplanet Solutions and Paykind, visit their website www.cardplanetsolutions.co.ke and www.paykind.co . You can follow them on twitter @CardplanetS and @paykind.
You can also visit and like  their facebook pages www.facebook.com/cardplanetsolutions and www.facebook.com/paykind
 

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