Safaricom has today launched the 3rd edition of the Safaricom Appwiz Challenge, a 3-month developer challenge targeting Kenyan innovators in mobile ICT.  An initiative in partnership with @iBizAfrica (Strathmore University), Appwiz aims to nurture and mentor ICT-driven start-ups focused on mobile technology, as part of its commitment to spurring local innovation and nurturing local enterprises that Safaricom and industry can partner with.

 

“The growth of the mobile technology market presents a great platform for technology start-ups to not only create innovative solutions to everyday needs, but to transform these into sustainable businesses,” said Joseph Ogutu, Safaricom Director for Strategy and Innovation. “Through this competition we want to transform lives through innovation, by supporting young ICT enterprises so that we can also help create opportunities for self-employment of Kenyans and retain Kenya’s position as an African technology hub.”

Appwiz was first introduced in 2013, and has since incubated close to 30 tech start-up solutions including Safaricom M-Ledger and Magazine Reel, both of which are now commercially successful and sustainable businesses.

“We identified a gap in the market, where one of the main challenges start-ups face is the lack of funds to transition from prototype to market-ready product. So we developed a competition and training module that covers all the basics these innovators need to build successful start-ups. We’re asking them to participate in groups of three, so that we can help them appreciate the value of teamwork in a business as we nurture their start-ups.” added Mr Ogutu. 

The Appwiz programme takes participants through a 3-month training curriculum tailored specifically for technology start-ups, offering mentorship and coaching from industry leaders and leading entrepreneurs, as well as training in entrepreneurship skills.

Last year’s overall winner, David Mabiria, whose solution Magazine Reel today has close to 200,000 active users and 1.5 million page views monthly, said: “Our main challenge as an up and coming start-up was getting started. I did not have the required capital and my management skills were lacking. The training we got as a team last year really opened our eyes to a lot of things we were doing wrong and provided the support we required to make our business, Soma Media, successful.”

Another solution – Safaricom M-Ledger, a runner-up in the first edition of the challenge – was acquired by Safaricom from Dynamic Data Systems and launched into the market in November 2014. The app currently has over 150,000 active users.

This year the top three innovative businesses and ideas will be selected from four categories including: Customer engagement solutions, Safaricom product excellence solutions, Mobile convenience and Out of the box solutions. 

The Safaricom Appwiz Challenge Grand Winner will receive a cash grant of Ksh1.5 million, while the 1st Runner-up and 2nd Runner up will receive Kshs.1million and Kshs. 500,000 respectively. The submission period kicks off on 20th July 2015 and closes on 16th August 2015. 

For more information on Appwiz please visit: http://developer.safaricom.co.ke 

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