Visualizing Sound

Anwar pitching at the GIST Tech-I 2011 competition in Istanbul, Turkey.

As an entrepreneur, 27-year-old Anwar Almojarkesh has jumped many hurdles and learned lessons along the way. While developing Braci, a sound recognition and visualization app, he found that focusing too much on the technology and less on the business was a mistake. He discovered that his product needed costumers before new technologies could be developed.

Braci was developed for people who suffer from deafness and hearing impairments. It is a unique smartphone application that can recognize a variety of sounds experienced in daily live. The smart ear recognizes these sounds and renders pictures to represent what it detects. His device can also detect most fire and theft alarms along with offering the ability to record personalized sounds such as a doorbell or crying baby.

In 2011, after receiving a diploma in Electrical Engineering from Cambridge University, Anwar made his first appearance with CRDF Global at the GIST Tech-I Finals that took place during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Istanbul, Turkey. Since then, he has participated in over 27 startup competitions winning 90% of them. He most recently qualified for the 2013 GIST Tech-I Finals at GES in Malaysia.  He has also been a speaker for TEDx Amman and TEDx Kings Academy in Jordan. In his spare time, Anwar enjoys body building and swimming.

Funding Agriculture: Unearthing Africa’s Potential

Alex Muriu in a superhero stance after the conclusion of GIST Tech-I 2013 competition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Alex Muriu in a superhero stance after the conclusion of GIST Tech-I 2013 competition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Alex Mwaura Muriu’s newest venture, Farm Space Africa, strives to address the issue of food shortages in Africa, despite the fact that 70% of the continent’s employment comes from agriculture. Farmers across the region currently struggle to expand their businesses due to a lack of funding. Farmspace Africa aims to fill this funding void and help boost the agricultural industry in Africa.

Farmspace Africa is a mobile application where urban middle to upper class individuals, investment groups, and other investors can provide crowd source loans and investments to small agricultural businesses and farmers. The mobile platform allows the service to be widely accessible by farmers and investors alike, while its crowd funding nature is also intended to dilute risk. Alex, 27, hopes this brand of micro-finance will propel Africa’s economies into a future of prosperity.

Growing up in Kenya, Alex draws inspiration from his mother, a small business owner who has been working and raising her children for 30 years. He says her perseverance and courage to venture into unknown territories motivates him. He has founded, and is currently running, two other tech startups.

Farm Space Africa received an Honorable Mention Award at GIST Tech-I 2013, during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Malaysia. When asked to describe his experience with GIST, Alex said: “One word: ‘Amazing.’ [Our mentor] Kia Davis is widely read and has greatly helped us refocus our efforts on the right things. The GIST Tech Connects have also been quite useful in helping us maneuver these murky startup waters.”

Mobile Games People Love

Daniel Okalany

Daniel Okalany

Daniel Okalany is a 24-year-old Ugandan technophile who loves creating and fixing. While between jobs, he began designing mobile games, a passion that eventually became Kola Studios, a mobile game development firm currently offering four apps in the Google Play Store.

Daniel’s expertise includes programming, network management, application development, server deployment, and maintenance. Prior to Kola Studios, he worked as a systems engineer, software engineer, and a web designer for a number of Ugandan tech companies and says he wasn’t serious about game development until he became a finalist in a competition held by Google.

Africa has a rich tradition of games that have been played for generations in various societies across the continent, however few of these games exist on the mobile platform. Kola Studios creates and promotes mobile games based on physical games that come from the African tradition such as Matatu, originating in Uganda, and Karata, originating from Kenya. Matatu is its most popular game, a two player card game that has logged nearly 10,000 downloads and counting. Revenue is generated through integrated ads. As the Lead Programmer for Kola Studios, Daniel says his priority is creating a product that people want.

Kola Studios participated at the 2013 GIST Startup Boot Camp in Dar Salaam in Tanzania where they earned fourth place. Daniel says he looks forward to meeting other global entrepreneurs so he can learn from them and their experiences and gain exposure in the fast moving tech industry.

Innovative SMS based education for children in Kenya

Chris pitching his startup at the GIST Tech-I 2013 finals in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Chris pitching his startup at the GIST Tech-I 2013 finals in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Christopher Asego, a 28-year-old entrepreneur from Kenya, said he was inspired by his underprivileged classmates from primary school as he founded Eneza Education. His product, Shupavu, utilizes technology that allows children to access parent supported education tools and resources through low-cost technology, via pay-as-you-go hosting.

From humble beginnings, Christopher started an impact group of 30 students in an underprivileged community. With his and his teammates’ mentoring, their impact group has grown to over 180,000 students, with a goal of eventually reaching 50 million students across the African continent, most of whom lack access to high quality educational content. Christopher’s ultimate vision is to break the cycle of poverty in communities like these.

In 2013, Christopher participated in the 2013 GIST Tech-I final at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Malaysia. While there, his venture with Eneza Education earned second place in the Startup Stage category. In his spare time, Christopher enjoys playing rugby. After 10 years of tryouts, he became a member of the Kenya Sevens National Team and played with them up until last year when he decided to focus all of his efforts on Eneza Education.

Matching Odd Jobbers with Real Work

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Adnan listening intently to a discussion at the GIST Tech-I 2013 finals in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Adnan Zafar is deeply passionate about creating significant social change. He created IdeaCentricity after being inspired by conversations with a variety of low skilled workers expressing the difficulties of finding enough work to make ends meet. An electrician whose daughter topped matriculation couldn’t support her studies; a maid working multiple shifts to release her husband from the clutches of a kiln owner to repay loan used to buy a rickshaw.

With more than 11 years of experience in various large telecommunications, information technology, engineering, and energy sector companies, he developed IdeaCentricity Odd Jobber as a convenient low-skilled labor marketplace. Workers are alerted about opportunities over their mobile devices based on proximity to the service request point, individual skill set, and prior service ratings. Workers respond with bids and are informed once users accept their service offers. Laborers are routinely screened against certain performance benchmarks and provided trainings and tips to improve their service ratings.

Adnan is an Acumen Fellow who holds a Bachelors of Science Honors from Lahore University of Management Sciences. In 2013, Adnan was a finalist in the GIST Tech-I Competition at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Malaysia.