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8 African startups leading the way to ending poverty


South African tech writer and speaker Toby Shapshak says that “in Africa, necessity is the mother of invention” and there is certainly a boom in exciting new companies that are tackling vital issues across the continent.

We have handpicked 8 of the best #GlobalGoal busting startups that are gaining serious momentum:

DIYLaw (Nigeria)

This all-female startup is using digital technology to create easy access to legal services in Nigeria. “DIYLaw is making legal [assistance] one less challenge to grapple with. Our value propositions are transparency, simplicity, and affordability,” says co-founder and lead counsel Odunoluwa Longe.

The startup recently won the SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge for East and West Africa at the Innovating Justice Forum. It aims to be a one-stop hub for all things legal with a view to eventually providing the service across Africa. A fantastic way to the fight for justice at a grassroots level.

WeFarm is a free peer-to-peer service that enables farmers to share information via text, without the internet and without having to leave their farm. Farmers can ask questions and receive crowd-sourced answers from other farmers around the world in minutes, a super speedy solution to some of the issues affecting sustainable agriculture.

Their website states: “Smallholders have generations’ worth of farming knowledge to share. We believe that farmers are experts. Now, they have a way to share their expertise. The time has come to give farmers a voice instead of giving ‘top-down’ advice.”

Launched in November last year, WeFarm already has over 38,000 users and is targeting more than 500,000 active farmers by the end of 2016.

Vula Mobile (South Africa)

South African startup Vula Mobile connects general health workers in remote areas with specialists in hospitals via a mobile app. The startup is initially focusing on eye health.

The Vula Eye Health mobile app aims to change the way that primary health workers access information, carry out eye tests, connect with specialists and make referrals. It is the brainchild of South African doctor William Mapham, who saw the potential for technology to improve referral networks while working in a hospital in rural Swaziland.


BRCK (Kenya)

Tech communities are booming all over Africa, but it remains challenging to get and stay connected in a region with frequent blackouts and spotty internet hookups. So Juliana Rotich and her colleagues developed BRCK which offers resilient connectivity and is “the easiest, most reliable way to connect to the internet, anywhere in the world, even when you don’t have electricity.” It is essentially a rugged router that can hop from network to network seeking out signal to connect to the net.

Obami (South Africa)

Obami is a customisable and adaptable e-learning tool that is already present in over 400 schools. The platform allows for communication and collaboration within, and between schools – a social network where students, parents and teachers can discuss educational projects in a safe space.

Founder Barbara Mallinson has said: “Taking on the education system is a real challenge, so what we’ve decided to focus on going forward is changing the way we learn, as opposed to changing the education system.”

“I feel excited about Africa, particularly in terms of upliftment and development. We’re seeing amazing advances in technology adoption across the continent, which will boost access to information.”

Project Isizwe (South Africa)

Project Isizwe believe that internet access should not be determined by the socio-economic conditions of the individual, but be “based on the principles of social solidarity, equity and fairness”. Their aim is to facilitate the roll-out of free WiFi in public spaces for low-income communities.

They took home the “Best Connectivity Solution for Africa” award at AfricaCom 2015 in November. Chief Operating Officer Zahir Khan said in his acceptance speech: “A digital nation and continent will ensure Africa’s position as the continent with the most opportunity.”

UpEnergy – like ONE – are concerned that inefficient and dangerous cooking and lighting methods are causing millions of premature deaths each year and that hundreds of millions of people across the world still lack access to clean water.

This is why they finance, build, and support distribution channels for high-efficiency stoves, water purification technologies and solar lights. Their model also uses a carbon crediting initiative which helps make these clean energy products affordable in the developing world.

Skynotch Energy Africa (Kenya)

Skynotch addresses the issue that only 23% of Kenyans have access to electricity. They identify a need for clean energy in unconnected areas and thus provide renewable energy access solutions, solar lantern distribution, project development with small hydro and solar farms, and water pumping and purification initiatives.

These young companies are helping shape and transform the future of Africa. But YOU can play your part too.

JOIN ONE today to urge our leaders to tackle health, education, poverty, energy, justice, connectivity and so much more by making the #GlobalGoals a priority!