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.

Event Planning for Community Building

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Frans Yuwono pitching at the GIST Startup Boot Camp Indonesia 2014

Frans Setio Yuwono, 33, would describe himself as a community minded individual. He speaks four languages fluently and has been immersed in both eastern and western cultures. He has a degree in computer science and has recently started his first tech startup, Wakuwakuw.

The idea came during his tenure as President of the Surabaya Rotary club where he attempted to improve community public relations, fundraising, and collaboration. Wakuwakuw is a platform he developed to empower communities with promotion and management tools such as personalized webpages, community sharing, collaboration channel, event planning, regular meetups, newsletter and fundraising. Ultimately, he hopes it will become a one-stop-shop solution for all community  organizers.

Under his management, the club was elected as the best Rotary Club in the World by Rotary International in 2012 (in the 10-25 members category), competing against 12,000 Rotary Clubs worldwide. It was awarded a prestigious President Citation by Rotary International. Although he no longer acts as the club’s President, the Surabaya Rotary chapter continues to utilize Wakuwakuw’s services regularly.

Frans aims to take 10% of the $120 million per year in market potential to Indonesia within the next five years. He said that at first, Wakuwakuw’s biggest challenge was product differentiation with existing Facebook groups and large community management services like Meetup.com.

Frans and his startup received an honorable mention at the 2014 GIST Startup Boot Camp in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Before he attended GIST, he was only thinking about expanding into the Indonesian market, but the competition changed his outlook. “GIST has taught me to think more about global customers,” he said, “and how to reanalyze our product and what is important when building a startup”.

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.

Championing Women in a Male Dominated ICT Sector

Catherine pitching at the GIST East Africa Startup Boot Camp in Tanzania.

Catherine pitching at the GIST East Africa Startup Boot Camp in Tanzania.

Catherine Kiguru, 28, is a skilled software engineer from Kenya who has expertise in building mobile and back end solutions. Though she was one of four sisters orphaned at the age of 14, her parents’ foresight enabled Catherine to complete her secondary education and gain entry into Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology, where she obtained a diploma in Computer Studies.

She currently serves as the Chief Innovator at Ukall, which runs Akida Limited. Ukall Limited is a boutique Information Communications Technology (ICT) Company with a focus on business process automation. They develop and deliver specialized products and services tailored to clients’ individual requirements. Akida is mobile to web platform that addresses the challenges of staff attendance verification and communication in small to large organizations that employ mobile workforces or deploy staff in various locations such as Security Companies, Marketing Firms and Facilities Management.  Akida incorporates staff attendance through facial verification, GPS and time logging. It allows reporting and an effective and affordable way of communicating through its reporting and alerts feature.

In addition to her work with Akida, Catherine is also a founding member of Akirachix, an organization that encourages female participation in the male dominated ICT arena.

Catherine participated in the GIST East Africa Startup Boot Camp in Tanzania, receiving the Best Female Entrepreneur award in 2013. Later that year, she was invited as a guest speaker and panelist at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In her spare time, Catherine enjoys cycling, hiking and rock climbing.